June 25, 2008

Sojjappalu, Dhapalam, Poori, Murukulu, Vellulli Podi from Andhra kitchen

Regional Cuisine of India is celebrating "Andhra Festival Food" in June, here is my Andhra festival thali! Vani of Batasari is hosting the "RCI-Andhra Festival food" this month, an event started by Lakshmi of "Veggie cuisine". We have already celebrated the state of Andhra Pradesh and it's cuisine few month's ago, let's have some Andhra festival food this time! Thanks for hosting Vani! :))

Andhra Festivals and feasts:
Andhra Pradesh is a amalgamation of different religions, cultures and languages and is famous for celebrating festival of every region and religion with equal pomp and
enthusiasm, whether it's traditional Hindu festival or the Muslim festivals or Christmas!
Here are some of the festivals celebrated in Andhra Pradesh
with much joy, feasts and prayers: Deepavali, Holi, Krishnashatmi,,Maha Shivaratri, Vijaya Dashami, , Naga Panchami,Sankranthi, Sri Rama Navami, Ugadi, Vara Lakshmi Vratam, Vinayaka Chavithi, Id-Ul-Fitr, Milad-Un-Nabi, Muharram and Christmas.
Above info is from this site and to learn more about various Festivals and rituals of Andhra Pradesh in detail, click here.

Sojjappalu with ghee, Dhapalam, Pooris, Murukulu, Vellulli (Garlic-chilli) podi from Andhra festival Kitchen:
Here is a festival thali I would love to have on any festival day, may not be the elaborate kind we usually cook for festivals but I loved it! Dhapalam/Dappalam, the book says, is made on special occasion in Andhra and Sojjappalu is a classic Andhra festival sweet. Check my old post on Andhra cuisine to see the book I referred for some of these recipes.
I didn't have a clue about which festival they cook these dishes for as Vani requested us to point out! That book didn't tell me that either but after researching a bit in the internet, came to know that these dishes are cooked as prasadam to celebrate Sri Vara Lakshmi Vratam and also on Sankranthi too.(Thanks sra!)
(Thank you "mere mai baap" (my mommy and daddy!) Google
for this info, without you I am just a big, dumb, non-religious lump in the Universe! OYY! :D)

Pepper or chilli Murukulu:
Murukulu or Chaklis are crispy fried snack which is common to all 4 south Indian states in India. I love them. There are many types of Chaklis you can make using different flour combinations, this is one of them using Besan. Enjoy! :)
You need:
1 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan,
2 cups Rice flour,
2 tsp Cumin seeds crushed,
1 tsp coarsely crushed Pepper corns or red chill flakes,
salt to taste, enough Water to mix,
3 tbsp Sesame seeds,
pinch of Hing.
To make Murukulu:
1. Roast the Besan gently in a pan for a minute or two until warm, cool.
2. Add all the above ingredients and mix with enough water to make a stiff dough.
3. Put it in a Chakli maker in batches, press out Murukulu circles like here on kitchen towel and deep fry them at 375F oil. Drain, cool and store.

Vellulli Podi:
A classic Andhra powder, coarsely pounded or blended together with garlic, chilli pd and other spices is a great tasting condiment on the side for rice or rotis!
You need:
Roast these without oil:
1/2 cup dry coconut, slightly toasted,
4-6 Red chillies or less, toasted,
1 tbsp toasted Coriander seeds,
1 tbsp roasted Sesame seeds,
Enough salt,
1 tbsp grated Jaggary,
3 tbsp chopped Garlic,
2 tsp Tamarind juice or Lemon juice or 1 tsp Tamarind powder.
To make Chilly-Garlic powder:
1. Toast the first four ingredients, cool and add to a blender.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients in the list and blend coarsely.
3. Adjust the spices, cool, bottle it and store in the fridge when cooled.

To make plain flour or wheat flour (atta) Pooris,
click here!

Dhapalam, as the cookbook says, is made on special occasion in Andhra. I had never heard of this dish before. It's a very simple and delicious side dish made with plenty of vegetables and seasoned lightly. I added some south Indian masala pd I had to make it tastier as an option.

You need:
About 6 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice, peeled, chopped into cubes,
(I used a mix of Cauliflower, baby Carrots, 1 Potato, Green Beans, Green bell pepper, Green peas, few Spinach leaves, 2 cups Bottle Gourd cubes, 1 small Eggplant, 1 Tomato)
3 Green chillies,
1/2 tsp good quality Turmeric,
3 tbsp Cilantro,
2 tsp Coriander seeds powder or any south Indian masala pd you have (optional),
2 tsp Tamarind juice,
1 tsp Jaggary or sugar,
2 tsp Rice flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water.
For seasoning:
2 tbsp oil and ghee mixed, or sesame seeds oil,
1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds,
1 tsp Mustard seeds,
2 red chillies,
few curry leaves,
pinch of Hing/Asafoetida.
To Make it:
1. Cook all the veggies with 2-3 cups of water, turmeric, green chillies gently until cooked thru' but not mashed in a pressure cooker.
2. Open the lid, add salt, jaggary, cilantro, spice powder if you are using,Tamarind, simmer gently for 2 mins.
3. Add rice flour mixture to vegetables and simmer until you get thickish gravy for about 2 mins. Turn off the heat.
4. Heat oil and add all the above ingredients and let it sizzle. Add to the Dhapalam and mix it in. YUMMY! Tastes even better the next day, great with Pooris!

goes to "Vegetable Of the Week", an event hosted by Pooja from "Creative Pooja" blog. Her choice of vegetable this month is "Bottle Gourd". Here is my contribution to her event, enjoy hosting Pooja!:))

Check this post for more bottle gourd dishes here!

Sojjappalu is similar to Obbattu with dal filling we make in Karnataka. Filling for Sojjapplau is made of Rawa Kesari, just like Karnataka Kesari Bhath, but thick enough to make balls. It is stuffed in sweet dough, patted to circles and cooked. Delicious!:))

I am sending Sojjappalu to Mythreyee' from "Paajaka" who is hosting a "Sweet Series-Sweet Rotis" event. Enjoy Myth!:)

For filling you need:

2 tbsp Ghee or more if you like,
1 cup Rawa/Semolina, finer the texture the better,
Pinch of salt,
1/2 cup sugar or more if you like it sweeter,
1 tsp Cardamom powder,
1/4 tsp Saffron mixed with 1/4 cup milk,
keep some more milk ready as needed to make a solid mixture.
Roasted, finely chopped Cashews and Raisins are optional, I didn't add them to keep the wrap from tearing.
To make it:
1. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Add chopped nuts and raisins if you are using, then Semolina and fry stirring constantly to avoid burning the rawa.
2. When you get a golden hue or smell the roasted aroma, turn the heat down a bit and add salt and sugar, mix well.
3. Keep mixing until the sugar dissolves, take off the heat, add cardamom pd, mix. Now add 1/4 cup saffron mixed milk, mix well.
4. Place it again on the heat and stir until you get big lump of Semolina, should be able to makes balls. Add a tbsp of milk at a time only if the mixture is dry and crumbly but not too much. Cover and cook on low heat until it looks like lump.
5. Let it cool and then divide into golf ball sized rounds. Keep aside.
To make the dough:
1. Mix and knead 1 1/2 cups of plain flour or wheat flour or mix of both, pinch of salt, 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp Cardamom pd and enough milk or water to make a stiff dough like poori dough.
2.Cover and let it rest for 1 hour. Divide into the same amount as Semolina balls you have made already.
To make Sojjappalu:
1. Roll one dough ball in to 3" circle, place one Semolina ball and cover with dough all over the sweet filling. (Just like making Aloo Paratha)
2. Press a little to make it flat, and roll or pat with your hand until it's about 3-4" circle. It's okay if little filling comes out, you can always patch it up. Repeat with others.
3. Instead of deep frying in ghee as the book says, cook on a griddle with bit oil or ghee brushed until golden both sides.
4. Cool and serve with a tsp Ghee on top. Perfect traditional dessert to enjoy!:)

One more look!

Enjoy and hope you make some of these!


"Thank you Meera" dishes this week!

I was in her blog two weeks ago and saw few delicious Malvani dishes. I casually mentioned to her that I would love the recipe for Malvani powder. Next thing you know, sweet girl that she is, sent me a package with Goda Masala, Malvani masala and Kolhapuri Masala!
I thought I would choose and cook few dishes from her blog with the masalas she sent me. Each one of them were delicious, specially loved Malvani Tomato Saar and spicy Misal. I made some Pakodas for Misal as they served in Belgaum and loved it. Thank you for everything, including the "inspiration award" Meera!:))

My thanks to Delhi Belle, Sireesha, Cham, Madhavi, Roma, JZ, EC, Hetal, Latha N, Veggie Platter and Happy Cook for their awards given to me as well!

Meera's package, Kolhapuri Tambda Rassa, Misal and Malvani Tomatochi Amti/Saar.
Click on these above titles to go to Meera's blog and for the recipes. Enjoy!:))

Okay dear friends, have a wonderful week and weekend too! I have two more weeks/posts to go here before the vacation! YAY! :)

June 18, 2008

French Bread and Italian Panzanella!

Hiya folks!! :)
Well....Father's day went well for us last Sunday. "Da daddy" was on call but took some time off until lunch time. We went out to his favorite restaurant and then we gave a quick visit to a Indian store nearby. Quick because I buy 1/4 of the what they have in the store if somebody doesn't drag me out of there quickly, I get pre-warnings! ;D
Sometimes Indian store lady shakes her head and says I buy too many packs of savory snacks!! :P
The minute she sees me, she says "oh, so nice to see you again" and starts talking to me about her kids and their education which I don't mind at all! Her son is in Medical school, so I get some great pointers my own kids could use! :)

We loved the barn color so much that we asked the guy if he could paint our deck with the same color too and he did! Here it is, updated! Do you remember the old photo of the same deck when that Bottle Gourd plant took over last Summer?

Coming to this week's menu, I baked some "French" bread last week and made a delicious "Italian" bread salad called Panzanella , with my extra non-traditional additions like Avocado and Jicama using the French bread cubes. It's so very hot these days, I don't feel like cooking infront of the hot stove but I have no choice, somebody got to feed the family! Baking and making salads are lot easier! Hope you like these.

French Bread:
A good French bread should have crunchy crust outside and soft and chewy inside. To achieve crispier crust than the normal like you see here, you spray the French bread with water before baking and put a bowl of water next to the bread in the oven while it's baking. This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's baking book.

Inside Twister story! :D
Rolling the dough like Swiss roll while shaping the French loaves gives twisted soft insides like this with a perfect crunchy crust outside, beautiful!
A quick tip: Always better to bake a little less than more, even though baking time says 30mins to avoid over baking. Each oven is different in terms of maintaining the temperature. If I say bake for 25-30 mins, keep the timer for 20 mins and then watch the bread to get a golden color without opening the oven door. After 25 mins, open the door, tap on the bread. If it sounds hollow, time to get them out even if it's not 30 mins! Good luck! :)

How to bake French Bread, You need:
3 to 3 1/2 cups of plain flour or Bread flour,
1 tbsp Sugar,
1 tsp Salt,
1 pack of regular active dry Yeast or quick active dry Yeast,
1 cup very warm water (115F to 120F),
2 tbsp Vegetable oil,
2 tbsp corn meal or Semolina,
1 Egg White,
1 tbsp cold water.
One French bread baking pan if you have it or a regular rectangular baking pan.
(Click on the collage to enlarge it)

To bake French bread:
1. In a large stand mixer bowl, add 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix gently. Add warm water and oil. Beat for 1 minute on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl.
2. Now beat it for 1 minute at medium speed. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour from the rest of 1 1/2 cups of flour at a time until you get a soft dough.
(Use as much flour as you need, don't have to use all 3 1/2 cups of flour. How much flour to add depends on what kind of flour you have, use your judgment to make soft dough.)
3. Knead for 5 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease the oil all over the dough , cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until it's double in size.
(French bread needs to rest longer than the other breads to get that typical texture, so be patient! I put the bowl in the oven with oven light on, gives it a right amount of warmth.)
4. Grease a cookie sheet, sprinkle Cornmeal or Semolina on the sheet or just spray no-stick oil on the French bread baking pan.
5. Punch down the dough, divide into two equal portions. Roll out each to 15" by 8" rectangle. Roll from the longer edge like swiss roll tightly, seal the ends by pinching the edges.
6. Now, roll the whole thing back and forth gently to make the French bread even in the middle and tapered at the ends.
Place the loaves on the sheet gently.
7. Cut 1/4" deep across the top as shown at 2" apart with a sharp knife. Brush or spray loaves with water. Cover with clean Towel and let it rise again for an hour or until double.
8. Preheat the oven to 375F. For the golden crust, mix egg white and 1 tbsp water and brush on the loaves.
(If you want crispier crust, this is time you spray some more water on the loaves and place a bowl of water in the oven)

9. Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until golden. Cool them on the rack. Best eaten these on the same day. Wrap in Saran wrap or cling film if you need to to store. Stiff bread is aways good for salad! Voila!! :)

Panzanella is Italian Bread salad made with day old hard crusted bread, originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio, specially eaten in Summer months, according to WIKI. You can practically add as many vegs as you like including Lettuce, Celery, Carrots, boiled eggs, Tuna etc. I used my French bread for this, had a good crunch in salad!

How to make Panzanella:
Take about 4 cups of French bread or any hard crusted bread or even chunky ready made package of Croutons, cut into 1" cubes. Add some salt and saute the cubes in about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan in batches until golden outside.Cool and set aside.

Chop these or any salad veggies you like:
1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped,
1 large Tomato,chopped,
1 cup mixed bell pepper or roasted bottled red pepper, chopped,
1 small red onion,
1 Avocado, chopped my style (not Traditional Italian)
1/4 cup Jicama, thinly sliced,
1 tbsp drained Capers (bottled),
1 tsp dry Basil and Oregano, 2 tbsp each if using fresh herbs,
1 tsp Parsley and 1 tsp finely chopped Mint leaves, dry or fresh.
To make salad oil, whisk these together:
4 tbsp Olive oil,
2 tbsp of good quality White Wine Vinegar or to taste,
1 tsp of Lemon juice,
1 tsp Dijon Mustard,
1 large Garlic, finely chopped,
salt and pepper. Few chili flakes, optional.
Get ready to toss!
In a big bowl, add vegetables and salad oil, mix well. Add bread cubes, toss everything together, season well. Cover and let it sit for 30mins before eating it. Tastes wonderful!
I even kept the left over chilled overnight and ate it for next day's lunch. Avocado gives it a creaminess and beautiful color!

Bon Appetit! :)

Book I read: Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami.
It's a story of a woman called Saroja, who is a young housewife, married to a much older Railway officer and has two daughters. She is called as "Tamarind woman" by people who know because of her acid tongue or the way she speaks to people with resentment and using hurtful words, just as sour as Tamarind.
As her story unravels by the memory of her older daughter Kamini, now all grown up, lives and works in Canada, you will start to resent Saroja but at the end of the story, as Saroja "the Tamarind woman" herself recalls her own life story, you will understand why she was so angry all her life and the secret she was hiding form her husband who is now dead.
Finally, she sells her home and all her belonging and wants "to see the World" alone by train as she always wanted but never could while her husband was alive, much to the surprise and concern of her daughters, who just think that she has gone crazy!
As you read you feel sorry for Saroja, sympathize, admire her guts and you will also understand what she has gone thru' her life and how she had to cope. When her daughters starts pestering her to go home and stay there, without trying to understand why she needs to do the things she is doing, Saroja unplugs her phone!! At last, she will do what SHE wants!!
That's where the story ends! It's very compelling story that could be any woman's story in India, even in today's World!

Dishes I tried last week:

Lasooni dal palak from Swati's blog.
Badanekayi pudi Kuttida palya from Ramya's blog.
Greens Paratha from TC's blog. (I added Red chard and fresh Rosemary, yum!)
Sprouted Moong Idli from smn's blog.
Brinjal Mooru Kootan from Prav's blog.
Udupi Sambhar from Sia's blog.
Vandana, Ranji, Kamala, Asankhana, Sukanya and Nanditha Prabhu, thank you for your awards.
Neema from "recipe swap" gave me two awards last week. Thank you so much Neema, I appreciate it!:))
One of them, you can see the "Blogging with a Purpose" award on the sidebar. I am passing this award on to Ramya, Srivalli , Meera and Ranji. Enjoy girls!:)

See you all next week!:)

June 11, 2008


Happy Father's day to all the daddies out there, enjoy your Sunday!:))

Okay my dear people,

I have finally run out of ideas what to cook and post here! :P
This is my (1-2) 3rd Chole-Bhature dish I have posted so far at FH with different recipes each time. But this time around, it's really authentic Punjabi style Chhole Aloo, Bhature and Gaajar ka Halwa. Why do I say so confidently? Because all these recipes are from Punjab da puttar (son of Punjab) "Jiggs Kalra" and from his book "Classic Cooking of Punjab"!!
If not authentic enough for ya, write to him and don't blame me, although I confess I did not use 1/2 cup Desi ghee as he recommends!! ;D
We loved the thali, some tasty homely grub these are! YUM!!

Few backyard updates:
Well..here is red barn I was talking about before, all painted and ready get stuffed with my things.It looks pretty now! I have updated my new plants since last month and with some new plants too. With 98+F temp, most plants are thriving, I see some Grape and Plum Tomatoes already, yielded huge bunches of red chards and Radishes and few delicate ones like Methi leaves burnt down completely even though we water them every other day.
Get humorous when it gets too hot for comfort!
Last weekend, it was in excess of 100F temp here. My son checks the internet and says "Mom, we are way better, Maambaay has 106F today!". That's how he calls Mumbai/Bombay and somehow he thinks India IS Mumbai, may be the influence of Bollywood item numbers he watches sometimes on B4U! :O ......I say "Tushy, we are not from Mumbai, check Bangalore weather" and he says "Ba..ga..What?!" YUP! That's the beauty of raising Indo-American kids (Americans by birth with Indian heritage), constant entertainment for us Indyan (thank you Sunny Deol for that new word, what would we do without you?!:P) parents! Hahaha!
our beautiful Lake is drying already, hope the dreaded drought stays away for a while atleast. Weather is strange these days, there is huge flood in the Mid West, brush fire in California burning down everything and extreme heat, Tornadoes in the South, snow..yes... snow in some parts of US of A, all at same time! Sigh.....

Let's not get depressed now, shall we? Enjoy Punjabi thali! De Taali!!:D
I have changed the proportions slightly. I don't really need 11/2 lb of Chhole Aloo or need to use 1/2 cup Desi ghee as the recipe says in the dish and added powdered masala than whole masala (Bouquet Garni) in the gravy since it gives more flavor than just dunking the spices. Other than these changes, spices and method of making these are the same as the book. Enjoy!:)


These Bhatures go to "Roti Mela" and to host Srivalli from "cooking for all 4 seasons", who is hosting Roti mela
Here is one more from me Sri, enjoy !:)
Makes about 10-12, depending on how big you want the Bhatura. Usually in the restaurants, they make about 15" wide round puffed like balloon Bhaturas like you see here.

You need:
2 cups plain four/Maida,
1/4 cup Fine textured Semolina/Sooji/Rava,
1/4 tsp Baking soda,
1/2 tsp Baking powder,
2 tbsp Yogurt,
1 tsp fine sugar,
1 tbsp Ghee,
enough salt.
Enough oil to deep fry.
How to make them:
1. Mix flour, Semolina, salt, sugar, baking podwer, baking soda, make a well in the middle.
2. Add yogurt, ghee, and about 1 cup or enough water to mix to a firm dough,not soft, and knead well.
3. Cover and keep it aside for an hour. Divide into 10 or 12 round balls.
4. While oil is heating at 375F, roll out each one to 1/8" thick about 6" or bigger circles.Cover.
5. When oil is hot, deep fry until puffy like this and drain on paper.These Bhaturas do not retain much oil and puffs and stays inflated for a while because of the Semolina.

Serve right away with Chhole, salad and Gajar Halwa. You can reheat in the Microwave if you would like to serve them later.

Chhole Aloo:

Chole is commonly known as Chickpeas or Garbanzo. In Punjab, Chhole is also a delicious dish made of Chickpea with Aloo/Potato, a delicious combo with beans.

You need:
2 cups of Chick peas, soaked and cooked in 3 cups of water with a bit of Baking soda and Bouquet Garni bundle or use 15oz canned Chickpeas as I did,
2 Red potatoes, I peeled, cubed and cooked or deep fry these as the book says,
2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp ghee, (or use 1/4-1/2 cup desi ghee if you are brave!)
2 Bay leaves,
1 tsp Cumin seeds,
2 small onions, grated or ground coarsely,
1 tbsp Garlic paste,
1 1/2 cups Tomato sauce,
The Bouquet Garni/Spices:
Bouquet Garni is, you are supposed to tie these in a cloth, put it inside the pan and boil with with Chick peas and water until it cooks and take it out to discard.
Instead, I ground all these to a paste and added to the masala to the pan fry in oil lightly.
2 Black Cardamoms/Moti Elaichi,
1" cinnamon stick/Dalchini,
1 tbsp roasted and crushed Coriander seeds,
2 Green chillies,
2 tbsp Ginger paste,
1 tsp Deghi Mirch pd/Paprika,
2 tbsp Cilantro.
Thinly sliced Ginger/Julienned,
Slit 2-4 green chillies, stuff with 1/2 tsp Amchur/Mango pd,1 tsp Garam masala.
(In a separate pan, shallow fry ginger slices in oil until crisp, take them out. Fry stuffed green chillies for a minute until bright green. Take out and cool.)
1/2 tsp crushed Kasoori Methi/Dry Fenugreek leaves.
1 tsp Amchur/dry Mango powder,
salt, Lemon juice.
To make Chhole Aloo:
1. Heat ghee and oil. Add bay leaves, cumin seeds, then Onion anf fry until light brown. Add green chilies, bhunno/fry for a minute.
2. Add garlic paste, saute. Add in Paprika/Deghi mirch pd, until masala leaves the sides of the pan.
3. Now add the Bouquet Garni paste, my style if you are not using in the chole cooking water, to the pan and fry lightly and add all chickpeas with it's water or 2 cups water or more, tomato sauce, simmer for 20mins or you see the pil on top of the gravy.
4. Now add cooked or fried Potato cubes, mix gently. Adjust the seasoning.Take of the heat.
5. Finally, sprinkle garam masala, Amchoor pd, lemon juice if needed, dry fenugreek or Kasoori Methi and mix well.
Before serving, garnish Chhole with shallow fries ginger, stuffed green chillies, Cilantro and serve with Bhature and Gajar Halwa!

Gajar Halwa:
Quintessential Punjabi dessert, Gaajar Halwa or Carrot pudding, is ever popular in North India. Grated Carrots slowly simmered in milk, sauteed in ghee and garnished with nuts and raisins, you can't beat the taste, served warm or cold.

You need:
3 cups Grated Carrots,
2 cups Milk,
1/2 cup sugar or as much as you like,
3 tbsp Ghee/clarified butter,
1 tsp Green Cardamom powder,
Saute Almonds in little butter until golden and raisins until plump:
10-15 Almonds, blanched and peeled or 2-3 tbsp,Slivered Almonds.
2-3 tbsp Raisins, dark or golden.
2 tbsp Khoya/condensed milk to solid,if you have it.
How to make it:
1. Boil milk in a large enough non-stick pan. Turn down the heat to medium and add carrots, cook stirring constantly until most milk has evaporated.
2. Add enough sugar to your taste, mix well and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
3. Now add ghee and fry the carrots for 2 minutes.Take the pan off the heat.
4. Add sauteed Almond s and Raisins, sprinkle Khoya on top before serving in individual cups.

Easy peasy Gajar Halwa: Add all the ingredients given above except nuts, Raisins and Khoya in a bowl and Microwave it on high first and then at 50% power once it starts thickening, often checking and stirring until until most of the liquid is gone and then add garnishing to serve!:)

Not enough time to read last week, still reading the same book!

No movies for me either. I had planned to take kids to Kung Fu Panda, but they have made plans to go to that movie with their friends on the last day of school ie today after school is over in the afternoon.

Dishes I tried:

Karaikudi Sambhar from Latha N's blog.
Parotta from Maheswari's blog.
Chana ghassi from Seema's blog.
Uppu-Huli dose from Ramya's blog.
Varuthu Araitha Kootu from Lakshmi N's blog.
Vaighanache Upkari with Thambale Pudi from Ranji's blog.
Thank you Sunshinemom, Sailaja, Sashree, EC, JZ, Sireesha, Seema , Suma Rajesh for your various awards. Hugs to all of you!:)
Jamie of "Flavor Pantry" with her friend Beth's help, has created a beautiful "Inspiration award." She is kind enough to pass on this award to me.
Thank you Jamie. I am honored that you think my blog is inspiring you and others as well, makes it all worthwhile!:)
Sireesha, Madhu Ram, Siri, Shubha R and Sailaja awarded me this lovely award again, thank you too friends!:)
As per the award recipient requirements (you can read about them here), I have to share 4 things which inspires me and pass on this award to 4 bloggers whose blog I enjoy reading and inspire me as well.

Here are four of which inspire me:
1. Ocean waves, which are forever young and soothing, always represents new and never old.
2. Happy, shiny people; who spread cheer around and deal with life's hardships with positivity.
3. My kids; who smile ear to ear and show all their 28 teeth (yeah, 17yrs old had all 4 wisdom teeth pulled out and 13yrs old doesn't have his wisdom teeth come out yet, so it's still 28 out of 32 for them!:D), whenever they see my dishes, specially desserts!
4. Foodie Blogger community; inspite of having family demands and full time jobs, most of you still manage to tell stories, make dishes, make time to say hello to us and share your lives with us almost everyday, you all inspire me indeed!:))

And the "Inspiration award" goes to......

Here are the 4 bloggers who really inspire me by their lively posts, traditional and non-traditional dishes which makes me nostalgic sometimes and the way they share part of their lives with us. Thanks to all you gals, keep it up:
1. Sunita of "Sunita's World",
2. Latha N of "The YUM blog",
3. shn of "Mishmash"
4. Shilpa of "Aayis Recipes".

I must mention; one more fabulous blogger who inspire me, Viji of "VCuisine". Her blog is private, so I can't link but I am proud to give this "Inspiration award" to her. Thanks just for being you Viji, you are a great soul and a friend!:))

Thank you to each and every blogger friends, I am proud to be one of you. Have a wonderful week ahead!:))

June 04, 2008


HUH? WHAT?! That's what you are thinking, I know! It was all "Greek" to me too until I tried these tasty dishes from Arunchal Pradesh and Lebanon! :D

(Some of you are waiting for a particular post, check out the links way below!)
Well..today I am taking you all to a culinary tour of Arunachal Pradesh as a part of RCI-North East of India, one of the lesser known states in North-east region of India, to have a delicious Noodle soup and salt Tea.
After we are done touring North-east of India, I thought I would fly you to Middle East and visit Lebanon to taste one of their soup and bread too! How does that sound? Pack your hungry tummies and let's go buddies!

Arunachal Pradesh, North East India:
North East India covers these states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
Arunachal Pradesh in one of the states in North east of India I am choosing to explore and cook from. The name Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains" in Sanskrit. It is also known as "land of the rising sun" because of it's location in the easternmost state of India.
Have you ever seen one before? There are plenty in Arunachal Pradesh and the local population uses it's sweetish milk for making Tea, cheese, Butter, Yogurt etc. Aren't they beautiful?

Most of the people living in Arunachal Pradesh are either of Tibetan-Burman origin or indigenous tribal origin, speak Tibeto-Burman languages and their cuisine is very much influenced by these cultures as well as China which borders the state. Most Arunachalis belong to 19 major tribes and 85 tribes, who has a tradition which is diverse and of rich culture, language and beliefs, including immigrant Bengali, Bodo, Hajong and Chakma and immigrants from neighboring Assam, Nagaland and other parts of India. The most major tribes include the Adi, Galo, Nishi, Khamti, Monpa and Apatani. Most popular festivals are Sangken,Solung,Nyokum,Longteyalu,Khan, Dree Etc which they celebrate with dance, song and food.
a fermented rice beer is made everyday in most homes and very much enjoyed by the people of Arunachal Pradesh!
The earliest references to Arunachal are found in the era of Mahabharata, Ramayana and other Vedic legends. Several characters, such as Princess Rukmini, King Bhismaka and Lord Parashurama, were referred to as people from this region in the Mahabharata. (Info from WIKIPEDIA.)

Thukpa with Ts-Ja are
my two dishes for "Regional Cuisine of India", a event started by Lakshmi from "veggie cuisine" and Bhags from "Crazy Curry" blog is hosting RCI event this month choosing the beautiful region of North-East India. I am choosing Arunachal Pradesh to show case.Thanks for hosting Bhags!:)

Thukpa/Gya-Thuk with Ts-Ja!
These recipes (with my own few additions) come from "The essential North-East cookbook" by the author Hoihnu Hauzel and book is available at www.indiaclub.com.
Thukpa is a popular noodle-based soup with vegetables (or meat) in this region. The Buddhist Monpa and Sherdukpa tribes are more inclined to Burmese or Chinese influenced food and their popular dishes are Momos, Chowmein and Thupka. Oil and spices are sparingly used, chillies and ginger and sometimes fermented Bamboo shoots and fish are used for flavoring the soup.
This lightly flavored Thukpa was very tasty. Even my kids liked it, similar to American Chicken Noodle soup with loads of veggies. YES! You need a fork too for the Noodles!:D

Ts-Ja is a tea made of Yak's milk or it's butter, tea leaves and salt is added instead of sugar!! DO NOT ask me how to to pronounce Ts-Ja and DO NOT ask me whether I used Yak's milk and drank this salted Tea! Ain't tellin' ya! ;P
I am just giving you the recipe exactly as the book says they make this tea in AP! Have fun making it if you can find Yak's milk! :D

To make these:

To make 2 cups of Ts-Ja:
1. Boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup Yak's milk or 1 tsp unsalted Yak's butter and 1/2 tsp salt.
2. Bring to boil again with 2 tsp tea leaves. Take the pan off of the heat.
3. Cover the pan and let it sit for 5 mins. Strain the Tea and serve. Enjoy!:)

Delicious Thukpa:
1. Cook 1 fistful of dry Egg noodles or Spaghetti pasta in boiling water with salt and bit of oil until cooked, strain, cover and keep aside.
2. Boil 5 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock or water, add 2 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice, 1 garlic (my addition), 1 green chilly sliced and boil for 5 mins.
(I used 1 carrot, chopped, 1/2 cup Green beans chopped, 1 can sliced Bamboo shoots, few baby Spinach, 1 small Potato cubed, 3 tbsp Green onions,1 small tomato,chopped.)
3. When veggies are almost cooked, add 1 breast of chicken, chopped (optional), cook for 2-3 mins untilcooked. Take the pan off the heat.
4. Add 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp Cilantro and pepper pd, cover and let it sit for a minute. Stir the soup, add cooked Noodles and enough salt if needed and garnish with chopped green scallions. Serve hot.

I am also sending Thupka since it's a one dish meal to Archana of "Archana's Kitchen", for her event called "One D", which is one dish meal event. Enjoy hosting Archana!:)
That's it from me for Arunachal Pradesh cuisine! :)


Adas Bis Silq with Khoubiz
from Lebanon are my contribution to "A.W.E.D.-Middle East" event which is launched by DK of "Culinary Bazaar" blog and being hosted by Siri of "Siri's corner" this month. We are visiting Middle East!! Thanks for hosting Siri, enjoy!:)

Lebanon is a religiously diverse, mountainous country in the Middle East. Before the civil war, Lebanon was considered the banking capital of the Levant and was widely known as the "Switzerland of the East" due to its financial power. Lebanon also attracted large numbers of tourists to the point that the capital Beirut became widely referred to as the "Paris of Western Asia".
Gibran Khalil Gibran is known to be one of the world's famous writers, particularly known for his book "The Prophet", which has been translated into more than twenty different languages is from Lebanon.
The Lebanese Cuisine is considered to be a Mediterranean, basically Levantine Arabic delicacy consisting of a variety of fresh vegetarian recipes, salads and stews all seasoned with a flavorsome combination of herbs and spices, is considered to be a very balanced, healthy diet. "Mezze", which are appetizers and also a Lebanese parsley salad known as Tabbouleh are the most popular. (Info from WIKIPEDIA)

Adas Bis Silq with Khoubiz:
These recipes come from the author Tess mallos, with my slight changes or additions. Her comprehensive cookbook is called "The complete Middle East cookbook".
Adas Bis Silq
is basically a vegetarian lentil soup with Sliverbeets or red chard greens as we call it in US and flavored with light spices, makes a delicious soup full of protein and fiber. I added some cumin pd for taste and used a bunch of my first ever yield of baby red chards from my own veggie patch. YAY! :)
Khoubiz is a soft Lebanese flat bread similar to Italian Focaccia or a thick Naan if you make them smaller, baked plain or with spices sprinkled on it, great for dipping or mop up the Lentil soup.

To bake spiced Khoubiz:

First, let's make the Lentil soup:

1. Soak 1 cup brown lentils or whole red lentils(whole Masoor) or Egyptian lentils as they are sometimes, in water for 2 hrs, then wash and drain it.
2. Add 2 1/2 cups of water or stock or veg broth to lentils and Microwave for 10-12 mins on high or until soft but not to a mushy mess.
3. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan, add 1 shallot,chopped, 1 garlic chopped,fry until softened.
4. Add 1 cup of washed and chopped red chard leaves, 1 tsp Cumin powder, salt, pepper, 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, cover and boil for 3 mins.
5. Take the pan out of the heat and add 2 tsp lemon juice, mix. Serve with a slice of Khoubiz and lemon slices.

Now the Bread!
I have the cut the original recipe into half since we didn't need too many Khoubiz. Mine is almost like rustic deep dish Pizza crust with spices on it! You can sprinkle cheese on top too and eat like a snack, great for kids to munch on or with any soup.

To bake one big or 4 small round Khoubiz, you need:
3 cups flour, more or less,
1 1/4 tsp or half packet of dry active yeast,
1 cup water,
3/4 tsp salt,

1/2 tsp sugar,
1 tbsp oil.
Spice mix: if you like it spiced, sprinkle chilli flakes, Garlic pd, Sesame seeds,
Onion seeds, mixed herbs etc or Zatar mix.
How to bake:
1. Mix yeast, 1/4 cup warm water(110F), sugar and let it foam for 5 mins.
2. Add yeast mix to a mixer bowl with 3 cups of flour mixed with salt gradually , 3/4 cup water, oil. Mix and knead well for 4 mins until you get a smooth dough. Add more or less flour as you need.
3. Brush oil on the dough, cover and let it rise for an hour or until doubled.
Preheat the oven for 500F.
4. Punch down the dough. You can divide this into 4 smaller round breads or roll into one flat round about 1/2" thick like Focaccia, make dents with your fingers on top of the bread. Place them on the oiled baking pan, cover and let it rise a bit for about 10mins.
5. Sprinkle the spices if you are using. Bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 mins or until golden on the bottom and slightly golden on top. Use your judgment for exact timing but don't let it bake too long.
6. Take out and cool on the rack. Slice into wedges to serve.

Book and Movie?
I just started to read a book called "Tamarind Woman" by Anita Rau Badami and watched "Dances with Wolves" again last Sunday.
I was too busy to finish the book, what with all the kids' last 10 days of school activities, field day, field trip, pep rally, Trisha's NHS Induction ceremony, Tushar's Guitar concert etc. School ends on the 11th. YAY!!
More work for me cooking lunch for 3 people everyday during the summer break and all but still YAY! :D

Dishes I tried last week:

Bhinda Ni Kadhi from Coffee's blog.
Dabeli Masala from Trupti's blog.
Dabeli from Rricha's blog.
Phulko Luchi ar Aloor Dom from Sandeepa's blog.
Cheesy Dal bread from Sunita's blog. Used this (spicy Butternut squash stir-fry instead of dal)
Methi Shag Bhaja from Jayashree of "spice and curry" blog.
Thank you Prajusha, Sireesha, Jayashree and JZ for your awards. I always appreciate it! Remind me if I have forgotten to mention any of you! :)
A big hug to Anamika for passing on a very beautiful
'Arte y Pico' award (photo on the sidebar)! What a beauty!! Thank you Anamika.
I am passing this beauty to "Bee", "Happy Cook" and "Sig", my dear blog buddies. Enjoy!:)

Have a great rest of the week, see you all later!:)