Festival Special - Modak, Panchakhadya for Indian Cooking Challenge

>>  Sunday, August 30, 2009

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The Indian Cooking Challenge for the August was about Festive cooking. I thought we could take up the challenge of cooking couple of dishes for Vinayaka Chaturti and my dear fellow members were all eager to take up the challenge.

Since this involved more than one dish, the rules were bit relaxed. I had listed out about 6 tried and tested recipes for the members to take up and I am sure they came out with flying colours as they say!

We choose two different ways of making Kolukattai or Modak. After all what better way to please Vinayaka swamy on his birthday.

So for this month's challenge we have 6 recipes

Modak from Maharashtra
Panchakhadya from Maharashtra
Kudumulu/Kolukattai from Andhra/Tamil Nadu
Nugul-untallu ~Sesame Laddoo from Andhra
Boorelu from Andhra
Kudaalu from Andhra
Churma Laddu From Lata

I simply love Kudumulu or Kolukattai and know my mom's version never disappoints me.

The recipes for Kudumulu / Kolukattai, Nugul-untallu ~Sesame Laddoo, Boorelu, Kudaalu recipes for ICC are taken from my Mom.


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Modak and Panchakhadya from Maharashtra given by Mints. And Churma Laddu From Lata.
Panchakhadya - This is a special neivedyam that's offered to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturti
This best part is you can store this!


Panchakhadya

Ingredients Needed

Grated Dry Coconut / Copra - 1 cup
Sugar - 4-5 tbsp powdered
Poppy seeds - 2 tbsp
Dried Dates - 4-5
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tbsp
Mixed Nuts (almonds,cashews, pistachios) - 4-5 tbsp coarsely powdered
pinch of nutmeg powder (this can be optional if you don't have or this is what I understood!)

Method to prepare
Heat a thick bottom pan/ Kadai and dry roast the grated coconut on low flame till it starts turning golden. This takes about 4 -5 mins, once done set it aside.

Dry roast poppy seeds and grind them coarsely after cooling them for 5 minutes. I normally have a batch of roasted poppy seeds, so used it instead.

Pit the dried dates and grind them coarsely as well.

Mix all these ingredients and nuts powder, cardamom, nutmeg, powdered sugar together and offer to Ganesha as prasad

Poppy seeds are very much used in Andhra Cuisine and on discussing this recipe with my Amma, I came to know that my grand mom used to prepare the same way too! Maybe the influence of Maharashtrain Cuisine in her cooking as my amma has Tamil Nadu influence. So it was a nice change in the taste. Poppy seeds adds great flavour to the steamed modaks.


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Modak from Mints

Ingredients Needed

For the Stuffing -
2 cups freshly grated coconut (she says you can use frozen unsweetened coconut)
1 cup jaggery (grated)
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp cardamom powder
one pinch nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp water (her mom uses milk, I used water)

For the outer layer or Cover -
1 cup rice flour
1.25 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil

Method for preparing the Stuffing

Roast the poppy seeds in a small skillet and let it cool down. Grind it coarsely and keep it aside. If you have roasted poppy seeds, its fantastic no hassles!

In a heavy bottom kadai, take the grated jaggary, add 2 tbsp of water and melt to liquid. Sieve to remove impurities if any.

Then add the liquid back to the kadai and add the grated coconut. Keep stirring so that it does get burnt in the bottom.

In about 5 -7 mins you will see the mixture getting solid, at this stage add the cardamom and nutmug powder if you are using it.

When you see the mixture turning yellowish, more like golden and sticking to the sides, you can turn off the flame add the poppy seeds powder, mix well and set it aside to cool down.


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Method for preparing the outer cover

Take a thick bottomed vessel with a lid. Start boiling water in that vessel, add salt and oil.

When water starts boiling, lower the heat and slowly add rice flour. Please do not dump all the flour at once.

As you add, start mixing vigorously with a ladle. Once all the flour is done, keep mixing well till you see a smooth well mixed mixture.

Now close the lid and take the pot off the heat. Let the covered pot cool down for 15 minutes or so. Then using a ladle, mix the dough properly. If you want to mix with your hands, you can dip your hands in water and quickly mix the dough. But ensure you don't use too much water.

Mints suggests 1-2 tbsp of All purpose flour to be added to get the dough a bit more sticky. But I just went ahead with just rice flour.

Making the Modak

For making the Modak divide the dough into 20 balls and the stuffing into equal size of 20 balls. You can use those Garlic shaped mould or else in your palm you can press them and gather them together as a tear shaped.

I used the modak moulds you get, grease the molds with oil. Then close the mold, stuff one ball into it and press it against the shape evenly making a hold in middle. Then take the suffing, press it into the hold in the middle, close the opening with extra dough and press tightly to ensure its all sealed well. Continue with the rest until you are done with all.

Even in this you may have extra dough in the tip, which after steaming can get hard. So you can remove the excess before steaming. Retain just enough to form the shape.

If you don't have the molds, you can make these easily in your palms. Take one outer ball, gently press in the middle getting it in shape of bowl, with the sides being thinner than the center, fill with stuffing, gather the sides towards the center, seal well and continue making till you are done.

I used my idly cooker to steam the Modak. Grease the plates with oil and place the Modak over it. Just as you do the regular Idli steaming, fill the bottom with water and put it on the stove.

This takes about 15 - 20 mins to get cooked. Take the steamer off the vessel and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing Modak from steamer.

Mints says traditionally, modaks are served with ghee but it can be served with coconut milk.

But we had it as such! Thanks Mints for a lovely recipe!

I didn't have time to make the Churma Laddu, but I am sure Lataji would have made her version!

It was also interesting to note that just as we do, Maharashtrains also offer plain daal, white rice, potato sabji along with modak as naivedya to Ganesha!

I have included Mr. Linky, through which all the links from the members will be included.

ICC members, please link your ICC specific link in the Mr. Linky..and not your blog URL.



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Glycemic Index of different foods ~ Diabetes!

>>  Friday, August 28, 2009

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Source: Written for Spice your Life, by Dr. Nagarathnam Jetti, MBBS,DPH,DIH,FIAOH.

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In the previous articles on Diabetes, we discussed on what Glycemic Index is and the different types of Glycemic Index. We also discussed the points one has to note on consuming food. Today I am going to list out the Glycemic Index of some of the common food that we consume.

How quickly do foods raise your blood sugar?

The glycemic index measures how fast a food is likely to raise your blood sugar. This is very useful to note as its helpful to know which will help you maintain your blood sugar at what time. For example, when you are exercising and your blood sugar is already low, you should be eating food that will help raise your blood sugar quickly. On the other hand, there is not much activity and you want to maintain the blood sugar. So at this point of time, you got to eat something that has a lower glycemic index.

So basically higher Carbs which has higher GI help in raising low blood sugars, while slower carbs which have lower GI are helpful in preventing drops in blood sugars.

The below given figures are referred across different sources. These numbers are to be taken only as guidelines and not as the exact numbers as the effect the food has on blood sugars depends on lot other factors such as cooking time, fiber and fat content etc including many more.

This is meant to help and guide only as one of the tools for a better balance!

Glycemic Index of common food





These values are taken from different reliable sources from Internet.


Earlier on Diabetes:

General Notes on Diabetes
Introduction to Diabetes ~ What Is Diabetes?
Why Early Diagnosis Is Important?
Diagnosing Diabetes ~ Different Types Of Diabetes
Dietary aspects in the management of diabetes
Dietary aspects in the management of diabetes ~ Glycemic Index!

Diabetes Diet:

Appey or Paniyaram with Jowar Four
Healthly Snack with Chickpea Salad
Gooseberry Rice
Guava ~ the Wonder Fruit
Jamun Seed Powder ~ Diet for Diabetics!
Stuffed Paratha with Greens

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Quick n Simple Tomato Rice ~ Kids Favorite!

>>  Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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Necessity they say is the mother of all new inventions. Right, I am not about to dispute that. Just confirming that this has indeed been the case in me coming up with new versions of the old dishes. Kids, I tell you, can bring out the best and worst depending on your mood. My daughter as I have said is a very picky eater and I was scared the boys would turn out to be the same. Luckily there are certain dishes they don't mind eating.

Like after we introduced chicken to them, they only say they want Chikki buva. Though they hardly eat the chicken. I realized they like the masala part of it. So I ended up making Kurmas and mix it with rice and send to school. Though the box used to come back clean, I always know it used to get dried up. So have struck to the dal and rasam rice everyday. I know I am doomed the moment they stop eating it.

Over a period, I have evolved the basic ghee rice into Jeera rice and into so many other varieties. One fine day we took them to a restaurant, where they liked the biryani, though they hardly eat the chicken as usual. That prompted me to research more towards finding the right texture and I finally landed in the perfect dish that got their liking.

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Quick Tomato Rice for Kids

Disclaimer: This is no way suitable for adults, this is mostly suitable for a toddler of 2 - 3 old. If you still persist in making it for your older kids, then you are most welcome but do warn them that they could get hooked to this!

The evolution of this rice dish is truly remarkable, that I feel I should record it. Basic thing in any dish for my kids, they would want most things to be discarded saying its "Thol" meaning skin, they refer everything by this name. Which I will have to understand that the moment any of these thol goes in my mistake, their young tongue is tuned to parser it and the entire mouthful is rejected. Now imagine feeding three hungry kids and you can't afford to spend time sorting out the unwanted stuff. Mind you, unwanted means Onions, veggies etc!

I finally decided when I am going to struggle throwing out those onions, I might as well not add. Even if I add, I dice them into big chunks and add, so that its easy to remove. You really can't expect a 2+ yr to eat onions! Then once I added turmeric as its a norm to add it to everything! Kids refused to eat by seeing it all red. They said its going to be spicy! One day down the drain. They just snacked for their dinner.

In the end this was the recipe that worked fine with their taste. And I just struck to it without changing anything. When this is served for adults in the home, I add some spicy side dish to take care of the bland rice. This time I served it with Baby Potato Curry. For a spicy version of this tomato puloa, you can check this out.

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Aloo Masala with Quick Tomato Rice

Quick n simple Tomato Rice!

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 1 big
Ginger garlic paste - 1/4 tsp
Chili powder - 3/4 tsp (as per taste) or Green chilies - 1 long, slit in the end
Salt to taste
Ghee - 2 -3 tsp

Whole spices:

Bay leaf - 1
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon - 1"
Cardamom - 1

Method to prepare:

Wash and soak rice for 15 - 20 mins.

Heat a non stick pan with ghee, add in the whole spices, sauté well for 2 mins. When the cumin starts spluttering, add in the ginger garlic paste and green chilies if using.. Sauté well.

Then add the chopped tomatoes, if you are using red chilies, add at this stage, along with salt. Simmer and cover with lid and cook till the tomatoes get really soft.It takes about 5 mins, when you cook on high and keep stirring it.

Add the drained rice and sauté well so that the rice is well coated. Then add 1 cup of water. Adjust salt, cover with lid and cook on high flame, until the water starts boiling. Then simmer and cook it covered with lid for 10 mins. In between, stir it once but take care not to break the rice.

Normally after the first boil, it takes about 5 mins to get cooked. But to get the right texture, you can switch off the stove and still let it get settled in the pan.

Notes: If you are adding green chilies, make sure you don't slit open the entire chili as seeds will come out and can be spicy for the little ones. I have found that instead using Red chili powder works out best.

The rice gets its red colour from the well mashed tomatoes, so it looks good but at the same time not very spicy look. So remember not to add turmeric.

When I am not using Basmati, I use Sona Masuri, for which I add about 3 + 3/4 cups of water. You can add about 4 cups of water to get that grainy yet well cooked rice.

If your kids like to eat onions, please do add them along with whatever other veggies can be included. But do be liberal with ghee if you haven't added the kids quote otherwise for the day.

Hope you enjoyed reading my kids' favorite rice. do share your kid's favorite dish! Would love to read about them!

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Stuffed Paratha with Greens ~ Diabetic Diet!

>>  Thursday, August 13, 2009

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When you are ardent to follow some diet be it for diabetes or even on a diet regime, dry roasted rotis play a major role. Any day wheat based dishes are better than rice. And it really helps if you can plan on lot of varieties in order not to feel bored eating the same stuff. The thought that we will have to plan so much as to what to make, takes us so much time that I always feel having a planned menu on hand helps.

During my recent meeting with a dietician to discuss a well balanced diet for diabetes, she showed the menu they came about for people who had enrolled for a weight loss program! The menu was absolutely delicious. I was telling the dietician that given that kind of a menu, I am sure you will get lots of interested folks to order. And I also felt it must be heavy, given that multiple courses involved. She assured that it wasn't the case. It was more of a satisfying all senses with balanced diet. Surprising I also had a similar menu on mind, only it wasn't so elaborate as her's. But I am now motivated to prepare something on those lines.

Will surely share once its ready. But for today, I have a simple paratha made by stuffing greens in to it. This also works out more in lines of cleaning out the pantry too. We had these greens laying around for couple of days, finally not knowing what else to make, I decided the parathas would be best way to make clean and neat dish!

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Since both greens of any type, with wheat is such a good diabetic food, thought to make the best of it by using very little oil and cooking in low flame, so that the nutrients are not lost.

As the gravy or curry is sauteed, it makes a very tasty paratha on its own. You need not really bother about making a side dish again. It really helps in those harried times, having to make so many varieties. After all we should ignore a diabetic need. Especially they end up saying they want to make things easy for us by eating regular food. Not at all, with little planning, we can make healthy food for diabetics no time.

There is no fixed recipe for my stuffing here, you can add/remove spices based on your wish.

Make roti dough as usual but a wee bit stiffer for stuffing to stay in place.


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For the stuffing for two parathas

Greens of your choice, I used a bit of mint, couple of spinach, handful of Ponnanganni keerai,
A small Onions
1 medium Green chilie (if you prefer spicy)
Red chilies as per taste
Coriander a little
Cumin powder a little
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tsps

Method to prepare:

Wash and pick the greens. Let it drain well.

Have the dough ready and let it rest for 10 mins.

Heat a pan with 1 tsp oil, add the chopped onions, saute well.

Then add the greens and the spices. simmer to low flame and cover with lid for 6 - 8 mins.

When the greens are cooked, remove to a plate and allow it to cool.

Then make equal balls of the roti dough, take one ball, make a dent in middle, stuff a spoon of the greens. Close well.

Roll out after dusting it with flour and cook on a hot tawa. If you are eating it right away, need not use oil to cook the roti.

This paratha packs good protein and energy as it includes greens and less oil.


Diabetes Diet:

Appey or Paniyaram with Jowar Four
Healthly Snack with Chickpea Salad
Gooseberry Rice
Guava ~ the Wonder Fruit

Read more...

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