Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Suyyam - Ganesh Chathurthi Special

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to everyone!  This is one festival I look forward to every year. Not only Lord Ganesh has a special place in my heart, this festival also brings back childhood memories. I used to like the shopping part - looking around the cute idols with beautiful decorations and finally making up the mind to select one after a huge dilemma.  Although at that time I didn't quite understand the ritual of immersing the idol in water to dissolve, as I grew up, I learned that it symbolizes his journey towards Kailash taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. And ofcourse, I like this festival for the special kozhukattais (modak).

Here is a sweet for this special occasion. This is a famous south indian sweet, originating from Trinelveli region but made widely across all parts of Tamilnadu. I have heard from many people that they love this sweet. I love the filling part and can finish it off just just like that. This filling can also be used for Kozhukattai (Modak) and Puran Poli. Sometimes I make extra and store it in the refregirator to make poli a few days later.

  • Chana dal (Bengal gram) - 1 cup
  • Jaggery powder - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom - 4 pieces
  • Shredded coconut (fresh) - 1/2 cup
  • Maida or all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Ghee - 2 tsp
  • Baking soda - a pinch
  • Idli batter - 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Pressure cook Chana dal, drain the water and grind it to a coarse paste with jaggery powder and cardamom. Set aside.
  • Heat the ghee in a wide pan and add the chana dal paste and shredded coconut. Fry in low heat until all the excess water is gone and the mixture comes together to a consistency to make balls. This may take about 6-8 mins. Let it cool down for a few mins.
  • Meanwhile, mix the all purpose flour, salt and baking soda together. Add water and make it into a semi-thin batter (should not be too thick). If you have idli batter, you can omit the baking soda and salt.
  • Make small balls out of the filling, dip them in the batter and deep fry them in batches.
  • Remove them in a paper napkin to remove excess oil.
Serve hot garnished with shredded coconut. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Baingan Bartha (Smoked eggplant cooked with spices)

Baingan Bartha or Baingan ka Bartha is another popular side dish for Rotis/Chapatis in North India. One of my favorite dishes too. The authentic recipe suggests roasting the eggplant in Tandoori oven. Alternatively, the eggplants could also be roasted in many other ways like gas/charcoal grill, stove top direct flame, conventional oven or microwave oven. Believe it or not, I even tried this in pressure cooker once, and it came out quite well. I like it when I bake it in oven and hence usually plan a bit ahead while making this dish.

 I learned this from a friend who used to prepare this during our camping trips with lots of patience. It comes out delicious when grilled in charcoal or gas grill. This is a perfect dish when you have that extra time to grill the eggplants while chit-chatting with your family or friends during camping or on a backyard patio and munching some snacks. I have tried this in various ways, but can't replicate my friend's dish thats usually grilled. It carries a unique flavor. I also realized that once the eggplants are grilled, carefully mashing them also adds taste. The mild taste of onions and tomatoes spiced up with chilli and cumin powders give the perfect combination for eggplant.

If you are an eggplant lover, one more recipe to try in the line.

  • Large eggplant - 1
  • Finely chopped onions - 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped g.chillies - 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped garlic - 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped tomatoes - 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish

  • Wash the eggplant, rub olive oil on it and bake in a tray for 30 - 40 mins in 350 degrees. The skin should be well shrinked and inserting a knife into the eggplant should be easy.
  • Meanwhile finely chop the onions, g.chillies, garlic and tomatoes. Set aside.
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven, remove the stem portion, peel off the skin.  Carefully mash the eggplant with a ladle as it will be too hot. You can aslo let it cool and mash it using hand. I prefer hand just to make sure its completely mashed.
  • Add salt to the mashed eggplant, mix well and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan. Season with cumin seeds. Add chopped g.chillies and garlic and fry for a min. Add onions and fry until it changes color.
  • Add all the spice powders and fry for a few mins in medium heat.
  • Finally add mashed eggplant and tomatoes together. Mix well, cover and cook for a few mins.
  • Add chopped corriander leaves and fry until the mixture becomes thick and comes together.
Delicious Baingan Bartha is ready!