Category Archives: Sweets and Desserts

Peanut butter and banana Ice cream

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Gone are the days when we could just pick up anything we like and just put it in our mouth. Now the health precedes over the tongue and compromises have to be made.

You can have ice creams now and then, but not as much as you can have bananas. So if you can get the banana to be in the ice cream avatar, it’s a win-win situation. The last time when I made one ingredient banana ice cream, I was hooked onto it and tried a flavored version again. Peanut butter and honey with banana is a favorite of mine and this ‘ice cream’ didn’t disappoint me.

However my husband, who respects banana as such and never likes it in any other form, stayed away from this one. Try this with an open mind. This may not be exactly an ice cream, but its tasty and saves you a bunch of calories.  May be you will hooked onto it as well!

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Recipe source: thekitchn

Recipe theme : 3 ingredient recipes

Makes : 2 small servings

Ingredients: 

  • one big banana, cut into round pieces
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey

Method: 

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Cut the bananas into round pieces and freeze overnight or until its frozen completely.

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In a small food processor, add the bananas, honey and peanut butter and beat it.

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Keep the food processor running for 4-5 minutes or until the chunks of ice disappear and you reach the “ice cream smooth” consistency. The time will vary according to the size and power of the food processor.

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Once you get it, transfer into a freezer friendly container and freeze again until its solid. Scoop out and serve. Top with honey and sprinkles if you like to.

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Easiest Pal payasam ever!

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My mom’s specialty was payasams. Her pal payasam tastes absolutely divine. My older brother has inherited her skills. His payasam is actually a notch better than my mother’s!

My strategy for making payasam is simple. Just call my mom or my brother for the proportions. And they will guide you through the whole process. Easy, huh?

Every single time I call her, after amma tells me how to make payasam her way, she always mentions about this shortcut pressure cooker recipe. This method saves a lot of stirring time and still gives you the same results – the perfect pink, thick payasam. It was her cousin’s way of doing it, something she never tried herself.

Somehow we all trusted mom’s tried and tested traditional method and never bothered trying any other way.

This time when I wanted to make payasam, I thought I will give a try to her oft mentioned, but never tried recipe, a chance. I am glad I did. Like she said – same creamy payasam and a lot less effort. I know she would have been happy :-)!

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Recipe source: My family
Theme : 3 ingredient recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter whole milk (4 cups)
  • 3 tbsp rice, washed
  • 1 cup sugar (can be adjusted to personal preference)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, optional

Method:

  1. We are using pressure cooker method. So take a clean cooker and add the milk, washed rice and the sugar in it.
  2. Drop in a small steel plate (like one used for covering cups and tumblers) or a steel spoon also into the cooker.
  3. Pressure cook until the first whistle comes. After that, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the payasam cook for 45 minutes.
  4. Switch off after 45 minutes and don’t disturb the cooker until the pressure drops completely.
  5. Open the cooker after that and your payasam is ready!
  6. If the payasam is still on the watery side, you can add 1-2 tbsp butter and bring it to a boil. Boil it without the cooker lid for 10-15 minutes or until your preferred consistency is reached, stirring now and then. You can also taste the payasam and adjust the sweetness (less sweet means add more sugar; too sweet means add more milk) at this point of time.

Notes:

  1. Make sure the cooker and the lid is really clean, else the milk might curdle.
  2. Adding the steel plate into the cooker was a very helpful tip from the internet. The cooker was way easier to clean this time.
  3. You can add a pinch of cardamom powder or one crushed cardamom to the payasam at the beginning. I opted out of this one.
  4. A handful of fried cashews in ghee is a great addition to this payasam. Again, this is optional.
  5. Sweetness can be adjusted to your personal preference.
  6. Adding plain butter or even ghee to the payasam makes it yummier. Again, optional.

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Peanut butter fudge

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People talk to solve a problem. But if I am doing the talking, you can be sure that the problem is only going to get bigger. Why? Because I have very big mouth and very little sense :D.

There is this thing called understanding your audience and knowing when to zip up your yap. The little thing called common sense usually tells people when to do that exactly. Unfortunately, mine is on a vacation for a long time now.

If you tell someone that their food is too spicy, instead of checking the food, they will say something is wrong with your taste buds. If you tell them the dessert is too sweet, they will defend themselves by even offending you. It’s not about the truth, its about refusal to accept the truth most of the times. The sense to know what to tell whom is a capacity I lack :D.

Well, you live to learn from your mistakes, but then we go and make some more. That’s me anyway.

But the good thing is, I am learning that if someone I trust criticizes me, I should check the facts before I react. Take this fudge for example, I got a feedback that it’s too sweet. I took a bite and I had to agree. Five cups of sugar…not everyone’s cup of tea!! So the lesson learnt is that you can fine tune the sugar according to your taste and be receptive to feedback of all kinds. That’s the way to live life, because that will help you make better fudge next time :-)!

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Recipe source: All recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2.5 – 3 cups confectioners sugar

Method:

  1. Melt butter in a thick pan. Add the brown sugar and milk.
  2. Bring it to a boil and boil for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Take off the heat.
  3. Add the peanut butter and vanilla essence. Mix well.
  4. In a separate big bowl, add the confectioners sugar. Pour the peanut butter mix over the confectioners sugar.
  5. Whisk using a wire whisk or a hand mixer until its smooth and without any dry lumps.
  6. Transfer to a 8X8 inch lightly greased square dish or line with cling wrap for easy removal. I have used a loaf pan with cling wrap here. Refrigerate until its firm and cut into squares.

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This entry goes to Lisa’s MLLA event, originally conceived by Susan of The Well seasoned cook. This month the event is hosted by PJ of Seducing your tastebuds fame.

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Hot Milk Cake with Step by step pictures

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I don’t remember how I stumbled on this recipe, but now it’s become one of my most used recipes for cake. The main reason for me liking this recipe is that there is no beating the butter and sugar.

I LOVE recipes where butter is melted…saves the hassle of beating it with sugar.

This recipes gives two slightly thin 9″ cakes or three tall six inch cakes. I usually make three cakes and freeze two of them for later use.

I have gifted them plain and with a glaze on top another time. I have made this cake to go under fondant also. This makes a great snack cake as well.

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Recipe Source: The Family Baking Book, by America’s Test Kitchen

Makes : three 6″ cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (I use 100 gms)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs

Method: 

  1. Heat the oven to 180C. Grease three 6″ pans. Here I have used a 9″ pan. The rest were made into cupcakes.
  2. Cut the butter into cubes. Heat it with milk until it’s very hot. The mix shouldn’t boil. Take off the heat and add vanilla.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Keep aside.
  4. In a big bowl, beat the sugar and eggs using a hand mixer. Add the milk-butter mix and beat once again.
  5. Tip in the flour mix in 3-4 batches until no lumps remain.
  6. Pour into the prepared pans (until 2/3rd full) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes free of crumbs.
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges of the cake and flip it down to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
  8. I suggest mixing the batter before pouring it into the pan for baking. If you are doing multiple cakes (say three 6 inch cakes), then mix and pour the batter into the pan only when it is ready to go into the oven.

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Gather the ingredients.

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Cube the butter and heat it with the milk until its very hot and the butter has melted. It shouldn’t boil.

 

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Turn off the heat and add the vanilla.

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Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a smaller bowl.

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In a big bowl, add the sugar and eggs.

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Beat, using a hand mixer until its combined, about a minute.

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In low speed, add the hot milk mix to the egg mix and beat for 1-2 minutes.

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Beat in the flour in 2-3 additions, until just incorporated.

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Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until  a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle. Let the cake cool in the pan for ten minutes. Flip it upside down to a cooling wire rack and let it cool completely before icing/slicing it.

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Eggless vanilla Icecream

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It’s summer time. No time more perfect to make some delicious ice cream!

I always thought making ice cream was a time-consuming, laborious task. It wasn’t, actually. All you need to do is boil milk and sugar, along with corn flour after some point.

Making ice cream was a lot easier than taking a picture of it. It was melting before I even took the camera out and that’s when it really strikes to you….it’s summer, baby!

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Recipe adapted from : My Diverse Kitchen 

Makes : 1 litre

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre milk (3% would do)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp corn starch (I used corn flour)
  • 100 gms fresh cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips/ puréed fruits/ crushed cream biscuits (optional, for flavour)

Method:

  1. Keep aside half cup of milk. In a thick bottomed pan, pour the rest of the milk and add sugar to it.
  2. Heat it, stirring in between to dissolve the sugar. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes in low heat.
  3. To the reserved milk, add 4 tbsp corn flour. Mix until no lumps remain and add it to the simmering milk.
  4. Stir continuously to avoid lumps. Cook it for some more time until the milk thickens and starts to coat the back of the spoon. I had to use a little less than a tablespoon of corn flour more (mixed with a little cold milk) to reach this stage.
  5. Take off the heat and let it cool. Stir in between, else you might have a ‘skin layer’ on top.
  6. Once it’s cool, stir in the fresh cream, vanilla essence and whisk until its incorporated well. I used a hand mixer for this. If you are using puréed fruit, you can mix it in now.
  7. Transfer this to a flat container with lid and freeze it until set. Take out and using a hand mixer or a mixie beat the ice cream mix. Freeze it again until its set. Repeat the beating (you can use hand mixer, mixie, blender or even a fork) 3-4 times. This will ensure a creamy ice cream with no ice crystals.
  8. After the last mixing using the hand mixer, you can add the crushed cookies, chocolate chips and mix using a spoon. Freeze till set. I made this at around 3PM, kept mixing it once every 2 hours and then let it freeze overnight.
  9. Scoop out in the morning and serve :-).

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Tamil Nadu – Pongal Meals

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Pongal, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, marks a lot of new beginnings. Houses get cleaned, new resolutions are made and there is a lot of festivity and lot of food all around.

For me, this year’s Pongal feast marked the culinary journey through the Indian states. This was the first post to be cooked, clicked and edited. It’s a different matter that it’s being scheduled to go live at the last-minute.

This meal impressed my son (and my man).The kid’s eyes lit up when he saw so many small katoris (bowls), each with a little colourful food inside. This was one platter over which I didn’t have to push,nag, plead or threaten with him over eating.

And that’s how the idea of more dishes in small quantities started. Some thali’s he was okay with, some he was not. But on the whole, it’s been fine.

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Coming back to Pongal, it is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Though it’s ideally a farmer’s festival, the entire state irrespective of their livelihood method, celebrate it.

The celebrations start a couple of days ahead with cleaning of the house, discarding old stuff and even getting your house painted and all. The first day of Pongal, called Bhogi, is celebrated with burning off old stuff.

The burning /bon fire is no longer popular, but the cleaning and discarding stuff is still done.

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The second day is the main festival. Thai pongal. It’s the day we thank Lord Sun for his blessings and the harvest. Sweet pongal is made of the newly harvested rice and offered to the god.

Colourful rangolis adorn the door steps that day and the whole day has a brilliant festive feel to it.

The food is the traditional feast with lots of items, from deep fried vada to sweet payasam / pongal.

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The food featured here usually gets done on the third day. Maattu pongal. It’s the day farmers worship their cattle, for helping them with the harvest. Various ‘variety rice’ are made this day. Lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, curd rice are the most common ones.

The fourth day is the winding up day and that’s when people visit each other to celebrate the occasion. Beaches in Chennai overflow with people on this day of ‘Kaanum Pongal’.

Here, I started off the day with venn pongal (South Indian style kichidi – rice cooked with moong dal and tempered with ghee, jeera and pepper corns) with an easy sambar and sweet pongal. I served it for lunch as well, along with the colourful rices (lemon, coconut and curd rice).

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The Menu:

  • Lemon Rice : Cooked rice flavoured with lemon juice. A regular South Indian lunch box recipe.
  • Coconut Rice : Cooked rice flavoured with grated coconut.
  • Cheppankizhangu Fry : Taro roots/ eddoe roots fried until crisp. Pairs well with all variety rices and even rasam rice.
  • Venn Pongal : Rice and lentils cooked together (like Kichidi). A popular South Indian breakfast recipe.
  • Chakkara Pongal : A jaggery based sweet rice preparation. Served as a dessert.
  • Curd Rice : Something South Indians cannot live without! The soothing, cooling combination of yogurt with rice. Every meal must end with this dish. The tadka here makes it all the more tastier.
  • Avasara sambar(quick sambar) : This is my MIL’s recipe. Soak a handful of toor dal (pigeon pea) and keep aside. The dal needs to be soaked for 20-30 minutes. Slice 2 big onions and 5-6 big tomatoes. Heat 2 tbsp oil. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the chopped onions. Saute till it’s pink. Add the tomatoes. Once it’s mushy, add 1-2 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp coriander powder and salt. Add a cup of water, this amount needs to be adjusted according to the consistency you require. By now, the dal must have soaked for some 20-30 minutes, grind it to a smooth paste and add it to the boiling sambar. The sambar will start to thicken now, taste test and adjust the seasoning. Serve with any of the tiffin items.
  • Vada: The one featured here is from our lovely neighbour.

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Madhya Pradesh: Poha-Jalebi and Bhutte Ke Khees

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I tried getting a lunch menu for Madhya pradesh, but wasn’t successful. I didn’t know anyone personally from there and I was not confident about the menu I created.

But browsing for recipes from the region, I realized that there was a totally new dish for me to try : Bhutte ke khees, corn grated and then cooked in milk until its dry. It was a recipe I wanted to try. Apparently it’s famous in Indore, a happening city in the state.

So to go along with it, I decided to feature another interesting combination that I haven’t heard before – Poha and hot-hot jalebis!

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Poha and Jalebi together is a new combination for me and this apparently is a popular street food there. Through this journey of the Indian states, I am learning so many new recipes and new combination of food.

Poha is rice flakes and this is a very simple dish to prepare. It can be modified to include as many vegetables as you want. In my place, this is an occasional breakfast or an evening tiffin/snack to have when you are back from school.

There is a tamarind version and a curd version as well, and I like the first the best. This is a simple version with lemon and potatoes.

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I never thought I would make jalebis at home one day. And the surprising fact was that it wasn’t all that complicated. If you can make sugar syrup and you know how to deep fry, then it’s a breeze.

Now, for me, I am still struggling with both. Yet I was able to get decent results.

The traditional recipe for jalebi requires overnight fermentation. But there is an instant recipe, which uses yeast for rising. I used this recipe. And one main thing to notice is that when they say instant, they MEAN instant. Ie, this recipe is not great for refrigerating and using the batter later (def not in Chennai). And even if you leave it outside for more than 2 hours, the batter rises a lot. So it might spread out more. There will be more holes in the jalebi as well. And more holes means it will soak up the sugar syrup a lot.

So prepare the batter in smaller quantities if you are not planning to make it right away.

 

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Bhutte ke khees is a good exercise recipe for your arms. You have to keep on stirring for about 20 minutes plus. I made only with one corn, but I don’t think that mattered. It took all the time in the world before it was ready.

The good thing was that it was worth it. It’s not a recipe I might try again as it was time consuming, but it’s definitely worth trying once at least.

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The Menu:

  • Poha : A breakfast preparation made of rice flakes. It is paired with hot-hot jalebis.
  • Instant Jalebi : A sweet preparation, that is deep fried first and then dipped in sugar syrup. This is an instant version using yeast. The traditional method uses yogurt for overnight fermentation. Check out this video from Tarla Dalal before attempting this recipe.
  • Bhutte Ke Khees

 

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Karnataka Oota – Karnataka Mini Meals

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Karnataka is clearly a state that loves food. They don’t just love food, but they come up with their own recipes as well. No South Indian can be away from a masala dosa or Mysore rasam. Who can resist the melt in the mouth, made out of pure ghee Mysore Pak? All these are from the state of Karnataka.

Their akki rotis (rice rotis) are famous and delicious. And their ragi mudde is not only cooling to the body, but healthy as well.

And do you know that kesari, yes – our own sweet semolina kesari, is originally from Karnataka? The wiki says so.

Clearly a state that loves and experiments with food!

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Bisibela bath is another famous dish from Karnataka. It’s our sambar rice, but with a little bit of twist. The basic formula is this : Cook rice, dal and veggies together. Roast and grind masalas for sambar powder along with roasted coconut. Boil tamarind water,salt and let the masala paste cook. Add the rice-dal-veggies to it and adjust the consistency. It’s better if it’s slightly on the gravy-ish side since the rice solidifies as it sides.

All it needs is a simple raita to go along with it. Add on a pappadam/fries and you have a feast!

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Like in most of the Southern Indian states, Karnataka too prefers rice a lot. Their regular cooking has a gravy based dish(varieties of sambar and rasam) and a veggie to go with it.

The veggies can be anything, prepared in a basic – cook it, season it, serve it kind. A bit of coconut is added and it’s called palya. If it’s carrots, that’s made – then carrot palya. If it’s cabbage, it’s cabbage palya and here I have beans palya. A simple uncomplicated way of having your veggies. Give or take a few spices, this basic side dish is same for most of the South.

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Rava kesari is an often featured sweet in Indian homes. It goes by different names in different states. The basic preparation is almost the same. It’s called halwa in the North, Kesari in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and kesari bhath in Karnataka.

It’s basically roasted semolina cooked with sugar. Sugar syrup is made and then semolina is added to it or you can roast the rava, add water and then add sugar. I prefer the second method, since my sugar syrup making capabilities are questionable.

The end result is delicious in both methods and you can make it better by adjusting the sugar measurement according to your taste preference.

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The Menu:

  • Bisibela Bath : A version of Sambar rice where in you have to roast and grind the masalas and then add in already cooked rice and dal.
  • Beans Palya : Beans side dish prepared with coconut
  • Menasina Saaru : Pepper rasam. Sweet, spicy and tangy
  • Kesari bhath : A sweet made with semolina
  • Rice
  • Tomato Mosaru Bajji  : Tomato raita. Onion, tomatoes and green chillies in curd. Pairs well with bisibela bath

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Haryana – Puri Halwa Chole

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Cooking from Haryana turned out to be very difficult for me. The cuisine of Haryana is same as that of Punjab. A search of youtube videos for Haryana recipes finally gave an idea.

Halwa Puri with Chole.

Apparently this is a popular combination in the Northern states and in Pakistan as well. It’s prepared as a special weekend breakfast too in some places.

Browsing for Halwa poori recipe, I landed in Preeti’s space who had a potato halwa recipe. She has mentioned that it is a special in Haryana, UP and some other states. So instead of the regular sooji (semolina) halwa, I zeroed down on this potato delicacy. It takes a bit of time to get used to this unusual (in my eyes at least) combination of potatoes and sugar. But it tasted nice.

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Chole is a great recipe to go with any of the Indian breads. Be it poori, chapati, paratha or even dosas, chole magic is always welcome.

This chole is clicked really well with the poori, and it was a comfort, since I was suspicious of the halwa -poori combination. Those two (halwa and poori) got along well, but when trying something new it’s always better to have a back up :D.

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I wanted to have more than just halwa poori and chole, but didn’t have the energy to cook a lot more. So zeroed down on a simple dal tadka.

The salad and green chillies are customary part of a thali in North India. Home made butter is also served in some parts.

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The Menu:

  • Aloo ka halwa: A sweet dish prepared with potatoes. Apparently a speciality in some of the Northern states.
  • Puri: Deep fried whole wheat bread.
  • Chole: Chick pea curry that pairs very well with the Indian rotis.
  • Dal fry : Moong dal cooked and prepared with simple tadka of jeera and red chilli powder in ghee.
  • Butter : Saw a video of a Haryana dhaba providing a dot of butter along with the food.
  • Salad :  Cucumber and tomato slices.
  • Chillies and lemon wedges : On the side

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Goan Lunch Thali

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And we are in Goa today.

I visited Archana’s space for recipe ideas. And I based this thali (though the okra recipe has garlic) from this post of hers. She mentions about “shivrak”(vegetarian) days, where the diet is “chanyacho ras”, a vegetable, rice, batat kapa and toi. Toi can be made with and without coconut. This version has coconut in it.

I found that there are some similarities between Goan and Kerala cuisine. It’s not that they are alike, it’s just that when you say Goa, the image is that of Portuguese influenced Catholic cooking. So when you find recipes that strike a chord somewhere with your comfort food even if it is distant by a mile, all of a sudden it’s not foreign any more. That feeling is actually comforting.

For example, this dal has a ground coconut mix added to it, just like the Kerala Parippu Curry. It’s just that I hadn’t expected ground coconut in Goan dishes.

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This payasam is another example. This is very similar to our Kadala Parippu payasam. The Kerala recipe is also a blend of Chana dal (split chickpea), jaggery and coconut milk. I didn’t have the sabudana/sago pearls with me, so went ahead and made the payasam without it.

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Now coming to the bhindi/okra recipe here, this one is a bit different from how it’s usually prepared at home. There is a little bit of ginger and garlic that makes a whole lot of difference to the dish.

Yummy!

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Futi kadhi is something I have tried before, again from Archana’s space. I used kokum gifted by Pradnya then. I have been holding on to that batch of kokum and finally realized that life won’t end if I use up the rest of it.

So I have put the last of the kokum to some good use. Made another batch of futi kadhi and my man was a happy man that day!

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And coming to the batata kapa (fried potatoes), I don’t think I need to say anything. As long as potatoes feature in the menu, you are safe. If you fry it, then you are double safe.

The semolina(rava) coating is a new thing for me, but somehow with the rava that fell into the oil from the potatoes left a real bad mess in the pan. I don’t think I will be trying the coating again until I am more comfortable with deep frying.

Anyway, the man was happy with it and that compensates the messy dishes.

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The Menu:

  • Rice : Plain rice, cooked with water in 1:3 ratio. Yes, we like it a bit overcooked on a regular basis.
  • Futi Kadhi     : A drink made with kokum. Spicy, sour, sweet, salty….a burst of flavours in there.
  • Goan Dal with drumsticks : A dal made with ground coconuts and wonderful home-grown drumsticks that my husband’s friend gave.
  • Batata Kapa : Deep fried potatoes with a semolina (rava) coating…need I say more?
  • Okra – Goan style : A different version with chopped ginger and garlic in it.
  • Mangane : Chana dal payasam with jaggery. Not too different from the Kerala version.

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