Monday, April 21, 2014

Badi Choora, Pakhala Bhat , Chuda Ghasa - Orissa Special

BM # 39
Day : 21
State : Orrisa

We start with the third week of this long marathon and today it Oriya Cuisine.

Cuisine of eastern state of Orissa is simple, just like the inhabitants of the state.The food pattern is largely the same as that seen in the neighboring states of Bihar and West Bengal.

Rice is the major food crop and the staple food of the people of Orissa.A large number of the people are vegetarians because of the religious nature.As this state is on the coast line, a large number of people also relish sea food.Oriya people are very fond of chewing paan or betel leaf. Most of these paans contain tobacco.


Oriya food is a colorful tapestry of spices and flavors. Paanch Poran or Paanch Putna is extensively used. Paanch Poran is a blend of five spices. The spices being mustard, cumin , fennel,kalonji and whole red chilly.The food is cooked in mustard oil with very little oil .Curd and coconut are extensively used.

A traditional Oriya meal consists of Dal, vegetable curry, leafy vegetable, khatta, chutney and pickle.A plate of salad with onions, cucumber, tomato and ginger is a must. During the festivals the variety  in the food increases.

Small cakes or Pithas, which are both sweet and savory are extremely popular. One of their most popular dessert is the Chenna poda, which is a caramelized cheese cake and extremely delicious. This is one of the dessert that we made for Indian Cooking Challenge.

Traditionally the Oriya food is served in bell metal. During the community feasts the food is served on banana leaves or plates made of sal leaves.


While talking of the odhisi cuisine the traditional Mahaprasad of Jagannath Temple cannot be missed. The temple kitchen feeds 10,000 people everyday.

For today I have cooked the ever so popular Pakhala Bhat combining it with spicy Badi Chura and Chuda Ghasa  which is a subtle sweet.

Pakhala Bhat is just like curd rice, but a liqiudy version, very cooling and refreshing.This will surely feature on regular basis in our menu. Badi Choora is the combination served with the Pakhala Bhat. Badi's are dry lenti dumplings.These are available in the market and can be made at home too, but of course one needs a few days to dry them. This is like a bhel version, very flavorful, spicy and tangy.Chuda Ghassa is a non cooked sweet normally made to offer Lord Ganesha. Since the badi choora is nice and spicy , this sweet was going very well with it. In fact the whole combination complimented each other.



Pakhala Bhat
1/2 cup rice
4 cups water
2 tb sp curd
Green chilly
Coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
Boil the rice in 4 cups of water..
Add salt.
Once done , cover and keep it overnight.
Do not drain the water from the rice.
Let the cooked rice be in that same water
The next day add curd, green chilly and chill it.
Serve with coriander leaves.



Badi Chura
Few badis
1 onion, finely chopped
Few green chillies, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves
Lemon juice
Heat oil and deep fry the badis.
Let cool and then pound them , or crush them coarsely in a mixer.
Add all the ingredients and mix well.
Adjust the spice and lemon according to your taste.
Badis are dried lentil dumplings, which are available in plenty of varieties


Chuda Ghasa
500 gms rice flakes or poha
1 big fresh coconut
250 gms jaggery
2 pinches cardamom
Coarsely grind the rice flakes.
Add powdered jaggery, coconut, cardamom.
Mix rubbing with hands till you get a uniform mixture.
The recipe demanded

Pinch camphor
Pinch black pepper
 I did not use these,since I know that my family would not like the combo.


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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pumpkin Oambal - Nagaland Special

BM # 39
Day : 20
State: Nagaland

On the 20th day we are cooking from Nagaland. The information of this state gave me extreme shocks...read on....

The Naga cuisine is primarily non-vegetarian, although vegetables are included in the cooking. The food is extremely hot and spicy as the Nagas use Naga King Chilli in most of their dishes. This is the hottest chille pepper in the world.

The state comprises 16 main tribes whose occupation is primarily agriculture. Hunting is done traditionally as a pastime in this region. Each tribe of Nagaland has a distinct style of cooking.

Rice eaten with meat or vegetables is the everyday food of the Naga people. Dal is included along with the meat curries, but smoke dried pork curry with fermented soya beans and snails is a traditional Naga food. 

Plain rice, vegetables like potato, and meat are the main ingredients used in the Naga cuisine. As Naga people are hunters, the meat also includes that of other animals such as dogs, cat, rats, birds, snakes, spiders, monkeys, bear, and even elephant. It is shocking to know that these Nagas use solidified animal blood, to prepare curries.

Apart from meat, bamboo shoots, lettuce, soyabeans, mustard leaves, and yam leaves are also used in cooking. The Naga tribes ferment their food, especially meat, in order to preserve it. The food is fermented by first boiling it and then putting it out in the sun . The fermented food is parceled with a banana leaf and stored next to the fire until further use.

With all this information on Naga Cuisine it seemed absolutely difficult to find a vegetarian recipe from this state. This is the only vegetarian recipe, I could search.It seems authentic, but at the same time I could be wrong. I was glad that Archana , my fellow blogger  had shared this link with some other friends, that surely was a relief.

Anyway lets get on to the recipe which is from here.


500 gms pumpkin, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup tamarind water
1/2 cup jaggery
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp raisins
2 dry red chillies
1 cup water
1 tsp mustard oil
Salt to taste

Mix the pumpkins with tamarind water.
Fry the mustard seeds in hot oil till they start sizzling.
Add chillies, bay leaf and raisins and stir for few minutes.
Add the pumpkin tamarind mixture and cook for a couple of minutes.
Now add the jaggery mixture and boil at a low flame for a couple of minutes.
After removing from the fire add the lime juice and mix well.


This was a chutney which had a nice pleasing taste, the mild sweetness of pumpkin was enhanced by jaggery and raisins.Tamarind gave it a litle tangy flavor which we all loved. 


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cauliflower Stalk Bai - Mizoram Special

BM # 39
Day : 19
State : Mizoram

The food of Mizoram has a characteristic blend of Chinese and North Indian cuisine; thereby giving it a distinct flavour and taste. The dishes mostly include non-vegetarian preparations though vegetables are also eaten along with meat.

The local people love to eat fish, mostly cooked or sauteed in mustard oil, which has a distinct flavor. Mizo people like bamboo in their food and also enjoy preparing delicacies made with duck meat.

The North eastern states did give a tough time to all of us, Mizoram was equally challenging.I must have read a number of articles and finally landed on the vegetarian Bai recipe.

Bai. is basically a non-vegetarian dish that is cooked by steaming vegetables and teaming it up with pork, spinach , bamboo shoots and served with rice. I landed on this vegetarian Bai recipe , which included rice in it, thus making it a complete meal.

This to me was more like a soup, quite bland for my taste, but later I added some chilly and soy sauce for the kids and they quite liked it.

To make it even more delicious, you could add some vinegar, and some sauces that you like.

Cauliflower Stalk Bai
Stalks+leaves of one cauliflower, chopped (add a few florets if you’d like)
1 large potato, diced
1 handful sliced beans 
1 large chili, sliced 
1 tsp cooking soda
1 salt to taste
1 liter water
1 handful rice

Bring the water to boil in a pot.
 Add the salt and cooking soda.
 Once the frothing has reduced, add the cauliflower stalks and the potatoes.
 Stir.
 Add chili and beans.
 Stir. 
Add rice.
 Stir. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
 Let the pot boil open, stirring it every few minutes.
 The dish is done when the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes.




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Friday, April 18, 2014

Pukhlein a Rice and Jaggery Sweet - Meghalaya Special

BM # 39
Day : 18
State : Meghalaya


Megh is rain in Hindi and Meghalaya has been rightly named after this word, as it means abode of clouds.This is the wettest place on earth and a perfect holiday destination.So on the 18th day we shall cook from Meghalaya.

Meghalaya is one of the of the seven sisters and home of three Mongoloid tribes, Its cuisine is different than the other north eastern states.The staple food of the people is rice with spicy meat and fish preparations.


This state has three main tribes Khasi, Garos and Jayantias, and the foods they prepare are similar to rest of the North East region. Fish cooked is bamboo hollow, fish baked banana leaves are a favourite among the people too. Spices and fat are again used sparsely, ginger, garlic, onions and green chillies is all that is needed to cook up the dishes from here.



Amongst the three tribes there is slight variation in the style of cooking. Garos use lots of soda in their cooking. Khasis prefer fermented fish dishes and also pork dishes.



Apart from this Khwai is a Meghalaya speciality . A day for a resident of Meghalaya starts with a mouthful of khwai, which is betel nut with lime. Initially I had a good mind to do a post on betel nut, as I just could not find any vegetarian recipe. Fortunately when I was in Delhi the staff boy who is from North East helped me to do this recipe .


Pukhlein
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup jaggery
Water
Oil for deep drying
Dissolve the jaggery in water, strain this water.
Cook this to a thick syrup.
Let cool.
Add the rice flour and make a thick batter.
Make balls and pat them flat.
Deep fry to a golden.


The basic was like malpuas, but with a vast difference in taste.Much later while browsing I realized that Puklein is also made in South, of course by a different name. Adhirasam. I have never made them, but while reading the recipes, I found them to be similar. I read about Puklein here, but on search one can't find a recipe for the same.




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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chak - Hao Kheer - Manipur Special

BM # 39
Day:17
State: Manipur

Manipur is one of the seven states of north eastern India. We shall cook from this state on the 17th day .This is one of the most beautiful states and is known as Switzerland of India.

Mani means a jewel and Manipur is a land of jewels. It's rich culture excels in every aspect as in dance, theatre, sculpture. I have always loved the costume that they wear for their traditional dance , the reason being my possession of my favorite doll as a kid . I was gifted a manipuri dancer doll by my uncle. The traditional outfit changed every year when i would celebrate the dolls birthday.Mom would make a beautiful dress for her and we had a small party where my friends got gifts like chocolates, small shoes , jewellery for the doll. I remember carrying her along with me after getting married, but in time it naturally had to be discarded. It sure is a nostalgic feeling.

Coming to today's dish. The search for Manipur led me to a few vegetarian dishes, and I tried one of their salads. Somehow no one liked it, as it lacked flavors. The salad had to be finished with powdered dried fish! I spoke to my parlour girls who are Manipuri, but I had no luck with vegetarian dishes. My search ended when I visited the Satvik Fair held in Ahmedabad. We had a stall of Manipuri students.They gave me the option of two three dishes,one being Ooti,which was on my list.Rest of the dishes required ingredients which are impossible to get here.They have a variety of mushrooms that they eat. These guys had sampled a few dishes, and even sold them. I tasted the dishes but felt we need to acquire taste. The Chak - Hao kheer was something I really liked, the purple color looked unique and the taste was as good as our kheer. I requested these students to give me some raw rice, unfortunately they could give me just about 1/4 cup.Coming to black rice! what is black rice?

Black rice is an excellent source of fibre, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Its colour changes to dramatic purple when cooked, so it is also known as “Purple Rice”. The purple color is due to the anthocyanins present in the rice which act as antioxidants. In China and some South-East Asian countries, it is commonly known as “Forbidden Rice”, as it was reserved exclusively for royalty in ancient China.


Coming to the recipe....
1/4 cup Black rice
125 ml milk ( full fat)
1/4 tsp Cardamon powder
Sugar to taste
Rinse the rice and soak for about 5-6 hours.
Drain the rice and transfer to a pot .
Add milk.
Cook on very slow fire making sure to stir it once in a while.
Cook till the rice is done, you could add more milk, if the rice absorbs this milk.
Adjust the milk according to the consistency of the kheer that you require.
Add sugar , raisins and cardamon powder.
Serve hot or cold.


The rice has a sweet nutty flavor and you actually do not need any nuts, though I added some raisins.
Chak-Hao kheer is served during all festivals and celebrations.
Here are some of the pics that I captured at the Manipuri stall at the Satvik Fair.

Jelly Ear ..this is a variety of mushroom, shaped like an ear!!

a dish made from jelly ear!!

The Chak-hao kheer and Black rice

Paknam is a dish made with another variety of mushrooms , where turmeric leaves are used

Thats the big red hot chilly that is a speciality of East ern India.

Manipuri students who put their stall.

All the dishes made by the Manipuri students had ingredients which are not easily available, they had called for these ingredients from Manipur.I have pics of two recipes and you can see that we have not even heard of these ingredients!



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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bharela Bataka - Maharashtra Special

BM # 39
Day : 16
State : Maharashtra

Maharashtra lies on the west coast of India and different parts of the state have very different types of dishes to offer. Even inside the state itself, one can find distinguishing flavours and food styles that make eating an interesting activity altogether. Maharashtrian cuisine is divided into two, Konkani, and Varadi. Though quite different, both use a lot of seafood and coconut.

Groundnut oil is predominantly used as a cooking medium. Tamarind and kokum are the souring agents that are used in this cuisine and the taste is often prominent in several recipes. Typically vegetarian dishes are flavoured with the very popular goda masala which is a mix of onions, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, green chillies and mustard. Another variant of vegetables dishes in Maharashtrian cuisine is characterized by the kaala masala, which is a black coloured spicy masala mix. 

A typical lunch or dinner usually starts with poli (bread), accompanied by one or more bhajis (vegetables) and a koshimbir (salad) along with some accompaniment usually pickle. This is usually followed by a second course of varan (thick dal), aamti (sour dal) or rassa (curry) with rice. The plate served has a specific place for each food item served. I have enjoyed cooking a traditional Maharashtrian meal or rather a thali, you could check here.

Non vegetarian food is a very important part of traditional Maharashtrian cuisine. Chicken, mutton and eggs are prepared and eaten in several forms. Kombdi vada is a classic Marathi recipe from the malvani region of Maharashtra. A large part of Maharashtra lies on the coastline. The food in these cities and villages makes the coastal influence apparent. Seafood is eaten in plenty. 

Ganpati Bapa Moriya - this joyous cry rents the air in the month of September when Maharashtrians go out to celebrate the birthday of their favorite God! The most delectable offerings during Ganesh Chaturthi are modaks, small rice or wheat flour dumplings stuffed with coconut and jaggery.

I have been to a few of the cities of this state and  of course nothing to beat Mumbai.
The city of dreams, the city of stars, city of bollywood..city of food!!
Five stars, seven star hotels, street food this city has so much to offer in terms of food.
The city is known for its distinctive street foods. Although street food is common all over India, street food in Mumbai is noted because people from all economic classes eat on the roadside almost round the clock .


Vada Pav is noted as the most popular street food in Mumbai. Every visit to Mumbai means it has to start with Vada Pav and end with Vada Pav, a few packed ..for back home.  Panipuri, Bhelpuri, Sevpuri, Dahipuri, Sandwiches, Ragda-pattice, Pav Bhaji, Chinese bhel, idlis and dosas , the list is endless.  On my last visit I captured some pics, These amazed me and I would love to share them with you guys..excuse the quality as they are from a cell . Can you see these guys...making dosas, and it is unbelievable to read their menu card.They have enormous variety and strange combos, but all of them taste out of the world. Do not miss the Sandwizza, they had more than 25 varieties of sandwiches.
In terms of non-vegetarian offerings omlette pav, kebabs and fish are found on Mumbai streets.



    


Kulfi and gola are among the desserts and coolants found on Mumbai streets. Apart from snacks, Mumbai has several juice and milkshake bars on the roadside that offer a variety of juices and milkshakes. Here are pics of a juice vendor who has more than 100 combinations to sell, he even gives you a tester..in a shot glass. What do you say to that?

Leaving the streets of Mumbai we move to Kolhapur.


Kolhapur is well known paradise for non vegetarian lovers, but it has many eating options equally wonderful for vegetarian food. Missal and Usal Pav are the two main dishes from this place. And today I am cooking from Kolhapur. This is a recipe from my friend who is from there and we all these potatoes .These are served with simple Parathas , Thecha (which is a garlic chutney) along with Onion Raita.



Bharela Batata
4-6 potatoes, boiled
Use medium sized potatoes.

Stuffing
4 tbsp grated coconut
2 tsps red chilly powder
1 tbsp jaggery
2 tbsp peanuts, coarsely ground
1-2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp onion, finely chopped
Coriander leaves, chopped
Salt to taste


Grind the above ingredients .
Boil the potatoes, chop a little head from the top, and scoop out the potato.
Save the head for closing back.
Stuff the above ground masala .
Heat a nonstick pan.
Add oil and a tbsp of sesame seeds place the stuffed potatoes, cover and cook, tossing and turning in between for even roasting.
Garnish with shredded coconut.
There is another version of Maharashtrian stuffed potatoes , which is a simpler version, but equally delicious.




Kanda Raita 
1 bowl beaten curd 
2 onions, finely chopped 
Salt to taste 
Roasted cumin seed powder 
Coriander leaves 

Mix all ingredients with the beaten curd, chill and serve. 
Red or Green chilly both can be used to pep up the curd.It is up to individual choice to choose from them.

Thecha
15 red chillies
4-5 pods garlic
2-3 tb sp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch fenugreek powder
Pinch asafetida
Lemon juice
Salt to taste

Grind chillies and garlic in a mixer.
in a pan heat oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek powder and asafetida.
Add the paste to this and cook till oil comes up.
Add salt and lemon juice.






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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mohanthal - Traditional Gujarati Sweet for Indian Cooking Challenge




It has been a while since I participated for the Indian Cooking Challenge.A lot has been going on since the past few months and this made it difficult to participate.I was on a break for nearly three months , I was sad to miss the challenges but at the same time happy because there is lot of good news.My daughter was blessed with a baby girl, my son got married and with so much hustle bustle it was practically impossible to work on these challenges.All the events went well , and I am back to the challenges.Hurdles never leave right?..this month I did not have my camera, but still decided to go ahead and click with my cell phone .

Anyway coming to Mohanthal,This is a sweet which is very common in our state and all my Gujarati friends make it so well. I have always had my reservations where Indian sweets are concerned.The reason is I hardly make them as no one is interested in sweets. Number two, we always have lots of sweets stocked up.The Sindhi custom is such that for every occasion sweets are distributed and hence the stock!! Back to Mohanthal..I called my friend to ask the perfect way of making it.I was glad that she explained me with her tips, only by the end of conversation she left me all jittery saying it is rather tricky, you may land up with either with a hard or a over soft mohanthal. I was so nervous!I built up courage and entered the kitchen, while making I called her twice .The final product turned out absolutely gorgeous, I was happy to see a well made delicious sweet.Here comes the recipe...



1 cup gram flour
100 gms mawa / unsweetened khoya
1/2 cup ghee
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp milk

Garnish
Almonds
Pistachios


Take the flour in a thali.
Make a small well in the center.
Add 1tb sp milk and 1tb sp ghee.
Rub in with your hands, add another tbsp of milk and ghee, rub again.
leave it for 20 minutes.
Sieve the flour to get coarse flour.
Add ghee in a pan and roast the flour on slow fire, till it is golden and lends a wonderful aroma.
Add the grated mawa and roast for a few minutes.
Remove from fire .
Make sure to stir at intervals even though it is off fire.

Syrup
Add just enough water to the sugar and place it on fire.
let boil, till you get a 1 1/2 string consistency.
remove from fire, keep stirring to bring it to room temperature.
once both the flour and sugar have cooled down mix them, without keeping them back on fire.Mix thoroughly and pour into a greased tray.
sprinkle nuts and let set.
cut into required size.


Important tips..
The milk and ghee added to the flour has to be a slow procedure, do not add in one go.

It's important to give a standing time after rubbing in ghee and milk.

Work on the roasting of flour first, once done then start with the syrup.

After the flour is roasted and off flame, stir constantly, the heat can make it dark in co lour.

To test the syrup, put a drop in a saucer, if it runs very lightly it is ready.

Mixing of flour and syrup should be off fire, and once mixed do not put back on fire.

Always pour in a greased tray or a low rimmed tray, I poured in a loaf tin, and as a result it was difficult to remove neat  pieces.

If it does not set , place it in the frig for a while.

Variations..

You could add..

Poppy seeds

Saffron




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