Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fig, Golden raisin and Date Focaccia

There are definitely a few solid reasons for coming up with a recipe like Focaccia; the recent confidence I had gained in baking, a sudden craving for fresh home made breads, the packet of fresh active dry yeast I stumbled upon in the super-market(a rare ingredient to be spotted in our town) and above all a self-challenging recipe I need to try out for AFAM-Dry fruits for the month.After all this is hosted by the glorious Mom n Daughter team to whom the post goes…:)

Thank you Nirmala, for suggesting me the original recipe here.
Somehow I was more fascinated to try out this one from The Boston Globe that surprisingly calls for butter and eggs instead of Olive oil, a real focaccia needs.

Of course this is my first attempt of baking a bread.
I reserved half of the dough and baked Jai and Bee’s No-Knead Bread inspired by my sister’s post here (have not included the recipe or pictures in this post).

Making a Focaccia was far more easier than it seemed to be.Needless to mention-both the bread and the focaccia came out successfully and I enjoyed every step preparing ‘em; they in turn absolutely not lettin down the ‘new baker’! :)

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Bharathy :)
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Home Made Grape Wine

"God made only water, but man made wine." -- Victor Hugo

My passion for wine started right from the childhood days having grown up in a Town with the majority of Christian Communities!..

There are hundreds of methods of making wine all over the world, but I've strictly stuck to the Central Kerala recipe, here.I would highly recommend this method as this had been cent percent successful to me with the Perfect Outcome!!.

"People spend too much time tasting wine; not enough time drinking it" --Andre Tchelistcheff

Yes, I am in the above category of "people”.. not a lover of wines but would love to sip a little, sense and appreciate the deep taste of the heavenly drink!..
My own proverb for wine would be-
'Knowing and appreciating wine can be compared to the knowledge of appreciating Diamonds…as it needs skill to differentiate between the good, better and the best!..'

And so when my better half turned back a couple of months ago with a box fully packed with bunches of deep red juicy grapes fresh from the vineyards, I was overjoyed!!
A part of it was passed over to relatives, a part went to make Grape juice preserve and a part was saved to make Wine!..

I made a litre of Grape wine from:

Red Grapes (with seeds)-300gms
Sugar-300 gms
Water-800 ml-boiled and cooled

Active dry yeast granules-2 tsps
Water boiled and warm-100ml-for dissolving the yeast

Wheat a tbsp(optional)
1 egg white(optional-I avoided)
Sugar for colouring-4 tsps more or less

Fermenting Wine.

Clean & wash grapes well.Remove the stalks.Wipe them dry one by one and crush with your finger tips.
Transfer the crushed grapes in a ceramic jar(I used the traditional Bharani, cleaned well enough and sun dried)..Add half the quantity of sugar (150 grams),water,egg white yeast dissolved in water and wheat.Mix well using a clean sun dried wooden spatula.Keep this airtight for 3 weeks(21 days) stirring with the wooden spatula every alternative day.

On the 22nd day, strain the mixture using a muslin cloth and discard the pulp. Add the balance sugar to the wine.

Wine 'before' and 'after' colouring.

Colouring the wine by caramelisation.

In a clean dry wok, add the sugar kept for colouring (3 tsps) – place on fire, stirring continuously till the sugar melts and acquires a deep reddish brown hue; taking care not to burn.Now add about 1-2 tbsps of hot water to this syrup little by little and mix well.Cool and add this whole syrup to the wine. Mix well.The wine would have attained a beautiful deep red colour by now.
Store the wine in a clean bottle closed with a cork & use. There would be a cloudy formation towards the bottom of the bottle.Need not worry.Pour out to wine glasses carefully not to disturb the sediment as far as possible.

The uncaramelised glass of wine you see here is slightly cloudy as it was poured out from the bottom.I reserved just 200 ml before colouring, to blog :) and finally ended up in disturbing the fine sediment :D..

"I made wine out of raisins so I wouldn't have to wait for it to age." -- Stephen Wright

Well, I too was a little impatient to wait till three weeks.So I actually used 3 tsps of yeast and fermented for just 10days as the temperature was quite warm here. I would taste the wine every time while stirring the jar and strained the wine when it reached its stage of fermentation(10 days).This strictly depends upon the outside temperature, the amount of sugar and yeast in the mixture.Wheat(starch) and egg white(protein) are used to speed up the process.I avoided both.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages" -- Louis Pasteur

Wishing You all a Merry Christmas !...

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Mexican Hot Chocolate

When I prefer chocolate in cakes,V opts hot chocolates, while my kids are not real fans of the same!..

Any brand goes fine for a real chocolate lover. But Monbana was one of them which I instantly fell in love with, esp the hot chocolat poudre they offer.Purely French in origin,we tasted this first during one of our transits in Paris CDG.The hot chocolate was heavenly and refreshing which wiped off our chillness n weariness in just a few seconds!!.

I read somewhere that the Mexicans use a pinch of red chilly/cayenne pepper powder along with their hot chocolates.I didn’t whip it up with the drink but garnished, though the original recipe here had not suggested the same.

You need:

2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1-ounce semisweet chocolate ( I used Monbana Chocolat en poudre)
3 drops vanilla extract(omitted as the above contains natural vanilla extract)
Whipped cream, for garnish


In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk, ground cinnamon and cinnamon stick until simmering. Add the chocolate and let melt(added the powder and brought to boil). Remove from heat and add vanilla extract(This step was skipped ).Transfer to mugs and serve with whipped cream.Sprinkle a pinch of red chilly powder over the cream.

This goes to JFI-Chocolates for Deepz of Letz Cook.

Besides ground cinnamon and a whole stick while boiling, I thought of using cinnamon spoon too. So, Sunita, I am there for Think Spice-think Cinnamon as well!.:)

Eating chocolate daily also appears to lower the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. To top up, it has a good impact on baby, as well!.
Easy Crafts,this is also for your novel and unique Food during Pregnancy Event!.
The chocolate powder is a readymix.The recipe- vegetarian, healthy, simple and quick not involving any kind of strainful activity for the pregnant woman.

I am also qualified for cute girl Bindya's My Favourite Things event!..:D

Errr…anyone hosting chillies, milk or sugar in any of your events at present please??? ;)
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fresh Thuar in Pods and a few more...

How do you exactly feel when your offspring outsmarts you?

Well, for me the feelings were somewhat mixed; 99% proud and a percent of disappointment!..(after all he or she is your child whom you had always looked upon as an ignorant or an innocent so far!..)

Very recently,V brought home some fresh Thuvar/pigeon peas down from the fertile valley fields of Cumbum located down the eastern stretches of the Western Ghats. He was happy to have bought 3 kgs in all, in 3 large bags from the farmer and paid just Rs 30 !!(if it would have been me, the farmer would have had a tougher time and would have given off the same bags in half the price) :)

Since at present, I am a little down with UTI and in antibiotics at least for a month and a half, caring the health has taken a front seat with blogging and blog hopping, much behind.The side effects of Nitroflurantoins being worse than the symptoms of the disease.

Linda was done with her fabulous round ups I and II for JFI-Thoor Dal for the month.Still she was glad to receive the pictures of Fresh Thuar in Pods for her reference page.

The D-day doomed upon one fine day last week, with the above three scenes in the background. My 14 year daughter, who had been a silent spectator to my food photography till date, took the initiative in shooting the pictures.I let her proceed instantly considering my illness and she came back to me within a few minutes with 4 pictures in all(unlike her mother who clicks at least a dozen and uploads one or two in the end).To my surprise all the 4 were amazing!!

She wanted to capture the natural beauty of the pods and pointed them in 'Macro' mode .

Now she wanted to concentrate on the "Fresh Thuar beads " and pointed them.

I just cropped the picture to bring out the beauty of the lentils.The pictures required no further editing!!! To my astonishment, the back ground was blurred beautifully by itself, and was definitely a no non-sense shot!.

Well, now her mother got ready and shot a few.Below is one of hers :)

As the skills were proven by now, she wanted her turn again…she didn’t include the chillies and the curry leaves in the picture below; as her mom always prefers; reporting those might spoil the beauty of the lentils!!!....(really??!!) ...

Boiled and Tempered whole, fresh Thuar..

Peeling them raw and green had been a tougher job.
The whole pods(for about ½ kg) were salted and pressure cooked until a few whistles to ensure that the thuar was cooked enough..Discarded excess water.Cooled and peeled out the cooked lentils.
Heated a tbsp of oil in a kadai.Spluttered some mustard seeds and browned some urad dal.Added a pinch of hing, ½ tsp grated ginger and threw in a couple of green and red chillies cut and broken into 3-4 pieces each.A sprig of curry leaves went in next, followed by the lentils.
Saut├ęd for a minute checking salt and served warm.This was soothing for my bitter tongue with an evening cup of hot tea.

It was still drizzling, outside...

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

'5 Qs' and a 'Fridge Display'..

I have been tagged for '5Qs' by the mom and for the 'Fridge Display' by the daughter.

I enjoyed doing them.The 5 Qs, where one has to answer to the questions without much breaking of the head, and for the 'fridge', to take photographs part by part and to rant about....Thank you ladies..:)

The 5 Qs

1.How long have you been blogging?

From the month of March 2007.This Food blog was started after a month and is now 8 months old.

2. What inspired you to blog and who are your mentors?

My sister who works with Google was the inspiration.
I started a generalised blog to share the day to day happenings and a few recipes.My sister(she’d started her food blog only after mine) wanted me to start a specialised food blog and gave this great girl’s link for an idea of what a real food blog was.That was when she and her friend, together came forward with a wonderful idea to put a start to this.
R.P had encouraged me immensely, even when I was new to blogging and the portal had inspired me to come forward with the present blog.All my post-links pertaining Kerala Cuisine strictly goes to this portal too.

3.Are you trying to make money online or doing it just for fun?

More than cooking I love photography and presentation.So all these are a part of my hobbies.
Blogging is a terrific ‘outlet’ for me and all of my friends I had earned, make my days more meaningful and pleasant!..
After my sister’s advice I did have ideas of making money, but dropped them for the time being.

4.What are the three things you love about being online?

1. As soon as I connect to the net I login G-talk to pester my sister, busy in her office.I truly 'nag' her and am seriously thinking of getting myself, her net-name “Nags”..:)

2. Simultaneously I watch out for the pop-up comments in G-talk and reach out hungrily to my blog for those precious comments from my dear readers.I blog hop, go through my friends’ new posts and give them my feed backs.

3. Ever since this food blogging I am in constant quest for recipes.I enjoy going through the varied tastes of the world, googling and just gaping at the monitor :).

5.What are the three things you struggle with online?

Blogging keeps my body glued on to the chair, fingers to the keyboard, and the eyes to the monitor, a little too much.Meanwhile I seldom share the system with others in the family.I neither or unwillingly attend any phone calls or doorbells.Many a times I had to confront burnt milk pans and kadais as the after effect(minor kitchen disasters) while trying to multitask.:)..

Therefore; Addiction, Selfishness and Negligence are the 3, I struggle online :).

Now for the Fridge Display..

I was too lazy to clean or organise the fridge before taking the pictures and below are a few of those random shots..A fridge to me is an 'organised store room' and need not be always spic and span ;)..after all it has to be functional and the accessability of the materials are much more important..:) ..

The freezer chest..

On the top left are the ice trays, the palm molasses(panai vellam) for my plain coffee to start the day,the Tupperware container which Lathamma had sent over and wanted me to use it to collect cream,raw peanuts and frozen peas.

The bottom rack is for those store bought powders.You can see masala powders,Ada (for prathaman) Badam milk mix and processed cheese.On the extreme right is a small jar containing sundried Raw rice tablets(pacharisi villai).I dilute one of these with water and use for maa kolam for my Pooja Room.(I use the place for preserving grated coconuts, homemade butter and cooked left over dal as well).

The main racks..

The top one with boiled milk in that pan, left over curries and Thirupathi ladoo on the right.
The middle one has a pan of homemade tea cake,which I made yesterday after lots of pushes from my kids and tucked in lazily to get rid of the ants outside.Chocolates beside.
The bottom most is reserved for Idly/Dosa batter, in 3 different containers.

The 'Veg Box' is refreshed every week and invariably has all the vegetables I need in stock, each wrapped up in different polythene bags. Stays fresh for even 2 weeks, in our Indian weather conditions!!..

The 'Mighty' Door..

The white box with peeled small onions, sliced big onions, Ginger on one side.Mango Ginger/Maa inji on top, lime tomatoes and chillies.This unusually placed'vegetable counter' is for the easy access while in emergency cooking.
Ready made soup packets(vanilla essence bottles, kesari colour and active dry yeast are hiding behind).Cashew nuts, Almonds and Walnuts in the next one.
Juices, home made pickles, sauces, pizza toppings and jams.
Chilled water at the bottom most, as you can see.

[Phew!..I could have better unloaded a few, so as to minimize typing :)!..]

Somehow, these magnets on one side of the fridge catch the attention of most my guests; each one commemorating our sweetest foreign trips..:)

I tag Renuka, Remya and my sister for 5 Qs and Fridge Displays. ;)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nadan Parippu Curry / Cooked Dal with Coconut and Spices

It has always been much contrasting to me, when my mom scribbles down not more than half a kg of thuar dal in her monthly shopping list in Kerala when in Tamil Nadu, my ma in law gets a heavy sack of it from the local whole-salers which gets exhausted within half a dozen months!!.
I have heard Keralites talking about Ariyum Thengayum(Rice and Coconut) rather than the Tamilians who opt Arisi Paruppu(Rice and Thuar dal),which in turn proves the important ingredient of their varied kitchens..Of course, this protein rich pulse is a ‘must’ in my store with which I come out with the variety of dishes at least thrice a week!..

Parippu Curry is a delicacy of Kerala, as you all know. Like most of the curries of the state, this one too demands a blend of coconut along with a touch of milder spices tempered all with that mystic flavour of coconut oil.My mom makes this curry along with rasam which is projected as, “a comfort weekend combo”, but we, her children still make a fuss to compromise this for her great Sunday lunches, otherwise!..

So, this recipe is for the lovers of Dals, legumes and pulses.. and of course for dear Linda who hosts JFI-Thoor Dal for the month :).

You Need:

Thuar Dal/Thomara Parippu-1 cup
Green Chillies-5-6 nos-Slit the tips up till 3/4th taking care not to separate them.

Grind to a smooth paste,

Red Chilly Seeds-1/4 tsp
Garlic-2 cloves
Cumin seeds-1/4 tsp
Shallots-2 nos
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
Grated coconut- ¾ cup

To Temper,

Coconut Oil-1 tbsp
Ghee-1 tbsp
Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
Shallots-minced-2 tsps
Red Chillies-2-broken into 4 pieces
Curry leaves-a sprig


Pressure cook dal till 3/4th done according to your pressure cooker methods.Mix in the slit green chillies and boil.Add the ground ingredients next and bring again to a boil to get rid of all the raw smell.The curry should be of a semi thick, pouring consistency by now.Switch off the stove.
Heat coconut oil and ghee together; splutter mustard seeds and fry minced shallots till dark brown.Throw in the curry leaves and the red chillies.Pour this tadka over the dal curry.
Serve hot with Rice, Chapathis or Phulkas

Note-Dry fried Moong dal/varutha cherupayar parippu can also be used instead of thuar dal.Substitiute Coconut oil and ghee with the oil of your choice if you are a calorie counter.

Recipe Courtesy –Nadan Pachakarama by Mrs KM. Mathew.
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