Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mango - Papaya Smoothie

I love summer for its fruits. So many of my favorite fruits are summer fruits. There the king of fruits, mango, jack-fruit, berries.... Summers back in India are even fun. I miss those good old summer holidays during my childhood. Play until noon, take a nap, eat lots of mangoes and taatimunjelu (toddy palm), drink coconut water, get back to play. What a divine schedule....
And the best is, ending the day and summer heat with curd rice mixed with plenty of mango pulp. All these things make me wishing to go back to my childhood.

This is a refreshing smoothie made with ripe mango and papaya, with a hint of nutmeg.

What you need to make this smoothie:
1/2 medium sized of ripe papaya
one ripe mango
a small pinch of nutmeg powder
2-3 tbsp honey (local is best)
1/4 cup plain or mango yogurt
fistful of ice cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup apple or cranberry juice

Prep Work:
Peel papaya, de-seed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Slice mango into three slices, starting from next to the pit on either side. Two would have ripe flesh and the third one will have the seed. Score the fleshy slices into squares with skin intact, run a spoon along the skin to take out the cubes. Peel the seeded slice, scrape any flesh that is attached to the seed.

Place all ingredients in a blender except for the juice, blend to a smooth paste by adding the juice little by little. This serves 2-3 persons. Enjoy!

This is my contribution for WBB - 11

Friday, May 18, 2007

Menthi Pappu - from Rathanaalaseema ~ Rayalaseema

(Pigeons peas with fenugreek seeds)

There are numerous lentils/legumes preparations all over India. One preparation stands out in the lot is this Pappu. Most of the daals in Andhra are made with incorporating some sort of greens or vegetables. But, this one is made with fenugreek seeds (menthulu/methi seeds)! I learnt this recipe from my dear friend, Veena, who is also from Rayalaseema like my extended family. This is very much unknown to me before my marriage. It almost resembles in smell and taste with plain dal mixed with Avakaya. And, this is a spicy daal. The heat from red chilies balances bitterness of fenugreek seeds. Don't even think of taming the spiciness; making this less spicy will only result an unappetizing and bitter daal.

What you need to make this pappu:
1 cup toor daal (pigeon peas)
6-7 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tamarind or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp cooking oil
Prep work:
Pick and wash toor daal. Soak in water. Drain and keep aside.

  1. In a skillet, heat cooking oil on medium heat. Add red chilies, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds. Once a nice aroma starts coming, add toor daal. Mix well.
  2. Add 2-3 cups of water. Cook until daal is almost done. Add garlic cloves, simmer for 2-3 mins.
  3. Add tamarind. Cook until daal is fully done and tamarind is soft.
  4. or, you may do this in a pressure cooker: after step 1, add water, place garlic and tamarind on top of the water so that the tamarind wouldn't touch the daal. Close the lid and cook for 3 whistles or until the daal is cooked well.
  5. Remove from heat, add salt and mash well. Serve with steamed rice or roti.
Pressure-cooked Menthi Pappu

Menthi pappu served with roti and brinjal curry.My contribution for RCI - Andhra Cuisine

Baked Mushroom Ravioli....yummy!

Recipe follows......

Vankaya Perugu koora

(eggplant cooked in yogurt gravy-Guntur style)Brinjal (that is how eggplant is referred to in India) is the queen of hearts in Andhra. Almost every household makes several varieties of dishes with different varieties of brinjals. I have vivid memories of stealthily plucking the beautiful lavenderish eggplant flowers from my granddad's vegetable garden. From foliage to flowers to fruits (I mean veggies) this is a beautiful plant.
This dish is from rural Guntur district. Usually made with long variety brinjals. I've included Indian cucumber to add interest.

What you need to make this curry:

3-4 Indian or Japanese style eggplants
1/2 Indian cucumber
1 medium sized onion, sliced
2-3 green chilies, sliced
1 cup fresh yogurt
1 tbsp gram flour
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Tadka items:1-2 tbsp cooking oil, 1tsp each chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, jeera seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves
Prep Work
Quarter eggplants and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces in salt water (salt added to water). Peel Indian cucumber, check for bitterness. If bitter, you may still use the flesh after removing seeds and washing thoroughly, given the flesh is not bitter too. Slice, cut into small bite sized cubes.

  • Drain eggplant pieces well, squeeze gently to remove some water. Add cucumber pieces, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, gram flour, yogurt, and 1/4th cup water. Mix well.
  • In a skillet heat cooking oil and add tadka items one by one in the order given.
  • When the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add onions, green chiles. Saute until onions are translucent.
  • Add eggplant mixture. Mix well.
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant pieces are cooked well (should not be mushy). Add little water if the curry is becoming too dry.
This curry taste good both with boiled rice and roti. Traditionally this is served with steaming rice with generous amount of ghee (clarified butter)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bengaluru Mirapa - Senagapindi

(Bell Pepper Curry - Andhra Style)

This is a heavenly, fragrant curry that can be made with not so much effort. I make this variety of preparation whenever I crave for authentic Andhra fare, but short on time and energy. From prep work till serving this dish with a delicious meal takes only 30 minutes (Rachel Ray-ish).

RCI (Regional Cuisines of India), a brilliant event was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine. I misses RCI-Tamil Cuisine, which I love. This time, its RCI-Andhra, my native cuisine, hosted by Latha. So, this month, its a parade of Andhra food. yay!

What you need to make this Curry:
2-3 medium green bell peppers
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 green chili, sliced
1/2 -3/4 cup gram flour or chick-pea flour (sengapindi)
1-2 tsp red chili powder
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
Tadka/Seasoning Items:
3-4 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp each chana dal, urad dal
1 tsp each mustard seeds, cumin seeds
1-2 sprigs curry leaves
one or two pinches hing powder
Prep Work:
-Wash the bell peppers, core them, and dice them into small bite sized pieces. The core with stem should be discarded; the core with seeds can be used.
-Roast jeera seeds until they leave nice aroma. Cool, keep aside.
-If using flour from puffed chickpeas, no need to roast the flour.
-If using raw flour, roast on a low flame until it leaves nice aroma.
-Pound flour, cumin seeds, garlic cloves together to a breadcrumbs like consistency. Add little water to make thick paste of pouring consistency

  • Heat a skillet , add oil. When the oil starts 'dancing', add tadka items in the order they are given.
  • Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add onions, green chili. Saute for 1-2 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
  • Add bell pepper pieces, salt, mix well; cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, occasionally mixing.
  • Salt will make the bell peppers cook faster. Once cooked soft, but not mushy, add the flour mixture. Mix well by turning gently. Cook until the flour mixture is thickened and a light brown crust is formed. Do not turn a lot during this time.
  • Serve with steamed rice and rasam

From Guntur - Kakarakaaya Bellam Vepudu- RCI- Andhra Cuisine

(Bitter gourd with jaggery)
'Vepudu' on Telugu is a dry curry, vegetables or meat are cooked until the water content is evaporated. The end result is a semi-crispy vegetables or meat packed with flavor.
Bitter gourd is one vegetable that needs some skill to make a tasty dish out of it. One small mistake or neglect would result a very unappetizing preparation. The preparation of a good bitter-gourd dish starts with selecting right gourds. Choose gourds which are not too young (no flavor) or too bulky and old (hard to cook, bitterness is too harsh).
There are numerous ways that karela can be prepared; but, this one is close to my heart, as it blends most of the 6 tastes (Salt, Pungency, Bitterness, Sweet, Astringent, Sourness)

What you need to make this 'Vepudu':

6-7 medium sized bitter-gourds (karelas)
1/4 medium onion, sliced
2 green chilies, chopped
1-2 tbsp jaggery
2 tbsp turmeric powder (I'm not out of my mind :-) Please see under Prep Work)
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp red chili powder (depending on tolerance)
5 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
and tadka items: 1tsp each chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cimun seeds, two sprigs curry leaves

Prep Work:
-Quarter karelas, and slice into 1/4th inch thick pieces. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder, rub well, keep aside for 30 minutes. As the salt and turmeric powder are absorbed, salt brings out the excess water in the karelas, turmeric powder, adds a fabulous flavor.
-Squeeze well either by hand or in a kitchen towel and then squeezing; either way, the pieces should look wilted by the end.
-Grind garlic cloves and red chili powder together.(Mortar and Pestle or a back of spoon work better than a food processor/blender)

  • Heat oil in a wide skillet or wok. Add the tadka items in the order given.
  • Add the karela pieces, mix well. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, turning occasionally. The karela pieces should be done half-way through.
  • Add onion and green chilies. Mix well and cook for another 15 minutes or until the karela pieces are well-cooked, i.e., the pieces are soft to bite with a crispy outer layer, doesn't feel like a piece of mulch when you bite.
  • Add chili powder mixture and jaggery. Mix well and cook for another minute or two.
  • Serve with rice and mudda pappu (plain boiled toor dal/pigeon peas) with a spoon of ghee.

    • My contribution for RCI-Andhra Cuisine.