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Kodumpuli itta curry

After moving to the farm, I started learning a lot more recipes from the Kerala cuisine, from my neighbor and friend Lily Chechi.

We love everything , yes every single thing she cooks. Her secret ingredients are her passion for cooking and the love with which she cooks for people.

She inspires me in several different dimensions to say the least.

Here is her signature dish “Kodumpuli itta curry”  or she calls it “Meen illatha Meen curry”

This is her vegetarian version of the famous Kottayam Meen curry and we LOVE it. She taught me the recipe and here I am recording and sharing it with her permission.

Chechi uses tender coconut slices or vazhakkai, I have tried it with both. I have experimented with brinjals. Every thing tastes great!

Kodumpuli itta curry and Mor kootan

What’s needed

Raw plaintains 2 small or 4-5 brinjals or a small cup of tender coconut slices ( from Elaneer or tender coconut)

Chinna vengayam/Small Red Onions : 6-8 chopped
Inji/Ginger  : 2 tbsp  grated or minced
Poondu/Garlic : 15 cloves ( finely minced)

Kudampuli : 3-4 or to taste soaked in 1/2 cup of water

Water : 1 1/2 -2 cup
Coconut Oil : 2-3 tbsp
Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves : 2 sprig
Salt to taste
Kashmir Chilly Powder /Paprika : 3 tsp
Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder : 1/2 tsp ( we eat mild, please adjust as per your requirement)
Fenugreek Powder : 1/4 tsp

 How to prepare it

Soak the kudampuli pieces in 1/2 cup warm water for 10 mins.

If  you are using

  • Raw plaintain – make thick long pieces and steam them
  • Eggplants – roast them in oil
  • Tender coconut pieces do not need to be cooked
Make a paste of the all spice powders listed above 11/2 -2 tbsp of water and keep it aside.
Heat a pan preferably in ‘Kalchatti’ Mudpot and pour coconut oil, splutter the mustard seeds and 1 sprig of  curry leaves.
Add the chopped shallots to the oil and saute till it turns translucent, until all water is evaporated.
 Add the grated ginger garlic and saute until the raw smell is gone.
 Reduce the fire to medium flame and add the spice powder paste; saute for a couple of minutes  until the oil starts leave the sides of the pan Take care not to burn it.
 Now add 11/2 cup of  water or as needed, salt and the kudampuli pieces along with the water in which they were soaked.
 Bring it to a boil, adjust the salt and add the vegetables
Let it simmer till the gravy thickens  to your desired consistency
Then sprinkle coconut oil ,the curry leaves to the Fishless fish curry.
Serve with piping hot plain boiled rice or with Mashed tapoica (Kappa puzhukku).
Happy eating
Signing off

Kokila

 

 

My Love for Stone and Clay pots

My appatha(paternal grandmother) used to have a Kalluchatti ( Stone cookware). I remember it so well, oh that black beauty  and the dishes cooked out of it used to be so tasty. These memorioes later turned into a yearning for owning one such chatti : P

Anyway I put aside this desire to own a kalluchatti in one corner of my heart and went on with life as usual. Then recently we were at Biobasics to pick up our groceries and my dear friend Devi tells me about the new Kallu chattis they have got. The little girl in me was so delighted, the memories of my childhood rushed through my head. It felt like there was nothing to stop me from being the proud owner of this kallu chatti.

I already own a few mannu chattis or clay pots too.

Kalluchattidalma

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the tips to season and handle these cookware. They need a lot of attention and care and I promise that they return the same care and attention in the food that cook for you :) win-win

 

 

 

Why Kalluchatti/Mann chatti?
The flavor of cooking in these stone/clay vessels in unbelievable. Food cooks evenly and slowly making the taste flavorful and intense.

Two it retains heat for a longer time there by keeps food fresher for a longer time and the food doesn’t spoil as fast as in a stainless steel cookware. It’s so beautiful that you can use it as a serving dish too J

It is said that food cooked in stone or clay ware retain more nutrition than the ones cooked in SS, well I do not have any scientific proof to this statement, but my heart kind of says this is true !

It is said that due to their alkaline nature mud and clay interacting with the acid in the food, there by neutralizing pH of the food.

Seasoning the Stoneware (the same methods are applicable for clay pots too)

  •  The soap stone/clay cooking pots are soft, fragile and porous. They will have small very fine specks of stone, so before starting to cook edible things, it’s necessary that we season before you put them on fire for cooking. If you put them on fire without seasoning they may break or crack.
  • For seasoning keep salt water in it for a few hours and then wash the entire pot with the same water. Subsequently pour and store to the full some starchy water like the water you get after washing the rice or the starchy water you get when you drain the excess water after the rice is cooked. This starchy water is called Kanji.
  • Soak it with kanji water say overnight.Then on a low flame heat it till it boils then let it cool down. Subsequently wash the entire pot with the same starchy water.
  • Repeat this process for 5-6 times.
  • Apply a mixture of oil and turmeric powder to inside and outside and keep out in sun for 4 -5 days
  • oil and turmeric coated
  •  Now the new stone pot is ready to be kept on the fire for cooking purpose. Once the pot is seasoned and the pores of the stone get sealed and the surface gets less absorbent and denser.
  • When they are seasoned, they turn dark in color, almost black, with age and seasoning.

 

Important points on stone/clay pot cooking

 

  • Soaking your cookware for 20 mins in water before cooking is a good habit.

 

  • These pots take a longer time to get heated and in the same way they also take longer to get cooler. Since the stone/clay retains the heat you should know that the food will continue to get cooked even after you remove the pot from the heat source. Switch off a few minutes earlier keeping in mind this off-the-fire cooking.
  •  They can be used on usual gas stove too. Just that never use them on high heat. Low heat is preferable and you may gradually increase it to medium heat. Sudden changes in temperature might crack the pot. I generally prefer cooking on low heat.
  • Soap stone pots serve the purpose of cooking the food and also as a serving dish/casserole. The food will be hot on the table for a long time.
  • Do not keep an empty stone/clay vessel on the fire. Always keep something in the pot and then keep it on the fire. There is always a chance of their breaking if you expose them to dry heat.
  • By nature the soap stone pots are gentle and fragile and hence have to be handled with care. Do not handle them by the rim of the pot. Always hold them with both hands and have a grip with the fingers around the body of the pot.Do not pick up with tongs, always use pot holders/cloth
  • Do not put hot pots on cold surfaces, they might crack.
  • After using let them cool completely before you try to wash them.
  • Never put them in dishwasher
  • They are porous in nature so DO not use chemical dishwash powders to clean them as they can absorb them and later leach it into your food. Instead use natural dishwash powders based on soapnut/shikakai etc.
  • Do not use scrubbers that are abrasive to clean your pots, it will decrease the seasoning
  • It is a good practice to season your pots once in a while to maintain seasoning and to avoid food getting stuck to the pots. They last longer. The more you care for them, long their life.

 

It might sound difficult or strenous but once you get used to it, it gets easy. You will keep falling in love with the food that these pots can make and will never want to stop cooking in them. They are magical :)   Enjoy and spread the magic

Warmly,

Koki

 

 

Going nuts for peanuts !!

We love groundnuts/peanuts. Our love for peanuts cannot be quantified easily, but if we have to then the number of bottles of peanut butter and peanut podi we devour each month may be a good enough number :D

My lil ones can have peanut butter day in and day out for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner or just like that. That’s what made me start making peanut butter at home.

Biobasics, the safe place for good organic produce and groceries in Coimbatore, had peanut garlic podi from Timbaktu for sale. We tasted it .. is there any way we would not love it … Nahhh.

My Little S has suddenly developed a love for spicy food ! He loved this podi so much that I really wanted to try making it at home. So guesstimating the quantities and imagining the tastes with the help of various centres in brain, this recipe of mine was born.

I am not sure if its exactly like the store bought podi, but My Little S lovesssssssss it. That’s all I need. No more plastic packets of this podi entering home, that makes me happpy:)  Thanks to Biobasics for the good quality peanuts :)

Here is how I made it

PEANUT GARLIC CHUTNEY POWDER

Peanut garlic podi and peanut butter

Peanut garlic podi and peanut butter

Things needed :

2 cups of groundnuts shelled/ peanuts

1 whole pod of garlic peeled

4-5 red chillies (adjust as per taste)

small amla size ball of tamarind (optional- I love the tang and its preservative quality)

Salt as per taste

1-2 tsp of cooking oil of your choice

How to make it :

  • Take a thick bottomed pan and dry roast the peanuts well till u hear them popping. Make sure u stir frequently for even roasting and to avoid burning. Set them aside
  • IMG_1623[1]Now add oil to the pan and roast the red chillies and tamarind, then add the garlic pods and give a quick stir for a minute. The garlic pods should not be roasted completely but just cooked very lightly
  • IMG_1625[1]Add the roasted peanuts and salt to the pan. Stir for a minute or two.
  • IMG_1626[1]Switch off the stove and let the ingredients cool completely before grinding
  • Pulse/Grind them coarsely in mixer grinder  or in stone grinder for a better taste.
  • Store it in a airtight glass bottle
  • Enjoy the podi with rice, dosas, idlis, sprinkle on your salads… let your creativity guide you

Dont’s

Just make sure you roast each ingredient with great care without burning any of them

Enjoy and go nuts for peanut podi with your own twist :)

Signing off with love,

Koki

 

Dalma – A dedication to all my friends from Odisha

 

I am fortunate to learn yoga under Ms.Saraswati Vasudevan from Yogavahini at Chennai. Its an excellent and blessed place to connect to the knowledge of Yoga  through various gurus in the lineage of the legendary yoga guru Sri Krishnamacharya. Life got me the blessing to learn here and also got me great friends for a life time.

Yogavahini conducted Yoga and wellness training for the employees of a corporate finance company across India in a record time in April and May 2016. 56 teachers traveled across India to various locations for the training. Fortunately  I also got the opportunity to conduct yoga and wellness workshops at 3 different locations in Odisha – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and JajpurRoad, twice.

It was an extremely powerful experience for me. 5 days and touched 220 plus lives in ways I never did imagine. All the participants where men who work really hard travelling on the road in Odishas heat from morning till evening.

Making them aware of

  • the importance of Yoga to handle their stress levels and to maintain good health,
  • the  importance of eating healthy, if possible eating organic foods,  healthy lifestyle based on Ayurveda
  • the importance of avoiding the toxic chemicals in our everyday lives and in addition I also included tips on sustainable living that’s healthy for us and the planet.

It turned out to be a very emotional and touching experience for the participants and me too.

They had never engaged with their breath so deeply and had never experienced the effects of breath on their body and mind. I am not sure if all 200 of them will regularly practice what was taught but my duty was to sow the seeds of awareness. I surrender it to the Universe for the seeds to sprout and grow stronger when the situations are ideal.

Anyway I got to visit Sri Lingaraj Temple, Puri Jagannath ji Temple, Konark Sun Temple and Dauligiri in a whirlwind tour. Listening to Ashokas story as a Light show on that powerful place where he transformed to Non-violent person was more than what I had wished for.

I am ever grateful for the people I met, the rasagollas and santulas I ate, the two Odisha singers who just sang songs as a dedication to me, the historical sites I visited, the mindblowing kalinga architecture and more…

Here is the famous Odiya recipe for Dalma, a dedication to all the Odiya people I met in my trip J

 

dalma

Whats needed:-

  • 3/4 cup Toor dal
  • 1 tsp Ghee or Oil
  • couple of dried Red Chillies ( as per taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs of Ginger grated or minced
  • 1 tspTurmeric powder
  • 1 tsp of Pancha-phutana (Cumin, Mustard, Fennel, Fenu greek, black cumin) seeds
  • 1 peeled Potato cut into large pieces
  • 1 big piece of  yellow Pumkin cut into large pcs
  • 1 large Brinjal  or 3-4 small ones cut into medium size pcs
  • 1 green Banana cut into medium size pcs
  • 1 small Papaya cut into medium size pcs
  • 2 Tbsp of grated Coconut
  • Salt to taste

HOW TO PREPARE (COOK) :-

  • Dry roast of cumin and red chilli in a pan and grind it fine. Set it aside
  • Pressure cook the dal for a whistle.
  • Then once the steam is released add salt, minced ginger, turmeric powder and all vegetables viz. potato, banana, pumpkin, brinjal and papaya and cook until vegetables become soft and tender say for two more whistles. Alternatively you could cook  in a pot for a longer time too.
  • Once the steam is released open and add grated coconut.
  • Take oil in the pan, heat it and add the seasonings, the panch-phutana . add it to the dal veggie mixture.
  • Sprinkle roasted cumin and chilli powder.
  • Decorate with grated coriander leaves (optional).
  • Serve with hot steamed Rice.

signing off with love

Koki

 

Meeska Mooska MICKEY MOUSE!!!

Quite a lonnnnnnnnnng time since I blogged ! Even before I start with my reasons let me , thank every one of you who called or mailed to enquire if everything was fine. To be honest life got very busy and then we had two vicious cycles of cold virus attack in our family to handle.

Anyway I some how dragged myself to the blogging world today.If you are still wondering about the blog post title and seriously thinking if my brains are in the right place after the virus attack, well I assure you yes somehow my brain stands unaffected. Thanks to the Force above. Stop your mind if its wandering off thinking this post is about Chooha fry or paratha..yikes that sounds gross.

Walt Disney, Oh GOD I am big fan of this guy, what a magic he has spread over this world. Any child on this earth who is fortunate enough to enjoy his childhood would have been touched by his magic. ?This magic is kinda overdone in our lil home. For my toddler what matters most in his life are his mickey mouse clubhouse pals and trucks!!!

So when it came to selecting the theme for this little guyz birthday celebrations, we selected “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, that was a no-brainer!

This birthday was couple weeks before, but unfortunately both my son and I were sick then… sounds so unfair doesn’t it. Well then life decided to work that way…who am I to change it. Ok now to the birthday story…

Almost a month before I started thinking on what cake to bake and how to decorate it, believe me Google would have gotten DOG -TIRED because of my search queries.

Finally I thought a lot and I decided it has to be the French Opera Cake. I had been longing to bake this since the Daring bakers baked it 2 years back, I just did not find the right?occasion and time.

Opera cake is an elegant French dessert made up of five elements:

  • a jaconde – which is the cake layer
  • a syrup to be drizzled over the cake
  • a buttercream that fills the cake layers adding additional layers to the cake
  • a ganache or a mousse
  • a glaze to cover the top layer

Thanks to Meeta of “Whats for Lunch honey” fame for her wonderful instructions really helped me get it right at the very first attempt. ?I just could not and did not follow the recipe exactly as

  • I wanted to change the flavour and adapt it to suit ?my lil ones taste buds… After all it was his Big day:D ?I decided on Orange and?Chocolate?as the flavours… a match made in heaven.
  • I was lazy enough to change the buttercream and syrup recipes completely ?to simple ones and not the Daring baker kind …
  • I avoided the glaze as my son is not a very big fan of Chocolate he can manage a little of that flavour but not so much.
  • I reduced the sugar a lot….by a lot I reallllly mean a lot

I think the french would feel offended if I called this Opera Cake ,… probably I should rename it to “KOpera cake ” (Kokiz Opera cake ) hihihi

Here is the recipe:

OPERA CAKE SIMPLIFIED ;)


(35-40 servings)

What’s needed:-

For joconde

  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 cups ground almond meal (blanched almonds)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 12 ?large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp.unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Orange Syrup

  • About 1.25 cup of Freshly squeezed Orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp of Sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1 to 2 tsp of Organic Orange zest

For the Orange buttercream

  • 15 Oz of Cream cheese
  • 4 oz of Butter (Organic)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of Fresh orange juice
  • 2 to 3 tsp of Organic Orange zest
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of Icing sugar( adjust to your taste)

For Chocolate Mousse

  • 14 Oz Milk chocolate
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream

How To’s and How not To’s :-

For Joconde

  1. Preheat the oven to 425?F. (220?C).
  2. The recipe calls for Jelly roll pans, I dint have them so alternatively I used cookie sheets which were 1 inch high :) ?Line two 12? x 15?- inch cookie sheets with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.
  4. In another bowl using the handheld mixer?beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until pale and volume increases.
  5. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined.. NO OVERMIXING
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter.
  7. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
  8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned approximately 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven.
  9. Put the pans on racks and run a sharp knife along the edges and unmold on?parchment?paper.
  10. Cool to room temperature.

For the Syrup

  1. In a saucepan, mix all the ingredients for the syrup and bring to boil and switch off
  2. Cool the syrup

For the buttercream

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and beat on low to medium speed ?using handheld mixer until light and voluminous

For the Mousse

  1. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of whipping cream
  2. Stir and ensure the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Do not get tensed if the chocolate is grainy instead of smooth. Adding a couple of spoons of water and mixing will save the melted chocolate and make it smooth.
  4. Let this mixture cool completely
  5. In the bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the remaining heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  6. In a bowl add the heavy chocolate first, followed by the whipped cream. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
  7. If it?s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it?s spreadable.
  8. Refrigerate until you?re ready to use

Assembling the cake

  1. Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper
  2. Place one sheet of joconde, moisten it with 1/3 of the Orange syrup
  3. Now apply half of the butter cream on this layer.
  4. For the second layer, I cut the smaller cookie sheets layers to fit the size of the bottommost layer
  5. Put the second layer of joconde on top of the first layer, moisten with Orange syrup and coat with the rest of the buttercream
  6. Place the last layer of joconde on top and moisten with the rest of the orange syrup
  7. Stick this in the refrigerator for atleast half an hour to firm up
  8. Next spread the mousse layer on the firmed up cake and ensure its smooth. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  9. This cake should be served chill.

I avoided the Chocolate glaze, as said before. Instead just half an hour before the party I added the Rolled Fondant decorations that I had made the day before. Fondant does not like the fridge, so I added them just at the end to ensure mousse and fondant do not end up with a messy fight in front of the guests.

Well it was time well spent (especially with the sickness it was hard for sure). The smile on my Lil ones face was enough to take away all the tiredness.

Everyone who ate the cake loved it… It was a big hit :) Thank GOD for giving me strength to pull through everything and end up with a good cake for the party.

I am sending this to Nupur’s Blog bites #3:Adaptation event.

Cheers

Koki

Home remedies from mine to yours!

My Dad hails from a little village in Ramanathapuram district of Tamilnadu called “Chitrangudi”. Its a remote village with electicity, bus services, cable TV but no doctors :) Yup people still go to nearby towns for medical facilities. It is a government recognized Bird sanctuary … We have lots of birds if monsoons don’t fail us. Here is a click on a bright and wonderful morning of my lil village :)

The serenity and peace of mind that this place offers is unbelievable and any amount of meditation in a buzzing city can never compete with it. Oh GOD how I miss the place. ?We used to visit this place for every summer vacation. I have wonderful and treasured childhood memories associated with my village. ?The farm visits, watching birds from the tower, playing Pallankuzhi with my cousins, eating fresh mangoes, fresh from farm veggies, those naps on the cot under the neem tree… the list never ends. Small things that gave bigger satisfaction than things that money could buy.

My curious ( n stupid hihihi) cousin brothers even formulated some mixed veggies juice and injected it into a few plants in the yard. Those plants wilted… GOD knows what their formula was.

We used to have competition, it might sound super stupid but don’t say that ok, we loved it when we were kids. We will each get an empty bril ink bottle ( my aunts and uncles were all teachers so no shortage for such stationeries) and then start hunting for gums from tree barks. At the end of a week who ever collects the maximum and has the greatest amount of glue in the bottle from these gums is the winner. We used to find secret places to hide our bottles so that no one else steals ;)

Ok now back to the main post, my Dad being born and brought up in this Doctor less village hates going to Doctors. I am glad atleast now he goes for regular check ups to keep his BP and blood sugar in control. He usually opted for??”PAATTI VAITHIYAM” over the allopathic pills. “PAATTI VAITHIYAM”?translates to Grandmas treatment in general because you know such remedies are tried, tested and passed along generations after generations.

For me the first ingredient to any remedy is ?common sense. Yes because we should not try a home remedy for Heat attack or try to use an ingredient that we are allergic to kill ourself instead. Hey hey wait I did not mean to scare you away from home remedies. The point is to know when to use a remedy or when to go see your doc that’s it.

Infact for certain ailments Paati vaithiyam wins hands down. No side effects unlike the chemical filled capsules and pills we swallow.

Ruchika announced her Home remedies round 2 and I really wanted to send in an entry.. So here I am trying hard to meet the deadline…

Here are few such tried and tested remedies

Home remedy for Cold & Cough

  • Freshly extracted Ginger juice one teaspoon added to two teaspoons for honey can really help the cold and cough in kids, for grown ups reduce the honey to 1 teaspoon. ( Seriously cold has no treatment, any remedy is just to make u feel better and fight the virus)
  • After your regular bath, pour a cup of warm water mixed with a couple of drops of Eucalyptus oil over the chest to ease nasal congestion. This is particularly effective in kids.
  • A cup of milk boiled with 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and ?1/2 teaspoon of pepper powder, is another wonderful remedy for cold.

Home remedy for Gastric trouble

  • Take say 3 to 4 pods of garlic, roast them in direct flame of your stove till they have some brown spots on them. ?Eat them and drink a cup of warm water.
  • Take a couple of pods of garlic, cook them in say 1/4 cup of milk and then eat the garlic and drink the milk .

( Dont forget to brush your teeth :P )

Home Remedy for Indigestion or Stomach upset

  • Angayapodi is my first choice. Its absolutely a wonderful powder that works wonders equally for toddlers, kids and adults. You need not wait for your tummy to get upset to use it, adding it to your regular menu can help maintain a wonderfully healthy digestive system. Infact this is highly recommended for moms who JUST DELIVERED. I always buy my stock of ?it from “AMBIKA APPALAM DEPOT” in Chennai. You can find the recipe here

Home remedy for menstrual cramps

  • A teaspoon or more of fenugreek seeds swallowed with a glass of buttermilk can give a good relief.

Home remedy for Sore nipples/ engorged breasts for breastfeeding moms

  • Cabbage leaves really can help with sore, engorged breasts. Now dont ask me how
  • After baby is done with a nursing session, express a few drops of milk and massage it into the nipples . Let this natural healer air-dry, this is better than the icky lanolin stuff. Lanolin is the sebum or grease from sheep?s wool is probably not the best choice as it may contain pesticides too.
  • When breastfeeding, don?t use soap on the nipples as they have special ducts?that secrete naturally lubricating, bacteria fighting oil.

Home remedy for avoiding BPA in your drinking water and SAVING THE WORLD

To cut the long story short, we spend a lot of money over bottled water to slow poison ourselves. Believe me these packaged water travel long distances, undergo harsh temperature differences and the result BPA and dozen other chemicals leach into this water. BPA is a well known carcinogenic with various other hazardous effects on our body. Google BPA and you will be shocked. So why are we spending so much money to kill ourselves and the PLANET???

The story is the same with packaged nursery water ..its so sad.

Home remedy – Have a good BPA free filter like BRITA at home, filter your tap water and use it for your drinking, cooking, etc. ?This way you save your health, your money, and more importantly the PLANET. Tap water is more regulated in USA than the bottled water.

SAY NO TO BOTTLED/PACKAGED WATER

Watch this video for more information.http://www.youtube.com/storyofstuffproject

This post rushes to reach the deadline for Ruchika’s Home Remedies Event

Wishing DH a very happy b’day with a yummy cake!!!

Spring is in the air.. People are seen with thinner coats walking their pets around.. Squirrels, sparrows, ducks and lots of other birds are back to fascinate my toddler :)

It feels like GOD has decided to paint his white canvas after all these months… I am dying to see him use the lush greens and bright colors on his palatte.. ?Chicago is such a beautiful place during the spring and summer .. We have lovely golf courses, beautiful streams and bridges near our house .. Above all we are longing to keep our windows open to let fresh air in.. We are tired of the heaters and the house arrest..Ofcourse I want to take my son out for long walks and play with him in the parks

Let me get back to the actual blog post now.. It was Vicky’s bday yesterday so there were lots of thoughts on what cake to bake… Well as you all know I don’t have a significant sweet tooth but Vicky is a great lover of sweets and dairy..

Thought train went from one cake to another….Just then I remembered the cake we had once ordered for our nephew for his brithday… Wow it was delightful, light , creamy and delicious… The one that stole even my heart… ?that’s it no more thoughts on what to bake… I decided it has to be “PINEAPPLE N CREAM CAKE”. Vicky’s love for cream is kind of a fact that we would not miss to include in our Family Encyclopedia, if we ever created one.

Promptly I started with the baking as per my plan. I was a little panicky because I had never handled fresh cream for decoration before.. plus wanted the cake to be the best as I had called his friends for cake cutting and dinner.. I took extreme care in every step.

By the time I had finished having fun with cream, decorating the cake, the ones I had in the pastry cone started melting so the cake did not have DH’s name on it… :( ?Anyway the end result though was not perfectly professional to look at, but believe me it tasted absolutely divine…

I had a simple menu for the party as we had a toddler to be fed,cleaned and entertained plus the cooking and cleaning

  • Paneer Parathas
  • Pooris
  • Channa Masala
  • Steamed Basmati
  • Punjabi Kadi Pakodi
  • Ofcourse the beauty of the day, the CAKE

Surprisingly all the items on menu turned out great and the guests were very happy indeed, but the CAKE bagged the first prize, you see it was CAKEWALK for her :)

Find here is the recipe and some pictures that I could capture on the busy day

PINEAPPLE N CREAM CAKE


What’s needed:-

The Sponge cake

  • 0.5 cup of AP flour
  • 0.5 cup of Whole wheat flour
  • 6 Eggs seperated ( I know you could call this an omelette instead of cake :) )
  • 1 cup or less Powdered Sugar
  • 1.4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the cream part of it

  • 400 ml heavy whipping cream ( It was his bday .. and ofcourse a wonderful excuse for indulgence ;) )
  • 4 TBsp of Icing sugar
  • Food colors of your choice ( I used yellow and green just a couple of drops
  • Chopped pineapple about 3/4 cup

Pineapple juice say 1/4 cup ?mixed with a few tbsps of water for moistening the cake

How To’s

The Sponge Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 8 X 8 inch pan and line it with foil
  2. Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl
  3. In another small bowl beat the egg yolks well, then add vanilla essence and mix well. ?Now add the Sugar and mix well again
  4. In a big bowl take the egg whites and beat them really well ( you can imagine probably your boss while you do this ;) ) . At the end the egg whites should hold peaks.
  5. Now slowly fold in the egg yolk mixture into the Egg whites, followed by the dry mixture. DO NOT OVERMIX. Just fold in everything
  6. Pour it into the greased pan, tap the pan on the counter edges and make sure you have almost even top
  7. Bake it for 20 to 25 mins or until the tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The Cream and assembly (the fun part of it)

  1. Pour the whipping cream with the sugar in a big bowl and beat it really really well until it holds peaks and is thick
  2. Cut the cake horizontally so that you have two layers of cake
  3. Chop the pineapple bits into tiny pieces,and reserve some bigger bits for decorating the top
  4. Take about 2 to 3 ?tbsp of the cream and colour it with yellow food colour.
  5. Place the bottom most layer of the sponge cake on your serving platter, sprinkle half of the pineapple juice and water mixture over the sponge.
  6. Now spread 1/2 of the whipped cream and ?pineapple bits over it.
  7. Place the top layer over this, and sprinkle the rest of the juice.

Topping:

  1. Reserve a little cream for decoration and spread the remaining cream over the top and sides of the cake.
  2. Fill your pastry cone with the cream and pipe a decoration with the coloured yellow cream or white cream as per your choice( You can use a ?zipbag with the corner snipped too)
  3. Chill well before serving.

How Not To’s

  1. Do not have even a single drop of egg yolk in the egg whites, you will never be able to whip it to the right consistency with yolk in it
  2. Do not overmix the cake batter, aeration is highly important
  3. Do not keep the cake out for long as it is fresh cream cake

This is a melt-in-the-mouth kinda dessert you can die for … yummm… Everyone licked their bowls and forks clean ;)

Here are few snaps of the runners up in the contest :)

Cheers

Koki

Sneaky Moms and Picky Eaters!!!

Have you heard of?Avena sativa?

Ok Let me give you clues… It is a cereal. Humans have been consuming it for ages. Well Horses seem to love them too.. Some brands of Dog and Chicken food also use them.. ya its a great cattle feed.

Well ask me how to make some one feel not so good about a food item … sorry guys that was not the intention.

Ok breaking the suspense .. Its nothing but our dearmost OATS which we consume as either Oatmeal or Rolled Oats.

Oats has great health benefits as we all know.. It can lower LDL the bad?cholesterol, you know the one that seems to hurt hearts a lot. ?Oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion and an extended sensation of fullness (courtesy Wiki). Now you know why people on Diet almost worship Oats like a GOD sent blessing.

Well you can read about the Cancer protecting properties ?of Oats?here.

Eating Oatmeal or Oats porridge everyday …Phew that doesn’t sound fun . If its not easy for us to eat it everyday in the same form forget my toddler eating it everyday.Thats when Sneaky mom avatar comes out to rescue.

Truly?speaking, I actually started experimenting with Oats couple of years back to sneak it into my husbands diet and now my son joined the Guinea Pig league ?:)

This Oats Uthappam recipe I tried it first with leftover dosa batter it came out well.

Later had it at one of my friends place where she used oats with rice flour instead of dosa batter. It tasted great too. So even if you dont have Dosa batter you can still make these uthappams. Well you see I try to make it impossible to give excuses huh ya thats a qualification you will start to earn as a parent. Ok no more stories… here is the recipe for a QUICK FIX HEALTHY BREAKFAST and its TODDLER FRIENDLY TOO.

OATS UTHAPPAM


What’s needed:-

  • 3/4 cup of Oats flour
  • 3/4 cup of Rice flour or Dosa batter
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies chopped fine ( I skipped it for my lil ones sake)
  • a handful of Chopped corriander leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup of butter milk if using Rice flour skip it for dosa batter
  • Water for the batter
  • Oil for shallow frying the Uthappams

How to’s

  1. Mix all the Ingredients well
  2. If you are using rice flour, add buttermilk and then water to make the batter,
  3. If using dosa batter just add water if needed. Resulting batter should be thick and not runny in either cases.
  4. Heat your tava or iron skillet, when its hot enough make thick dosas or Uthappams on a MEDIUM FLAME. When its cooked on one side (golden brown), flip it and cook the other side
  5. Serve with your favourite chutney or sambar.

Thats it… You are ready with a healthy breakfast :)

Cheers,

Koki




Instant Raagi & Oats Idli

How can you include calcium in your daily diet? I am sure without wasting a second we will say Milk, Cheese and all dairy products that flashes in our mind. Of course this thought found its way into our brains, with every sip of milk we were made to drink right from our childhood.

Yes its a pretty good source of calcium, but there are studies which say that its not really the best source of calcium as it has high proteins and animal proteins interfere with calcium absorption.

No stop.. Do not panic.. you can still drink your milk (preferably organic and low fat ) and also eat proteins, but make sure you get plenty of plant based proteins and calcium.

You can find the list of plant based protein sources here and for most nutrients here

These list do not include Raagi , what a pity… Raagi is a wonderful source of calcium too and you can eat it wihtout being guilty of harming any other animal or its bones :)

I am trying to incorporate Raagi into our weekly food menu regularly.. When I try to make something with Raagi I will be kind of tensed about the reactions I would get on the big kid’s face (hihihi I mean DH) rather than the little boss. Little boss is used to eating raagi right from his baby food stage so he is not so fussy about Raagi if its soft and doesnt make his jaws work very hard :) . I added broken cashew nuts… you see there should be something of DH’s choice to make a deal.

This recipe sans Cashewnuts will definitely be a wonderful DIET RECIPE and a blessing for Diabetics too. BUT YOU NEED NOT BE ON DIET OR HAVE DIABETES TO EAT THIS …NO LAME EXCUSES either… Its so quick and healthy… You can make it faster than the Pizza delivery guys speed of delivering your ordered pizza. :) and I promise its 1000 times healthier than that Pizza you order

I should thank Usha for her wonderful Raagi idli recipe …It was amazing and the best part is all three of us liked it… I just altered the recipe slightly.

Here is the recipe for my records

INSTANT RAAGI & OATS IDLI


What’s needed:-

Dry ingredients-

  • 1/2 cup cracked wheat powdered to rava consistency or wheat rava
  • 1/2 cup quick oats powdered coarsely
  • 1/2 cup ragi flour (finger millet flour)
  • 1 ?tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 3/4 ?tsp baking soda

For the seasoning

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp chana dhal
  • 1 tsp urad dhal
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 Indian or Thai variety green chillies cut fine (or to taste)
  • 4 tsp broken cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp chopped curry leaves

Wet ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of low fat plain yogurt (curd/ dahi)

Other ingredients (optional)

  • handful cilantro cut fine
  • Grated carrots

How To’s:

  1. Coarsely powder the cracked wheat to semolina or rava consistency
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together
  3. Heat oil in a small pan, add the mustard and chana dal and fry for a few seconds.
  4. Next add urad dal and after a few seconds add the green chillies, cashews and curry leaves. Once the cashews are toasty add this entire mixture to the flour mixture
  5. Just before steaming the idlis add yogurt (almost 1:1 ratio with the flour mixture), carrots and cilantro.
  6. Grease the idli plates and steam them in the Idli cooker for 7 to 8 minutes. Alternatively you can steam it in pressure cooker without the weight for the same time.
  7. Cool for a few minutes and then take them out and serve with the chutney of your choice. We had ours with Onion chutney :D

How Not To’s :-

  1. Do not make the oats and wheat into fine powder, it needs to be coarse
  2. Do not burn the dals in the seasoning, just fry them in exactly the order mentioned.
  3. Finally do not run away because its a RAGI RECIPE, even if you hate Ragi I bet you will love this recipe :)

As I always say eating healthy is not difficult :) if you have your heart in it. That Cashew peeking out of the Idli isn’t she inviting you to take a bite?

Cheers

Koki

Aapam & Coconut milk – The delicious duo

Can memories be delicious? Can memories be fragrant? I will always say (even if you wake me up in the middle of night) the answer is a big YES.

One such delicious, fragrant and nostalgic memory attacks me whenever I see that whole coconut in the grocery store.

My Mom has a special way to shower us with love… no not hugs or kisses or even words but through actions. She believed actions spoke more than words..She was remarkably good at it … Infact she had wheezing problems, joint pains and other pains that womenhood brings along but she still would wake up at 3 or 4 am in the morning and ?cook us delicious breakfast and lunch. Lunch would have atleast 2 or 3 vegetable curries. Weekends would be culinary treats.

When I left home for my graduation and stayed in the hostel …naturally I craved for home food. When I came home for a vacation, the menu will be filled with my favourites :) the topper in that list will be “AAPAM THENGAI PAAL” Oh GOD those spongy centers with crispy edges soaked in fresh coconut milk. It was a combination to die for…. Now when I am a mom I realise, more than what I did before, how difficult it is to be like my mom :) She was a super mom I love you amma
ok now back to the grocery store ..?as?the craving for AAPAM THENGAI PAAL sets its foot on my brain, one of the coconuts will travel home for sure. It will stay in the fridge till the planets and stars fall into the perfect position ..I mean the day comes when I don’t forget to soak the rice for aapam :) Bless my memory power

Next will be the battle between Vicky and the coconut. It’s quite a challenge you know staying here in an apartment.. He does not have the equipment required to break the coconut, so the rubber mallet is used alternatively. He cannot hit it on the floor or make lots of noise ?either. Anyway somehow he manages to break it every time .

Then comes the turn of the extracting the milk out of the coconut, make aapams ..soak them in the milk and eat them … Its HEAVEN on plate for me :D

Vicky loves to eat Aapams with Chicken curry, its good too.

Actually next to my mom I guess Nalas Aapa Kadai in Chennai make wonderful Aapams. When we were in Chennai we used to visit them regularly :D

hmm ok now to the recipe

AAPAM & COCONUT MILK


What’s needed:-

Aapam

  • 1.5 Cups of Raw rice
  • 0.5 cup of Parboiled rice
  • 0.5 cup of Urad dal
  • 1 Tbsp of Fenugreek seeds
  • a Pinch of baking soda
  • Salt to taste

Coconut milk

  • 3/4 th of a fresh coconut – Grated or dice the flesh into small pieces ( have some mercy on the blender or the mixer grinder)
  • Water
  • a pinch of salt
  • Sugar to taste
  • 2 cardamoms

How To’s

The Batter-

  1. Wash and soak all the ingredients together for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Grind to a smooth batter, not very watery as we will add coconut milk to it later.
  3. Take batter in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp salt and beat together.
  4. Let it rest and ferment overnight or atleast for 8 hours

The Coconut Milk

  1. Place the coconut flesh and equal amounts of water in a blender jar ( I use Preethi)… Add cardomoms and puree well
  2. Pour the mixture into a strainer and press the pulp through the strainer, catching the milk in a bowl below.
  3. Squeeze the leftover pulp to extract any leftover milk.
  4. Reserve about 1/2 to 1 cup of the milk to add to the Aapam batter before cooking
  5. Add sugar and salt to the rest of the milk.

Now comes the fun part – Making Aapams

  1. Take the amount of batter that you will like to use and add the reserved coconut milk and baking soda to the batter and mix well. ?(The amount of batter can serve 4 to 5 people so decide accordingly, always add the milk and soda only when you are going to use the batter immediately)
  2. Now heat the aapam kadai ( or even a normal one should do) just that the aapam take the shape of the kadai.
  3. Slightly grease it if its not non-stick.
  4. Pour a ladle of batter into center of the kadai, pick the kadai in your hands promptly, holding to the handles and give the whole kadai and good nice swirl
  5. This will make the aapam batter spread, but newtons law plays the wonderful part..the batter on the sides tend to flow to the center.
  6. The result you have crispy edges and a spongy center. Close the kadai and let the aapam cook. ?Now hats off to our ancestor for this wonderful recipe :)
  7. You can be little creative and make Flower shaped or candy wrapper shape aapams tooo

I used to watch the aapam chef at NALAS AAPA KADAI with my eyes wide open in amazement, my GOD he makes aapam in 4 to 5 kadais simultaneously ..I am quite challenged when it comes to multitasking so no wonder my eyes open so wide

How to eat the aapam

Style 1 – Serve the coconut milk in a bowl , tear the aapam into small pieces dip in the milk and eat

Style 2- Pour the coconut milk on the aapam, while the spongy center soaks eat the crispy edges first and then eat the soaked center :)

Hope you will love this delicous duo too…Take a bite if you want :)

I am sending this terrific combo to “THE COMBO EVENT” at Pari’s Foodelicious blog :)

Cheers

Koki