Gowry … గౌరీ సదనం

March 9, 2008

Curd rice

Filed under: My Diary — Gowry @ 5:58 pm, Sunday, March 9, 2008

Never been a big fan of curd rice, but need that as part of menu for picnics or huge gatherings. Many times it gets assigned to me without my knowledge. My curd rice is always such a flop. What is there to it, just curd and rice? No, even that got to taste ‘could I have another serving please’. Finally, got the hang of it after numerous attempts. The batch I made last evening tasted perfect at last!  Here it is for my next time.

5 cups raw white rice (long grain preferred)
5 thai chillies
2″ piece ginger
Half+ gallon milk
1/4th bunch of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste, I added about 3 leveled tsps
Oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves for seasoning

Yields about one full half tray + another half of a half tray. Enough to serve 40 people.

Boil 1/3rd gallon milk and make curd out of it the previous night. Cook rice on the softer side. I would say, add water enough to cook 7 cups of raw rice. Spread it out in a big open dish, mash slightly and let it cool. Add a full cup of water and salt to the rice followed by all that curd. Use the hand blender to coarsely grind ginger and chillies. Heat about 3 tbsps of oil and season it with mustard seeds. As soon as they start popping, add the ginger+chilli paste. Saute for a few seconds. Remember not to add the raw paste to rice. Sauteing does two things here – removes that raw taste and even more important, gets that ginger flavor and that chillies’ bang in to the seasoning oil which then spreads evenly into the whole rice. Add this and cilantro to the curd rice and mix thoroughly. At this point you might need that extra milk you set aside. It has to be in a loose dropping consistancy. The rice absorbs most of it and in a few hours it gets to that right smooth creamy texture.

November 2, 2007

Nalla kaaram – నల్ల కారం

Filed under: My Diary,Spice Powders — Gowry @ 10:40 pm, Friday, November 2, 2007

My mother-in-law makes the best andhra spice powders. Karivepaaku kaaram, kobbari kaaram, senaga pappu kaaram, nalla kaaram and the list goes on. I had made some futile attempts in the past to get nalla kaaram like hers but could never get close. Yes, even with the recipe. A few days ago, DH’s Indian <Gujarati> colleague was expecting his first child and had invited us for his wife’s baby shower. His parents were visiting and during my conversation with them, his father expressed his immense liking for these andhra kaarappodis. Next day, I sent about 10gms of Nalla kaaram (one I got in 2003, from India – sorry, that was all I could spare!) with DH to this elderly man. The next day, DH came home asking me what I had asked him to pass on, who made it, how much else we have left and if we could spare some more, where else we could buy the same exact one etc., etc., My answers were a series of ‘no’s. No other powder comes close to the one that my mother-in-law makes. For this elderly man’s sake I decided to try one last time. Determined to break down the formula, I took a little of this nalla kaaram in the center of my palm and examined each and every grain of it, tasting one by one. I kind of got the ingredients; now the ratios with trial and error. By the end of next hour, I felt that mine was pretty close to the original one. I am jotting it down here so that I will never loose it. Here it is –

2 big fists Coriander seeds
1 big fist whole dry red chillies, unbroken
1 big fist washed and dried curry leaves
3 heaped tablespoons urad dal
Key lime sized tamarind ball
one big fist garlic cloves
2 tsps cumin seeds
1/2 cup oil
salt to taste (may be like 1/2 cup)

Mind you, my cup measures here are rice cooker cups and not 8oz measuring cup.

Roast coriander seeds, red chillies, urad dal and curry leaves separately, in very little oil over low-medium flame. Seeds have to turn slightly brown. Keep stirring every few seconds not to burn any of these. Curry leaves have to be crispy dry. Using the dry grind jar of your blender, grind the roasted items to a coarse powder. Add tamarind and pulse till it is torn into tiny pieces. Add garlic, cumin and salt. Pulse till garlic seemed to have coarsely crushed.  Now take all of it into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the oil and adjust salt if needed. It might seem a little wet on the first day, but by the next day, it dries out considerably.

Tastes best in steaming hot rice with a blob of ghee.

September 20, 2007

Ultimate banana cake

Filed under: Baked items,Desserts,My Diary — Gowry @ 8:18 pm, Thursday, September 20, 2007

These are notes for me so that I will never, never loose this wonderful recipe. I ran into this “UBC cake” which stands for Ultimate Banana & Chocolate cake. I tried this last month in my tin pans, in my toaster oven. They came out unbelievably good! That was the best banana bread I ever had. DS and DD absolutely loved them. This week, when I was at Macy’s, I saw Martha Stewart’s brand new bundt pan and I could not resist buying it. I wanted a bundt pan for years now but never bought it – simply did not want to accumulate things which lead to clutter later, because I don’t use them very often. This banana bread made me buy this bundt pan. I am making some adjustments to the original recipe to suit our taste so that I will never make the same mistakes I made this evening baking the bundt.

3 really ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar     (can even try 1/2 c)  1 cup sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1 c chocolate chips

1. Mix bananas with eggs and stir well. Add flour, sugar, soda, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix well. It should be easy dropping (almost flowing) consistency.

2. Add chocolate chips into the batter.

3. Pour batter into bundt or tube pan.

4. For tin square pan, bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. But, if using nonstick, bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Tastes best when frozen.

May 8, 2007

Enlighten me, please..

Filed under: Questions for Blogosphere — Gowry @ 12:55 pm, Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Could some one please, please tell me what a milk sausage is? My understanding of sausage is that it is a meat preparation. H had a breakfast somewhere where this lady brought in this heavenly breakfast casserole. H *asked* her for the recipe! I could not believe myself that he actually did! It is so unlike him to care for trivial(according to him, not me) things like food. The recipe calls for “1 cup sausage (milk)”. Could someone tell me what that is?

Lazed away..

Filed under: This and that — Gowry @ 12:06 pm, Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Yes, no motivation to write. Or, is it more of no time to write? May be both. I have no clue how all these bloggers blog. Between work and kids and house and chores and errands, I barely find any time. In the precious few minutes (alriggghht…hour or less) all I feel like doing is to let Simpsons or a similar sit-com take full charge of everything above my neck. If it happened to be a lucky day, I read a little something before zzzzz..s knock me down. It is the same story day after day. Also, if everybody is too busy blogging, who reads, right? Writing up, editing, taking pictures, editing pictures, posting, watching out for comments, replying … cheese! Too much consumption of mental resources.

March 23, 2007

Tamarind pulp

Filed under: Convenience,Food,My kitchen essentials — Gowry @ 2:19 pm, Friday, March 23, 2007

This is one special handy-dandy item I always gotto have in my freezer. In our household, pulusulu/vegetable stews are cooked pretty often. When growing up, I thought that my mother made pulusu every other day; she really did not – my dislike for those dishes probably made me feel that way. Well, she might have made them once or twice a week. After I got married and my in-laws came to visit and my mother-in-law took over the chef hat, she beat my mother at serving pulusulu. I began wondering if I got married into “Pulusuvari” family😉.  When you eat something so often, sooner or later you would begin to like it. It happened to me – I started to develop a liking for pulusulu. Mildly sweet and widely sour, loaded with vegetables and the best part is, just a spoonful of oil to temper a potful of stew. Their visit ended but the pulusu tradition continues in our house. And the main ingredient in there, T A M A R I N D!

For some reason, I always hated squeezing juice out of tamarind. Also, good tamarind is hard to find at the local Indian grocery. I always bring it from India during our visits. So, it is very precious to me. Over the years I learnt to minimize the wastage and eliminate the squeezing part as much as I could. Here is the formula – soak, pick, grind, freeze.

Once in six months or so, I soak a big pack of tamarind in a big stainless steel vessel over night. I pick out seeds and strands out of the soaked mush. Then I blend it in a food processor in batches. Might require addition of water when grinding. After a while it grinds into a silky smooth paste. We do not mind an occasional (which is very, very rare) skin in our sambar or pulusu. I freeze in small containers if possible. If it is not possible or would not work in my freezer space at times, no worries. I freeze in one big container. As and when needed, I put it out in the refrigerator for a few hours to soften. Later, I scoop out just as much I would need and put the big one back in the freezer. I usually take enough, in a clean bottle, to last me a week.

Curry powder named ‘Sambaru kaaram’ (కూర కారం, సాంబారు కారం)

Filed under: My kitchen essentials,Spice Powders — Gowry @ 1:08 pm, Friday, March 23, 2007

In Krishna, Guntur and parts of West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, a special curry powder is used in most dishes instead of the plain red hot chilli powder. This is a special blend of super hot, dried red chillies, roasted lentils, methi seeds, aromatic curry leaves and tons of garlic pounded with cumin. Plain chilli powder adds the needed heat to the dish and a mild zap to the palate. But, this curry powder lifts up the flavors in the curry. Sometimes one would even take an extra helping to savour the flavor of this spice blend, more than for the vegetable in the curry itself.  ‘Sambar kaaram’ is really a mis-nomer, because this is not used in sambar. Sambar has it’s own powder in which, garlic is definitely out. This curry powder also serves as idli-kaarappodi in many house holds. When recovering from any illness, when nothing seems appetizing and nothing tastes good, steaming rice with a spoonful of this podi and ghee wakes up all the dormant senses.

The authentic method of preparation is pretty elaborate. Sambaru Kaaram is prepared in summer, when the new crop of chillies is out. Each household makes enough to last for the whole year. Chillies are spread out in the sun, lentils, coriander & fenugreek seeds are roasted, branches of curry leaves (yes, practically branches) are washed and layed to dry on cot made of ropes called nulaka mancham(నులక మంచం), heads of garlic are peeled non-stop in bamboo trays called chETa (చేట). All of them are finally pounded in a certain order, in big stone mortar half buried in the ground. Yes, that’s a whole day’s work of all the women of that household. My parents left country side even before I was born, in search of livelihood. My in-laws’ side of the family is pretty big and their siblings still live out there. They have mostly been our kind and loving suppliers of goodies like pickles and podis. Once in a while I do run out and try to make my own with the closest possible substitutes. Here is my tried and tested recipe. Also quick! Quantity would last for 10 months, for two people.

Recipe:
200gm Lakshmi brand red chilli powder
2cups (rice cooker cups) coriander seeds
1/2 cup urad dal
1/2 cup channa dal
1/4 cup fenugreek/methi seeds
3 big pods of garlic
1/3 cup cumin seeds
2/3 cup vegetable oil (can you believe that in good old days they used castor oil!)
Salt to taste (may be 3/4 cup)

Dry roast coriander seeds, methi seeds, urad dal, channa dal and a few curry leaves. Grind them separately and mix them together in a big bowl. Peel and crush all the garlic-could use low setting in your mixie or just use the pulser switch. When you are half way done crushing garlic, add cumin to it. So by the time garlic is done, cumin would be somewhat beaten up but not ground. Mix this paste with the above powdered batch, chilli powder, salt and oil. Don’t worry if it looks a little wet on the first day. It takes a while for the moisture in garlic + oil to be absorbed by other ingredients.

Stays red for a year or even longer, if refrigerated.

March 21, 2007

First day of the spring, Ugadi and Protesting plagiarism!

Filed under: This and that — Gowry @ 10:57 am, Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring is finally here. Cannot wait to see it bloom all around. Actually few plants and trees have already started to show their vibrant spring blossoms. Azaleas and Chameli in our backyard have been blooming for several weeks now. I have been waiting for the glorious sunny days for quite a while now. Swimming lessons, summer camps, barbeques, camping trips, star gazing – busy, crazy, yet lovely!

floralseparatorflipped.GIF

Happy Ugadi – Yuga + Aadi!
సర్వజిత్ నామ సంవత్సర శుభాకాంక్షలు!

floralseparator.GIF

 

While I was gone into my ‘this and that and everything crazy’ world, I missed an anti-plagiarism protest going on in the food-blog world. Could not believe that Yahoo stooped so low. Well, not Yahoo exactly, but it’s subcontractors. They really did not have to. All for some recipes and pictures? Has creativity with food come to such a dead-end? Fine, may be it is not as easy for everyone. What about, ‘Hi – hello, love your postings, could we please borrow your wonderful work?’. Bloggers would have jumped out of their skin to hear that from Yahoo! These incidents reminded me of our missing newspapers on some of the days. We had a period of time when we got our local newspaper on weekends and daily WSJ. On some of the Saturdays, before sun is out, H would have seen both the newspapers on the driveway, when heading out for his tennis. On his return, he would only find one🙂 Someone thought that we don’t really need both and “would not even notice” if one was missing. Do these Yahoo sub-contractors belong to the same clan? If yes, then they know by now that people do figure things out. And please, watch your conduct even in the cyber world.

Protest Plagiarism

Ok, curiosity got me to pay a visit to Yahoo’s telugu portal. Since this was about the food info plagiarism I clicked on Recipes tab. Most of the recipes (should I say, all?) say that they were courtesy of WebDunia. WebDunia is the Yahoo contractor responsible for all this fury of ‘blog dunia’. Yahoo’s nice neat way of saying ‘not me – not me’, instead of demanding the original source to be credited in the right way.

March 1, 2007

Alu Broccoli Pacchadi – my entry for Jihva for Potato

Filed under: Pickles — Gowry @ 11:44 pm, Thursday, March 1, 2007

I am a new blogger and came across this event in the food blogs this past weekend. Started and moderated by Indira of Mahanandi. This month’s event is being hosted by Vaishali Kamath of Happy Burp. February being a short month, March 1st arrived faster than I expected. I am working on a patch that should go out for taking care of the new Daylight Savings dates for our application. I looked at the calendar this morning to see how much time I had left, and awww.. today is first already. And then I remembered that it is also the posting day for Jihva. We are not that big of a potato lovers – actually, steer clear of the vegetable except on our Puri-Saturdays; which comes once in three months or so. Too starchy for our palates, I guess.

I came home, bathed and fed DD and DS. Still could not take this event out of my head. I marched into the kitchen and lucky for me, found a small potato in my onion basket. The only thing that came to my mind is pickle. My grandmother (అమ్మమ్మ) makes pickles out of practically any vegetable. She was the one who introduced this pickle to me 22 years ago. I usually make this for parties and it goes pretty fast. Sour, salty and fiery with spice kick of red chilli powder. You would not believe that it is the same starchy vegetable that kicks up your metabolism now. Because, I haven’t seen anybody stop with just a couple of pieces of this pacchadi.

I sometimes add carrot or cauliflower to this pacchadi. Tonight, I have neither. But, I found a super small crown of broccoli left in the fridge, from making quesadillas last week. Hurray!

Bangaladumpa broccoli pacchadi

Recipe:
1 small potato
1 small crown of broccoli
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp powder of roasted fenugreek seeds/మెంతి పిండి
1 table sp chilli powder or to taste
1 tea spoon salt
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Juice of half a lime
Urad dal, channa dal, mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and a table spoon oil for tempering.

Potato, broccoli, garlic, methi powder, chilli powder and salt

Pick potato(es) that are fresh and firm and without bruises. Wash both the vegetables. Peel, if using russet potato, else leave the skin on. That ensures that alu pieces retain the crunch even after a couple of days. Cut alu into small pieces and broccoli into small florets. Crush the garlic cloves with fenugreek/methi powder/మెంతి పిండి.  The aroma of garlic and the other spices took me back to the summer months in India when I used to help my mother make mango pickle. That made me even more hungry. Add rest of the ingredients, mix well and set aside for a few hours. Over night is usually good. Pickled vegetables soak up the lime juice, salt and other spices by the next day. Tempering is always the last step in the case of pickles, dals or pulusulu/vegetables stews. Just before serving, heat oil in a sauce pan, add dals, mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to crackle, add curry leaves, cover the sauce pan and turn off the stove. Covering ensure less mess around the stove and less greasy hood filters.  I usually use a small sauce pan for seasoning (పోపు గిన్నె) rather than the cute seasoning pans we get in India because, sauce pan is much deeper and more vertical. Less splatters and my grates stay cleaner longer. Also,  it doesn’t wobble like the cutie one. After it cools down a bit, add to the pickle and enjoy with steaming rice. I like this best with curd rice. Smack!

I personally think that Alu-cauliflower pacchadi tastes better than Alu-broccoli; cannot beat that combination. Broccoli florets seem to turn limp after 24 hours. Not so with cauliflower. They stay crisp longer and really pickle good. So does carrot.

February 16, 2007

Siva Ratri

Filed under: Spiritual — Gowry @ 10:51 am, Friday, February 16, 2007

Siva about to become GaralaKanta
sincere thanks: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu

Sivarathri is here – the night when Siva married Parvathi. There are many stories associated with Sivarathri and the most popular one is the marriage of Siva and Sakti. This is the fastival where fruits galore as many people fast and keep a vigil at night for the Abhisheka-priya bathing him with milk, curd, honey, sugar, ghee and washing him down with water between each. These abhishekas are for cooling down Halahala dhara and the practice of offering him behl (marjuana) leaves is to calm him down. All this goes on amidst continuous chanting of ‘Om Namah Sivaya’, believed to wash away one’s sins. Mahashivratri.org is dedicated to providing all the information related to Sivaratri legend and practices. A detailed  description of those fascinating legends has been provided there.   

Marriage of Shiva and Shakti

The story tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort…
Samudra Mathanam This very popular Shivaratri legend from Puranas explains why people stay awake all night on Shivaratri. Besides, it also tells us why Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha.
Legend of Shiva Linga The legend of Shiva Linga or Lingodbhavamurthy is deeply related to Mahashivaratri. The legend narrates the story of vain search by Brahma and Vishnu to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva…
The Legend of Lubdhaka The legend of Lubdhaka is deeply related to Mahashivaratri and explains the popular custom of all-night worship of Lord Shiva on the festival. As a tradition devotees recite the legend of Lubdhaka while…
The Legend of Ganga The legend of Ganga’s descent from the heavens into the earth has been narrated in the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayana. The legend explains the popular custom of giving bath to Shiv Linga on Shivaratri festival.
Lord Shiva’s Assurance The legend of Lord Shiva’s assurance explains the popularity of Shivaratri festival amongst the devotees. Besides, it also tells us why we observe fast in the name of the Lord and perform ceremonial baths on a Shivaratri day… 

DS had been studying about Siva in the previous semester and knows his stotrams and ashtakams by heart. I swell with pride as I type this – he loves to chant and sways with the rhythm. I am taking both DS and DD to our Sivarathri celebrations where everything will be explained in a lot more detail, where all DS’s questions will be answered. I am not a very religious person and not knowledgeable enough to answer his innocent yet thoughtful questions.

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