Chola Aval Pidi Kozhukattai / Flattened Rice Dumplings

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My foodie mind becomes an exciting kid when I see an unusual ingredient(s) during my visit to supermarket. It happens every time and this time, the reason behind excitement is aval - millet based.

Grabbed assorted packets and tried different dishes out of it and of course traditional recipes as well including Pidi kozhukattai.

Coincidentally, I didn't have any aval based pidi kozhukkatti version in the website, I thought posting one would wake my website up which has been idle for a while.

Millet based avals are now available in almost all leading supermarkets. It is perfectly fitting in any recipe that calls for aval and it is even tasting good when is eaten raw.
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Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 10 dumplings
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Ingredients:

Oil - 1 tablespoon
Mustard seed - 1/2 teaspoon
Channa Dal - 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida - a pinch
Greenchilli - 2 no., chopped thinly
Curry leaves - 1 spring, roughly chopped
Red onion - 1 /2 cup, chopped finely
Carrot - 3/4 cup, grated
Water - 1 cup
Chola Aval / Any Aval Variety - 1 heaped cup
Salt - to taste
Fresh Coconut - 1/4 cup, grated

Method:

1) Heat oil in a wide pan. Throw mustard seeds, channa dal and asafoetida.
2) When channa dal becomes slight brown colour, add greenchilli and curry leaves. Let it fry for few minutes.
3) Add onion and saute till it becomes soft and translucent.

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4) Add grated carrot and salt to taste. Stir well, sprinkle some water, cover and cook carrot.
5) Once carrot is almost cooked, add water and allow to boil.

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6) Add aval. in a medium flame cook aval. Stir in between if required. Do not stir too much otherwise aval becomes mushy. At the end, add grated coconut and turn off the flame.

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7) Cool the mixture and when you can handle the heat using hand, take a small ball size portion and make kozhukattais.
8) Steam it for 4-5 minutes.

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9) Serve hot with spicy tomato chutney.

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Notes:

1) Any aval variety can be used for making this kozhukattai. If you use thick aval, pulse it to coarse mixture before making and for easy cooking.
2) Any other vegetables can be used along with carrot.

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Aam Panna / Raw Mango Drink

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This is what I did as a first thing when I got my first batch of mangoes from the market. Scorching heat forced me to prepare something cool. So I came with the idea of Aam Panna. I used 2 mangoes to make this drink and the rest were used to prepare an instant mango pickle.

Aam Panna or Aam ka Panna (Raw Mango drink) was introduced to me by a veteran blogger Aipi aka Puja of US Masala sometime around 2011. Since then, I have prepared this drink many times, especially whenever I used to come across sour mangoes. I really don't know what her original recipe calls for. But I have been making it in my own way, described below - Adjusting as per my family taste.

I roast the mangoes or pressure cook them - It depends on the time available and my state of mind. I prepare it by mixing it with the freshly ground spices and mint leaves. There were days, I used dried mint leaves and made the panna ready mix at home. However my vote always goes to the Aam Panna that has been prepared with roasted mango for the perfect flavor it gives. You will not disagree with me on this!!! 

Basic Information:
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 to 2 litre

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Ingredients:

For Mango Pulp:

Raw Mango - 2 nos., medium size
Water - 1 and 1/2 cup

For Making Panna:

Roasted Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper - 10 nos.,
Fresh Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Mango pulp - 1/4 cup
Black Salt - a big pinch
Sugar - 1/3 cup or to taste
Water - 1 to 2 litre or as required

Method:

For Mango Pulp:

1) Wash and wipe the mango. Cut them into slices.
2) Pressure cook it by adding 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Alternatively, you can roast it  in the flame directly.
3) Once the pressure subsides, scoop out the pulp from the skin and discard the skin.

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4) The mango pulp is ready. You can store this pulp in a clean container and keep inside refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

For the Panna:

(For making 4 glassess of panna)

1) Using a mixie, powder the roasted cumin seeds and black pepper.

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2) When it is powdered, add mint leaves and sugar. Again powder it.
3) Finally add mango pulp and required water.

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4) Once everything had mixed well, strain (Optional) pour in tall glasses, top it with ice cubes and serve.

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Notes:

1) Adjust the water and sugar according to the sourness of the mango.
2) I used to prepare fresh spice mix to retain the aroma.
3) The quantity of mango pulp can be adjusted based on its sourness.I used very sour mango, hence added only 1/4 cup to get 4 glasses.
4) You can even ground roasted cumin seeds, black pepper and dried mint leaves together to make a Aam Panna ready mix. Add sugar and salt to the mango pulp, a teaspoon of the ready mix to make Aaam panna.

Assam 1860 Tea - Review

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Grown up in the family where everyone loves filter coffee, my taste was towards tea. A decade ago, I was neither a tea nor a coffee aficionado. But later after getting into my professional life, I grew a liking towards Tea and started having it everyday.

For me, Tea time is everything and the people who know me would tell how much I love tea. For this simple reason I accepted to write a review about Assam 1860 tea. A request came from them few months ago, if I would be interested in reviewing their sample and I accepted it.

Some time back, Perfectly parceled and sealed sample pack reached my home. It was a single pack containing loose tea(CTC) and 10 tea sachets covered in rich black cover with florescent green letters in it. The backside of the tea sachets are transparent so you could see the tea bag kept inside it. *Now they changed the cover and you can view it here.

Picture Courtesy - www.assam1860.com
Now, let me tell you about who are these folks! Not one or two but 10000 people are behind this Assam 1860. They play a vital role in processing and bringing the fresh and high quality tea to all consumers.

The tea leaves are carefully picked directly by them, very little processed before they ferment to ensure maximum Quality and thickness.

If we travel back in deep, The James Warren tea company who are the source and launched their black tea named "Assam 1860" which has been growing tea in Thowra Estate, south bank of assam since 1860. And the teas are straigt from their estates.

They ensure freshness and they best describes it on how I feel...

"The leaves are plucked, processed and packed in the estate itself, ensuring quality and freshness that is unparalleled. So wherever you are, you might as well be drinking your cup of Assam 1860 on the verdant verandah of the Thowra Bungalow, overlooking graceful rolling greens on our lush terraces."

I used both tea bags and loose, both are equally good, stronger and fresher. I drink black tea once in a while amidst of my work schedule. I made my cuppa using one tea bag but I felt it was very strong and added some more water and shared another cup with my colleague. It was very thick, darker and juicer. Definitely black tea lover wouldn't miss the chance to taste it.

I used loose tea with Milk, the way love my tea all time which i liked to the core. I used full cream milk, even then it gave brown colour and a strong aroma to the quantity I usually use. I just brewed it, added enough milk which is very very perfect for flavour, colour, strength and taste. These things which I always love in my tea.
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I personally felt the tea bags are bit stronger than the loose tea if we compare both of them. 

On a hot sunny may day, I made iced tea as well using their tea bags. I used only one bag to make 2 tall glasses of iced tea. With tea, lemon and mint I lost myself in this tea. The taste is very distinct and you can feel it only when you taste it.

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What else, just go to site, shop it online. They also provide COD(Cash on Delivery option) within India.
It is also available in leading supermarkets.

Munthiri Kothu


Never though in my dreams that I will get friends from all over the world through food blogging. Without seeing them, we got to know each other and developed a good friendship. Sireesha got introduced to me as a London based food blogger and later point of time, we came to know that we are working for the same IT organization. The time difference between India and UK helped us to share and talk about food, photography and sometimes about project too. One day, when she asked to do a guest post on any traditional South Indian recipe, I happily agreed. Coincidentally, I also had a traditional recipe that I prepared for last year Krishna Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturti festival. I decided to send her before any of the said festivals. but various personal activities, few vacation trips and festivals kept me busy last year and didn't get time to work on the recipe post. So, I planned to post it now without further delay and decided to send another very warm, unique and traditional recipe later to her :-)

Now its apt to talk about the actual recipe - Munthiri Kothu. A traditional sweet from southern Kerala and Tamil Nadu, especially in the kanyakumari and Thirunelveli district. If you translate the recipe name directly into tamil, you get as Cashew Nut bunch.

Mundhiri means cashew nuts
Kothu means bunch

But to your surprise, there is no relationship between cashew and this recipe and it doesn't even use cashew in it. In colloquial Tamil of southern districts of tamilnadu and in kerala, mundhiri translate as grapes. It is also deep fried as bunches of three or four which resembles a bunch of grapes, hence the name. I prepared it in a bunch(kothu) of three but it can also be prepared as a bunch of four or five. The process of making this sweet is long and it requires patience and care because of which we used to prepare it only during the festival and functions. Since it has longer shelf life in room temperature, We prepare it in a big batch but believe me before that you finish off everything.

Wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year 2016!


Basic Information:


Preparation Time: 50 minutes - 1 hour
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 20-25 nos.,


Ingredients:

For Stuffing:
Whole green moong dal / Yellow split moong dal - 2 cups
Jaggery - 2 cups
Grated fresh coconut - 2 cups
Green cardamom - 10 nos.,
Dry ginger powder - a pinch
Salt - a pinch (Optional)
Water - 1/4-1/2 cup,, just to immerse the jaggery

For Outer Batter:

Raw rice - 1/2 cup
Idly rice - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Water - as required

For Deep Frying:

Oil / Ghee - as required


Method:

For Stuffing:

1) Dry roast moong dal in small batches for even roasting. I used 1/3 cup of moong dal each time in 6 batches.Transfer the contents to a plate and cool down.


2) To the same pan, add grated fresh coconut, fry till it becomes crisp and contains no traces of moisture in it. Now transfer the contents to another plate and allow it to cool down.


3) Make a powder of moong dal by grinding it along with green cardamom and dry ginger powder. A coarse grind would also be fine.


4) Heat jaggery in a wide pan. Add water just to immerse the jaggery.


5) Once the jaggery melts down, filter it to remove the impurities.
6) Now heat the jaggery once again and allow it become slightly thick and frothy.
7) Turn off the heat. Add grated coconut and powdered moong dal.


8) Add a pinch of salt and mix it well. Allow it cool for sometime.
9) Take a small pinch from it and make an amla sized ball(size can be varied as per personal choice). Allow this to cool down under a fan if you are making it immediately or keep it for overnight for the next day's preparation.


10) The stuffing is ready meanwhile you can prepare the outer cover.

For Outer Batter:

1) Wash and Soak the rice in water for an hour or overnight.
2) Grind it to a smooth batter (slightly thicker than the dosa batter) by adding enough water.


3) Add salt and turmeric and mix well.
4) The batter is ready.

For Deep Frying:

1) Heat oil/ghee in a wide pan.
2) When it is hot but not smoking hot, pour few drops of batter. The batter floats on the surface of oil. This is the right temperature for deep frying the munthiri kothu.


3) Take 3 moong dal jaggery balls, form a bunch of three, by making sticking it with each other if possible.
4) Carefully dip it into the batter and slide it down in the hot oil.
5) Carefully fry it till it is cooked and the colour of outer cover has changed. Now transfer it to a plate covered with kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
6) Once cooled, store in a clean dry container. It stays good for a week time.


Notes:

1) If you are not able to make it as bunch, feel free to fry as individual balls. Shape doesn't matter.
2) You can also use thin batter just to coat the bunches or thick batter. Its your choice. Traditionally it is prepared as slightly thicker than the dosa batter.
3) Instead of ground rice batter, you can use rice flour or maida or dosa batter. But ground dosa batter and rice flour batter gives a longer shelf life. If you use dosa batter, there is a slight change in taste.
4) I was left with some batter after I was done with all the bunches.

Chinese Style Okra Fry

Chinese-Okra-Fry-1
About a year ago on a fine day, I arranged a small gathering of friends at our home. The theme of the meal plan was chinese and I included almost easy, many indian based chinese recipes into the menu.

Ofcourse, Gobi Manchurian is one of them since it has been known/tasted by many people. I personally like this indo-chinese recipe. I love the way it is prepared especially the dry version. The crispy cauliflower florets deep fried and slightly coated in the sauce, which gives a nice crunchy taste, a bit chewy with balanced saucy taste makes it an awesome snack. Though it not a pure chinese recipe it can be termed as a fusion recipe, it still won the show amidst other recipes that we had.

A week later after the get together, I was quickly going through my fridge to buy some vegetables for the upcoming week and I noticed a huge quantity of okra/ladies finger which had been sitting idle for about a week. Making a Okra puli kulambu would make use of only few and my husband doesn't prefer to have stir fries when he sees other options being available. So I planned to make okra fry just like cauliflower manchurian. It turned out to be good and since then I started makeing it often.

Any one who doesn't prefer to eat okras will definetely fall in love with this dish.The fried okra itself, tasted good before I sauted it with sauces. Worth a Try!!!

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Basic Information:
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Servers: 4

Ingredients:

For deep frying okra:

Okra / ladies finger - 250 grams
All purpose flour- 1/4 cup
Corn starch - 2 tablespoons
Salt - to taste
Ginger garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Soy sauce - 1/2 tablespoon
Water - 1 tablespoon, only when required
Oil - for deep frying

For the Final Sauting:

Oil - 2 tablespoons
Green chillies - 3 nos.,
Red onion - 2 medium size, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Ground white pepper / black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
Soy sauce - 1 and 1/2 tablespoons
Tomato sauce - 2 tablespoons

Method:

1) Wash the okra/ladies finger well and wipe using kitchen towel. You can also spread it in kitchen towel and allow it to dry.

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2) Chop it finely as shown in the picture. Let it dry for sometime.
3) In a wide bowl, add all purpose flour, corn starch, salt, ginger garlic paste, soy sauce and finally chopped okra. Mix well. If required, add a teaspoon of water and mix well.

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4) Deep fry in batches till it becomes crisp.

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5) In another or same kadai, add 2 tablespoons of oil.
6) Add finely chopped greenchillies and red onion. Saute till it becomes very soft.

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7) Add ginger garlic paste and continue sauteing it the raw smell goes off.
8) Add soy sauce, tomato sauce, white pepper and salt. Mix well.
9) After few seconds, add the fried okra and toss it well for few seconds.

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10) Serve hot with any of your favorite chinese main dish.

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Notes:

1) You can skip green chilli and add greenchilli paste instead. Since I love fried green chillies, I added them.
2) Deep fry okra is good to have if you sprinkle some red chilli on it.
3) Mix the fried okra with the manchurian sauces just before serving. Otherwise it becomes soggy.

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