March 30, 2013

Ovos de Pascoa (Easy Easter Eggs - Goan Style)

week back, I was talking to my neighbour about exploring Goan Catholic cuisine, especially desserts, when she lent me a couple of her cookbooks so that I could go through them at my leisure. One of the books was a much used thin volume of aboout 60 and odd pages filled with my neighbour’s notes in the margins. 
This book, called the Goan Cookbook by Joyce Fernandes, has mostly non-vegetarian recipes but the last lot of recipes were for sweets and desserts with very Portuguese names.

If you know something about Goa, then you might know that being colonised by the Portuguese has left an indelible mark on Goan Catholic cuisine which is a unique blend of Portuguese and Indian flavours. Many of the dishes cooked by Catholics have their origin in Portuguese (or European) cuisine and wherever ingredients were not available locally, substitutions were made giving them a very local or Goan flavour.
As I was going through the desserts, I came across one that for “Ovos de Pascoa” which would translate as Easter Eggs. This recipe was egg-free and called for milk, cocoa, sugar and crushed Marie biscuits! Seeing as this is the week preceding Easter, and this recipe didn’t require much effort, I thought I’d give it a try.

This particular cookbook is over 30 years old and belongs to an era when cookbooks didn’t have photographs while some would have the occasional sketch/ drawing. This one doesn’t even have chapters, just 104 recipes which are numbered so, each with a list of ingredients followed by a barely there set of instructions that assume you have certain basic, some more-than-basic skills in the kitchen, and a lot of common sense!

So I tried to make sense of the recipe and adapted it in a way that was more precise and that would work. Never having eaten these before I’m not too sure what they ought to be like. What I got were fudge-like eggs that hinted at a taste of the Marie biscuits.
If you do not want very fudgy textured eggs, you can break the Marie biscuits into small pieces rather than powde them.
While the original recipe does not call for coating the Ovos de Pascoa with chocolate, I thought they would definitely improve being covered with it and I was right. Once they’re coated in chocolate and the chocolate has set, place the “Eggs” in paper cups or wrap them in coloured foil. 
Ovos de Pascoa
(Adapted from Goan Cooking by Joyce Fernandes)


2 1/2 cups to 3 cups Marie biscuit crumbs (300gm Marie biscuits)*
1/2 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped cashewnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped milk or semi-sweet chocolate, for coating the eggs 
1 tsp oil


*To crush the Marie biscuits, put them in a ziplock bag and thump them with rolling pin to break them into small pieces. If you powder the Marie biscuits, your “Eggs” will be fudgier in texture. If you want to powder them, run the rolling pin over the bag until all the pieces are powdered.
Put the milk and sugar in a pan and bring it to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate and stir until it is dissolved completely. Add the remaining ingredients, except the biscuit crumbs and mix well.

Now add the biscuit crumbs and mix well until you have a dough. Let the mixture cool slightly till it can be handled by hand. Shape into eggs and allow them to dry out. Refrigerate the eggs to set them.
When ready to coat them with chocolate, take them out. Melt chocolate and add the oil for shine, over a double boiler. Dip the eggs one at time, into the chocolate. Use a spoon to pour the chocolate over the egg to make coating easy.

Lift the egg out of the chocolate with two forks, allowing the excess chocolate to drain off, P the chocolate coated eggs on baking parchment lined sheets to set. Then drizzle some more chocolate over tham and place them in paper cups. Otherwise wrap them in coloured foil. Refrigerate if necessary.

This recipe makes about 20 two inch long eggs.
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March 24, 2013

We Knead To Bake #3 : Hokkaido Milk Bread With Tangzhong

fter last month’s Classic Croissants which involved quite some effort in making laminated dough but almost fool-proof and flaky Croissants, this month’s bread is quite easy. I had bookmarked this bread not just for texture and height, but because of its slightly unusual method of making the dough. When I first came across it, I had never heard of the bread or the slightly unuual method of making the dough.

This month’s bread, the Hokkaido Milk Bread is known for its soft cottony/ pillowy texture. Apparently it’s very popular bread in South Asian bakeries across the world.
It is also known as Asian Sweet Bread and Hong Kong Pai Bo. Some people say this is a Japanese bread while others say it’s because the milk used in this bread is from Japan while some others have suggested its pure white colour and the texture resemble the pristineness of Hokkaido!
I’m not sure if these hold much water when you consider that the credit for this method of making bread goes to a Chinese woman.

The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux. 
At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and create a “leavening” action.  When the Tangzhong is added into other ingredients that go into a bread dough, it produces light, tender and fluffier bread.
This method of using Tangzhong is often seen in South Asian breads and was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book which translates to “65 degrees Bread Doctor”.

The Hokkaido Milk Bread is very easy to make. First you make a Tangzhong (flour-water roux, and milk in this case) and then let it cool completely. You can use it to make the dough after it gets a 2 hour rest. It also keeps for a day or so refrigerated.
Then make the bread dough using the Tangzhong. If you refrigerate the Tangzhong then let it come to room temperature before you use it. The bread dough is made like any other dough. It is a rather sticky dough initially, but kneading it well will make it smooth elastic and easy to handle.
This is a very versatile dough. You can make into a plain loaf, or dinner rolls. You can fill the rolls with sweet or savoury fillings. You can even shape the dough into knots, or cute little animals. This dough also makes the softest Pav/ Pao for Pav Bhaji.

Though it has some sugar in it, this bread is only mildly sweet. If you want to make a savoury version, with or without filling, you can cut down the sugar to 1 tbsp and add another 1/4 tsp of salt.
The recipe below asks for a small amount of cream as an ingredient. The cream does make a slight difference in texture, but you can use all milk instead. I have tried it both ways and the bread turns out just as good.
If you would rather not use cream, just omit it and add 2 tbsp of milk instead. If you would like to make this vegan or milk and milk product free, then replace the milk with water and the butter with oil. Of course, then this loaf will no longer have the typically “milky” taste of a milk bread but will still be a pretty good bread.

The recipe requires making Tangzhong and using only HALF of it (the other half keeps refrigerated for about 3 days), probably because it’s not very easy to halvea 1/3 cup of flour. If you can eye-ball half of a 1/3 cup of flour, then make the Tangzhong using that and a 1/4 cup each of water and milk. I’ve done this and my Hokkaido Milk Bread has turned out just perfect.
Here’s a video on making Tangzhong and the bread that might be useful. (The recipe in the video is a different one)  
Hokkaido Milk Bread With Tangzhong
(Original Recipe from 65 Degrees Tangzhong “65C Bread Doctor” by Yvonne Chen, and adapted from Kirbie’sCravings)


For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk 

For The Dough:

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 3 tbsp sugar
 1tsp salt
2 tbsp powdered milk
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1/2 cup milk (and a little more if needed)
1/8 cup cream (25% fat)
1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)
25gm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips if making the chocolate chip rolls 


The Tangzhong  (Flour-Water Roux):

Whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.
If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/ tangzhong till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If like me, you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.
Let the roux/ tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.  

The Bread Dough:

I made this dough in the food processor. This dough can be made by hand but the dough is a bit sticky and can take some time and effort to knead by hand. If you have some sort of machine which will do the kneading for you, use it. Don’t punish yourself. And do not add more flour to make it less sticky either!
Put the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and instant yeast in the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix. In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add to the processor bowl. Run on slow speed until the dough comes together. Now add the butter and process till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky.
The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of tsps of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.  When it does break, the break should be form a circle.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.  
Place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins). Depending on what you are making, divide your dough. If you are making 1 loaf, divide your dough in 3 equal pieces. If you are making two smaller loaves, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces.
I made one small loaf and 6 small rolls. So I first divided my dough into two equal pieces first. Then I divided the first half into three equal pieces to make the loaf. The other half was divided into six equal pieces for six rolls.
The shaping of the portions, whether for the loaf or the rolls, is the same.
Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold. (See the collage) 

Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
To make the rolls fold them in the same manner described above, but before rolling them up, place some chocolate chip on the dough. Roll the dough rectangles carefully and pinch to seal the edge. Place each roll of dough in a well-oiled muffin cup and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes. 

Shaping the “hedgehogs”, the “alligator”, the “snail” and “tortoise” rolls -

For the hedgehogs, divide the dough as for the rolls above and shape them so they are a little narrower at one end (the nose of the hedgehog). Use black currants or whatever you have (chocolate chips will melt and fall off) for the eyes and nose making sure they’re pressed well into the dough or they will fall off when baking. You can also use edible markers to draw the eyes and nose after baking the hedgehogs. Using small pointed scissors, randomly make small cuts all over the body (if the cuts are too shallow the pattern will disappear when the dough rises and bakes) for the “quills”. 

To make the alligator (mine does look a bit like a very well fed gecko!), roll a piece of dough into a cylinder of sorts. Shate the head, a slighter thicker body which tapers into a tail. Shape 4 smaller pieces into limbs, attach to the body and make small snips at the end of each limb with scissors, for claws. Make similar snips across the back all the way to the tail for the “scales”. Use currants or raisnd for the eyes.
To make the tortoise, take a ball of dough and shape it into a smooth ball. Shape a head and four limbs from smaller pieces of dough. To make the “”shell/ back/ carapace” take another small piece of dough, and shape into a thin round (1/8” thick) and mark it with a knife. The marks should be deep enough but don’t cut through the dough. Wet the underside of the dough with water or milk and attach it to the “back” of your tortoise.
The snail can be made by rolling a piece of dough into a long “rope”. Curl one end into a coil and shape the head and back to resemble a snail. Add the eyes.
Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and the loaf with milk (or cream) and bake them at 170C (325F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.
Serve or else store in a bread bin. This bread stays soft and delicious even the next day. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins).
This Hokkaido Milk Bread is being YeastSpotted!

I'm also taking it to Zorra's Blogwarming Party which is the theme for Bread Baking Day #57.
The Breads that have been Kneaded & Baked so far -
February - Classic Croissants

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March 21, 2013

Fondant Easter Eggs in Coconut-Chocolate Macaroon Nests

aster is a big affair where I live but we don’t celebrate it. A few days before Easter, the stores feature medium sized to large egg confectionary and the choice I have is between chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate eggs! Much as I like chocolate, I somehow do not like the taste of the store bought chocolate eggs for some reason.


Sometime last week, I came across some very pretty Easter Egg Nests. I thought I would try my hand at making them myself. The nests were just coconut macaroon cookies which are pretty easy to make. Since we don’t get those Easter egg candy here, I thought I’d make those too at home.

I found a Fondant Easter Egg recipe which seemed doable with the stuff I had at home. I have to warn you that they’re extremely sweet and I probably will not make them again. I am posting them because they do look cute and are quite easy to make. And if you like the sweet stuff, then that’s just fine.

They’re eatable (in small doses) only because they’re pretty small. Three or four of them could probably cause a sugar induced coma! Covering these Fondant Eggs in chocolate would probably bring the sweetness down a bit, but with the temperatures here right now already feeling like the height of summer, I didn’t want to risk working with chocolate.
The macaroons are very easy to make. I have used both desiccated coconut and fresh coconut because the first keep the macaroon dough a bit dry, while the second lends a nice moistness to the macaroon that is delightful.

I’m going to keep this post short for a few reasons. The first is that I wanted to post this yesterday but it got delayed for various reasons and I’m a bit pressed for time. The second one is that there are two recipes to this post so it’s going to be long enough without my conversation. The third and reason is that I honestly don’t have a story to tell with this post and Fudge, our Cocker Spaniel is bored, wants to play and won’t let me work on this post! 
Fondant Easter Eggs
(Adapted from
1/4 cup salted butter, soft at room temperature
200ml sweetened condensed milk
3 – 3 3/4 cups icing sugar
Food colour and flavours of choice
1 to 2 cups icing sugar for kneading the fondant
Put the butter in a bowl and whisk it till it becomes fluffy. Add the condensed milk and whisk again. Add 3 cups of icing sugar and mix together with a fork till blended well. Add some more of the remaining 3/4 cup icing sugar, if necessary, till you have a dough (fondant) that is not stiff but firm and not sticky.
Divide the fondant into four portions. Dust your working surface with some icing sugar. Colour (with one or two drops, enough for pastel shades) and flavour each portion according to your preference. Knead each portion, separately, adding a little more icing sugar as necessary, until the colour is well blended and there are no streaks.
Working with one coloured fondant portion at a time, pinch of small bits and shape into smooth 1 to 1 1/4" long “eggs”. Dust your palms with icing sugar if necessary. Place the eggs on baking sheets and refrigerate them for about 5 hours or overnight.
Use these “eggs” as they are to decorate or dip them in melted chocolate if you prefer. This recipe makes about 60 to 75 eggs (about 1” long). You can use the "eggs" to decorate cakes, cupcakes, etc. 
Coconut-Chocolate Macaroon Nests
(Adapted from Food Babbles)
1 cup packed fresh grated coconut
1 cup desiccated coconut
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
200ml sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder
Put both types of coconut and flour in a bowl. Add the egg white and the condensed milk and mix together with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with the fork till blended.
Moisten your palms with water, and then take about 1 1/2 tbsp of the macaroon dough and shape it into a ball. Flatten this slightly and create a “well” in the middle with your finger. Place this on a parchment lined baking tray. Use up all the dough by making more “nests”.
Bake the nests at 160C (325F) for about 15 to 20 minutes till well set and dry to touch. It will be difficult to see these macaroons browning because of the cocoa powder. Let them cool on the baking tray for about 10 minutes. Then dislodge them carefully with a flat spatula and cool on a rack.
Once they are completely cool, place the eggs in the chocolate macaroon nests. This recipe makes about 12 to 14 nests.
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March 16, 2013

The Gujarati Kitchen – A Review & Daal Dhokali (Indian Style Spiced Pasta In Split Pigeon Peas)

ndia probably has the largest number and greatest variety of vegetarian dishes in the world. After my traditional cuisine and other South Indian vegetarian food, my next best vegetarian food is that of Gujarat and Rajasthan.  Actually, I would have a tough time choosing between the two.
So when Westland sent me a copy of The Gujarati Kitchen – Family Recipes for the Global Palate by Bhanu Hajratwala, I was sure the book would have some recipes I would love trying out. The first thing that struck me when I went through the book, was that it had a lot of non-vegetarian recipes! I always thought of Gujarati food as being vegetarian for some reason, but there’s no reason why Gujaratis would not cook non-vegetarian food. After all, Gujarat is home not just to Hindus or Jains, but also to Muslims and a small Christian population who are traditionally non-vegetarian.

The book starts with a rather long but readable introduction by the author about her life and the influences on food in her life, and how she went from someone who was not interested in cooking to being known as “the Martha Stewart of Gujarati cooking” amongst her family and friends!
Then the author offers generaltips and advise about the ingredients used in the book, how to prepare them, cookware, details of a well-stocked Gujarati pantry, measurements, oven temperatures, etc. There are also recipes to make the different spice blends/ masalas used in her book.
The recipes are categorised as expected under Starters, Main Dishes, Breads, Rice, Accompaniments With Rice, Sweets, Chutneys and Relishes, Pickles, Favourite Teatime Snacks, Drinks and even one for “Mukhwaas” or the mouth fresheners that typically round off every meal.
One thing I liked is how every chapter has separate sections dedicated to vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. The recipes are concise but detailed enough to follow easily. Most of them are accompanied by the author’s notes and also variations that one can make with the given recipe.


Many of the recipes have rather long ingredient lists, but are actually not difficult to make. They are all traditional Gujarati recipes naturally, but seem to show the influence from Ms. Hajratwala’s having lived outside India all her life, in the recipes and the pronunciation of many of their names.
The recipes include common favourites like Doodhina Muthia (Bottle Gourd Fritters), Khandvi (Gram Flour Rolls, Batatanu Sukhu Shaakh (Dry Potato Curry), Oondhiyu (Upside-Down Vegetables), Bhakri & Thepla (Flatbreads), Khichdi (Rice with Lentils), Ghugara (Sweet Dumplings), Naankhatai (Surti Shortbread) and others like Khajoor Pak (Healthy Date Fudge), Hing Aamliwali Daal (Peasants’’ Daal), Vaddhoo (Mixed Legume Curry), Bhaakarina Laadwa (Whole-wheat Sweets), Kachoomar Athanu (Mixed Fruit & Vegetable Pickle).
There’s even a recipe for home-made Tadee (Toddy/ Palm Juice)!

I have seen quite a few cookbooks on Gujarati cooking but this is the first one I’ve seen that includes non-vegetarian recipes. Even though I’m vegetarian, there are enough recipes in here to keep me happy for a while. I would definitely recommend this book as one to add to one’s collection. The only thing that I’m unhappy about, are the number of photographs that are in this book and their rather lack lustre quality. The photographs in the book certainly will not sell it to someone who’s browsing through it.
About the author:

Bhanu Hajratwala was raised in a traditional Gujarati family in the Fiji Islands and grew up eating authentic homemade Gujarati fare. When she moved to the United States after marriage, she learned to improvise while trying to maintain authentic flavours, as a lot of the traditional ingredients were not available.
 She has since compiled several cookbooks for community organizations, recipes for worship during ceremonies, and writes a Women’s Corner column in her community’s Gujarati magazine. She has also conducted cooking demonstrations and classes throughout the United States and in New Zealand, Fiji, India, and Australia. Currently she lives in San Francisco Bay area in California with her husband.


I had book-marked a few recipes to try out and one of them was her Daal Dhokali (also known as Daal Dhokli). Many Gujarati households serve this dish on Sunday mornings, and it can be served either as a one-dish meal or else as a gravy preparation with rice.
Daal Dhokali is a sort of lentil soup that’s a perfect balance of salty, spicy, tangy and sweet flavours.It is made by simmering spiced “Dhokalis (diamond shaped whole-wheat pasta) in a “Daal (Lentil Soup/ Gravy)”.  The “Dhokali” are usually added to the gravy and cooked just before serving so they don’t become soggy. The lentil gravy differs from cook to cook and there are many variations. Some recipes use tuvar dal while others use a mix of lentils, some add jaggery while others keep it savoury, and so on.

The Dal Dhokali is topped off with a tempering, some lemon juice, chillies and fresh coriander leaves. It is a very popular Gujarati/Rajasthani dish and you’ll find variations of it all over the place. Some recipes make it just with toor dal, others like to mix up different lentils. Some add besan(chickpea flour) to their dhokli’s while others stick to wheat flour. Some add sugar/jaggery whereas others just keep it savory.
Daal Dhokali goes well with rice, mango pickle, papad, and an Indian style Onion, Tomato and Cucumber Salad/ Salsa
This recipe uses tuvar dal, jaggery, lemon and kokum, and peanuts. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. It’s just a matter of organising all the ingredients in one place and the cooking up this lentil preparation isn’t all the difficult.
I know when one is reviewing a recipe, it’s a plan to stick to the recipe but I deviated just a little. I added some chickpea flour (besan) to the “Dhokali” dough because I ove the taste of it. I added 1  1/2 tbsp of chickpea flour  topped up with whole-wheat flour to make up the required measurement.
I don't use shortening so substitued for it in the Dhokali dough with a little more oil.

The other thing I must mention is that since the reipe says it serves 4 to 6, I decided to halve the recipe since I didn’t want us eating Daal Dhokali through next week also. The halved recipe was enough to serve 4 to 6, in my opinion so you might want to take a call on that if you’re making this.
Other than that, we like it. Well, I should say that I liked it very much while my husband and our daughter decided they preferred the “Daal” part of the dish and would prefer to give the “Dhokali” a miss. It’s all a matter of taste, really.
Daal Dhokali (Indian Style Spiced Pasta In Split Pigeon Peas)
(Reproduced with permission from The Gujarati Kitchen by Bhanu Hajratwala)


For the Daal:

1 cup husked, split pigeon peas (tuvar/ arhar dal), soaked overnight
1 large tomato
2” -3” piece sweet potato, peeled and halved
2” slice aubergine (baingan)
1 tbsp salt
4 cups + 6 cups water
1 tsp fresh masala*
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar or 1/4 cup grated jaggery (gur)
4 kokam (optional)
1/4 cup peeled and skinned fresh peanuts (optional)
1 tbsp fresh grated coconut (optional)
6 fresh green chilles, halved lengthwise
10 -12 curry leaves 

For The Dhokali: 

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening
2/3 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tsp oil 

For Tempering: 

2 tbsp ghee
4 dried chillies
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder 

To Serve:

1/4 cup fresh chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp ghee 

*For the fresh masala grind together the following into a paste - 2” fresh ginger  + 4 garlic cloves  + 8 fresh green chillies or red chillies + 2” fresh yellow turmeric/ 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder + 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp lemon juice. This makes 3 tbsp of fresh masala which can be refrigerated for 6 to 8 weeks or frozen in small single use quantities for longer.


Start the Daal. Wash the soaked daal and drain.
In a medium covered pan, add the daal, tomato, sweet potato, aubergine, salt and 4 cups water.
Bring to a boil. Cook covered, on moderate-low heat for about 30 minutes, till the daal is completely soft. Remove from heat. (If using a pressure cooker, add only 3 cups of water and cook for 10 minutes).
Mix with a hand-held or electric mixer till the daal and the vegetables are well blended and smooth.
Stir in the fresh masala, turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin powders. Add the lemon juice, sugar/ jaggery and 6 cups of water. Mix well.
Add the kokam, peanuts, and coconut (if you wish), fresh chillies and curry leaves, and then set aside.

Make the Dhokalis next. In a medium bowl combine the flour, chilli and turmeric powders, carom seeds and salt. Mix well. Rub in the shortening.
Add the water and knead to make a pliable dough. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Lightly oil a rolling board and rolling pin.
Roll one portion of the dough thinly into a large circle, 10” – 12” in diameter. Cut into strips in two directions, creating diamond shaped pieces about 1 1/2 “ wide.
Transfer the Dhokali to a tray or wax paper. Repeat with the remaining 5 portions of dough.

Now make the Daal Dhokali. Bring the Daal to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer.
Carefully add the Dhokali pieces to the simmering Daal. Stir gently, but frequently. After the Dhokali has been added, raise the heat and let it boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
The consistency of the Daal Dhokali can vary from family to family. For a thicker consistency, boil for a longer time. To make a thinner one, add 1/2 cup water or more as desired. Remove from heat.

Temper the Daal Dhokali. Put the ghee in a small covered pan on moderate-low heat.
When the ghee is hot, add the red chillies, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Cover the pan till the mustard seeds pop and the fenugreek seeds turn light brown.
Add the cumin seeds and let them brown. Sprinkle in the asafoetida powder. Pour this mixture into the Daal Dhokali, and cover to prevent splattering.
Add the coriander leaves and mix. Top with ghee and serve hot with yogurt and papad. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.
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March 11, 2013

Parippu Kanji (A Festive Lentil and Jaggery Porridge) And The Winner Of “The Vegan Kitchen-Bollywood Style!” Giveaway

e just celebrated Shivarathri, a religious occasion that is almost synonymous with Parippu Kanji for us. Parippu Kanji (where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is gruel or porridge) is a much lighter version of the more festive and richer lentil and jaggery pudding (or kheer) that we call Parippu Pradhaman/ Payasam.
Shivarathri (also Maha Shivarathri) or “the night of the Lord Shiva” as it literally translates as, is celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is always celebrated through the evening and night on a moonless night sometime in late Feb/ March. According to the traditional solar-lunar calendar, Shivarathri this year was on the 10th of March (the night of Chathurdasi during the new moon/ dark half phase in the month of Kumbham, and the day before “Amavasya” which is the day of the “new moon”).
The celebration of Shivarathri is connected to many legends and I’m not sure which one is more authentic than the other.
One is the story in the Puranas when Lord Shiva saved the world. This was during the mythical churning of the ocean by the Gods and Demons to obtain Amrith (nectar of immortality). During the process of churning the ocean, what came out first was halahal, a pot of deadly poison.  The Gods and the Demons, terrified as the poison could destroy the entire world, ran to Lord Shiva for help. He drank the deadly poison and his wife, Parvathi, held it in his throat so he wouldn’t swallow it. It is said that the poison stayed in this throat turning it blue, and giving him the name Neelakanta (meaning “the one with the blue throat”) by which He is also known.
Another legend attributes Shivarathri to being the night when the Lord Shiva and Shakti got married. Another attributes it to a celebration of the Godess Parvathi”s prayers and penance to ward off any evil that might befall her husband, the Lord Shiva.
Yet another one attributes the celebrations, especially the observance of staying awake throughout the night of Shivarathri, to Lubdhaka who was a very devout followerof the Lord Shiva.
The tradition of performing the “abhishekam (ritual washing of the Shivalingam)” on Shivarathri is connected to the legend of the Godess Ganga’s (personification of the river Ganges) descent from the heavens into the earth, and Lord Shiva’s locks of hair.
Many believe that Shivarathri is celebrated in keeping with the Lord Shiva’s wishes, when his wife the Godess Parvathi asked him how he would prefer to be worshipped by his devotees.
There is also another legend attributed to this celebration, that of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma (the other two Gods in the trinity) searching for the origin of the Shivalinga (the symbol of worship of Lord Shiva). Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma got into an argument about which one of them was superior. Lord Shiva intervened saying whichever of the two could find out the origin or end of the Shivalinga would be declared superior. The Lord Shiva appeared before both of them as a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu decided to go searching upwards while Lord Brahma went downwards but neither could find an origin nor an end! Both gave up their futile search and this appearance of the Lord Shiva is celebrated as Shivarathri.
Whichever is the story behind it, Shivarathri is traditionally celebrated all across by Hindus, by observing a day long fast during which only fruit and sometimes milk is partaken of. At dusk the fast is broken by eating light food, often with something sweet. Depending on which part of India is celebrating, the prescribed dishes will differ. The night of Shivarathri is usually spent by staying awake, with religious and cultural activities.
As I mentioned earlier, in my community, Shivarathri is synonymous with Parippu Kanji. Parippu Kanji is made of split moong lentils/ moong dal (a rich source of protein) and jaggery (unrefined sugar) and milk which make it light but nutritious enough to break a day long fast.
Traditonally, the Parippu Kanji is made with just 4 ingredients – lightly toasted lentils, water, jaggery and milk. It is essentially a light but energy giving drink that can be tolerated after a day-long fast. We don’t fast so I like to add a little cardamom to it, because I firmly believe that cardamom can make a lot of sweets and desserts better. I also like to toast the lentils in a little bit of ghee (clarified butter) because this lends more flavour to the nutty taste of roasted lentils.
The key is to let the nuttiness of the lentils come through without overpowering it with the flavour of the ghee.  Adding a bit of powdered dried ginger (sonth) lends an interesting twist, to my mind, but not absolutely necessary.
The Kanji should be look creamy ans smooth but with very small soft bits of lentil, and a bit thinner than a regular porridge, and of a consistency that can be drunk out of a glass. Traditionally it is served warm, but try serving chilled on a warm summer day.
Parippu Kanji (A Festive Lentil and Jaggery Porridge)
1/2 cup split moong lentils (moong dal)
1tsp ghee (clarified butter)
2 cups water
3/4 cup powdered jaggery (a little more or less depending on sweetness of jaggery and your taste)
1/3 cup water
2 cups milk (2% fat)
4 to 5 pods cardamom, powdered
1 to 2 tsp powdered dry ginger (optional)
Put the ghee and lentils in a pan and toast them, on low heat, constantly stirring till they turn a light golden colour (do not brown) and give out a nutty aroma. Toasting the lentils not only adds nuttiness to the Kanji but also makes sure that they don’t become sticky when cooked.
Take the pan off the heat. Cook the lentils in 2 cups of water, in a pressure cooker till they’re well cooked and mushy. If you’re cooking the lentils on the stove or the Microwave, you might need more water. However you cook the lentils, they should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot.
Break up the lentils by using a potato masher/ ricer or a whisk so that it looks creamy but still has very small bits in it.
While the lentils are cooking, dissolve the powdered jaggery in the 1/3rd cup of water, and then decant or strain the solution to remove possible impurities in the jaggery. Put this jaggery solution and the cooked lentils in a pan and, bring to boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let this simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.  Add the powdered ginger (if using) and the cardamom. Stir well and take it off the heat.
Let it cool a bit, then pour the Parippu Kanji into glasses and serve warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.

This goes off to Susan’s MLLA # 57 now being hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen, and this month at SeduceYour Tastebuds.

Before I sign off this post, I’m happy to announce the winner of the giveaway of a copy of The Vegan Kitchen – Bollywood Style!the  The lucky person whose name came up is Samruddhi. Please e-mail me your mailing address so I can send your book.
If I don’t get a reply within the next 5 days, I will pick another winner for the book.
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