Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy peasy biscuit canape

Grab one soon before it gets over...

Canape - an appetizer consisting of a thin slice or piece of bread toasted or fried in butter or oil, on which anchovies, mushrooms, caviar, cheese, or other savory foods, are served (Source:

How happy it will be when our kutti kutti childhood desire comes true after many years? I felt the same today after clicking these colorful cool canapes.

Long long ago, me and my sister saw a biscuit advertisement in a magazine in which the biscuits were topped with many layers and served colorfully. That time we did not know much about the cheese and toppings, so we simply used a Maggie tomato ketchup.

After many years, the time I started to know much about cooking and special ingredients used to give catchy look to the dish, I realized how simple it is to do topping over a biscuit. When I tried this biscuit canape today, the 12 year in me took over and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of preparing and serving this dish.

Ingredients :

Salt biscuit for base.
Cheese slice of any kind.
Thinly sliced mixed vegetables
   -- Carrot,
   -- Cucumber,
   -- Onion,
   -- Cilantro,
   -- Tomato.
Grated cheese and crunchy savory mixture.
**Note : There is no specific measure for the ingredients, prepare as much as you like. I am not going to restrict by giving the measurements.

Method :
--- This easy peasy biscuit canape is very simple, its only layering of all the ingredients.
--- Arrange the biscuit over the serving plate. Choose the plate according to your theme, because once we start layering it will be difficult to change the plates.
--- Take the cheese slice and cut into small squares or triangles according to the size of the biscuit.
--- Place the cheese slice over the biscuit as a second layer.
--- Take a spoonful of mixed vegetable and put it on the top of the cheese. This forms the third layer.
--- To make it little more crunchy, top the vegetables with little savory mixture.
--- Drizzle some finely grated cheese as a last layer.
--- The easy peasy biscuit canape is ready to rock the party

Variations :
--- You can use vegetables like green, red or yellow bell peppers, will give nice color to the plate.
--- Also to make it little spicy, you can use any ketchup in the bottom layer.

These canapes will be a best for any parties or quick snacks. Easy to make and so colorful to look.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maavadu - Tender mango pickle

Hurray, Its mango time again...
The time the mango season starts, the pickle season starts in our home. Maavadu, is a pickle made out of cute little tender mangoes.

My mother makes pickles like a factory and distributes it to all of us. For the past 2 years, she had it delivered to me in Chicago too. My sister resides in Mambalam and has ready access to almost anything you name. Specially in the summer she gets loads and loads of mangoes. The list starts from Maavadu mangoes, then Aavakaai mango, mangoes for vathal, thokku and of course mambazham.  We finished the first batch of Maavadu at home a couple of weeks ago and my mother prepared another batch last week.

Ingredients :

1 padi** -- Maavadu, small size tender mangoes
50 gm -- Mustard  seeds
4 tbsp -- Chili powder
3 tsp -- Turmeric powder
2 tsp -- Castor Oil
150gm to 200gm -- Powdered salt

** Since this is my mom's recipe, all the measurements are in weight.
And the padi is the old method of  measuring unit, still used in some places. My mom and my in-law talks more often with this unit. Since they used to cook for big families.
1 padi approximately equals 8 cups

Method :
--- Wash the mangoes and dry them completely by spreading over a dry cloth.

--- After drying the mangoes, transfer the mangoes in a bowl or a jar in which you are going to store the pickle. Pour the 2 tsp edible Castor oil  over the mangoes and mix well and make sure all the mangoes are coated with the oil.
--- Grind the mustard seeds to powder.
--- Add chili powder, mustard seed powder, turmeric powder and salt to the mangoes.
--- Mix well and close the bowl / jar with a lid.
--- Utmost try to use a dry wooden ladle to mix the mangoes or use clean dry hands.
--- Mix the mangoes daily for at least for a week to 10 days in the morning with wooden ladle, once the skin shrinks and the salt become watery, the pickle is ready to use.
--- Taste a mango after 3-4 days, if you feel it needs more salt. Go and grab the salt jar from the pantry and add to the mangoes.

--- Yummy tender mango pickle is ready to rock.

Important note :
1) If the salt is more the life span of the pickle will also be more. If salt is less, then the pickle will be infected with fungus growth. So always better to check the mangoes daily.
2) Also use dry spoon to take the mangoes from the big container you stored.

If you follow the above two instruction you can store in the air tight container or ceramic jar in the room temperature itself and will lasts for more months, provided the consumption level, unlike us:-), is less. Or else you can even store it in a fridge and it will last for years.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vishu Special - Idichakka thoran (Jackfruit Curry)

             Happy Tamizh new year and Vishu

It is very nice to be in our homeland to enjoy special dishes on special occasions. Though we cook the same recipes during ordinary days, we will not the get that divine festive taste in that recipe. Idichikka thoran, is one such special recipe for Vishu.

Cute little Young Jack fruit
Jack fruit is called as 'Idichakka' in Kerala. Jack fruit is a tropical plant which is found mainly in southeast Asia and some parts of Africa. You know, Jack fruit is highly nutritious fruit. I read many more interesting facts about this fruit in a book called, 'How the Banana Goes to Heaven' by Ratna Rajaiah. How I bought this book ? Its a nice short story. A couple of days earlier me and Karthik were at the Passport office. As usual nothing happened as per the schedule, so to kill the time we went to a nearby book shop, where I chanced upon this beautiful book.

Jack fruit
-- An antioxidant which fights diseases.
-- High in beta carotene which our body converts into Vitamin A.
-- Rich in dietary minerals like potassium and Iron.
-- Contains more calcium and magnesium than Banana.
-- Excellent source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibers, makes the fruit as an energy food.

Like the fruit, the seeds inside them are also equally good for health. They are also high in Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B2, Also minerals like calcium, zinc, phosphorous and Sulphur.

First time in my life, I tried this Idichakka. My mother in-law helped me in cooking and Iam in love with this this wonderful recipe.

Ingredients :

1 no -- Small young jackfruit
1 tsp -- Turmeric powder
1 tsp -- Mustard seeds
1 tbsp -- Chana dal
1 tbsp -- Urad dal
1 tsp -- Jeera
3 no -- Red chillies
2-3 tsp -- Oil
Salt -- To taste
Few Curry leaves
** 1 no -- medium size onion
** 1/2 cup -- Grated coconut

** Onion or coconut -- according to your taste.

Method :
--- By using sharp knife, cut a thick layer of about 1cm skin from the fruit. Apply some oil to the hand and to the knife to avoid the gum sticking in your hands.
--- Cut the fruit into big chunks.
If using a very young jack fruit then no need to discard the center stem inside the fruit, if not cut the stem too.
--- Cook the big chunks along with the turmeric and 1 tsp of salt in the pressure cooker for 1 or 2 whistles.

--- Once the cooked jack fruit is cooled completely, by using a fork or hand shred the big chunks. Since it is cooked nicely all the fibers can be shredded easily. If you find difficulty put it in a mixer and just run for one or two times. Don't run continuously, then all the fruit will get smashed.
--- Put a pan in medium heat and add oil and after few minutes add mustard seeds. Once the seeds are popped completely add chana dal. urad dal, chillies, curry leaves and jeera.
---*** If you are using onion, cut them in to small pieces and add them to the oil mixture and fry until the onion become translucent.
--- Add the shredded jack fruit to the oil mixture and add salt according to taste.
--- Mix well and fry the jack fruit mixture for few minutes.
--- *** If you are not using the onion, avoid the onion step and add the  grated coconut in the final stage and turn off the heat.

Enjoy the Idichakka thoran along with Vishu special pradamans :))