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2009 October 23 [Friday]


This entry has been dedicated to this awesomeness.

Over the dipavali weekend I made some Karanji, a traditional maharashtrian delicacy--you'll know why if you've ever gone through the rigorous process of cooking it from scratch, especially the poli making part.

Ingredients for Puran/saran/inner filling :

  • 1 cup powdered cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp charoli
  • 1 cup mixed dry fruit/nuts (unsalted almond, cashew nut, pistachios)
  • Half cup rava
  • 1.5 cups sugar (this depends on the level of sweetness one desires)
  • 1 pinch nutmeg powder
  • 4 elaichi pods crushed
Puran Preparation :
Powder the sugar till it does not have a grainy texture. Its easier to buy ready-to-use powered sugar but the proportions given above will vary slightly.
1. Dry roast the rava (and poppy seeds separately) to a golden color and keep aside to cool.
2. Roast the nuts in a tablespoon of ghee and keep to cool.
3. Take a large bowl and mix the roasted nuts, with one cup powdered cashew nuts, powedered sugar, poppy seeds, charuli, rava, nutmeg and elaichi powder. This is a dry powder filling which will stay for a few days. Also when deepfried it will automatically get cooked.

Note : The filling for this sweet dumpling can also include grated copra (dessicated dry coconut) but since copra has an irritating trait --it can smell rancid within 2-3 days reducing the storage shelf-life, I dont use it.

Ingredients for external dough cover:
  • 1 cup maida
  • 1 tsp ghee (butter)
  • salt (one pinch)
  • water and 20ml warm milk for mixing the dough
  • 2 tbsp cornflour and half cup ghee
External dough cover Preparation :
The dough will have to be prepared atleast an hour before use.
0. Add 1 tbsp HOT ghee to 1 cup maida and mix well. This will make the karanji cover crisp.
1. Add little warm milk while kneading the dough with required water so the dough will be soft and rise well.
2. Then add a pinch of salt and knead well for 5 minutes. Cover well and set aside.
Additional Notes : In a small cup mix 2 tbsp cornflour in half cup ghee for later use.

Karanji Preparation:
0. Cut some dough and roll-out three polis.
1. Take the first poli and apply the cornflour+ghee mixture all over this poli and lay the second poli on top and apply cornflour+ghee on it and cover it with the third poli.
2. Now roll all three poli's tightly but with a light hand, taking care that they dont break during the process. 
3. Cut them into small oval pieces.
4. Take one oval and roll out the poli again, taking care that its not too thin in the middle. Place the prepared stuffing in the middle of your poli.
5. Fold it in half and roll the corners of the puri inwards. It should be sealed properly, else the stuffing will become burnt sediment while frying.
6. Deep fry it till it becomes golden-brown or you can bake it in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celcius. Serve it hot or cold.
7. The karanji can last for 7-8 days if stored in an air tight container.

2008 May 3 [Saturday]

Dhink laddu and Kulfis

Trying to get some traditional Maharashtrian food [thalipeeth, dhink (dhing?) laddu's, sabudana vada, missal,...] lead me nowhere, except this one in South Bangalore but nobody answers the phone so it may have closed down :-/

I finally found a lady who cooks and delivers dhabbas and had to ask her about dhink ladoo's. Yay... she makes them, but for personal consumption only. The cost factor and lack of customers means its not viable to commercially sell dhik laddu's.....Grrr..just my luck.

There is a sizable Maharashtrian population in the city and both states share a lengthy border but the cusine (atleast as tasted in Hotels) is poles apart. The Udipi hotels are called darshini's here but they are not even a patch on the ones back home -- their paratha's (the waiter calls it "porotha") is nothing like the punjabi paratha -- have they never heard of wheat, aalu, garammasala and baking on a tava as opposed to the very very oily layers (think croissants) they call porotha. As for the kurma -- i've never had a kurma with coconut...*scowl*. Now I know better than to order north indian dishes down south. Forget N.Indian food even the S.I variety revolves around the tried and tested Idli-Vada-Dosa-Sambhar with minor variations (Rava or ragi dosa). Its impossible to get a "vethal kozambu" or "parupu kozambu" (this is tough, imo)
AP's kulfi recipe came to my rescue :) It seems very similar to the italian gelato but for me the yumminess factor wins hands down. Kulfi is best eaten while taking late-night after-dinner strolls in summer, in my memory. Ah....nevermind that the kulfiwallah usually sells just 2 flavours : pista and kesar !!

To eat a chocolate flavour kulfi one has to make it at home and I wish i could take credit but well ...usually my contribution is limited to discussions about :

A] the stirring :- he does not think it should be disturbed while setting and methinks it should be stirred to prevent crystal formation.

B] chocolate melting : given a choice this would feature in every sweet dish of mine, so I think its nicer to add uncut chunks of chocolate to the warm mixture and stir, whilst he melts the chocolate, cools it and _then_ adds it to the mixture.
C] Proportions : imo, only perfectionists measure food ingredients for dessert. Having made that irrational statement lets just say i prefer to cook stuff in varying proportions (== none).
My experiment resulted in a creamy and smoothly textured chocolate-coffee flavored kulfi... it was so delicious that i decided to enjoy it, instead of melting it by taking pictures.

This kulfi recipe (sorry, no measurements - i dont use any, see #C) is simple.
Ingredients : milk, milk cream (milk fat?), sugar, chocolate.

Flavors : Usually cardamom, kesar/saffron and pista (nuts) are added. I use coffee decoction or add pureed seasonal fruits.

Method :

1] blend the creme (milk fat) with sugar in the blender and transfer it to a wok on simmer.

2] When the fat melts add some milk. Check for consistency and sugar (as per taste). Stir and simmer for few minutes.

3] Add a pinch of kesar, 1-2 gm elaichi powder, 1-2 gm dalchini powder, 1-2 gm nutmeg powder (but avoid these if you are adding chocolate). Take off flame and when the mixture turns warm add chunks of chocolate.

3.1] I added some filtered coffee decoction since coffee-chocolate kulfi is heaven. I wish this combination were commercially available. If you dont have (or dont like) chocolate just add the coffee. Its akin to eating frozen coffee :-)
4] Freeze it but keep stirring to prevent icicles formations and to get that rich, creamy texture.


2007 December 25 [Tuesday]


He only learnt to cut onions but I learnt how to cook (without actually cooking that is) when I was a 5 year old kid! Just looking at the dosa batter I can tell if the end product would turn out as it should. Call it sheer Xperience by virtue of being a constant fixture in my g'mas kitchen but as she brewed the kaapi decoction, made dosas or something else, i had to ask intutive questions :
"why did you grind the kaapi nuts daily? ... Why were they shaped that way? ... Did the nut grow on a tall tree or short one? ... If I sowed this nut would it grow in our backyard ?"
"Why was the dosa batter watery today but brownish-yellow yesterday and thick the day before that but white on sunday?"
After she had explained the difference between a rava dosa and neer dosa and rice dosa and why the "adai" batter was different from pesarettu she would quickly put the next hot dosa on my plate hoping to shut me up. But i had another query ready : "why did you cut green chillies and not red ones?", "why did you put a phodni for the watery batter ?... now it has black rai floating all around.. You had not done that yesterday but today the dosa has those greenish chillies stuck in it and i have to pick each one out before eating...how annoying", ....and so on....

Not that i was interested in eating good food or even remotely interested in learning how to cook. Rather i just enjoyed asking tons of questions simply 'coz g'ma enjoyed answering them :) Yet unlike my meticulous, systematic(#0) and cleanliness obsessed g'ma, I begin cooking not by keeping all ingredients available. OTOH, its something like this ::

* wander into kitchen, head to music player, think which raga (#1) i wanna karaoke.
* open fridge/shelves to see what was available.
* depending on mood and #1, prepare dish. If nothing else improvise.

On that note let me catalog the Tiruvadirai Kali recipe (a festival recipe, not usually found in restaurant menus).


Method :

1 cup - Raw rice (washed, dried and dry roasted)(water proportion 1:2);
1 cup Jaggery;
1/4 tsp. Cardamom powder,
10-15 Cashewnuts (roasted in ghee);
4 tblsp Ghee,
1/2 cup Coconut (dessicated/grated finely).

Method :

0]Roast the washed rice in a dry pan until it becomes golden red and powder it coarsely.
1] Roast the cashews, cardamom, in ghee and keep aside.
2] Dissolve the jaggery in 2 cups water and add roasted coconut. Heat the mixture until water boils.
3] Take off fire and slowly add the rice powder and stir well to remove all lumps. Replace on fire and cook for few minutes, until done.
4] Stir in kaju and cardamom and ENJOY HOT!

#0. In her kitchen, each bottle of spice, vessels, you-name-the-item was set in a particular order, so when you want haldi, blindly reach out to the second row second bottle and it would be haldi. Save time spent on futile searches. Before she lit the gas flame, each ingredient(s) for the phodni(cooking) would be neatly arranged on the kitchen counter, the vegetables freshly cut, the ladle for stirring lay nearby and the vessel with oil on the gas stove... all of which avoided wasting time and expensive gas. I lernt a lot from her... rather she was practicing Six Sigma and JIT techniques even without formally learning them.

#1. I listen to carnatic/hindustani music out loud (thankfully till date none of my neighbours have complained, rather they enjoy it) and when I like a particular raga its repeated for months, daily, until folks around me get utterly bored and poke me to stop.