Dragon Food Festival @ InAzia, Sheraton Grand, Whitefield

I have had the pleasure of dining at InAzia, the Pan-Asian restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center, a couple of times. Last week, I was invited to partake of another feast there, to check out their ongoing Dragon Food Festival, along with some other food bloggers.

Experience Chef Shishir Rai’s Magic At The Dragon Food Festival

The Dragon Food Festival, as the name suggests, will showcase dishes from the exotic land of China. The festival menu has been carefully curated by Jr. Sous Chef, Shishir Rai, who is also spearheading the campaign.

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Chef Shishir Rai, the mastermind behind the ongoing Dragon Food Festival at InAzia

I loved how the Dragon Food Festival menu has a good selection of dishes for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians alike. Both exotic and popular Chinese dishes feature on the menu, which is something that won brownie points with me.

(For more pictures from the Dragon Food Festival, check out my Facebook post!)

What did I try out?

Chef Rai suggested the foods we absolutely must not miss out, from the food festival menu. Each dish came to our table beautifully presented, and most of it managed to bowl me over.

Here is a sneak peek into all that I tried out at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival, the vegetarian, non-alcoholic part of it that is.

Cucumber & Cilantro Soup: Decked with slivers of cucumber, delicately flavoured with coriander, this subtly spiced soup was served warm to us. I loved how it was so simple yet hearty, neither overwhelming nor overly bland. It was done just right!

Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast: These dimsums were again, simple but extremely delicious. The filling was a mix of hon Shimeji enokitake and shiitake mushrooms, scented with truffle oil, and I loved it to bits.

Top left: Cucumber & Cilantro Soup; Bottom left: Assorted Mushrooms Truffle Blast; Right: Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums

Vegetable Sichuan-Style Pan-Fried Dimsums: Stuffed with celery, carrot and asparagus, these pan-fried dimsums were absolutely perfect. They were mildly spiced, but so delicious! The garlic oil they were seasoned with added a whole lot of oomph to them.

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Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style at InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival

Wok-Tossed Tofu, Sichuan-Style: Cubes of silken tofu were marinated, then tossed with Sichuan chilli paste to create this dish, which was a real beauty indeed. The outside was crunchy, the inside deliciously soft, the sauce a burst of flavours.

Jasmine Tea: We were served some jasmine tea, to cleanse our palates after the appetisers, in preparation for the main course. Now, I have had jasmine tea at a few places, but never loved it, thanks to it almost always feeling like insipid lukewarm water. The jasmine tea at InAzia was an entirely different story, though! It has a mild and subtle flavour, the gorgeous scent of jasmine, and the power to perk you up. Love!

Traditional Moon Fan: Here, steamed rice was flavoured with traditional Chinese five-spice, topped with sesame soy sauce and assorted veggies. This dish wasn’t bad, but felt quite bland to my tastebuds, as opposed to all the other dishes that were filled with taste.

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Left: Dry-cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles; Top right: Traditional Moon Fan; Centre right: Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste; Bottom right: Jasmine Tea

Dry-Cooked Hoo Fun Vegetable Noodles: I loved these flat rice noodles cooked with Napa cabbage, sweet peppers and bean sprouts. Flavoured with sesame oil and seasoned with fermented bean sauce, they were oh so flavourful!

Tofu, Asparagus & Water Chestnut With Malak Paste: With melt-in-the-mouth silken tofu, asparagus, water chestnut and green onion cooked in a sesame-chilli paste, this dish was such a flavour bomb! It was absolutely delicious, and paired beautifully with the rice and noodles.

Cranberry Mint Cooler: Along with the food, we were also served a Cranberry Lemon Cooler, an extremely beautifully done mocktail. The sourness of cranberry and the freshness of mint leaves paired together really well. This was something I absolutely loved at InAzia!

Chilled Mango Pudding: This pudding with mango jelly was served chilled, with pieces of fresh mango and cream. I loved that the pudding had a mildly sweet taste, and that it was not tooth-cloying. I also loved the bits of fresh mango and cream (but of course!), but overall, the pudding felt like it had a bit too much of gelatin in it. While I loved the taste of this dessert, I didn’t quite enjoy the satiny consistency.

Rice Cakes With Ginger Syrup & Ice Cream: This dessert was quite unusual, at least to me. A sweet filling made with adzuki aka red beans was stuffed into rice flour shells, then steamed, and served alongside a mild ginger syrup and vanilla ice cream. The rice flour cakes were not unlike the Tamilian kozhukattai, although a bit thicker. The red bean stuffing takes a bit of getting used to. The ginger syrup was simply brilliant, and went wonderfully with the vanilla ice cream. Overall, this made for a very interesting choice of dessert!

A must-visit!

Like I said earlier, I enjoyed my time previewing the menu for InAzia’s Dragon Food Festival. Most of the food I tried, I loved. I would highly recommend you to pay a visit too, and check out the many foods and beverages the festival menu has on offer.

Intrigued? The Dragon Food Festival is on at InAzia till September 30, 2018, from 7 PM to 11 PM, and a meal for two costs about INR 2,000 plus taxes.

 

 

 

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Upma Kozhukattai| Kara Pidi Kozhukattai

A popular offering to the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi, the Pidi Kozhukattai is also a very healthy snack. With the goodness of rice and toor daal, it is a steamed snack made with minimal oil. It is a simple thing to make, but quite delicious and filling, which makes it great as a lunchbox filler.

Pidi Kozhukattai is a traditional Tamilnadu preparation, wherein rice flour or broken rice is first cooked in boiling water along with a few other ingredients, then allowed to cool and shaped into dumplings with the hands, after which they are steamed. Fingerprint marks on the Pidi Kozhukattai are its distinguishing feature, which lend the dish a certain rustic charm. This is how the dish gets its name too – ‘pidi‘ in Tamil roughly translates into ‘hand-held’. These steamed dumplings are often also called ‘Upma Kozhukattai‘, referring to the coarse grinding of rice in the mixer that the recipe calls for, similar to the making of Rice Upma, another common Tamil Nadu snack.

These dumplings can be either sweet or savoury, with different families making big and little variations of their own. Today, I present to you the savoury version, called Kara Pidi Kozhukattai, the way my family makes it. I made these for the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in our apartment this year, and they were a huge hit.

Here is the recipe for these Kara Pidi Kozhukattai, on popular demand. 🙂

Ingredients (makes 25-28 pieces):

  1. 2 cups raw rice
  2. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  3. 4 tablespoons toor daal
  4. 4 cups water
  5. 2 tablespoons oil + a little more for greasing the steaming plate
  6. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  7. 3-4 pinches of asafoetida
  8. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  9. 2 green chillies, chopped into large-ish pieces
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

Method:

  1. Take the raw rice and toor daal together in a large mixer jar. Add in the black peppercorns. Pulse a few times, for a couple of seconds each, stopping in between to mix up the ingredients in the jar with a spoon. Stop when the ingredients are ground to a well-crushed, slightly coarse texture like rava. Keep aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds and let them pop. Tear the curry leaves roughly with your hands and add them in. Add in the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add 4 cups of water to the pan, along with salt to taste. Keep on high flame and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Now, add the chopped green chillies and fresh grated coconut to the boiling water in the pan. Mix well.
  5. Keeping the flame on medium, slowly add the ground rice-black pepper-toor daal mixture to the boiling water in the pan. Stir constantly to avoid lumps forming.
  6. Keep cooking on medium flame, stirring constantly, till all the water is absorbed. Switch off the flame when the mixture comes together, and starts getting dry.
  7. Let the cooked mixture cool down considerably, covered.
  8. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, we will begin shaping pidi kozhukattai out of it. For this, make medium-sized oval dumplings out of the mixture, as shown in the picture above. Keep aside, covered.
  9. Use a little oil to grease a colander to steam the pidi kozhukattai in. Arrange as many pidi kozhukattai in the greased colander as you can, in a single line, keeping a little space between them. Keep them ready.
  10. Take about 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand over the water. Place the cooker on high flame. Let the water in the base start boiling. Now, place the colander with the pidi kozhukattai over the stand, cover the cooker, and steam for 10 minutes without putting the weight on.
  11. Allow the cooked pidi kozhukattai to cool down slightly, and then gently transfer to a vessel/serving plate using a spoon. Handling them straight out of the cooker might cause them to break.
  12. Cook all the pidi kozhukattai in a similar manner. Serve hot or at room temperature, with some simple coconut chutney.

Notes:

  1. Adjust the quantity of black peppercorns you use, depending upon how spicy you want the pidi kozhukattai to be. You can even skip the green chillies altogether, and use only black peppercorns to add spiciness. If using green chillies, make sure you use slightly big pieces that can be easily spotted and not bit into accidentally.
  2. The rice and toor daal mixture can be ground as coarsely or as finely as you desire. I prefer not grinding them finely, but to a well-crushed, coarse texture that is akin to rava.
  3. Chana daal can be used in place of toor daal. Both versions are equally tasty.
  4. I use Sona Masoori raw rice to make these pidi kozhukattai. 4 cups of water for 2 cups of Sona Masoori raw rice is the rice:water ratio that works perfectly for us.
  5. Adjust the quantity of grated coconut you use in the kara upma kozhukattai, depending upon personal preferences.
  6. Here, I have ground the raw rice and toor daal without washing them. If you want to wash them, drain out all the excess water after you do so, then sun-dry them for about 10 minutes on a cotton cloth. Proceed with making the pidi kozhukattai the same way as above, once the washed rice and toor daal are completely dry.
  7. A colander works best for steaming the upma kozhukattai. This ensures even cooking.
  8. Stop cooking the rice-toor daal-black pepper mixture when it starts to come together and lose moisture. Do not overcook it, as this will cause the pidi kozhukattai to get quite dry. Keep the cooked mixture covered till you use it.
  9. Gingelly oil or coconut oil works best in the making of these upma kozhukattai.
  10. These upma kozhukattai can be made ahead and refrigerated. You can remove them from the refrigerator an hour or so before serving, then steam them well in a pressure cooker.
  11. Traditionally, when these upma kozhukattai are made for the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, they are made without tasting. They are first offered to Lord Ganesha and then partaken of.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

I hope you will try out these Kara Pidi Kozhukattai too, and that you will love them as much as we do!

Postcards From Ganesh Chaturthi 2018

Spirituality. Peace. Introspection. Good food. Community. Pandal hopping. Activities with the bub. Play time. Busy-ness. Making memories. Family. Traditions.

That was how Ganesh Chaturthi this year looked like, to us.

Here are some pictures from Ganesh Chaturthi 2018, for your viewing pleasure. I’ll let the pictures do the talking now on.

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Like every year, this year too, we installed a Ganesha in our apartment. Everyone got together to do the decorations, the aarti, make the prasadam for 3 mornings and 3 nights, after which the festivities ended. We did our bit too. This has now become an important tradition to us, one we don’t want to miss.
Spotted these Ganeshas in the market these year, and loved them. A closer look will reveal that they are decorated with grains like ragi and rice, then painted all over. Even the Ganesha idol we set up in our apartment was similar.
It was nice to see these eco-friendly Ganeshas, with a little pop of colour.
Dark and light. Light and dark. That’s what we are made up of too, right?
Pandal decorations, anyone?
I absolutely loved these traditional Ganeshas, with their broad trunks!
More decorations for Ganesha pandals
Meanwhile, this cute little ‘sweet’ Ganesha was spotted at Adayar Ananda Bhavan!
A pretty Ganesha pandal set up near HSR Layout. I loved how this one was done up just like a temple!
A medley of Ganeshas and Gowris in the pandal
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The Ganesha pandal set up by the HSR Layout Youth Association
Colourful, pretty umbrellas that made up part of the decorations at the HSR Layout Youth Association pandal
More Ganeshas and Gowris. Check out that cute turban!
A close-up of the Ganesha idol
More Ganesha and Gowri idols inside the pandal
A small fair set up near the HSR Layout BDA Complex, on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi
People having fun at the fair. Kids and adults alike.
We were passing by a temple in HSR Layout, and spotted Ganesh Visarjan happening. We decided to stay on for the festivities, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s Ganesha bidding adieu.
Artistes performing a traditional Karnataka folk dance form, during the visarjan
The excitement in the atmosphere was palpable. Can you feel it in the picture, too?
Ganesha all set to say farewell
Artistes performing Veeragaase, a traditional Karnataka folk dance, on the streets. I loved capturing them on camera!
This guy was all too happy to pose for my camera!
Poser!
Artistes performing Dollu Kunitha, a traditional drum dance practised in Karnataka

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How was Ganesh Chaturthi for you, folks?

Did you like this post? Do tell me, in your comments!

Multi Millet Lemon ‘Rice’

Today, I present to you the recipe for Multi-Millet Lemon ‘Rice’ – the same old traditional South Indian dish, but made with mixed millets instead of rice. This lemon ‘rice’ tastes just as delicious and is just as simple to prepare, but is a whole lot healthier.

The popularity of millets is on the rise, these days. They are full of nutritional benefits, and versatile enough to lend themselves easily to various preparations, from cakes and breads to traditional dishes like bisi bele bath, tomato bath, and curd ‘rice’. Let me hasten to add that this is a not a fad, not a modern trend that you should hastily dismiss. The people of India have been using millets for ages – especially in regions like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In the course of time, millets began to be labelled as ‘poor man’s food’, and more and more people stopped using them. In today’s world, millets, with the many wonderful properties they possess, can play a significant role in reversing various lifestyle diseases. They are no longer ‘poor man’s food’, rather ‘the need of the hour’. Attending this workshop on millets by the Government of Karnataka opened my eyes to the world of millets, and I started including them in our monthly shopping list, our day-to-day cooking. I am thrilled to say that our diet is no longer heavily rice- or wheat-based, but is a good mix of different grains.

Firms like Pristine Organics’ make the usage of millets simple for the consumer of today. They offer products like millet flour, multi-millet flours and millet flakes, which make life easier for the present-day cooks. A while ago, Pristine Organics sent me a hamper including various millet-based and other products, to test and review, and I have been thrilled with their quality and ease of use. Take for instance, Pristine Organics’ Millet Organica, the multi-millet mix that I have used here, to make this lemon ‘rice’. It was so convenient to use – a mix of different types of millets, broken down into little granules, making it super easy to cook and use in a variety of dishes!

Now, without further ado, let us check out the recipe for multi-millet lemon ‘rice’, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 cup Pristine Organics’ multi-millet mix
  2. 1 tablespoon oil
  3. 1/4 cup peanuts
  4. 4 green chillies
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  7. 1 teaspoon mustard
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Juice of 1-1/2 lemons or to taste
  12. About 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (optional)

Method:

1. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

2. Wash the multi millet mix a couple of times under running water. Drain out all the water. Pressure cook the mix with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles, on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.

3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Separate the curry leaves. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.

4. When all the pressure has gone down, remove the multi millet mix from the cooker. Let it cool down completely.

5. Once cooled entirely, fluff up the cooked multi millet mix. Keep aside.

6. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard and allow it to pop. Add the roasted peanuts, asafoetida, chopped ginger, curry leaves and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a few seconds.

7. Now, add the cooked multi millet mix to the pan. Lower the heat to medium. Add in salt to taste and the turmeric powder. Mix well. Let everything cook together on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.

8. Add finely chopped coriander (if using) and lemon juice to the pan. Mix well. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

  1. I have used Pristine Organics’ Millet Organica, their multi-millet mix, to make this lemon ‘rice’. It is a mix of different types of millet such as kodo millet, proso millet, amaranth, barnyard millet, little millet, foxtail millet and finger millet. You can choose to use a multi-millet mix from any other brand, too.
  2. I pressure cooked 1 cup of the multi-millet mix with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles, as specified on the package. I did not soak the millets as they were broken down into little granules, and the package did not ask me to do so either. I then allowed the cooked millets to cool down completely before fluffing them up and using them to make the lemon ‘rice’. If you are using a different brand of multi-millet mix, do carefully check the package for instructions on how they need to be cooked.
  3. Adjust the quantity of lemon and green chillies you use in this multi-millet lemon ‘rice’, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  4. I always dry roast peanuts before using them in any preparation. This lends them a nice, crispy texture.
  5. Gingelly oil or coconut oil works best in the making of this multi-millet lemon ‘rice’.
  6. Make sure you allow the cooked millets to cool down completely and then fluff them up, before using them in making the lemon ‘rice’. Otherwise, there are chances of the lemon ‘rice’ getting mushy and tasteless.
  7. You can pressure cook the millets beforehand and keep them ready, then make the lemon ‘rice’ just before serving.
  8. I received a sample of the multi-millet mix, along with some other products, from Pristine Organics to test and review. However, the views expressed herein are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is ‘A Lemon Affair’, wherein members will be creating various lemon-based recipes.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #241. The co-hosts this week are Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

Your Sterling Holiday Is Waiting!

Hola, people!

I have something exciting for all of you! ♥️ Read on!

Here is your turn to #holidaydifferently with Sterling Holidays, to create loads of memories to cherish!

Now, you can book a stay at any of the Sterling properties across India and get 15% off! All you need to do is log on to http://www.sterlingholidays.com, book your room/s, and use the code PRIYA to avail of the discount. This offer is valid on bookings done till October 10, 2018, and is over and above some other exciting promotional offers already in process by Sterling.

So, what are you waiting for? Time to book for your Dussehra holidays and let the travel tales unfold!

Berry Vanilla Gateaux @ The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Desserts are like mistresses. They are bad for you. So, if you are having one, you might as well have two,” said French chef Alain Ducasse once, and I heartily agree.

Desserts are important in my life. I have a huge sweet tooth, and absolutely love desserts. They are something I always, always save space for, especially if they are made of good-quality chocolate. That said, I don’t stop at just chocolate – I believe in exploring different types of dessert, going through dessert counters systematically, trying to figure out what I like the best. It might not be the best thing for me to do, considering my constant battle with increasing weight, but hey, I’m not one to spoil a day of indulgence with guilt.

With this background, you can imagine just how thrilled I would have been, recently, to receive an invite from The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, to be part of a dessert demonstration. It did turn out to be quite a scintillating experience. Yours truly, alongside a bunch of other food bloggers from across the city, watched agog, as Chef Kimberly Rozario of the Academy gave us a live demonstration of a magnificent Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

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Check out the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that we learnt to make at the Academy. Isn’t she a stunner? Don’t miss those gorgeous fresh berries and tiny macaroons on top!

Making the Berry Vanilla Gateaux

Baking requires a lot of precision and patience, specially so when making as elaborate a dessert as this Berry Vanilla Gateaux. This particular cake required a number of steps, some quite complex and requiring special expertise – first making a chocolate sponge, then vanilla mousse, berry jelly, the red glaze that goes on top and, finally, the gold button, chocolate belt and little white macaroons that are used to decorate the cake. Each of these components was then assembled masterfully to create the stunning whole – the Berry Vanilla Gateaux.

Some pictures from the live demonstration of the Berry Vanilla Gateaux. Can you tell how many painstaking steps lie behind that one finished product?

Chef Kimberley took us through each step of the process very patiently, talking about the right kind of ingredients and apparatus to choose, clarifying doubts, answering questions and sharing her expert tips throughout. She made the entire process look almost magical, I must say, flawlessly building up that red confection from scratch.

Chef Kimberly Rozario of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore, with the Berry Vanilla Gateaux that she demonstrated to us

We also got to sample this red beauty and, I must say, she blew my mind away. The flavours of vanilla, berries and chocolate came together so beautifully!

Chef Kimberly with her team at The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

Head to my Facebook page to see more pictures from the demonstration!

About The Academy Of Pastry Arts

The Academy Of Pastry Arts is an esteemed professional culinary and dessert school with a Pan-Asian presence. In India, the Academy has branches at Bangalore, Delhi NCR and Mumbai, with the Bangalore branch being located on Sarjapur Main Road, Jakkasandra. Apart from this, they also have a presence in the Philippines and in Malaysia.

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The reputed chefs who are part of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy boasts of having a number of world-class chefs on board, who work with the school either on a permanent or visiting basis. State-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technology are their points of pride. There are several long-term and short-term courses on offer, wherein students can learn various aspects of culinary and dessert arts. The Academy assures small batch sizes, one-on-one attention to every student, hands-on training, the passing on of top-notch culinary dexterity, internship with hospitality brands of repute, and placement in five-star hotels and patisseries on the completion of courses.

From the walls of The Academy Of Pastry Arts, Bangalore

The Academy Of Pastry Arts has participated in several national- and international-level competitions, winning a few of them too.

The Academy Of Pastry Arts in the news

In Conclusion

As an amateur baker, I was way out of my depth in the demonstration of this beautiful, but complex cake. However, I was impressed with the clean kitchens and the state-of-the-art technology the Academy uses, not to forget Chef Kimberly’s expertise and patient handling of us. For someone who is serious about making a career in the culinary or dessert arts, this is definitely a place to head to.

Details

Address:

Bangalore Centre
9, 1st Block, Sarjapur Main Road,
Jakkasandra, Koramangala,
Bangalore

Phone:
+91-8095719222
+91-8095442277
+91-8025505222

E-mail:
info@academyofpastryartsindia.com

Website:

http://academyofpastryartsindia.com/

 

Pressure Cooker Chana Masala| Indian Chickpea Curry

Do you like Chana Masala?

Chana Masala is my go-to dish when I want to eat something different from the usual South Indian fare we make at home. Considering that it is a hot favourite with everyone in the family, it does find pride of place on our dining table quite often. More often than not, I make a big batch of chana masala, serving it with rotis or parathas, while I use the leftovers the next day to make chaat.

Like my mom, I make Chana Masala in a pressure cooker, which ensures that the dish is ready in a jiffy, with the least of hassle. This Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is super delish, the chickpeas absorbing the flavours from the gravy much better than those cooked in a pan. Using a pressure cooker also ensures that the chickpeas are done just right, without any over- or under-cooking.

Let’s check out the recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala now, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1-1/2 cups chickpeas aka kabuli chana
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1 large onion
  4. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 1 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida (hing)
  9. Salt, to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste (optional)
  12. Red chilli powder, to taste
  13. 2-3 tablespoons of chana masala, or to taste
  14. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  15. 1 tablespoon kasoori methi

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas in just enough water to cover them, for 8-10 hours or overnight.
  2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out any remaining water from them. Add in just enough fresh water to cover them, and pressure cook them for 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes into quarters. Peel and chop the ginger. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic together into a puree. Keep aside.
  4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
  5. When the pressure has released from the cooker, open it. Keep the cooked chickpeas aside. Do not discard the water.
  6. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker base. Add in the cumin and asafoetida, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  7. Add the chopped onions. Saute till the onions begin to turn brown.
  8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or till the raw smell from the tomatoes goes away and the puree thickens a little.
  9. Add in the cooked chickpeas, along with the water they were cooked in.
  10. Add salt to taste, chana masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and sugar. Mix well.
  11. Close pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook for 4 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas, and let the pressure release naturally.
  12. After the pressure has gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander and kasoori methi. Serve hot, with rotis, dosas, pooris, steamed rice or parathas. Sliced onions and wedges of lemon make for great accompaniments.

Notes:

  1. Garam masala can be used in place of chana masala. I use store-bought chana masala from Eastern or Everest.
  2. I use country aka nati tomatoes to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. Considering these tomatoes are quite sour, I do not add any lemon juice to the gravy. If you feel you need a bit more sourness to the gravy, you can add in a dash of lemon juice.
  3. A dash or curd or fresh cream can also be added to this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala, towards the end.
  4. I pressure cook the chickpeas first, before using them in making this Chana Masala. I then pressure cook them again, after adding all the other ingredients to them. This ensures that the chickpeas are cooked evenly, and that they absorb all the spices well.
  5. If you think the gravy is too liquidy after cooking, you may let it simmer for a couple of minutes on medium flame, before adding in the coriander and kasoori methi.
  6. If you feel the water reserved from cooking the chickpeas is too much, you can discard some of it, and add only the remaining to the gravy.
  7. You may avoid ginger and garlic in this gravy, if you want to. Personally, though, I think they add a nice fragrance to it.
  8. Adding the sugar to the Pressure Cooker Chana Masala is optional, but I would recommend you to not skip it. The sugar doesn’t make the gravy overly sweet, but rather rounds off the sourness of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the red chilli powder very well.
  9. Any leftover Pressure Cooker Chana Masala can be refrigerated and used later to make Ragda Pattice or in various types of chaat.
  10. You can add in whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves to the tempering, along with the cumin. I skip these, because we like the Chana Masala without these ingredients.
  11. I use a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala. 4 whistles + 4 whistles is just perfect for the chickpeas to cook till soft, without getting mushy. The number of whistles you need might vary, depending upon the size and make of your pressure cooker.

Did you like this recipe for Pressure Cooker Chana Masala? Do tell me, in your comments!

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A to Z Recipe Challenge

This post is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. The A to Z challenge was initiated on a Facebook Group, wherein a group of bloggers come together and choose key ingredients alphabetically to cook and post a dish every alternate month.. This month’s Alphabet is ‘C’ and I decided to make this Pressure Cooker Chana Masala.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #241. The co-hosts this week are Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.

Kara Ammini Kozhukattai| Spiced Mini Kozhukattai

Today, I present to you another traditional recipe for Ganesh Chaturthi – Kara Ammini Kozhukattai or Spiced Mini Kozhukattai. For the uninitiated, these are little dumplings made out of cooked rice flour, steamed and then tempered. Very little oil is used in the preparation of ammini kozhukattai, making it quite a healthy snacking option. The tempering can be made in different ways, which gives the dish an absolutely different taste every time you make it. At home, this is quite a big favourite, and we make this often, festival times or not. Kara Ammini Kozhukattai makes for a great lunch box filler as well.

This is a popular offering to Ganesha in Tamilnadu, for the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Different families have different styles of tempering the ammini kozhukattai, but typically, they are made from the leftover cooked rice flour remaining after making the traditional stuffed modaks. Even if you don’t have any cooked rice flour left over, these little ones are an absolute breeze to make.

The Kara Ammini Kozhukattai recipe I am sharing with you today is my mother’s. This is the way Amma makes them, the way she taught me to. Now. let’s check out the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

For making the ammini kozhukattai:

  1. 1 cup rice flour
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 1 teaspoon oil + more for greasing hands and steaming vessel
  4. Salt, to taste
  5. Red chilli powder, to taste
  6. 2 pinches asafoetida powder
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the tempering:

  1. 1 teaspoon oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 pinches asafoetida powder
  4. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  5. 2-3 dry red chillies
  6. 2 green chillies, slit length-wise
  7. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

Method:

We will begin with making the dough for the ammini kozhukattai.

  1. Take 2 cups of water in a pan, and add 1 teaspoon oil to it. Place on high flame and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Now, lower flame to medium. Add the rice flour to the boiling water little by little, stirring constantly to ensure that no lumps are formed.
  3. In about a minute, all the water will get absorbed into the rice flour. Now, keeping the flame on medium, stir the dough for a minute more, trying to break any lumps that might have formed.
  4. Now, turn the flame to the lowest possible. Cover the pan with a lid. Let the rice flour cook for a minute, covered. Switch off gas. Allow the cooked rice flour to cool down completely.

We will now prepare the ammini kozhukattai for steaming.

  1. Ensure that the cooked rice flour we prepared earlier has entirely cooled down. Now, add salt to taste, red chilli powder and 2 pinches of asafoetida powder to it.
  2. Use your hands to mix well. Knead into a soft dough, ensuring the the salt, red chilli powder and asafoetida are evenly distributed throughout. Knead for a couple of minutes.
  3. If the dough is too sticky, you can mix in a teaspoon of oil at this stage. If not, skip this step and proceed to the next one.
  4. Grease your palms with a little oil. Shape small balls out of the rice flour dough. Keep aside, covered.
  5. Grease a wide vessel with a little oil. Keep it ready for steaming.

Now, we will steam the ammini kozhukattai.

  1. Take about 1/2 cup water in a pressure cooker base.
  2. Place a stand over it.
  3. Arrange the little balls we prepared earlier into the greased vessel you prepped for steaming. Place this over the stand.
  4. Close the pressure cooker. Steam on high flame, without placing the weight on, for 10 minutes. Switch off gas, and allow the cooker to cool down a bit.
  5. Now, remove the steamed ammini kozhukattai from the cooker and allow to cool down completely.

Lastly, we will temper the kara ammini kozhukattai.

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.
  2. Add in the mustard. Allow it to pop.
  3. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves, dry red chillies and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Now, add the steamed and cooled ammini kozhukattai to the pan.
  5. Turn flame to medium. Stir gently, mixing the tempering with the ammini kozhukattai. Take care to ensure that the ammini kozhukattai do not break.
  6. Add in the fresh grated coconut. Mix well, but gently.
  7. Cook for a minute, stirring gently. Switch off gas. The ammini kozhukattai is ready – serve hot or at room temperature!
A pictorial representation of the various steps involved in the making of Kara Ammini Kozhukattai

Notes:

  1. Coconut oil or gingelly oil works best in the making of Kara Ammini Kozhukattai. If you don’t have these, however, any other variety of odourless oil would do.
  2. You can skip adding the red chilli powder in the Kara Ammini Kozhukattai, if you plan to make these for kids, or add it a very minimal amount.
  3. I use store-bought fine rice flour to make these Kara Ammini Kozhukattai.
  4. While steaming the ammini kozhukattai, make sure you place a stand in the pressure cooker base. This will ensure that no water enters the steaming vessel.
  5. It is important to let the steamed ammini kozhukattai cool down completely, before you proceed to do the tempering. Otherwise, there are chances that the kozhukattai will become mushy and tasteless.
  6. It is important to ensure that there are no lumps in the rice flour dough that you prepare, for the best-tasting ammini kozhukattai.
  7. Ensure that you steam the ammini kozhukattai for just 10 minutes, without the weight on. Over-steaming will make them dry out and get hard.
  8. Traditionally, when these ammini kozhukattai are prepared for the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, they are cooked without tasting. They are first offered to Lord Ganesha, and then partaken of.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘Ganesh Chaturthi Recipes’.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #240. The co-hosts this week are Deb @ The Pantry Portfolio and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

No-Cook Fruit & Nut Modak

Right about now is a beautiful time of the year to be in India. The air is so festive right now, and you cannot help but get into the spirit yourself. This is the time for a whole lot of minor and major festivals to be celebrated across various Indian communities. Janmashtami just came to an end, and Ganesh Chaturthi is around the corner. For those looking for a quick dish to make for Ganesh Chaturthi, I present to you today a super-simple recipe for Fruit & Nut Modak.

One of my most favourite festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi, is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the elephant-headed God, Ganesha. I love the fervour with which this festival is celebrated throughout India and, of course, the various foods associated with it. I love how Ganesha is such a flexible God, his idols getting more and more creative every year, sporting the avatars of everything from a software engineer to a motorcycle rider, sometimes depicting the current affairs too.

Modaks are one of the foods most commonly associated with Ganesh Chaturthi, believed to be one of Ganesha’s favourites. Traditionally, modaks are made with a rice flour shell, with a sweet jaggery-coconut stuffing inside. Over time, many different versions of the modak have come into existence, as creative and versatile as the idols of Ganesha himself.

Getting the rice flour covering and the sweet stuffing for the traditional modak right needs quite a bit of practice. For people who fear trying their hands out at them, these Fruit & Nut Modaks can be a saviour. This is a highly simple recipe, one that doesn’t need much time or effort or practice. These Fruit & Nut Modaks do not require any hard-core cooking, but they turn out wonderfully well, absolutely lovely in taste and pleasing to the eyes. They are healthy too – all the sweetness in these modaks comes from the raisins and dates added to them, with no refined sugar going in.

Intrigued?

Let’s check out the recipe for these lovely No-Cook Fruit & Nut Modak.

Ingredients (makes about 8 pieces):

  1. 15 whole cashewnuts
  2. 15-20 almonds
  3. 10 dates
  4. 1/4 cup raisins
  5. 1/4 teaspoon rose essence
  6. About 1/4 cup dry grated coconut
  7. A little milk, ghee or fresh cream, as needed, optional

Method:

  1. Remove seeds from the dates, and chop them up. Keep them ready.
  2. Heat up a pan on high flame. Lower the flame to medium, and add in the cashewnuts and almonds. Dry roast on medium flame till the cashewnuts and almonds are crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Switch off gas, and allow to cool down completely.
  3. When entirely cooled down, take the roasted cashewnuts and almonds in a small mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, for a couple of seconds each. This will break down the cashewnuts and almonds slightly.
  4. Now, add in the chopped dates, raisins, dry grated coconut and rose essence. Pulse a couple of times for a couple of seconds. Stop in between to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. The ingredients will all come together to form a sort of pliable mixture.
  5. If the mixture feels too dry, add in a bit of milk, fresh cream or ghee. If too sticky, you can add in a bit more dry coconut. Mix well.
  6. Shape modaks out of the mixture and place in a clean, dry, air-tight box. Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This will help to set them. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Notes:

  1. I have used only cashewnuts, almonds, raisins and dates as the base ingredients here, along with the dry grated coconut. You may even add in other fruits and nuts of your choice. Dry figs, pistachios, pine nuts would make some great additions.
  2. After pulsing, if the mixture feels right, you can skip adding the extra dry grated coconut or milk/ghee/fresh cream at the end. In that case, just shape the mixture into modaks as is. I did not need to add anything – I was able to shape the Fruit & Nut Modaks as is.
  3. You can use a mould to shape these Fruit & Nut Modaks. I haven’t.
  4. Make sure the dates are all pitted, and no seeds remain.
  5. While dry roasting the cashewnuts and almonds, ensure that you do so on a low-medium flame. The ingredients should not burn.
  6. Traditionally, when modaks are made on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, they are prepared without tasting them. They are offered to Lord Ganesha first, and then partaken of.

I hope you liked this recipe! Do try out these easy Fruit & Nut Modak this Ganesh Chaturthi, and share your feedback with me!

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #240. The co-hosts this week are Deb @ The Pantry Portfolio and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Go Crazy At These Eight Asian Destinations!

Asia, the largest continent on this planet, has plenty of sites that will astound you to no end. From scenic and mighty mountains to pristine low-lying valleys, from roaring seas to serene beaches, Asia has lots of destinations to please all kinds of travellers.

Many of these Asian destinations should definitely be on your bucket list! We present to you a list of some such amazing Asian places – choose any of these for your next holiday, and we assure you will have an experience worth cherishing!

Bali

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Are you looking forward to a romantic honeymoon vacation? In that case, Bali is the right place for you. Thanks to its prolific beauty, this place is often referred to by travellers as ‘heaven on earth’. Picturesque mountain ranges, lush rainforests, scenic beaches and sweeping valleys all together make it a vibrant destination in Asia to holiday in. Moreover, Bali also boasts of a handful of serene temples, which you absolutely must not miss on your vacation. The cultural capital of Bali, Ubud, is something you must visit as well.

Singapore

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People often ask why Singapore is unique and different from other Asian nations. Well, Singapore offers travellers a melting pot of Asian cultures. In Singapore, you will find a blend of various cultures, which gives it a modern outlook and vibrant city neighbourhoods, as well as some really eclectic cuisines. Singapore is one of the most-loved island nations in the world. While here, you must head down towards Little India and China town for an amazing shopping experience, and later the Merlion to contemplate the high-rise skyscrapers.

Nepal

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This Himalayan country surely needs no introduction. If you are planning a trip to scenic Himalayas in all their majesty, Nepal is the place you should be heading to. Nepal is the most sought-after destination for trekkers – here, you can undertake various treks here, each of which will give you an opportunity to introspect and explore your inner self. Nepal is also where you can relax in the serenity of golden temples and watch wildlife.

Bangkok

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This capital of Thailand is choc-a-bloc with things to do for all sorts of travellers. Take your pick from a horde of eye-catching sites to never-ending nightlife and mouth–watering Thai cuisine! The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a huge street market that you must not miss. The sacred shrines of Bangkok are where you can immerse yourself in spirituality, if that is your kind of thing. Bangkok is also a good place to indulge one’s senses, with some of the best spas in the world on offer.

Ladakh

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Travelling to Ladakh by road is quite a thrilling experience, one that must definitely be on your bucket list. Ladakh is visited by thousands every year, but the beauty of the regal Himalayas never gets old. There are several Leh Ladakh tour packages on offer, each of which will leave you with an unforgettable experience.

Bhutan

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Surrounded by the gorgeous Himalayas, Bhutan has a magical aura to it that you must definitely experience. Bhutan is a country full of surprises. Here, rice is red and chillies are not only seasonings, but very much a main dish. Here is where a Buddhist monk will update his social media handles after performing a divination. Yes, you read that right! The traditional Buddhists of Bhutan have completely adopted modern culture, and are proud to do so.

The Maldives

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A kingdom of oceans, 1200 islands, and a never-ending horizon – that is what the Maldives are. Wherever you go, you will find clear, clear skies and the prettiest of turquoise waters waiting for you. You can choose to stay in one of the many luxurious overwater bungalows that the Maldives has to offer, and spend your holiday watching majestic coral reefs and surfing white-sand beaches with your loved ones. Maldives is quite a popular destination among honeymooners, and that is no big wonder!

Tokyo

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The largest city in the world, Tokyo, has plenty of things to offer travellers. It is a beautiful and vibrant city, known for its crowded streets, flashing lights and warm people. Tokyo is a shoppers’ paradise and a haven for foodies. This megacity of Japan is buzzing with constant movement, something that you must experience for yourself.

So, which of these Asian destinations would be your pick for your next holiday?

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This post is brought to you in association with Thrillophilia, international travel planners. All images in the post are courtesy of Thrillophilia.