This year Onam meant a lot of cooking. We made a total of 9 items for Mahabali’s visit. Since (R)oomie and I did it together it was more fun than anything else. His Teeyal was to die for! We made Avial, Rasam, Manga Pulisherry, Beans Toran, Kootu curry, Inji-puli , Rice, Dal and Payasam. We even tried to serve it the traditional way - on a banana leaf in the right(?) order starting with salt.
We hope Mahabali brings us all happiness, good health, wealth and prosperity with his visit this year. Hridayam Niranja Onashamsagal!
Like the last 4 years we made Ganesha at home this time too! It was so much tougher with a little energetic, teething(and hence biting) pup but we made it. I almost made a video of how I made Ganesha this time but because the clay I used had to be soaked in the water for a long time to be pliable enough and because I once again worked in the night(bad lighting duh) I decided that maybe next year I’ll ‘try’ to plan ahead and made a detailed video with explanations as to why I make the idol the way I do.
For now I want to wish you all a beautiful, prosperous, healthy and happy Ganesh Chathurthi. May our ‘good’ wishes come true and may we find more peace in this chaotic world. May there be less trauma, less war and just more love all around.
(R)oomie is a big fan of the Starbucks Cherry Walnut Biscotti. They stopped selling those more than a year ago and although he makes do with the Vanilla Almond Biscotti, I do often hear him pine and complain. Then one day he asked if we could make them at home.
Now if you consider the cost of buying vs baking your own, the cost is a fraction of the former. But it goes beyond that - you can customize the ones you make at home - substitute the sugar with a Truvia blend or Stevia, replace the flour with wholewheat durum flour, add the toppings you like and the quantity you like. I mean, come on, these reasons should be good enough to make them at home. Get your partner to help out too, that way he/she knows how easy it is. The only fatty ingredient in this ends up being butter, (after all the substitutions) and the egg yolks but if you div it up between the 24 that you can make with this recipe, it hardly even matters provided you are not eating other butter rich foods.
Source: Starbucks Restaurant at Home
Butter - 1/4 Cup
Truvia blend - 1/4 Cup
Eggs - 2 large
Vanilla paste - 1 Tsp
Whole wheat Durum flour -1 1/4
Baking powder - 1/4 Tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 Tsp
Salt - 1 pinch
Pecans - 1/4 Cup
Dried cherries - 1/4 Cup
Orange zest - 1 Tsp (This kills the ‘eggy’ smell)
I followed all the instructions to the dot. The only thing different was that the second baking took me about 20 minutes. I love making Biscotti because I almost always have all the ingredients on hand and all I need to do is to whip out my hand mixer and turn on the oven.
Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the taste because I am not a Biscotti fan and never eat it. But (R)oomie loves it and always has it with a cuppa coffee!
This recipe is about the podi(or powder) that is eaten on the side with Idlies(steamed rice cakes). As kids when we were served idlies as breakfast we were asked what we wanted with it - podi, chutney or sugar. Most kids love sugar. I wanted podi or chutney both of which are spicy accompaniments to the rather bland albeit super soft and spongy idly.
The south Indian cuisine which tends to be vegetarian and even vegan centric although not intentionally tends to incorporate the required protein in everyday meals. I have to admit, I never had to understand the concept of carbs, protein and fiber till I started cooking on a regular basis and realized my cooked seemed very lopsided (read favoring carbs).
So I started to dissect the meals I was served as a child - a heavy breakfast of carbs accompanied with veggies and legumes, a lighter lunch which usually but not always was a duplicate of the breakfast but lesser in quantity and evening snacks which was freshly cut fruit or a piece of fried legumes and finally dinner which was the lightest meal of the day and eaten by 8 pm.
This continued till I turned into a rebellious teen refusing to ‘stuff’ herself in the morning and returning home ravenous and ready to eat her own fingers. This trend has continued to this day and I have since tried to make changes.
I failed to realize for a long time that meals were made a certain way for a reason, tradition wasnt tradition for the sake of traditions. Festivals encouraged rich and heavy food but it also provided energy and encouraged going out and playing to burn away all the calories. None of this has been spelled out in terms of calories and yet, makes so much sense.
Long story short, the idly podi or the spicy powdery accompaniment for a lot on south Indian breakfasts, is filled with legumes a source rich in protein and is super easy to make and store. That’s a huge bonus for lazy bums like me.
So I spoke to Amma and decide to share her idly podi recipe on the blog.
Rice - 1/2 Cup
Urad dal - 1/4 Cup
chana dal - 1/4 Cup
asafoetida - 1 Tsp
salt to taste
dried red chillis - 8 (Reduce or increase based on your preferred spice level)
Jeera/cumin - 1 Tsp
Dry roast the above ingredients and grind to a fine powder. I use my Oster at high setting and use the liquify option - works everytime. Store in an airtight container and use preferably within 6 months. It does last longer but its more fun to make in smaller batches because you can try a different combo each time and experiment with a different taste.
I wanted to also add a small note on how this is eaten - a heaped teaspoon is usually put on the plate and a depression made using your index finger deep enough for 1/2 a teaspoon of oil. The oil and powder are then mixed well enough to form a paste of sorts. We usually dip a piece of idly/dosa or sometimes even mix rice with this spicy paste and its a meal!
The idly podi is such a versatile dish that one can add, subtract, divide ingredients to create a different taste each time. Try adding dry curry leaves, garlic, basil leaves, mint leaves to add a depth of flavor.
Rubios and Baja Fresh are two restaurants that ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ often eat at during weekends. At Baja Fresh they love the mango salsa and at Rubios the Chipotle sauce is what makes them keep going back. One day ‘the boy’ says to the girl ‘how do these guys make this sauce?’ and ‘the girl’ takes it up as a challenge!