Vinayaka Chathurthi thali

BM #116 : Week 1, Day 3
Theme : Regional Thali

The plan was to start the month long marathon with this post. As Lord Ganesha is the first God we pray to before starting something new, it seemed apt. But it was Onam that day and so I kept this thali for another day. So here it is, two days later.

This feast was prepared about ten days back for Vinayaka Chathurthi. I made two kinds of kozhukkatai this time. I used readymade rice flour, I am planning to make it from scratch using my mother in law’s recipe next time. Looking at the thali, I realize that our daily meals at home when growing up was a lot similar.

We used to have rice, ghee, parippu/dal, sambar, sometimes rasam, porial, Sundal, yogurt, chips and banana. My younger brother would eat either dal rice with Sundal and chips or curd rice with Sundal and chips. We had a lot of banana plants at home so homegrown bananas after a meal is a must with my dad. We usually have an entire vazhakula (the entire banana bunch like how you see in the shops) hanging in our kitchen and we grab one from the bunch :-). So except for the kozhukkatai, payasam and vada, everything else was a normal affair. The only thing is we won’t have porial, avial and Sundal together. It would be either porial or avial. God knows how amma used to manage for so many years! The entire cooking had to be done by 8am so that she could be at work at 9 am sharp.

Anyway, enjoy the thali and I have shared the kozhukkatai recipe today. Pottukadalai filling recipe is from Blend with Spices and regular poornam recipe is from Madras Samayal. Read on for the recipe and for some more pictures.

The thali has

  1. Rice
  2. Ghee
  3. Parippu
  4. Sambar
  5. Lemon Rasam
  6. Instant Pot Avial
  7. Long beans porial
  8. Kadalai Sundal (with coconut)
  9. Vada (frozen)
  10. Yogurt
  11. Lemon Pickle
  12. Potato chips
  13. Poornam Kozhukkatai
  14. Pottukadalai kozhukkatai
  15. Payasam
  16. Banana

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1-2 teaspoon ghee
  • For the pottukadalai (roasted chana dal)filling
    • 1/4 cup pottukadalai
    • 1/4 cup jaggery powder
    • 1/4 cup fresh coconut
    • A pinch of cardamom powder
  • For poornam filling
    • 1 tablespoon ghee
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 1/2 cup powdered jaggery
    • A pinch of cardamom powder

Method:

  1. Make the fillings first. For the pottukadalai filling, add everything to a mixie jar and pulse it to get a slightly sticky mix. Add a spoon of ghee if it doesn’t stick together. Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.
  2. For the regular poornam, heat ghee in a pan. Toast the coconut for a minute and add the powdered jaggery to it. Keep cooking until the jaggery melts completely and everything mixes well and starts sticking together and doesn’t stick to the base of the pan. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Bring water to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat. Add the ghee to it.
  4. In a big bowl, add the flour, salt. Mix.
  5. Add water slowly to the dough, mixing it in with a spoon. When it becomes warm enough for you to touch, kneed it a bit to mix everything well. You will end up getting a soft dough like for chapati. Cover and keep it aside for 3-5 minutes for the rice flour to cook in the heat.
  6. While dough is still warm, take out a small ball of it. Flatten it and press the middle and sides to get a small bowl like shape – like for making stuffed parathas. Keep a small ball of filling inside, bring the edges together and pinch so that the kozhukkatai is sealed.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the dough. I had a little leftover filling, which my son ate as such.
  8. Grease an idli plate and place the kozhukkatai in it. Steam for about 8-10 minutes.

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Sfuff/ Sfouf- Turmeric cake

BM #110 : Week 2, Day 3
Theme : Middle Eastern recipes

I was looking for Middle Eastern cookery books at the library and I came across Tahini and Turmeric , a vegan take on Middle Eastern classics. I was happy as vegetarian options in that cuisine are far lesser than non vegetarian ones. So for the third day here, the turmeric cake recipe is adapted from the book.

I used regular milk for this recipe so it’s not vegan, but any non dairy milk will make it vegan. I added a 1/4 cup extra sugar to make it a little more sweeter.

Straight out of the oven, the turmeric flavor in the cake was too prominent but by the next day, the flavor had settled down and it was a lot less mild. I liked that version better. So it’s a good idea to bake this cake a day ahead for the flavors to mingle.

The book mentions that self rising flour is better to use than a combination of plain flour and baking powder. Sometimes baking powder and turmeric together produces red color spots than an all yellow cake. But I didn’t run into that problem, the color turned out good without any reddish patches.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon tahini or oil for greasing the pan
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil (I used canola)
  • Some shelled pistachios or almonds for garnishing

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease an 8” square pan with a thin layer of tahini paste or a neutral oil.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, shredded coconut, sugar, turmeric and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, oil and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix well using a silicon spatula until you get a homogeneous mixture. The batter will be thick and lumpy because of the coconut.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and top with the nuts. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes free of crumbs.
  6. Take out of the oven and once the cake is cooled down, cut into squares and serve.

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Chocolate Streusel Bars

BM #106 : Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Baked Dishes

This is yet another recipe from the Hershey’s Recipe collection book. I make brownies every now and then, but have stayed away from layered bars. I always assumed those were more time consuming. So two weeks back, when I was making sweets to celebrate my nephew’s birth, I decided to try a new recipe and I am glad I did.

The recipe involves making crust by cutting in butter. A portion of this mix is reserved for the streusel top by adding some chopped nuts and chocolate chips. The middle layer is condensed milk microwaved with chocolate chips until its a smooth mixture. Its not a time consuming recipe. I am planning to try more of layered bar recipes in the future.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Hershey’s Recipe Collection

Makes 3 dozen bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup/ 1 stick /113 gms cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 cup roughly chopped mixed nuts

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease a 13′ X 9″ baking pan. Set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and cocoa. Add the sugar. Cut in the butter and rub it into the flour mix with your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this mixture.
  3. Press the rest of the mix onto the prepared pan. It will be a thin layer. Bake for ten minutes.
  4. When the crust is baking, add the condensed milk and 1 cup of chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 50% Power for a minute or so, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour this over the crust when its done baking.
  5. Add the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips and mixed nuts to the reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle this over the condensed milk layer.
  6. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars using a sharp knife.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate chip cookies

BM #106 : Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Baked Dishes

I am a big fan of Hershey’s cookbooks. Those come with recipes that you can try without fear of failure. The Hershey’s best brownies and “Perfectly chocolate” chocolate cakes have been my go-to recipes for many years now. I am surprised that I missed their recipe for cookies until now. This is again from one of their baking books. My son wanted cookies with white chocolate chips and that’s what we made. 

I had made this to celebrate the birth of my nephew who was born just before Diwali. Shreyas helped me a bit with baking, but mostly he was interested in trying out the cookies. As is my ‘tradition’, the first batch had quite a few burnt cookies. The first batch is always a trial batch for me to figure out the time needed to bake. But with chocolate cookies, its hard to tell when they are cooked because of their dark color. So there were some cookie casualities :D. But the rest were saved and distributed to our friends. 

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Hershey’s Recipe Collection Book

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on the size

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter ( 2 sticks / ~220 gms)
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F. 
  2. Beat softened butter with both the sugars and vanilla until light and creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time and beat it in.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. This helps in breaking lumps in cocoa. Add this dry mix to the butter mix in batches and beat in low speed until well incorporated.
  4. Turn off the mixer,  add the chocolate chips and mix it in with a spatula. 
  5. Take a rounded teaspoon of cookie dough. Place this into a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, leaving enough space between it to allow the cookie to spread. 
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool slightly in the sheet itself before moving to a wire rack. Cool completely and store in airtight containers. 

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