Sunday, August 30, 2009

UkaDiche Modak - Indian cooking Challenge - Ganesh Chaturthi Special

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated bit differently in Maharashtra. Its celebrated at home as well as as community. Lokamanya Tilak transformed that into a community based event. Most of the time a group of people come together and form a committee and decide on the agenda, decoration and programs through out 10 days of the celebration. A pandal is hoisted and decorated with colorful fabric, lights, flowers. Some community decides to decorate the pandal with a theme from Mahabharat or Ramayan or choose a topic from current events. These days some communities even started using eco-friendly methods to celebrate and spread importance of making ecologically smart choices in day-to-day life. Some communities have daily programs in the evening that showcase local talent.

Here in US, we try to do as much celebration we used to do in India. We bring Ganesha home, decorate as much as we can, make garlands, draw rangoli. And of course for every festival there has to be some special food. For Maharashtrians its Modak! We believe that Lord Ganesha loves Modak, sweet coconut filled dumplings either steamed or deep fried. Almost everyone make some kind of Modak to offer as naivedya. Srivalli decided to have full set of Ganesh Chaturthi food for August challenge and I shared two recipes from Maharashtra for the challenge. But her idea was to try special food from some other region, so I tried from Andhra/Tamilnadu. I made Kudumulu and sesame laddos using Srivalli's recipes. I also made specialty from my region.

Here are the pictures and recipes -

Modak -

21 Ukadiche Modaks

Stuffing -
2 cups freshly grated coconut (can use frozen unsweetened coconut)
1 cup jaggery (grated)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp cardamom powder
one pinch nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp water (mom uses milk)

Cover -
1 cup rice flour
1.25 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil

Preparation for Stuffing -
Roast poppy seeds in a small skillet and let it cool down. Grind it coarsely and keep it aside.
In a heavy bottom kadhai mix all the ingredients for stuffing except poppy seed powder and let it sit for 15 min. Now start heating the mixture over medium heat. In about 10-12 minutes, the mixture starts boiling and stuffing will turn yellowish brown and will be sticky. Take the kadhai off the heat, add poppy seeds powder and mix well. Set it aside to cool down.

Preparation for cover -
Take vessel that has tight fitting cover. Start boiling water in that vessel, add salt and oil. When water starts boiling, lower the heat and slowly add rice flour. Please do now dump everything at once. Start mixing vigorously with a heavy spoon. Now close the lid and take the pot off the heat. Let the covered pot cool down for 15 minutes or so. Then with wet hands, mix the dough properly. It will warm so be careful and use cold water to keep your hands from burning but do not use too much water. if you think the dough is little sticky, I will suggest add 1-2 tbsp maida to it and make the dough.

Making Modak (Final Product) -
Start boiling water in a large vessel that can fit a steamer. I use a stainless steel steamer that fits on a pressure cooker and water doesn't touch the steamer and use stainless steel plate to cover it. Oil the steamer and set it aside.
Make about 20 balls of the dough and 20 parts of the stuffing. Start making small puri with the dough ball on a oiled paper/aluminum foil. Keep one part of stuffing in the middle of the puri and gather the puri gently to make shape like modak. You can see the picture here - You will have to handle the dough very gently. Follow the step to make remaining modaks. Now dip each modak in cold water and put it in the steamer. Put the steamer on boiling water and cover it. Let the modaks steam for 20 minutes on medium to high heat. Take the steamer off the vessel and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing modak from steamer.

Close up of Rice Flour Modak
Traditionally, modaks are served with ghee but it can be served with coconut milk.

Nugul-untallu (Sesame Laddoo) -

Sesame Laddoo

Sesame Laddoos tastes out of the world. This one of the traditional sweets that Amma makes. I managed to prepare them this time. This is traditionally prepare with the black seeds with the skin on. Wash them well and dry them under sun.

Dry roast them in a tawa and let them cool. Once they are cool, take about 2 - 3tbsp of grated or powdered jaggary and run in a mixie. The amount of jaggary normally depends on the formation of laddoo. When you make a laddoo, it should stay in shape. Then you know the amount is enough. Also it depends on the fineness of the sesame powder. When you run in mixie, it becomes little oily which will help in holding the laddoo shape.

Kudumulu -

Rice Flour - 1 & 1/2 cup
Water - 3 cups.
salt to taste


Grated coconut - 3 tbsp
Jaggary - 3 tbsp
Cardamom powder a pinch.

Preparation -

In a bowl, take the flour and make a smooth paste with enough water. This is to ensure, you don't get lumps when you cook the flour. Boil the rest of the water in a pan with salt. Once it starts boiling, add the rice flour mix. and cook. Making sure there are no lumps.

Add 1 tsp of oil and keep stirring. You can remove when it forms as solid with the sides leaving. Remove and cover with a damp cloth so that it remains hot.

For the filling, grate coconut. and mix jaggary. Cook in a pan to get an thick texture. Divide into required shapes

For the kudumulu, smear your hands with oil so that rice flour doesn't stick to your hands. Take a ball size of lemon, press in middle so that in middle it is thick and fill with fillings. Close the dough and make it shaped as drop.

Once everything is done, stream it for 10 mins.

Panchakhadya -

Ingredients -
1 cup grated dry coconut
4-5 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp poppy seeds
4-5 dried dates (Maharashtrians call it kharik)
1/2 tbsp cardamom powder
4-5 tbsp coarsely powdered mixed nuts (almonds,cashews, pistachios)
pinch of nutmeg powder

Procedure -
Dry roast grated coconut on a very light heat and set aside. Dry roast poppy seeds and grind them coarsely after cooling them for 5 minutes. Take the seeds off the dried dates and grind them coarsely as well. Mix all these ingredients and nuts powder, cardamom, nutmeg, powdered sugar together and offer to Ganesha as prasad.

I did not get time for Churma Laddoos and Boorelu, Kudaalu.
Verdict -
1. For Kudumulu 3tbsp coconut was not enough for me :). May be I am used to more filling in Modak.
2. Sesame laddoos were the easiest thing to make.

And as the title suggests, the recipes are for August edition of Indian Cooking Challenge-Festival Food.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Here is a fruit bouquet to celebrate the lovely award by Jaya and Vaishali. Thank you both for sharing the award with me.

Fruit Bouquet For Celebration

Here are some (non)interesting things about me -

1. As a child I was extremely slow and would take at least an hour to finish my lunch or dinner. My mom would get mad at me almost daily (make that multiple times). A classmate from 4th grade who knew that 'slow' me, met me in grad school. After observing me for couple of days, she said just because I know only one girl with that name, I have to believe its you otherwise you have changed drastically!

2. My mom once made dhokla and she did not give me more than one piece as it would have upset my stomach. I still remember the corner of the house where I sat crying and saying 'I want Thokla (means block in Marathi)' and my father gave me wooden blocks of alphabets and I refused is saying not this Thokla, the eating kind! I guess my love for dhokla started back then when I was not even 4 years old.

3. You can call me jack of all trades but master of none! I love to learn things may that be embroidery, painting, knitting, crocheting, pottery or any art. I still love to spend hours playing with needle and thread or mud.

4. I worked as a faculty in a Computer Science department where my students were just a year younger to me. I really had a blast. There were times when students from other department treated me as one of them unknowingly and then apologized later for being rude.

5. I love pets. As a kid I wanted to have a cat as pet and I got one from a friend. My mom immediately asked me to return it because we were too young to take care of it. Later we owned 3 dogs. My dad was against paying money to get a purebred dog so our dogs were some stray dogs that we adopted at early age.

6. I rarely watch new bollywood movies. But Chupke Chupke is my favorite one and can watch that any day and any number of times.

7. I got interested in cooking at a very early age. My mom, all my grandmas and aunts are really good cooks. I have been making bhakri since I was 12 years old. And I rally cant name one single dish as my favorite dish. I am always ready to try any vegan/partial vegetarian food and will try recreate it.

I am not going to nominate anyone as all of you are really great bloggers and creative in a way that is very unique. I have learned something from each of you. So here is to you all -

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato, Bell Pepper and Garlic Chutney

I recently got few heirloom tomatoes, couple of Fresno chilies, few tiny bell peppers. I was hoping for well growing healthy plants which would yield giant bell peppers and tons of fresnos when I planted my vegetable garden this spring. Creatures that own 'our' backyard had some other plans! squirrel ate all the pepper plants leaving just hard stems, birdies ate cilantro, basil, fenugreek and whatever they could. The only plants survived were tomato plants and mint. Later we built frames with wire net to keep these creatures out of my vegetable patch. Finally we started getting few tiny bell peppers, few stems of cilantro, garlic leaves, tomatoes! This year I decided not to harvest the almonds from trees in the backyard because I wanted save my vegetable patch for myself and let them eat the fresh nuts as many as they want. Something for me and something for me. I am happy and I hope they are happy too.

Tomatoes-bell peppers-garlic

Even though the name of the post is mouthful, the recipe is as simple as it can get -


1 Bell pepper
1 Large tomato
4-5 Sprigs of garlic leaves
2 Small chilies (or per taste)
3-4 Cashews
10-12 Peanuts
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
Salt per taste

Procedure -
Chop tomatoes, bell peppers and chilies in chunks. Chop garlic leaves in 1 inch pieces.
Heat oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add garlic leaves let them wilt and add chopped peppers. Roast them on a medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Now add nuts and salt and roast for couple more minutes. Then add tomatoes and roast it till water evaporates almost completely.
Let the mixture cool down and grind coarsely. Adjust salt and enjoy with Adai, Idli, Pasarattu or with simple bread.

Tips -
  1. I prefer using red bell pepper as I like that flavor the most. Even though the picture shows pieces of green pepper, the variety actually yields red peppers.
  2. This is not very spicy chutney.
  3. You can use almonds/pine nuts/sunflower seeds instead of cashews ad peanuts.
  4. If you do not have garlic leaves you can use garlic chives or even a small clove of garlic.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kacchi Dabeli Sandwich

'Dabeli' was something that I ate very late in life but I am glad that I did. It is very different than any other quick meals that you get. Its not deep fried and does not have tons of butter, or may be it does and I did not notice. I still remember I had it first near 'HongKong Lane' Pune. Those who know Pune, very well know what lane I am talking about. There was this small book store at the end of the lane and then there was a Dabeliwala with his bicycle. He would warm the potato mixture spoon it on the paav and then generously apply green and tamarind chutneys, sprinkle shev, masala peanuts and pomegranate seeds and voila! the dabeli was ready to enjoy. It was fun to watch him do the whole process and the dabeli was definitely one of the better tasting ones.

In recent India visit I saw a vendor was selling 'Amul butter Dabeli' in Bombay and I kept on wondering why would someone want to add butter on such a tasty filling. But I guess there are people who like that as well that is why he is selling it.

My friend Priya got me a packet of Dabeli masala from India and I am still using it and another blogger shared some from her stash so I had plenty of reasons to share my version of recipe.

Kacchi Dabeli Sandwich

I started making sandwiches instead of making traditional style dabeli as its easier to carry it for picnics or lunches.

Potato Filling -
2-3 medium potatoes boiled
1 tbsp dabeli masala
salt and red chili powder to taste
1 tbsp oil

Green Chutney -
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup mint leaves
1-2 green chilies
salt, sugar and lime juice - per taste

Sweet Chutney -
3 tbsp tamarind pulp (as thick as possible)
6-7 pitted dates
2-3 tbsp jaggery
salt, red chili powder - per taste
pinch of cumin powder (optional)

Masala Peanuts -
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
salt, red chili powder - per taste

Other ingredients -
8 slices of bread (I use whole wheat bread)
Chopped cilantro
Few cut grapes
Finely chopped onion (optional)
Garlic chutney

Preparation -

  1. Potato filling - Skin the potatoes and mash them. Heat oil in skillet and add 1/4 tbsp dabeli masala to it. Add mashed potatoes, remaining masala, salt, red chili powder and mix it well. Add couple tbsp of water to the mixture if needed. Cover it for couple of minutes and turn off the gas. Make 4 portions of the filling.
  2. Chutneys - Grind all the ingredients of green chutney and set it aside. Also grind all the ingredients of sweet chutney and set it aside.
  3. Masala Peanuts - in a small skillet, heat oil and add roasted peanuts. Saute till nuts turn golden brown. Add salt and chili powder after taking it off the heat and set that aside as well. Let them cool down so you can handle them.
  4. Apply green chutney on 4 slices of bread. Apply potato filling on these four slices of bread evenly. Apply sweet chutney over the potato filling and sprinkle 4-5 peanuts on. Now sprinkle garlic chutney, chopped onion, cilantro, grapes. Cover with remaining four slices.
  5. Using the sandwich maker make the sandwiches as usual. If you do not have sandwich maker then heat a tava/skillet. Apply few drops of oil to the skillet and set the bread slices down. Let them turn brown on one side then turn and then cook the other side till golden brown. Serve warm with ketchup or prepared green and sweet chutney.
Tips -
  1. All the things can be prepared in advance and make the sandwiches as and when needed.
  2. The potato feeling can be used for stuffed parathas, it tastes yummm :)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

अडाई (Adai)

मी अडाई पहिल्यांदा खाल्ली त्याला बरीच वर्षे झाली. मग अचानक विसरून गेले. मग अचानक एका मैत्रिणीकडे खिसलेले गाजर आणि कोबी घातलेले अडाई खाल्ले टोमॅटोच्या चटणीबरोबर आणि मला ते खूपच आवडले. हे तिला सांगितल्यावर अमचे एकदम साटेलोटे ठरले, मी तिला पालक डाळ करुन द्यायची आणि तिने मला अडाई पीठ करुन द्यायचे. हे वर्षभर नीट चालले पण मग ती देशात निघुन गेली आणि मग तिला माझी पालक डाळ मिळेनाशी झाली आणि मला अडाई. मग रेसिपी एक्स्चेंज झाले मी ब्लॉगवर पालक डाळ तिच्यासाठी लिहिली आणि तिने इमेलमधे मला अडाईची रेसिपी पाठवली :) तर तिची ही मस्त रेसिपी लिहुन ठेवायची तर ब्लॉगवरच का नको? म्हणुन मग मी जरा त२-३ वेळा करुन पहिल्यानंतर लिहितेय -

Adai Rolls
१ भाग हरभरा डाळ (चणा डाळ)
१ भाग मूग डाळ (शक्यतो साल असलेली)
१ भाग उडीद डाळ (शक्यतो साल असलेली)
१ भाग तूर डाळ
१ भाग तांदूळ (मी ब्राउन राईस वापरला)
४ लाल सुक्या मिरच्या
२-३ पाकळ्या लसूण
चवीप्रमाणे मीठ
२ टेबल्स्पून खोबरे (सुके/ओले कोणतेही चालेल)

कृती -
सर्व डाळी आणि तांदूळ नीट निवडून धुवुन पाण्यात कमीतकमी ६-७ भिजत ठेवावे. भिजवतानाच त्यात लाल मिरची आणि लसूण घालावा. ६-७ तासानंतर त्यातले पाणी बाजुला काढुन घ्यावे आणि भिजवलेली धान्ये मिक्सरमधे / फूडप्रोसेसरमधे बारीक करावीत. शक्यतो जितके बारीक करता येईल तितके करावे. त्यात गरज लागेल तसे ते धान्य भिजवलेले पाणीच घालावे. शेवटी मीठ आणि खोबरे घालावे. पीठची कन्सिस्टंसी साधारण डोश्याच्या पिठासारखी असते. गरम नॉनस्टिक तव्यावर नेहेमीच्या डोस्यासारखे डोसे करावेत. अडाई नेहेमीच्या डोस्यापेक्षा थोडे जाडसर असतात. चटणीबरोबर खायला द्यावेत.

टीप -
१. अडाई पीठ तयार केल्या केल्या लगेचच करता येतात किंवा पुढे २ दिवसात कधीही करता येतात.
२. पीठ अंबवले नाहीतरी हरकत नाही. पण पीठात खिसलेल्या भाज्या वगैरे घालणार असाल तर मात्र पीठ खुप दिवस ठेवु नये.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Orange Coconut Barfi

Priya, had this amazing orange barfi on her recent visit to India and told me all about it. The combination was really interesting. I have heard about Haldiram's Santrabarfi but I am sure it has Khoya/Mava but I did not ask her. Then I remember seeing Nupur's version of Orange Basundee by Sandeepa. Looking at all these things I wanted to make something sweet with home grown oranges but did not want to use any milk product. I have tried orange rice and that also tastes great and I have blogged about it here. Then decided to try only with fresh coconut and orange juice avoiding any milk products. And result was amazing. This was special treat for Rakhi/Narali Pournima this year and I have got 'farmaish' for more!

Here is how I made it -

2 cups freshly grated coconut (can use frozen unsweetened coconut)
1 cup orange juice
1.25 cup sugar (can add some more if needed)
1 tsp cardamom powder
2-3 threads of saffron
10-12 pistachios (optional)
1 tbsp orange zest (optional)

Preparation -
Start heating coconut and orange juice in a heavy bottom kadhai on a medium heat. While stirring constantly, let the orange juice evaporate almost completely before adding sugar (approx 10+ minutes).
Add sugar, saffron and orange zest to the mixture and start stirring it constantly. Meanwhile grease a plate generously and keep it ready.
The mixture will start thickening and start leaving the sides of the pan. Add cardamom powder. Let it cook for 2-3 more minutes stirring vigorously. Turn the heat off and stir the mixture before spreading the mixture in the greased plate. Spread it evenly and decorate with chopped nuts and cut the pieces in diamond or square shape.
Let the plate cool down completely before removing barfis from the plate and serving.

Tips -
  • You can use store bought orange juice or like me squeeze it fresh.
  • I used almond oil to grease the pan you can use coconut oil or earth balance.
  • You can add chopped nuts inside the mixture.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Visit to farmers market and three pepper salad

Farmers markets give me a feeling of going to Mandai/Sabji Mandi in India. I went to mandai with my mom since I was baby. My mom remembers couple of times I just disappeared in the market while she was paying the vendor. We both laugh at the memories now but, although I do not remember much, I can imagine it must have been a very scary moment for both of us. After a while I learnt to go to mandai alone. Vendors would recognize me by face and give special treatment as any girls of my age would rarely go to the mandai alone. I really enjoyed bargaining for the price while picking best possible tomatoes, okra, carrots and all the favorite sabjis. I used to be a weekly chore that I enjoyed. Later my brother started going too and then we would go alternate weekends and compare prices :)

I had been planning a trip to San Francisco Farmers Market for a while now and recently managed to go and spend entire morning there. I love the ferry plaza area, love watching people jogging, tourists taking pictures. One can easily spend few hours just watching old piers, Bay Bridge, Seagulls. Farmers market was an added attraction. I got some lovely pictures of various vegetables, fruits and flowers and picked up heirloom yellow eyed beans from Rancho Gordo, fresh berries, fresh garlic and also squeezed in a visit to Sur La Table, although I did not buy anything ;)

Here are couple of pictures -

Ferry Building

A vendor was selling variety of peppers and rhubarb. I bought all the varieties of bell peppers and sweet peppers he had. Here are some of them -

Colored peppers

Lets move on to this simple recipe -

Three pepper salad

1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 purple bell pepper
1 mango
1 small avocado (optional)
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 lemon
1 tsp Chat Masala
salt and sugar - per taste

Preparation -
Soak the garbanzo beans for 6-7 hours. Add pinch of salt to the beans and pressure cook them just enough, do not overcook. Add salt while cooking the beans. Let the cooked beans cool down to room temperature.
Wash and halve the peppers, remove seeds and dice them in 1/2" pieces. Peel mango and cube the flesh in 1/2" pieces. Dice Avocado in 1/2" pieces as well if you are planning to use it. Squeeze few drops of lemon juice on diced avocado to prevent it from turning brown.
In a large bowl, mix diced peppers, mango, garbanzo beans, avocado. Add remaining lemon juice, salt, sugar, chat masala and mix it together.
Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Salad in my favorite bowl

Tips -
  1. Watch the following link to see how to cut avocado -
  2. This salad can be partially prepared ahead of time. Mix everything except mango and avocado few hours or even a day in advance. Add mango and avocado at the last moment.
  3. You can use any other fruit like apple, pear, peach, plum instead of mango.
  4. You can use canned garbanzo beans but drain and rinse them before adding to the salad.

भाजीचे सांडगे

महाराष्ट्रात खूप प्रकारची वाळवणे करण्याच्या पद्धती आहेत. त्यामागचा मुख्य उद्देश पदार्थ टिकवून गरजेवेळी वापरणे. यात सगळ्याप्रकाराचे पापड, कु...