Modaks & Sesame Ladoo ~ Indian Cooking Challenge August 2009

This month's challenge comes as a festival special - Ganesha Chathurthi special. There were 6 recipes chosen and I selected 2 of them to try.

I chose to make Modak from Maharashtra since I have already made the Tamil Nadu version. Just a slight difference between the two. Modaks have poppy seeds added and it gave an interesting flavour.

Modaks from Maharashtra

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 slowely add rice flour. Please do now dump everything at once. Start mixing vigourously 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 doesnt 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 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 moodakd from steamer.

Traditionally, modaks are served with ghee but it can be served with coconut milk.

Second recipe is sesame ladoo (Nugul untallu) from Andhra.
(Reproduced from Srivalli's blog)
This is traditionally prepared 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 jaggery and run in a mixie. The amount of jaggery 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 laddo shape. For about 100 gms of Sesame seeds, I must've used some 3 tbsp of Jaggery.

Kwik Fix Series # 6 - Bread Peas Masala

Have you ever wondered how to make use of the leftover bread? After having bread toasts & sandwiches, you might still be left with half a pack and got sick of the usual recipes. You can make the best out of it and add an Indian touch to come up with a lip-smacking snack. If you have frozen green peas ready, you can make this under 30 minutes. Quick, easy, healthy & also helps to clear the leftover bread - what more do you need? I am sure you will go for a fresh loaf just to make this. Adding this recipe to my kwik fix series.

Green peas (fresh/frozen) - 1 cup
Onion - 1 medium chopped
Tomato - 1 medium
Cinnamon, Clove - 1 each
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Dhania powder - 2 tsp
Jeera - 2 tsp
Green Chillies slit - 1 or 2
Oil - 3 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro,chopped onions, tomato ring & lemon wedge - to garnish

1) If you are using fresh peas, pressure cook separately. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
2) Add oil, season with jeera, cinnamon, clove and green chillies. Add the chopped onions and fry well. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook and add the dry powders & salt.
3) Add the frozen peas/cooked peas. Add a little water about half to one cup. Cook well and till the water gets absorbed.
4) Add the ghee and switch off.
5) Cut the corners of bread, pour the peas masala on top. Garnish and serve hot.

Tips & Variation:
1.Just like Bread peas masala, you can make bread channa by pouring chole masala on top of the bread.
2. Or you can toast the bread just like toasting pav bun and serve as Bread Bhaji. Check Pav Bhaji recipe here.

Sending this entry to Susan's My Legume Love Affair 14.

Update: Sending this to CFK- Evening Snacks hosted by Divya started by Sharmi of Neivedyam. Thanks Divya for leaving a comment and letting me know of the event.

Badam Kheer

This is an awesome dessert made by simmering almond paste in milk & sugar. It has a different consistency from the normal payasam/kheer varieties and is served as a drink. You can serve it hot or cold. For the amount of almonds I have used, you can also increase the amount of milk. I wanted the almond flavour to dominate and hence used a little less milk. You can make this in less than half an hour to serve your surprise guests. Or even prepare in advance and store it in the fridge for planned parties. That way you could finish off one yummy dish, a day before.

Almonds - 35 to 40 soaked in hot water
Milk - 3 cups
Sugar - half a cup
Saffron - few strands
Cashew nuts - 10 soaked in water (optional)

1) Peel the skin of almonds and grind along with cashews and a little milk.
2) Boil the milk and add the almond cashew paste. (Mix it with a little milk and add carefully avoiding lumps) Boil till the paste gets cooked. (You can also add some almond slivers)
3) Mix the sugar and simmer. Garnish with saffron

Refrigerate and serve cold. It tastes yummy when hot too. But serve after sometime for the flavours to blend well.

Adai Avial

Adai is a protein rich food made of lentils. I also add greens to my adai as an enrichment. It is traditionally served with avial (a vegetable stew), jaggery and butter. The protein rich adai with vitamin rich avial, iron rich jaggery and fatty butter makes a balanced diet. Iron is best absorbed along with proteins and I wonder how the elders arrived at this combination.
When it comes to variation with the recipe, the options are unlimited. Sometimes, I add spinach or drumstick leaves, sometimes, shredded cabbage and so on.
Normally, channa dal, urad dal & rice are added to the batter. However, I add toor dal and moong dal also. This time I have used black urad dal which is more nutritious than the skinless urad dal. You can include any kind of lentil to the batter and the dish tastes yummy with just anything. This is a healthy, balanced diet for kids and can be served as a rich evening snack or an early dinner.


Onion - 1 medium chopped
Spinach - a few leaves (optional) or shredded cabbage (optional)
Oil - 2 tsp/adai to cook & grease the adai (You can reduce it to 1 tsp. I use sesame oil)

For the batter:
A bowl of lentils & rice(Channa dal, rice, urad dal, toor dal, moong dal) - I use equal proportion of the dal varieties and a handful of rice. This time I used black urad dal and used a little less than normal.
Shallots or sambar onions - 5 to 10
Cilantro - 1/4 bunch
Red Chillies - 4
Green Chillies - 1
Ginger - a medium piece
Curry leaves - 10 to 15
Salt to taste
Hing a pinch

1) Soak the lentils, rice and red chillies for 2 to 3 hrs. Add the rest of the ingredients and grind them to a coarse paste adding water. It should be coarse to get crispy adai. Just whip once or twice.

2) Mix the chopped onions to the batter. Add a little water. It should be of dropping consistency; not so watery.
3) Heat a griddle, drizzle a little oil. Pour the batter using a ladle and spread it to make a perfect round. Don't make it very thin like dosa. After pouring a batter, just spread a little using the ladle. Drizzle oil and cook on both the sides till golden brown. This take a slightly higher cooking time than dosa. So be patient.

Serve hot with avial, jaggery (optional) & a dash of butter on the adai (optional).

Check out the avial recipe here.
I served adai with avial, capsicum chutney, butter & jaggery.

Variation: You can add a handful of shredded cabbage or chopped spinach ( 5 leaves) to the batter. In that case, add just before pouring on the tawa.

Sending this to Susan's My Legume Love Affair 14

Awards Again!

Shama has passed the above awards to me. Thanks Shama. You made my day.
I have already done the tag here. I am passing the awards to all my blogger friends and whoever wish to do the tag, please go ahead & haffun.

Plantain curry

A simple stir fry to go with South Indian main course. I was craving for this simple curry and only recently, I saw a fresh stock of plantain in the Indian store. Overexcited, I picked up 2 long ones. My mother used to make plantain curry in 3 forms; either adding coconut & green chilly or curry powder or tamarind & spices. I combined all the methods to come up with this yummy curry. Enjoy!

Plantain (Raw banana) - 1 big or 2 medium
Tamarind Paste - 1/4 tsp or equivalent juice extracted
Curry Powder (Recipe here) - 1.5 tsp
Grated Coconut - half a tablespoon
Salt to taste
For seasoning :
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Red Chilli - 1 broken into 2 pieces
Hing - a pinch
Curry leaves - 5
Mustard - 1 tsp
Oil - 3 tsp

1) Chop the plantain into small cubes, boil with a little water and cook covered till half done. Add the tamarind paste and salt and cook till done. It should retain its shape and not become mushy.
2) Heat oil, add the dal for seasoning. When they turn light brown, add the mustard and red chilli. When the mustard pops, add hing and curry leaves.
3) Add the cooked plantain. Sprinkle the curry powder, coconut and fry together for 2 min.
Serve hot with rice & a South Indian gravy
Tip: You can add a tsp of coconut oil finally or even use it for seasoning in the second step. I love the flavour.

Thanx Sangi for the lovely gift!

Capsicum Chutney

A couple of days back, I was on a lookout for a dip, to go with my dosa and checked my fridge for tomatoes. I just had one tomato and knew for sure, I can't make a chutney to serve two people. So started evaluvating other options and only then did these colorful bell peppers caught my attention. Decided to make a yummy chutney out of them.
Bell peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are good antioxidants and help fight against heart disease. I understand, the red ones have better nutritive value than the green ones. Google for the detailed nutrition chart.
This chutney is one great way of including them in your diet. It turned out lip smacking and a great dip for idli/dosa. I am sure this recipe is gonna be regular on my menu.
Chopped capsicum (yellow,red,orange.You can also use a single colour ) - 1 bowl (Used 60% of each capsicum)

Urad dhall - 4 tsp
Red chillies - 3
Hing - 1 pinch
Tamarind - a tiny piece or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
Sesame oil (preferred) - 5 tsp
Onion - a small bit (optional. Since I had a little chopped onion left, I made use of it)
Cilantro - a handful
Salt to taste
For seasoning : Mustard - 2 tsp and urad dhall - 1 tsp


1) Heat a tsp of oil, add the urad dhall and fry till the color changes a bit. Now add chillies. Fry till the chillies turn crisp and dhall turns rosy. Dont make it very brown. Do everything over low - medium flame. Switch of the gas and add the tamarind and hing. Keep aside.
2) Add another tsp of oil, fry the onions and keep aside. Similarly fry the capsicums till 3/4 th cooked. I wanted to retain the juice and didn't cook it fully.
3) Grind everything into a smooth paste along with cilantro and salt.
4) Heat the remaining oil, season with mustard and urad dhall. Add the paste and cook for less than a minute till oil separates. You can add more oil if you wish to.

Three Awards & A Tag

Thanx Sangi, for passing these awards to me. You are very generous in showering them on me.

What is your current obsession?
Collecting cook books.
What are you wearing today?
Pants & top
What's for dinner?
What is the last thing you brought?
What are you listening to right now?
What do you think about the person who tagged you?
A great cook and a nice & encouraging person - Sangi.
If you have a house totally paid for,fully furnished any where in the world,where would you like it to be?
What are your must have pieces for summer?
Cotton dresses, lots of water, curd rice
Which language you want to learn?
Who do u want to meet now?
My family in India
What is your favourite colour?
All bright colours
What do you try to cook when you have cooking blues(when you feel real lazy to cook something)?
What are the cosmetics/make-up/perfumes that you can't live without?
Hair oil, soap & face wash
What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own closet?
Everything inside otherwise I wouldn't have got it.
What is your favourite magazine?
Vikatan. I love to browse through any magazine that has an interesting cover.
If you had $100 now,what would you spend it on?
If the 100 $ rightfully belongs to me, I would gift clothes to Roshan.
Who are your style icons?
None. But during my childhood days I was a crazy fan of Nathiya. Would love to dress up like her.
Describe your personal style?
hehe don't think I have any
What are your favourite movies?
Nothing comes to my mind right now.
Give us three styling tips that always work for you?
I like to dress up in bright colours, salwars being my fav attire. Whether it works or not, I don't care.
Coffe or tea?
What inspires you?
Challenges that require my brain to work smart & the recognition I get at the end of it.
Which other blogs you love visiting?
Food blogs & personal blogs with humour & wit. I don't have the patience to go through travelogues. I even tried my hand at it but got bored after doing one. I feel it is better to cherish the memories as pictures in mind rather than putting it into words; diluting the essence.
Favourite dessert/sweet?
Mysore pak. My mouth waters with the very mention of it. Thankfully I have it in my home, now.
Favourite season?
Summer in Chennai err.. I mean the peak summer in april/may. I love the smell of jasmine & mangoes in the air. Every year, it reminds me of the wonderful summer vacation I had during the school days. I walk down the memory lane reliving those awesome summer games, curd rice with mangoes, afternoon nap.
Which is your dream destination?
A trip to Europe
Which is your favourite international cuisine?
Indo - Chinese (Can't eat authentic Chinese. When it comes to cuisine, I never enjoy anything other than Indian. I can survive with other things but can never say anything fav)
Who is your favourite singer?
SPB, Shreya Goshal

The rules are:
Respond and rework-answer the questions on your blog,replace one question that u dislike with a question of yourown invention,and add one more question of your own.

My question: What do you like about Chennai?

Passing these awards to all my blogger friends.
I wish to pass this tag to all and those of you who have not done it so far, take up!

Update: Updated the no. of awards from two to three. Got a bit confused since I got the kreative blogger award from Sangi,already.

Cream of Veg Soup

Till a week back, sun was scorching and the temp soared to 100 odd F. To make it worse, there was no AC at home. Read my rambling about the hot weather here. I started longing for colder climate and opted to have juices/shakes which is quite unlikely for a coffee lover like me. And now, out of the blue, the blue & bright sky has turned dark & gloomy. As of now, I am not cribbing about the weather since I remember the bad times. But soon I might. When summer comes, we say this year is the hottest and come winter, we say it's the worst. Talk about human nature! Actually, the weather is nice and pleasant and colder days are yet to come.
This afternoon, I was craving for something hot and I made this soup. I had this for lunch cutting off my usual bowl of rice. It was a nice change. Planning to try different soup varieties in the days to come.
Usually, soups are made using stocks. The vegetables are chopped fine and boiled for a long time. Since I wanted to make it quick and short, I just blended the vegetables into a paste. Moreover, I don't like the idea of leaving behind a portion of veg by extracting just the juice. You might go for the eloborate method if you wish to.

Mix of veg of your choice (I used French beans, carrots, corn and green peas) - 1 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Corn flour,Butter & milk for the white sauce ( Check the measurement and method here)
Garlic - a small piece
Salt to taste
Onions - a quarter or half finely chopped (optional)
Butter - 1 tsp and ghee half a tsp

1) Microwave the veggies along with the green chillies or pressure cook them.
2) Prepare the white sauce and keep aside.

3) Blend the boiled veggies along with garlic in a mixer into a smooth paste.

4) Heat the butter and ghee in a pan. Add the onions and fry till pink.
5) Add the veggie paste and a little water. Add salt to taste and bring it to a boil.
6) Now, add the prepared white sauce and enough water to bring it to soup consistency. Add more salt if required and boil together.
Serve hot with pepper. I had it with fryums.

Variation: You can add fried mushrooms to make cream of mushroom soup or sweet corn to make sweet corn veg soup.

Fiery Hot Potato Fry

This is a simple Potato fry ; simple to make but a powerful & delicious curry. I think for the South-Indian vegetarians specially tamils, onion sambar and potato fry is an heavenly combo. This is a must-have in most lunch feasts. I am calling it fiery hot just for the colour. Otherwise, for the spices I have used, it is not too spicy; just moderate. (In the Indian standards) If you are particular in having less spicy food, add a little powder at a time and check for yourself. An abundant caution! I have used a little more oil than I usually do, to make this fry tastier. I don't always use so much oil and it is an occasional indulgence. Better be watchful!

You can make this curry, mix with hot rice and add 2 tsp of spice powder & a little extra salt to come up with the potato rice, I was talking about in my recipe for tomato rice. This tastes great for lunch boxes and go less on the spice content , if you are making it for kids. For the rice, I cut the potatoes even smaller in order to get more chunks of it in a uniform manner.

Potatoes - 4 medium (Boiled, peeled and diced into small cubes or alternatively raw potatoes diced)
Onion - half or one, finely chopped
Curry leaves - a few
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp to 2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1.5 tablespoon
Mustard - 1 tsp
Hing a pinch
Salt to taste

1. Heat half a tablespoon oil, add mustard and wait till it pops. Add the hing, curry leaves and onions. Fry till the onion turns brown and crispy.
2. Add the diced potatoes. If you are using raw ones, sprinkle little water and cook covered till done.
3. Sprinkle the spice powders and salt such a way that almost all the pieces are covered. Pour the remaining oil on top and fry(uncovered) till the potatoes get nicely roasted and coated with the masala.

Serve hot with rice. This curry is versatile & tastes great with all - sambar, rasam and curd. You can also fill this in dosa and serve it as masala dosa. But point to be noted is the potato masala used for authentic masala dosa is different.

Tip: For any roast curry, don't add all the oil in the beginning. Add a little by little from time to time and fry well ; more so, when you are adding raw vegetables. This way you get crispier curries with comparitively less oil. You also don't have the risk of adding excess oil due to lack of proper judgement.

Check one more kind of aloo fry here.

Podalangai (snake guord) Poricha Kootu

This is one more kind of kootu from the Iyer cuisine. Like any other type, this is also rich in proteins from dal and the nutrition from the veg used. With these kind of dishes, you can enjoy the full advantage of the veg, without any loss of nutrients resulting from frying in oil. Check another recipe for kootu(molagootal) here. Ironically molagootal (molagu or milagu means pepper in tamil) doesn't have pepper while poricha kootu has the flavour of pepper imbibed. This makes poricha kootu spicier than its counterpart. In my humble opinion, podalangai tastes better when made as poricha kootu. So normally I make use of it for this recipe. You can also make use of chow-chow or a mix of veg like carrot, beans, avaraikkai (flat beans), raw plantain etc. to make this delicacy.

Podalangai (snake guord) - 2 cups
Moong dhall - 1/2 cup
Thoor dhall - 1 tablespoon
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste
For paste:
Urad dhall - 3 tsp
Channa dhall - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2
Grated coconut - 1 tablespoon
Pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
For seasoning:
Coconut oil - 1 tsp
Mustard - 2 tsp
Red chilli - half or 1
Urad dhall - 1/2 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Curry leaves - a few

1.Pressure cook the veg and dhall with a little water and turmeric(optional) for 2 whistles.
2. For paste: Heat oil , add urad dhall & red chillies. Fry till the dhall turns light brown. Add pepper, jeera and coconut. Fry everything till the coconut becomes dry. Cool and grind into a fine paste.

3. Mix the ground paste with the boiled veg. Add a little water if it is very thick. Heat this till frothy.
4. Heat the coconut oil, add urad dhall, mustard & red chilli. When the mustard pops, switch off the gas and add the curry leaves, hing. Pour over the prepared kootu.

Tastes great with rice and papad. I love to have this with rice & lemon pickle.