Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blogging Break!!!

Hi Friends,
I'm taking a break from blogging until the new year as my kid has no school until then. I'm sorry that I couldn't reply to your comments nor visit your blogs. I shall catch up with you all soon. I should have posted this message earlier but I fell sick. So, please bear with me guys.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2008!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

White pumpkin Halwa / Kasi Halwa

When I was a little girl I used to enjoy my granny's Kasi halwa so much. It would be a melt-away moment in my mouth. My mom never attempted this as my granny was doing it anyway. Now it is 6 years since my granny passed away. And when I called my mom last week she told that she made kasi halwa following granny's procedure and that it tasted exactly the same. I didn't believe it fully as I know that my mom never tried it earlier. Still, I went ahead and got the recipe. The same night as 'B' was having dinner with his friends I decided to give the recipe a try as I had lots of time in my hands.

It didn't take long. Within 1/2 an hour the halwa was done. By the time it was over 'B' arrived home. He gave a look as though...why do you want to attempt halwa? It requires practice to do it. Anyway, I went ahead and served him the plate you see in the picture. Within minutes, I got so many wow's from him. For 'B' it was the first time he was tasting it , so he thought it was the best. As for me, I know how it is supposed to taste. So, I was really hoping that it tasted exactly as granny's.

Then the moment came...I took a spoonful and tasted it. Guess what happened. Before that.... Have you guys seen the "Ratatouille" movie? If so, you would know the 'Ego' food critic. Just like him, the moment I tasted my kasi halwa I was transported back to my childhood days in a flash. I had some happy tears in my eyes to see that I could recreate the same taste.

Many of you might be doing this regularly in your house and wonder why is she bragging so much for a pumpkin halwa. But for me, it is one of the special dishes made by my granny and it's been so many years since I had it. So, here is the recipe I enjoyed so much. I hope you do too.

White Pumpkin- 2cups (grated)
sugar- 1 1/2 cups (increase or decrease as per taste)
ghee- 3 tbsp
cardamom- 3
milk- 1 cup
saffron- one pinch
red food color- a pinch
cashews and raisins- 1 tbsp each (or more if needed)

Peel off the outer skin from the pumpkin and grate it. Squeeze out the excess water from the gratings. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a kadai and add the gratings and broken cardamom. Saute until any remaing water is absorbed. Add sugar and stir well. Now add milk and cook on low flame till the gratings are cooked soft and all the milk is absorbed. Now the halwa should be in a semi solid stage. Add ghee little by little stirring till you get the halwa continuously. Then add the fried nuts, raisins ,saffron and color powder. When the halwa leaves the sides of the pan switch off the stove. Serve this warm or at room temperature. I like mine warm. Here is a bite for you too!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pan seared Prawns

This has been lying in my drafts for quite a while and I decided to complete it today and post it. It is an easy appetizer and another one of B's specality. Whenever I challenge him that he cannot handle the kitchen even for a day ,he would do this to break my nose. It's so simple and so flavorful and usually the dish is done in 10 to 15 mins minus the prawns cleaning time. So, here goes the recipe.

Prawns- 20 (peeled and deveined on both sides)
onion- 1 big
garlic- 5 pods
sambar powder- 1 tsp
chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
turmeric- 1/4 tsp
pepper- 1/4 tsp
lemon juice- 1 tbsp
salt as required
cilantro- 3 tbsp
bell pepper- 1 or 1/2 (cut lengthwise)

Clean Prawns and set aside.Drain on a paper towel. Add all the seasonings like sambar powder, chilli powder, turmeric, pepperand salt. Mix well. Heat a big non-stick pan. When hot add a 2 tsp oil and coat the pan evenly. Slowly put the prawns inside. Taking care that each and every prawn is seated well on the pan. Keep the flame in medium high. After 2 mins, flip over the shrimps and cook on the other side (another 2 mins) until it gets a nice roasted texture on the outside. Add very little water (less than 1/4 cup) and close the pan. Cook for 5 mins. After that, take off the lid and allow all the water to dry out. Keep tossing every now and then taking care that it dosen't stick to the pan. When the Prawns are almost done, add the onions and bell pepper. Just stir-fry it so that the vegetables are still crisp. Finally add lemon juice and cilantro. Mix well and serve on a bed of cabbage or lettuce.

Note: Do not over-cook the prawns. It tends to become rubbery. Seafoods generally gets cooked fast unlike mutton or chicken. Do not over-cook the vegetables also in this dish. A stir-fry for 2 mins will do. You can do the same dish with cut chicken breasts too. It would be like a non-fried version of chilli chicken or a great stuffing for fajitas.

This dish is a great appetizer and crowd-pleaser. Whenever we do this for the party, it disappears in a flash. My hubby says that it goes very well with wine, but for me it is a perfect pair for coke.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Kovakkai Kadalai Curry

I got this recipe from SUN TV"s Unnavum Aarogiyamum program. It was prepared by Chef Jacob in his "oil less cooking series". But readers beware. This is not a fat free curry as it has 3 tbsps of cashewnut paste in it. The reason I tried this was to see how the kovakkai-kadalai combination worked out and also that the recipe had no tomatoes and oil in it.

The final result was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. It had such an outburst of flavor ,really very different from the other curries I normally prepare. Now it has become my new favorite and I'll be trying this more often. So, I wanted to pass on the recipe to you also so that you can give it a try. Good luck and Happy Eating

Kovakkai/Tindora- 20 (cut lengthwise) (half steamed)
Kadalaikkai/Boiled peanuts- 1 cup
Onion- 1 (finely chopped)
cashewnut paste- 3 tbsp
cloves- 2
cinnamon- 1" piece
chilli powder- 1 tsp (original recipe called for 2 tsp. But 1 was ok for me) turmeric- 1/4 tsp
curry leaves- 1 twig (finely chopped) salt- as required
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp

Heat pan until it's very hot. Then add the spices and saute them .Remember .....NO OIL. The cardamom will plump up a bit due to heat. Now add onions and some salt. Saute until it is light brown in color. You have to keep on sauteing every now and then as it does not have any oil and it might stick to the pan after a while.Now add curry leaves,ginger garlic paste and turmeric. Saute for a min. Then add chilli powder and saute for 2 more mins. Now add 1/2 a cup of water and mix well. Close and cook for 5 mins. After that the gravy will be a little thick. Now add kovakkai , peanuts and salt. Add nother cup of water and boil for 5 more minutes. Finally add garam masala and cashew paste. Mix well and boil to desired consistency.

This gravy goes very good with white rice, dosa and rotis.