Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nellikai Sadam - Indian Gooseberry rice

There is a story in Tamil Nadu about the Sangam age king Athiyaman and his friend and the great poetess Avvaiyar. Athiyaman gets a fruit with magical powers - power to grant eternal life. The King, a great patron of Tamil that he was, realizes that the life of a poet is more valuable than his own and offers the fruit to Avvaiyar. We, of course, do not know if Avvaiyar infact ate the fruit. If she did and if you happen to chance upon this blog, dear Avvai patti, please leave a comment! But -- our interest is about that magical life enhancing fruit. The special fruit was none other than Amla, Nellikani.
From Google Images
All parts of the Nellikai plant are used in various Ayurvedic and Unani medicine. It is the only fruit contains all tastes like sour, sweet,  bitter, pungent  and astringent except salt. According to Ayurveda there are six tastes. Amla has five tastes out of six. If it would have all the six taste it might be called as amrita (divine fruit) instead of Amla.
Though the size of the nelliaki / amla is small, it is packed with Vitamin C, protein, carbohydrate, fibre and minerals. Nellikai is an antioxidant, helps in regulating blood pressure. Maintains the cholesterol level. Has anti diabetic quality and anti bacterial property, helps in the digestive system and prevents from ulcer. Ladies, mainly used for hair conditioning and prevent premature greying. My mom still puts dried nellikai while grinding shikakai mixture at home. It also helps us to cool our body.

 Normally we make pickles and pachadi out of nellikai. If you are like me, wanted to cook new recipe for the lunch box, then go head and try this. A bowl full of goodness invites you to dig in and gives a full refreshment to your body and mind.

Ingredients :

3 nos -- Nellikai / Amla  medium size
1 cup -- Rice
1 tsp -- Mustard seeds
1 tsp -- Jeera
1 tbsp -- Urad dal
1 tbsp -- Channa dal
1/4 cup -- Peanuts
5-6 nos -- Dry chili
3 - 4 tbsp -- Oil
2 tbsp -- Gingely oil (optional)
1/2 tsp -- Turmeric powder
Coriander leaves to garnish.
Salt to taste.

Method :
--- Pressure cook the rice with right amount of water.
--- Try not to make the rice mushy. Once the steam is gone, transfer the rice in a big plate and let it cool completely. Drizzle the gingely oil, if using over the rice. Gingely oil gives rich taste to the food.
--- While the rice is cooling. Grate the nellikai.
--- In a pan, add the oil and heat in the medium heat. When it is hot add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add jeera, channa dal, urad dal, peanuts and the red dry chilies.
--- Once the dal color changes to golden colour add the grated nellikai and the turmeric powder and saute it for a minute.
--- Turn off the heat and pour the mixture over the cooling rice and add salt according to taste.
--- Using a wooden spoon mix the rice thoroughly, avoid the breaking of rice.
--- Garnish with cut coriander leaves.
*** Note : According to your taste, you can change all the ingredients level.

Enjoy the 5 tastes of nellikai in the rice.

Sources : Wikipedia, Indian food, Dhyanfoundation blog, Krishna, Rajaputan agrico

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate fudge using Marshmallows

Phew, after 3 days of great struggle, I took this photo.

I know this is a not great looking photo, but Im happy to report that it tasted better than it looks. The day after I made this fudge, I was waiting for a clear morning sunshine but as it always happens, the whole day was fully dark and it was raining heavily. Next couple of days tried some shots and all were disaster. By this now, the jar of fudge has been reduced to just 4 pieces.

I was having some ingredients in my pantry hiding for a long days. So decided to put all in one and make a sweet dish and good thing is it turned out very good.

Ingredients :
3 cup -- Sugar
1 cup -- Heavy cream
1 cup -- Evaporated milk
200 gm -- Marshmallows
6 tbsp -- Unsweetened Chocolate powder
3/4 cup -- Unsalted butter
1 tsp -- Fine salt
1 cup -- Chopped nuts
1/4 cup -- milk

--- Take a big heavy sauce pan and mix the sugar, butter, heavy cream and evaporated milk in medium heat.
--- Sieve the cocoa powder and mix the powder in the milk without any lumps.
--- And the cocoa milk mixture and salt to the sugar and mix well.
--- Stir the sugar mixture in medium heat until the quantity is reduced to half. No need to stir constantly, good news is you can very well take a break and do in frequent intervals.
--- But have an eye on the mixtuure while boiling. Be careful the mixture might overflow, so tall utensil is preferable. I used a pan then in half way changed the mixture to pressure cooker, since the mixture started to overflow while boiling.
--- Meanwhile toast the chopped nuts. I used almonds.And also grease the plate with butter and keep it ready.
--- Once the quantity is reduced to 1/4th, add the marshmallows.
--- And stir for few minutes till the marshmallows are dissolved in the cocoa mixture.
--- Drop a spoon of gooey mixture in a cup of ice water, If you able to make a soft ball then immediatey switch off the heat and add the toasted nuts and mix well.
--- Transfer the mixture to the greased pan and let it cool completely.
--- Using a greased knife, cut the chocolate fudge.

I cut my fudge an inch size so I got around 60 - 70 pcs. Adding salt gave a unique taste to the chocolate fudge and marshmallows gave a nice soft texture.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cardamom dry fruit cake

A day to go to reach a small milestone in my own blogging world.  Thank a lot to all of the enouragement.

Milestones have to celebrated, right? Right. So to celebrate the milestone and as a Thank You for all of you who dropped by, here is a Cardamom dry fruit cake. A simple cake with a lots of flavor. Often I try cakes using condensed milk , but this cake I tried with evaporated milk.

Ingredients :

1 1/4 cup -- All purpose flour
1 cup  -- Evaporated milk
3/4 cup -- Light brown sugar
2 nos -- Ripe banana
6 tbsp -- Unsalted butter
1/4 tsp -- Salt
1 tsp -- Baking powder
1/2 tsp -- Baking Soda
2 nos -- Cardamom
1/2 cup -- Chopped nuts and dried fruits

Method :
--- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C or 350 F.
--- Grease a 8" pan with butter.
--- Heat the evaporated milk along with sugar and butter, until the sugar dissolves. Let the milk to cool.
--- Meanwhile shift the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
--- Powder the cardamom and add to the dry mixture along with the dry fruit.
*** Here's a small tips to powder the cardamom. In a blender take few spoons of flour and add the cardamom and blend it  to fine powder. If using for any other sweet or dessert, blend the cardamom with few spoons of sugar. So that you will not get the cardamom pods while enjoying the dessert.
--- Mash the ripe bananas without any big lumps and mix it to the milk mixture. Add a 1/4 tsp of salt to it.
--- Add the dry ingredients in batches to the wet ingredients and mix well. 
--- Pour the cake batter into the greased pan and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, till its done and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
--- Cool the cake completely before serving.
--- You can serve the cake with or without frosting.
--- I frosted my cake with a thin layer of simple banana chocolate cream and dusted with dry coconut flakes and sliced almonds.

You can enjoy the flavor of banana, coconut flakes, cardamom and dry fruits in every bite.