Pani Poori Recipe| How To Make Gol Gappa

Best wishes to everyone on the occasion of Holi, the festival of colours, which falls tomorrow! This Holi, how about treating your friends and family to a flavourful platter of Pani Poori?

There aren’t many people I know who can resist a plate of delicious pani poori. Call it paani poori, golgappa, lap chup, poori pakodi or puchka, it is the heart-throb of many. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Pani Poori, made the way I saw it being made on the streets of Ahmedabad, growing up, the way I still love it.

 

What is Pani Poori?


Pani Poori refers to a popular Indian street food, made with slight variations in different parts of the country. Small, hollow, deep-fried crisp pooris are first filled with a stuffing made using potatoes and black chickpeas (chana). In my version, the pooris are then topped up with two different types of pani or flavoured water – a sweet one made using tamarind and jaggery, the other one spicy, made from fresh mint, coriander, lemon and green chillies. The result is a burst of flavours, an absolute treat to the tastebuds.

The husband and I are huge chaat fans, and Pani Poori is one of our all-time favourites. I can make a meal out of it, any day, any time, while the husband loves it as an evening snack. I often make it at home, making a little extra so it doubles up as evening snack cum dinner.

A bit about Holi


Holi is a Hindu festival signifying the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also signifies the victory of good over evil, the start of a happy period after a lean one. In most parts of India, Holi is celebrated by the lighting of a bonfire, song and dance, preparing various delicacies, meeting one’s loved ones, and throwing colours or coloured water on each other.

Thandai, gujiya, kanji vada, laddoo, halwa, kheer, dahi vada, mathri, gulab jamun, jalebi, imarti and nimki are some examples of foods traditionally prepared on the occasion of Holi. Modern-day Holi parties see several finger foods being served, along with these traditional delicacies.

This year, Holi celebrations have been dimmed on account of the Corona virus threat. However, I would like to suggest making something special at home to celebrate the day, and not letting fear dim the festival’s sparkle.

Pani Poori for #HoliOnMyPlate


I’m part of this group called Foodie Monday Blog Hop, where the members showcase recipes based on a predetermined theme every Monday. The theme this week is #HoliOnMyPlate, and all of us are sharing exciting dishes for you to make for the occasion!


If I were throwing a Holi bash, this delectable Pani Poori is something I would definitely include in the menu. Let me tell you how to go about making them!

How to make Pani Poori


Ingredients (for about 100 pieces, serves roughly 4-5 people):

1. About 100 store-bought pooris

For the spicy green paani:

  1. A big fistful of fresh mint leaves
  2. A big fistful of fresh coriander
  3. 4 green chillies or as per taste
  4. Juice of 1 lemon or as needed
  5. 3/4 teaspoon black salt
  6. Pani poori masala or chaat masala to taste

For the sweet tamarind paani:

  1. A big lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 6-8 tablespoons of jaggery powder or as per taste
  3. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

For the aloo stuffing:

  1. 6 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1 cup black chana, soaked overnight
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  5. Pani poori masala or chaat masala to taste
  6. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

We will first make preparations for the aloo stuffing.

1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, removing any traces of mud from them.
2. Cut each potato into half, and transfer to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the potatoes fully.
3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till the potatoes are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
4. Drain out all the water from the soaked black chana. Transfer them to a wide vessel, and add about 1/2 cup water.
5. Place the vessel with the black chana in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till the chana are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

Next, we will do the prep for the sweet tamarind water.

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for 15-20 minutes, for it to soften.
2. Let the tamarind cool down fully.

In the meantime, we will prepare the spicy green paani.

1. Add the mint leaves to a large mixer jar.
2. Chop the green chillies and coriander roughly. Add to the mixer jar as well.
3. Add a little water to the mixer jar. Grind the mint, chillies and coriander together to a fine paste. Transfer this to a large bowl.
4. To the bowl, add black salt, pani poori masala or chaat masala, lemon juice and 2 cups of water or as needed. Mix well.
5. Your spicy green paani is ready. You can chill it in the refrigerator till you are ready to serve the pani poori, or keep it at room temperature.

Next, we will start cooking the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the soaked tamarind has fully cooled down, extract all the juice from it. You may add a little more water, bit by bit, to help in the process of extraction. Roughly, you should get about 1 cup of tamarind extract.
2. Take the tamarind extract in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame.
3. Cook for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away. Stir intermittently.
4. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium.
5. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes or till the mixture starts to thicken. Switch off gas at this stage.
6. Mix in the roasted cumin powder. Allow the mixture to cool down fully.

Now, we will start preparing the aloo stuffing.

1. Get the pressure-cooked potatoes out. Discard the water they were cooked in. Allow them to cool down fully.
2. Get the black chana out of the cooker. Allow them to cool down fully. Do not discard the water they were cooked in.

We will now add the final touches to the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the potatoes are cool, remove their skins. Take the peeled, cooked potatoes in a large bowl. Mash them roughly.
2. Add the cooked black chana to the bowl, along with the water the chana was cooked in.
3. Add salt to taste, pani poori masala or chaat masala, roasted cumin powder and finely chopped coriander.
4. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well together, using your hands. Your aloo stuffing is ready. Allow it to rest at room temperature till you are ready to serve the Pani Poori.

Lastly, we will add the finishing touches to the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the sweet tamarind mixture we prepared earlier has fully cooled down, add in 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water to dilute it, or as needed. Mix well.
2. Your sweet tamarind paani is ready. Keep it chilling in the refrigerator or at room temperature till you are ready to serve the pani poori.


How to serve the pani poori:

You can choose to allow your guests to assemble their own pani pooris or make them yourself, handing them over to the guests one by one.


In case of the former,
Give your guests the pooris, some of the aloo stuffing, some spicy green paani and sweet tamarind paani separately. Ask them to make their own pani pooris.


In case of the latter,
To make the pani pooris, make a small hole in one of the pooris and place some of the aloo stuffing inside it. Spoon some of the spicy green paani and sweet tamarind paani into the poori too. Place the prepared poori fully in your mouth, bite, chew and enjoy the explosion of flavours in your mouth! Prepare all the pani pooris the same way.

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

Vegetable Fried Rice| Chinese Fried Rice With Veggies

I’m here today to share with you all the recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice, Chinese-style rice cooked with various veggies.

The husband and I love Asian food in general, especially Chinese. I occasionally prepare Chinese fare at home, as always trying to make it as healthy as I can. This Vegetable Fried Rice is a hot family favourite.

Vegetable Fried Rice to usher in Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, this time around, falls on January 25, 2020. The Year of The Rat begins on this day, an animal that is believed to signify intelligence, peace and contentment.

For the Chinese, the start of the lunar new year means eight days of fun and celebrations – good food, bonding with family, shopping, dressing up, cleaning up of homes and exchanging gifts. They are very particular about the things they do and eat on New Year day, as it is said to set the tone for the entire year ahead. Family is of utmost importance to the Chinese, and new year celebrations are incomplete without big family feasts.

Noodles, dumplings, oranges and pomelos, stir-fried vegetables and meat, fish, spring rolls and glutinous rice cakes are some foods commonly consumed on Chinese New Year. Fried rice is one of the dishes served in family get-togethers, too, typically made using chicken, pork or other types of meat. Some parts of China, though, follow the practice of eating only vegetarian food on New Year’s day, to usher in peace and harmony in the coming year.

Do try out this Vegetable Fried Rice to celebrate Chinese New Year. Supremely delicious and full of flavour, I’m sure you will love it! It’s so very easy to prepare, too.

My version of Vegetable Fried Rice

The Vegetable Fried Rice recipe I share here is made with minimal oil and lots of vegetables. I make it with naturally fermented soya sauce, as well as some white vinegar. Apart from this, I do not add in ajinomoto or any other flavouring agents. The rice is also not loaded with sauces, as is commonly done in several Indian restaurants serving Chinese fare.

I’m not sure if this is the exact way Chinese families cook Vegetable Fried Rice, but I have learnt it having watched it being made on several TV shows, documentaries, and demonstrations in reputed Asian restaurants.

I will reiterate here that I’m not a huge fan of packaged sauces or processed ingredients. This Vegetable Fried Rice is an occasional treat in our house, thanks to the use of soya sauce and vinegar, and not something we regularly indulge in.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This Vegetable Fried Rice recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I’m part of. Every Monday, the bloggers in the group showcase recipes as per a pre-determined theme, which happens to be #ChineseNewYear this week.

Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine suggested that we celebrate Chinese New Year virtually this Monday, to which the rest of us heartily agreed. Preethi is a very talented cook and blogger, with various vegetarian recipes from across the world on her blog. I’ve been eyeing her Greek-Style Potato Wedges, Shahi Tendli Masala and Achaari Matar Masala for quite some time now – can’t wait to try them out!

Vegetable Fried Rice recipe

Here’s how I make the fried rice.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

To pressure cook:

1. 1 cup rice

2. 2-1/2 cups water

Veggies to prep:

1. 1 medium-sized onion

2. 2 small florets broccoli

3. 2 medium-sized carrots

4. 1 medium-sized capsicum

5. 2 large pieces of babycorn

6. 2 tablespoons green peas

7. 4 button mushrooms

8. 4-5 beans
9. A small piece of cabbage

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
4. Salt to taste
5. 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns or to taste
6. 2 tablespoons soya sauce or to taste
7. 3/4 tablespoon white vinegar or to taste
8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water. Take the washed and drained rice in a large vessel, and add in 2-1/2 cups of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. In the meanwhile, we will prep the veggies required to make the fried rice. Chop the onion lengthwise. Chop the broccoli small. Peel the carrot and chop finely. Chop the capsicum small and the babycorn into rounds. Cut the button mushrooms into large pieces. Remove the strings from the beans, and chop finely. Cut the cabbage into long strips. Keep the shelled green peas ready.

3. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the ginger very finely. Pound the garlic cloves roughly, using a mortar and pestle.

4. When all the pressure from the cooker has gone down, get the cooked rice out. Place the cooked rice under the fan, and let it cool down fully. Now, fluff it up gently using a spoon.

5. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in all the veggies we prepped earlier, plus the finely chopped ginger and pounded garlic cloves. Add a bit of salt. Cook the veggies on high flame for about 2 minutes, or till they are cooked but still retain their crunch. Stir intermittently to prevent burning. If the veggies get too dry, you can sprinkle a bit of water over them.

6. Once the veggies are done, turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the cooled and fluffed rice, salt to taste, coarsely crushed black peppercorns, soya sauce and white vinegar. Mix well, but gently.

7. Cook on low-medium heat for about a minute more, mixing up the ingredients gently. Switch off the gas when the ingredients are well combined together.

8. Now, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Vegetable Fried Rice is now ready to serve. Serve it hot.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used Sona Masoori rice here. For plain rice, I cook 1 cup of rice with 3-1/2 cups of water, on high flame for 4 whistles. For the Vegetable Fried Rice, since I needed well-cooked but slightly grainy rice, I cooked it with 2-1/2 cups of water for just 3 whistles.

2. Make sure the cooked rice has fully cooled down, before proceeding to fluff it up and make the Vegetable Fried Rice. If you have some cooked rice left over, you can use it instead, too.

3. You can use any vegetables of your choice. Make sure you cook them on high flame till they are cooked through, but still retain a bit of a crunch. Don’t overcook the veggies.

4. I used sesame oil to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. You can use any type of oil you prefer, instead.

5. Use a large, heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. Ensure that you do not overcrowd the pan with the veggies and rice.

6. You can use any variety of rice you prefer.

7. I usually pop a few tablespoons of black peppercorns into a small mixer jar, and coarsely crush them. I keep this ready for use in dishes like Vegetable Fried Rice, Ven Pongal, etc. I have used a teaspoon of this crushed black pepper here. You can use more or less pepper, as per personal taste preferences.

8. White pepper can be used in place of black pepper.

9. I use naturally fermented soya sauce by a Thai brand called Shoyu. You can use any variety of soya sauce you prefer instead, too.

10. Lemon juice can be used in the Vegetable Fried Rice, instead of vinegar. I prefer using white vinegar, as it gives the Vegetable Fried Rice a proper restaurant-type fragrance and taste. If you can get your hands on naturally brewed white vinegar, you can go ahead and use it. You may use any other variety of vinegar you prefer instead, too. Increase or decrease the quantity of vinegar you use, as per your taste preferences.

11. I like loading my fried rice with veggies. You may reduce the amount of veggies you use, if you so prefer.

12. Be careful while salting the Vegetable Fried Rice. The soya sauce we are using in it contains salt, too.

13. Typically, green onions or spring onions are used in Vegetable Fried Rice. However, I don’t use them since I’m not a big fan. I prefer garnishing the fried rice with finely chopped coriander, instead.

14. The key to a good Vegetable Fried Rice is non-sticky rice. Use a variety of rice that doesn’t clump together when cooked. Wash the rice well in running water before cooking, so that all the excess starch from it is removed. Make sure all the water is drained out from the rice before cooking. Cook the rice till it is done but still grainy, not mushy. The above ratio of rice and water and pressure cooking works perfectly for us.

15. Indo-Chinese versions of Vegetable Fried Rice are often made using a variety of sauces like Red Chilli Sauce, Green Chilli Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, and the likes. However, authentic Chinese-style fried rice uses only soya sauce, and that is the way I prepare it too.

16. Make sure you stir gently while cooking, so that the grains of rice do not break.

17. Some toasted sesame seeds can also be used to garnish the Vegetable Fried Rice.

18. A bit of sugar or jaggery powder added in, along with the sauces, enhances the taste of the fried rice even more.

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

Rava Kesari Recipe| How To Make Kesari Bath

What is Rava Kesari?

Rava Kesari, a sweet treat made using rava (aka sooji or semolina), is one of the most commonly prepared desserts in South India. Also called, simply, Kesari or Kesari Bath, it is almost always present as part of the lunch/dinner platter on festivals like Diwali and Navratri, poojas, weddings and other religious and social occasions. You will find this dish occupying pride of place in several restaurants in Tamilnadu and Karnataka, too. There is no wondering why this dish is so hugely popular – fragrant and delicious, gooey with ghee, well-made Rava Kesari is a shortcut to heaven (in a good way!), especially when served piping hot.

Is Rava Kesari different from Sheera and Sooji Ka Halwa?

Rava Kesari is similar to the Sooji Ka Halwa or Sheera of North India, but there are subtle differences. Rava Kesari is softer and less dry than Sheera. The colour of both is different too – Rava Kesari has a pretty, orange hue (all thanks to food colouring!) as opposed to the natural brown shade of the Sheera. Fruits like pineapple and mango are often added to Rava Kesari, to make it more flavourful and delicious.

Home-made Rava Kesari with no artificial colours

The version of Rava Kesari we make at home, however, has lesser ghee than its restaurant counterparts. It is also free of synthetic food colouring; I use saffron to give it a beautiful yellow hue. It isn’t exactly a guilt-free indulgence, but a hot favourite at home and I make it quite often. I love how easy it is to make – it just takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish!

How to make Kesari Bath or Rava Kesari, my way

Today, I am going to share with you how to make Kesari Bath from scratch, my way. You must try out this fuss-free dessert this Diwali, if you haven’t already.

Here we go.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1/2 cup fine rava (semolina or sooji)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons ghee
  3. 2-1/2 cups water
  4. 2 pinches of saffron (kesar) threads
  5. 13/4 cup sugar or to taste
  6. 10-12 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins
  8. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

Method:

1. Chop the cashewnuts roughly. Keep ready.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the rava, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

3. Saute the rava in the ghee till it becomes nice and aromatic, keeping the flame low-medium. This should take 6-7 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.

4. While the rava is cooking, take the water in another pan. Place on high flame and add in the strands of saffron. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then turn the flame down to low-medium.

5. When the rava is done sauteeing, slowly add it to the hot water in the other pan, stirring constantly to prevent the formation of lumps.

6. Keep cooking on low-medium heat till most of the water has been absorbed by the rava, 3-4 minutes.

7. Add sugar to the pan. Mix well. Continue cooking on low-medium heat till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. This should take 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins. Turn flame down to low-medium. Let the cashewnuts start browning and the raisins plump up. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, pour the ingredients over the rava mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.

9. Cook everything together till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, as stated above. Switch off gas when the mixture is still runny – do not overcook it. Your Rava Kesari is ready! Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fine sooji or rava (rather than the bigger, coarser type), for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences.

3. You may increase the quantity of ghee you use. The above quantity was just perfect for us.

4. Make sure you saute the rava well in ghee, otherwise the kesari might have a ‘raw’ feel to it. You don’t have to brown the rava – just cook it till it starts emanating a nice fragrance.

5. You can use milk instead of water, in the above Rava Kesari recipe. Alternatively, you may use a mix of half water and half milk. I prefer using only water.

6. Make sure the cashewnuts and raisins do not get burnt, while frying them up.

7. Do not overcook the Rava Kesari. Just cook till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. Overcooking might make the kesari dry.

8. Orange food colour can be used in the above Rava Kesari recipe too. I have coloured the kesari naturally, though, using saffron.

9. Keep the Rava Kesari a bit runny, as it hardens quite a bit on cooling.

10. There’s a bit of multi-tasking involved in the making of this dish, as you can see from the above Rava Kesari recipe. Movements have to be quick so as to arrive at the perfect end result. It is best to keep handy all the ingredients needed to make the Rava Kesari.

11. The Rava Kesari is, mostly, cooked on low-medium heat. Regular stirring is essential, to get a lump-free, delicious Rava Kesari.

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

Aval Mixture| Low-Oil Poha Chivda

I hope you are gearing up to celebrate Diwali. I can’t believe it’s already time for the big festival, but it is! We have been busy cooking up various sweet and savoury dishes in preparation for Diwali, which arrives this weekend. Today, I present to you our family recipe for one of these Diwali-special foods – Aval Mixture aka Poha Chivda, a delicious snack made using beaten rice.

A bit of background about Diwali

Before we get to that, though, let me talk a bit about Diwali, for those readers who aren’t acquainted with it. Popularly called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a Hindu festival that celebrates the return of Lord Rama with his wife Seeta to Ayodha, having won a hard-earned victory over Ravana. It is one of India’s biggest festivals, signifying the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness.

There are small variations in the way Diwali is celebrated in the various states of India, but the over-arching beliefs are more or less the same. Diwali means shopping, new clothes, dressing up to the hilt, lighting lamps, getting together with friends and family, prayers, gifts, bursting crackers, loads of food, spreading love and good cheer all around.

In Tamilnadu, Diwali day (or Deepavali, as it is called) sees families rising as early as 4 a.m. for a rejuvenating oil massage and bath, which is followed by the wearing of new clothes and jewellery. Then, it is time to head out to burst crackers, closely followed by a special lunch. The evening is spent meeting friends and family, serving and eating the sweets and snacks painstakingly prepared in the few days before Diwali. 7-Cup Cake, Rava Kesari, Omapudi, Aval Mixture, Ribbon Pakoda, Murukku, Kasi Halwa and Payasam are some dishes commonly prepared in our family for Diwali.

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda is prepared using beaten rice or poha, and we make it with the minimal use of oil. There is no deep-frying involved, which makes this a relatively guilt-free festival snack. The cashewnuts and raisins, groundnuts and jaggery, that are added in make the mixture rich and special.

This Aval Mixture is slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and just the right amount of salty – making it a burst of flavours. It is a completely vegetarian preparation, suitable to those following a vegan or plant-based diet. If you are using gluten-free asafoetida (without any wheat flour added to it), this Aval Mixture recipe is gluten-free as well. In case you aren’t able to get hold of gluten-free asafoetida, you can just skip it altogether too, without any significant change in the taste of the dish.

Our family recipe for Aval Mixture, for #DiwaliDhamaka

Here’s how the Aval Mixture is made in our family. I share this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group, which is showcasing Diwali-special foods this week. Yes, the group theme this week is – #DiwaliDhamaka!

Ingredients (makes 3 cups):

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 3 cups medium-thick beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tablespoon red chilli powder or to taste
  6. 2-3 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  5. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  6. 4-5 dry red chillies
  7. 10-12 cashewnuts, halved
  8. 1-1/2 tablespoons groundnuts

Method:

1. Dry roast the groundnuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they don’t get burnt. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.

2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the beaten rice.

3. Keep stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes, keeping the flame low-medium, or till the beaten rice gets nice and crisp. Do not overcook the beaten rice, or it will become too hard. Take care to ensure that the beaten rice doesn’t burn.

4. Transfer the fried beaten rice to a large mixing bowl or vessel.

5. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard, and allow them to pop. Turn the flame down to medium. Add in the raisins, curry leaves, asafoetida, dry red chillies, halved cashewnuts and dry-roasted groundnuts. Mix gently. Fry these ingredients on medium flame, till the cashewnuts start browning, the curry leaves get crisp and the raisins puff up. Stir constantly. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas.

6. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the beaten rice. Mix gently but well, using your hands. Ensure that the seasonings are evenly distributed through the beaten rice.

7. Now, pour the tempering over the beaten rice. Mix it in, using a spatula. Your Poha Chivda is ready to use! Allow it to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Tips and tricks

1. I have used regular refined oil and medium-thick poha (the type we use to make poha upma).

2. Make sure you use a large vessel to fry the poha. The pan should not be overcrowded. The poha should have enough space to move around in the pan. If you have a smaller pan only at hand, you can fry the poha in two or more batches, using a little oil at a time.

3. Some families dry roast the poha, and then proceed to add the seasonings and the tempering. We prefer making it the above way.

4. Slivers of dry coconut, chopped green chillies, fried gram (pottukadalai), chopped almonds are some other things you could add to the tempering. We usually don’t.

5. It is important to make sure that neither the poha nor the tempering gets burnt. Please do ensure this, otherwise the taste of the Poha Chivda might be compromised.

6. Some people deep-fry the poha before proceeding to add the seasonings and the tempering to it. You could do that, too.

7. Let the fried poha cool down slightly before seasoning it. Adding the seasoning and the tempering to very hot poha can cause it to go limp.

8. Powdered sugar can be used in the above Aval Mixture recipe, instead of the jaggery powder. Alternatively, you can omit the sugar or jaggery altogether. I prefer using jaggery powder.

9. Make sure you don’t overcook the poha, which might cause it to become overly hard.

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

Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam|Butterfly Pea Kheer With Beaten Rice

Best wishes on the occasion of Maha Navami!

I hope all of you are thoroughly enjoying the festive season, gorging on Navratri and Durga Puja specials, dressing up, meeting friends, and having loads of fun in general. The last few days have been crazy busy for us, with hundreds of festive errands that needed to be run. I’m loving every little bit of it, and so is the bub. 🙂 The bub has especially been enjoying learning the significance of each day of Navratri, not to forget the special foods that we have been cooking almost every day. The special food in question for today is Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam, kheer made using beaten rice or poha, naturally coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group has decided to share Dussehra dishes today, and this Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is my humble contribution to the #VijayaDashamiTreats theme. Aval (poha) payasam (kheer) is something we commonly prepare at home each Navratri. The idea of using butterfly pea flowers (‘sangu pushpam‘ in Tamil) to colour the kheer came about when I saw Sangeeta using them to make mini idlis look absolutely gorgeous. It was through Sangeeta’s Insta post that I learnt about butterfly pea flowers being used to worship Maa Durga, of the Goddess’ love for them. What better dish could I prepare for Dussehra, then, if not this payasam?

Out came the precious stash of dried butterfly pea flowers I had picked up on our last holiday in Thailand, and this blue kheer came about. Oh, my! What a beauty! It was so much fun making and shooting this pretty kheer! Taste-wise, it still remains your regular home-made payasam, delicious as always, but the blue colour adds loads of thrill, magic and festivity to it. It did make the bub all agog with awe. 🙂 And, oh, did you know that these flowers possess several health benefits too?

You must definitely try out this Butterfly Pea Kheer too, especially if you have children in the house. I’m sure they would love it! Here’s how I made the kheer.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 litre + 1/2 cup of full-fat milk
  2. 1/4 cup beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 7-8 dried butterfly pea (sangu pushpam) flowers
  5. 1 tablespoon ghee
  6. Dried rose petals for garnishing, as needed (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the poha. Cook on medium flame for about a minute, or till the poha crisp up. Take care to ensure that the poha does not burn.

2. Now, add 1/2 litre of milk to the pan, along with the sugar. Keep cooking on medium flame till the milk thickens a little, 12-15 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape them back into the milk.

3. In the meantime, heat the remaining 1/2 cup milk in a small pan. Bring it to a boil, then add the dried butterfly pea flowers to it. Give the milk a quick stir, then switch off the gas. Set this milk aside for 10-12 minutes, or till the butterfly pea flowers leach their blue colour into the milk.

4. Pour the blue milk into the kheer cooking in the other pan, along with the butterfly pea flowers. Let everything cook together on medium flame for about 2 minutes. Switch off gas. Your Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is ready! Serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences. Garnish with dried rose petals before serving.

Notes:

1. Use good-quality full-fat milk only to make the kheer. I have used Nandini full-cream milk, here.

2. Cashewnuts and almonds fried in ghee can also be added to the kheer. I haven’t.

3. I have used dried butterfly pea flowers that I picked up at Big C in Thailand, to make this Sangu Poo Aval Payasam. You can use fresh butterfly pea flowers instead, too, if you can get your hands on them. Butterfly pea flower powder is also readily available online these days – you could use that to make the payasam too.

4. Adjust the sugar as per personal preferences. The above quantity was just right for us.

5. Don’t overcook the beaten rice. Just cook it for about a minute, let it crisp up, then add the milk and sugar to the pan. Overcooking the beaten rice will make it hard to chew.

6. I have used the thin variety of beaten rice (aka poha or aval) – the kind we use to make poha upma – to make this payasam.

7. You can filter out the dried butterfly pea flowers before adding the coloured milk to the pan. I let them stay in, as the flowers are very much edible.

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