Sakkara Pongal

 
Pongal Nal Vazhthukal (Happy Pongal)!

The best part of Pongal festival for me is the Sakkara Pongal which is a dish prepared with jaggery and rice. When I begun making it, I realized it was such an easy recipe and I have been making it frequently whenever the husband feels homesick.

  


This is my mother’s recipe and before her my grandmothter’s and so on. 

So here goes –

Serves 4

WHAT WE NEED

Rice                                 1 cup

Split moong dal           1/4 cup

Jaggery                           1 1/2 – 2 cups

Water                              1/2 cup

Cardamom powder     1/2 tsp

Ghee                                3 tbsp

Cashew nuts, broken  10

Raisins                             10-15
 

WHAT TO DO

  • Cook the rice and dal till they come to mashing consistency.
  • Mash it and keep aside
  • Heat the water in a large pan. 
  • Once it starts boiling and the jaggery and stir well till it melts.
  • Continue to stir it over medium flame. It is ready when you drop it in water and it holds instead of dissolving. This should take 10-12 minutes.
  • Then add the mashed rice and dal and mix well.
  • Add 1 tbsp ghee and the cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Let it simmer for around 15 minutes with regular stirring. Else there is a good chance that the rice gets stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  • Meanwhile heat one tbsp ghee in a small pan and add the broken cashews and cook till they are golden brown. Set aside.
  • Heat the balance ghee and cook the raisins till they puff up.
  • Switch off the heat on the rice and add the cashews and raisins.
  • Enjoy!

 

NOTES

  1. If you don’t want the rice to be too mashed then dry roast the rice and dal before cooking them. Then they will retain their shape to an extent instead of it being all goey.
  2. The amount of jaggery depends on its sweetness levels. I used 1 1/2 cups jaggery when I used to make it in India but here I need to use around 2 cups.
  3. The Sakkara Pongal tastes good warm as well as cold. So save some in the fridge to have it cold.
  4. The cardamom powder is optional but highly recommended.
  5. There is no such thing as too much cashews and raisins for this dish. Add as much as you please.

     

This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under Festival Dishes.
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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM. 

 
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This is my entry for the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge hosted by Srivalli.

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Vegetarian Lasagna…well almost

  

I discovered two things today –

  1. I am getting old
  2. “Add more cheese” does not solve all problems. Really!

So I decided to make the vegetarian lasagna for the first time because I had made a new year resolution of trying new dishes and also using up stuff without wasting.

I bought the lasagna sheets almost six months ago and have been postponing it ever since. Along with it I also bought a canned spaghetti sauce to try. Then I read ‘Cooked’ and have been obsessed ever since about cooking from scratch. But then I had to use up the sauce and so I did, for the last time use canned sauce, just so it doesn’t go waste.

I cooked the vegetables and brought out the sauce all with a square dish in my head. After fifteen minutes of searching for it, I realized I had broken it trying to make Butterscotch Blondies. I am getting old or what!

Then I tried adjusting the same in a larger rectangular pan which was way larger than I thought. So the sauce and vegetables weren’t enough. So I did what I always do -add excess cheese to cover up. Doesn’t work with the lasagna. So I made some white sauce again and added it to the dish and yet I had only two layers. Sigh!

But, as unbelievable as it sounds, it did taste well and we had a good lunch. 
    

I didn’t follow any particular recipe. I just figured it based on all the lasagna I had eaten plus some common sense. So here goes –

WHAT WE NEED

Spinach                          1 bunch

Olive oil                          4 tsp

Garlic pods                     3

Onion, medium             1

Button mushrooms      8

Sweet corn                       1/4 cup

Baby corn                         6-8

Capsicum, large             1

White sauce                    4 cups

Lasagna sheets              6

Grated cheese                 1 cup

Parmesan, grated          1/2 cup

WHAT TO DO

  • Wash the spinach thoroughly
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and add the spinach. Cook it well with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Chop the garlic, onion, mushroom, baby corn and capsicum finely.
  • Heat 3 tsp oil in another pan and add the garlic.
  • Once the garlic start browning add the onion.
  • After the onions turn translucent add rest of the vegetables and cover and cook.
  • Once cooked, add the spinach to the other vegetables and mix well. Add salt.
  • Preheat the oven at 200C
  • In an 8*8 pan, spread a layer of the white sauce.
  • On top of it, add a layer of vegetables and the. The lasagna sheets
  • Repeat the layering another 2-3 times. Ensure that the top most layer is that of white sauce.
  • Spread the grated cheese (cheddar or mozarella) and Parmesan on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes till the sauce is bubbling.
  • Broil for another 5-7 minutes till the cheese on top has golden brown spots on it.
  • Enjoy!

  

NOTES

  1. Other vegetables that can be added are carrot, zucchini and eggplant. You can also make it as a spinach and mushroom lasagna by omitted the other veggies except onions.
  2. The instructions on the lasagna packet did not have any pre-cook instructions. Check to see if your packet has specific cooking suggestions to be followed before layering the lasagna sheets to bake.

  
   

This is for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – New Year Challenges.

  
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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM. 

 

Millets Kozhakattai

   

My second new year resolution with regard to food is to avoid / drastically reduce having rice for dinner. The problem has been that the husband loves rice and is not a huge fan of rotis, especially for dinner and me being the epitome of laziness hates to take the effort of making rotis at night. Hence its been rice as a default. But, of course, since that is not the best way forward, especially since there is also a resolution to lose weight, we decided on millets and other grains for dinner. Millets are the popular choice since we can make all the rice recipes with them and you feel full very easily.

So far, I have tried dal khichadi, vegetable pulao and adai with millets and all have turned out wonderful. In fact, the dal khichadi was a hit with the husband’s colleagues who dropped in unexpectedly for dinner. So yay! So the next on my list is the upma kozhakattai which is also traditionally made with rice.

I have followed the same recipe as for the rice kozhakattai that my mom taught me except I added some lentils for the protein quota. So here goes –

WHAT WE NEED

Millet (little millet/barnyard millet/ mix of both)          1 cup

Split skinned green gram/ Paitham paruppu                    1/4 cup

Oil                                                                                                    1 tsp

Dried red chillies                                                                         2-3

Mustard seeds                                                                              1/2 tsp

Bengal gram / kadala paruppu                                                1 tsp

Curry leaves, chopped                                                               1 sprig

Grated coconut                                                                             2-3 tbsp

Water                                                                                               3 cups

Salt

WHAT TO DO                                                       

  • Soak the split green gram in warm water for 15-20 minutes
  • Heat oil in a pan 
  • Roughly tear the dried red chillies and add them to the oil
  • Add mustard seeds. Once they pop add Bengal gram and curry leaves.
  • Once the Bengal gram is golden brown in colour, add the coconut and mix well.
  • Pour the 3 cups of water into the pan and let it come to a boil.
  • Drain the water from the split green gram
  • Once the water is boiling, add the millets, split green gram and salt.
  • Mix well to combine.
  • Once the millets have absorbed all the water, switch off the gas and let it cool slightly.
  • Once the millets are cooled enough to be handled by hand, take a handful of the mixture and gently press it to an oblong shaped. Continue with the rest of the millet mixture.
  • Ensure that the millets do not give way and break immediately.
  • Once the entire millet mixture has been shaped into oblongs, put them in a steamer or pressure cooker (without the weight) and steam for 10-12 minutes.
  • Don’t steam beyond 12 minutes since the kozhakattai can turn dry and break.
  • Enjoy them with a chutney of your choice!

   

NOTES

  1. The most critical part is shaping of the mixture into kozhakattais. So don’t let the mixture cool beyond 6 minutes or so else it will not be warm enough to shape.
  2. In case, you are unable to shape them, then put the entire mixture in a plate and steam it. You can cut them into pieces and serve.
  3. To make it more healthy and colourful, you can add some grated carrot. Add it before the grated coconut.

This is my entry for the Blogging Marathon under the theme – New Year Challenges.
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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM. 

 

Molaga Podi | Idli Gunpowder

   

I made quite a few new year resolutions with regard to my cooking. So each day of this first week of Blogging Marathon, my dish will be a small little step towards one of my resolutions. I was deeply impressed by the book, ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan. Amongst the many arguments he made, one that struck a chord with me was about ‘cooking from scratch’. After reading that, I realized how many things I buy that can be made at home which would most likely be fresher, healthier and free from preservatives. 

I started making sambhar powder, rasam powder and ginger garlic paste at home and have continued to do so for almost six months now. Then, one day I was chatting with my mom and extolling the benefits of cooking from scratch to which she replied, “oh good, so you will start making molaga podi on your own now.” So I was caught and had no choice. I am highly allergic to frying red chillies. Despite tying a huge scarf around my face, I sneeze an entire day and a half if I have to fry even two red chillies. So I get molaga podi from mom in bulk. Now, I couldn’t. So I took up my scarf and set off on the mission.

This recipe is from my mother and modified to suit the ultra spicy requirements of the husband. 

WHAT WE NEED

 Dried red chillies                         30

Bengal gram dal                            1/2 cup

Split black dal/ urad dal              1/2 cup

White sesame seeds                     2 tbsp

Oil                                                       1 tsp

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Dry roast the sesame seeds till they start popping and set them aside to cool
  • Heat 1/2 tsp oil and add the red chillies and fry the, for 2-3 minutes.
  • To ensure that the chillies don’t turn black move them about regularly. Set aside to cool.
  • Heat the other 1/2 tsp oil and add both dals and fry till golden brown.
  • Set aside the dals to cool.
  • Once cooled, put all the ingredients into a blender, add salt and blend to a powder.
  • Enjoy with idlis, dosas and uttapams.

 

NOTES

  1. The ratio of chillies to lentils depends on your spice preference. If you aren’t sure then fry 3/4 cup each of Bengal gram dal and split black dal. Keep 1/2 cup of the mixed fried dal aside. Mix the one cup dal with the chillies. If you find it too spicy, grind the balance dal separately and mix with the red chillies mixture.
  2. To maintain the consistency of the recipe, it is essential to have the red chillies of same quality and spice level. It is ideal to buy them from the same shop which should usually work the same way every time. If not, add some paruppu podi to the red chilly mixture to reduce spicyness.

This is a part of the Blogging Marathon under ‘New Year Challenge’.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM. 

 

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This is my entry for the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge hosted by Srivalli.