Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Colorful Idly with Carrots & Chana Dal

Back home, a breakfast is still a breakfast. It is not brunch, lunch or supper. Breakfast items are few, and everyday one of them is prepared and eaten by 9 AM. My mother never uttered the words – “I’m not feeling well today and not making any breakfast for you”. As a grown up, living in a silent world with plenty of time to reflect back, now I realise, my mother like me, must had several reasons to slack off, if she wanted to. But she never did. I am sure many of you can relate to what I am talking about. That kind of devotion was given to us when we were children. This is the reason why I often mention ‘amma (mother)’ as recipe source. If I have the courtesy to write a cookbook author’s name as recipe source for a blogged recipe, why shouldn’t I return the same courtesy to amma, from whom I learned most of my cooking from.

Colorful idly with carrots and chana dal aka masala idly is one of her recipes. Finely grated carrots and chana dal along with green chillies and cumin etc. are added to the leftover idly batter for a next day morning breakfast. Imagine the taste of upma, and these idlies almost taste like that. Steam cooked in round shape, they are a pleasure when served hot with chutney and sambar. Though they are a breakfast item back home, here I often make them on a weekend for brunch, lunch or for supper.

Idly plates filled with idly batter - ready for steaming

This is same as idly preparation except that we add bunch of other ingredients and change the lilly white, cloud like plain idlies into colorful, somewhat dense masala idlies.

(for 16 idlies)
3 cups of Idly batter
(urad dal and rice ravva(cream of rice) in 1:2 ratio, soaked, grind into smooth batter and kept overnight for fermentation)
Ingredients to add to idly batter
1 cup of grated carrot (1 big carrot)
¼ cup of chana dal (soaked in water for atleast an hour)
¼ cup of coarsely crushed, roasted peanuts or cashews
¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro
2 to 4 finely chopped or minced green chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin and few curry leaves
¼ teaspoon of salt or to taste

Mix the ingredients with idly batter thoroughly. Fill the round impressions of idly plates with this batter. Place the idly stand in an idly cooker and steam cook them for about 20 minutes or until the batter sets completely. Remove the idly stand from the cooker, run a spoon under each impression and separate the cooked idlies from the impressions. Serve them hot with peanut or coconut chutney and sambhar.

Idlies with veggies, served with peanut chutney, and shallot sambhar
Masala idlies with peanut chutney and shallot sambhar

For more detailed recipe of idly, about idly stand, idly plates and idly cooker etc., – click here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Carrots,Chana Dal,Rice Ravva (Cream of Rice),Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday April 11, 2006 at 1:54 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Burger and Fries ~ The Sweet Kind

We’ve received some unexpected guests yesterday and I had to prepare a quick appetizer/sweet. My guests are very Indian but their ‘chic’ children absolutely don’t like anything remotely Indian, that is what the parents informed us. So with the gifts they brought and with some things we purchased from the shop, I put together a quick appetizer/dessert mainly for children. There is no excuse to feed them this kind of stuff but that was all I’m able to comeup with and they seem to like my burger and french fries imitation.

I also prepared mango shakes to go with burger and french fries. My American fast food simulation seem to really impress the parents and their equally gullible children. After they left, I couldn’t refrain from temptation any longer, so I prepared this special burger for myself. First I took a photo and then I took a bite. The burger-fries are rich in calories and super rich in taste – the whole combination felt sinful, with all the chocolate, strawberry and mango flavors included. Imagine the taste if I had used the glazed donuts, instead of plain ones! It is a dare, any one?

Burger and Fries - The Sweet Kind

Shopping List & How to:
For Burgers: Donuts, glaze free(bun), brownies(patty), white chocolate(cheese).
Slice the donuts into half. Cut brownies into thin layers. Size the chocolate to match the size of cut brownie. Put together a sweet burger.
For ketchup:
Puree strawberries, orange juice and some honey for ketchup.
For french fries:
Peel the mango and slice the mango into thin french fry shaped pieces

Prerequisites to participate in dare: 4 miles running or walking:).
Recipe idea: Cooking show on TV

This is my entry to “Virtual Cooking Competition~Appetizers“, by VKN of My Dhaba. The gracious host has just announced the prize – 250 dollars, can you believe it?, for the winning entries and requesting your nominations for favorite entries. Go, nominate your favorites and have fun.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Fruits,Mango,Strawberries (Monday April 10, 2006 at 9:59 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sorghum Roti (Jonna Rotte, Jowar Roti)

 Jonna rotte with curry (Sorghum roti with curry)

Very popular in villages and small towns as an accompaniment to meat and vegetable gravy curries, sorghum roti is one of the traditional recipes of India. As the name suggests, the rotis are prepared from sorghum flour. Instead of rolling pin, hands are used to shape the sorghum dough into a round, flat, thin circle. Because sorghum flour is gluten-free flour, it’s very tough to spread the dough without breaking the shape, and one really needs hands-on experience and many failed attempts to get the skill.

I am very sad to say that it is becoming one of those ‘dying’ kind of recipes. My mother and grandmother generations perfected the sorghum roti preparation. But coming to my generation, the ‘educated’, the ‘sophisticated’ ones, who can talk about baguettes and brie’s for hours and goes to great lengths to prepare and showoff knowledge of foreign cuisines, have no interest and can’t give the time of the day to learn or master the technique of this classic Indian recipe. It is not that we don’t like the taste. We love it! Imagine the warm paratha taste, multiply by 10 times, that’s how a good, well made sorghum roti tastes. In artisan hands, it puffs like puri – all on its own. No leavening agents and oil or ghee are added. Just fresh sorghum flour, warm water and touch of fire – pure grain power in its glory.

Making a prefect sorghum roti is a skill that I wanted to master with all my heart. For me, it is not just a recipe, but an Indian tradition that I wished to be a part of. The process is difficult to explain in written words and pretty much useless. Again this is one of those recipes, where one must be in the kitchen next to the cook, to know what they are talking about. One really needs a visual experience to understand the recipe. Well that’s how I feel anyway, so I’m going to keep the recipe directions simple for a change, and instead show the process in images.

Spreading the dough into thin round shape using hands

Prepare dough by gradually adding and mixing hot water. After a rest period of 10 to 15 minutes, the dough is kneaded and divided into lemon sized balls. Then, using palm of the right hand, on a flat board, the dough is spread into flat, thin round.

Cooking the roti

The doughspread is carefully lifted and placed on a hot iron tava (griddle). We use a separate tava just for making these rotis. On medium-high heat, roti is roasted slowly. Water is applied with a cotton cloth on the surface of roti, before turning it to the other side.

Roti is turned to otherside

After two to three minutes of cooking, roti is turned to the other side and cooked until done.

Sorghum roti (Jonna Rotte, Jowar roti) with curry
Jonna Rotte (Sorghum Roti) with curry ~ our meal today.

Recipe origin and source: Rayalaseema(Andhra, India) and Amma.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Bajri/Jowar Flour,Jowar (Jonnalu),Millet (Tuesday April 4, 2006 at 10:49 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Home Made Soymilk

Homemade Soya Milk

I was looking for recipes to prepare soymilk at home for a while now. The reason ofcourse is the recent pricehike of commercial soymilk. In big warehouse shops like Costco, the price for 3 packets of ‘Silk’ brand soymilk was 4 dollars, few years ago. It is now around 8 dollars. Vijay and I, we both like soymilk – for cereal, for cooking and whenever we feel like drinking something refreshing particularly during summer months. Cold soymilk has been our drink of choice. But now with the recent price increases, I’ve been feeling little reluctant to pay that kind of price, it felt like ‘organic’ kind of ripoff.

That’s when I found this clearly described recipe at fellow foodblogger/chef’s blog “Tasty Bytes” for home made soymilk. I had to give it a try. I brought some books from the library and also googled; what I found out was there are mainly two ways to prepare soymilk.

1.Soybeans are soaked, cooked first & then pureed to extract the milk.
2.Soybeans are soaked, pureed first to extract the milk& then the milk is boiled. (This method is traditional Japanese way of preparing soymilk according to this book.)

I was pendulating which method to follow, because this is my first time preparing at home and I wanted it to be a success taste wise. Well, I left it for Vijay and he chose the second method – Puree, extract and then boil. So last weekend, for the first time, we prepared homemade soymilk. I could not believe how easy it was. The whole thing of extracting the milk took about 30 minutes, that’s all.

What about the taste – we added vanilla and honey for flavoring and tasted the chilled soy milk. It has a strong, more robust flavor than the commercial vanilla soymilk. Not off-putting at all, but again we are motivated to like it :). Adding vanilla and honey was a good choice, because we are accustomed to vanilla flavored, mildly sweet commercial (Silk brand) soymilk. For those of you who ask, why soymilk, what’s so special about it? – We prefer it mainly because it’s a guilt free, hormone and cholesterol free choice we have available here. And soymilk is high in protein and rich in iron but low in sodium, fat and calcium. Also we like it for taste… heavy textured but it has a smooth, silky taste.

Dry Soya Beans, Soaked Soya Beans, Rubbed and skins removed Soya beans
Soybeans – Dry, Soaked, Rubbed and skins removed


2 cups of dried soybeans
4 glasses water
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of honey(or sweetener of your choice)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
Big pot and cheesecloth (gangi gudda/cotton cloth)

Preparation is real simple and 3 steps.
(1) Soak and rub (2) Blend and extract (3) Boil and chill.

Soak and Rub:
Soak the beans overnight in lot of water. They expand considerably, so take a big vessel and add at least two to three glasses of water for them to soak. By Morning, they will double in size. Rub soybeans with hands to remove the outer covering. The flimsy outer covering will easily separate from the beans and will float to the top. With hand, scoop them and remove. Repeat like this, two or three times to remove the covering. I was able to remove the outer layer for at least 75 percent of Soya beans.

Extracted soymilk and the squeezed out bean pulp
Extracted soymilk and the squeezed out soybean pulp

Blend and Extract:
Pour the beans into a colander to drain the water. Take the beans in a blender and in batches, grind them into smooth puree adding water.

Keep a big pot on the side. Cover it with a cheesecloth or gangi gudda/cotton cloth. Pour the pureed bean mixture into the cloth. Pull the cloth together and twist and allow dripping for few minutes. And then with your hands gently squeeze as much milk as possible. Take care not to squeeze the soya bean pulp.

Do this in batches. I kept the squeezed out soya bean pulp from each batch on a plate. Finally I blended this pulp again two times, adding water, to extract as much soymilk as possible.

Boil and Chill:
Pour the milk through a fine sieve into a big pot. You see white foam (the kind, that forms when you blend urad dal or moong dal) floating on the top of milk. Scoop it with a spoon or with your hand. I did this to clear the surface of milk.

Bring the milk to a boil. Add honey and vanilla. Reduce the heat to medium. Partially covered, simmer it for about 30 minutes, stirring in-between. Just like cows milk, layers of skin (meegada) were forming on top, I removed the skin (meegada) layers to a cup and later added this meegada to the ‘aloo chole’ I was preparing for supper. The meegada skins tasted melting delicious.

Allow the milk to cool to room temperature. Pour into a clean bottle and keep the bottles in the refrigerator to chill. Serve and enjoy.

Homemade Soya Milk
Home made soymilk – all ready for chilling in the refrigerator.

Caution: Extremely acquired taste.
Recipe Source: Foodblog – Tasty Bytes and Cookbook – “The science and lore of the Kitchen
Yield: 1 liter (quart) or two bottles like in the photo above.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Soy (Tofu, Yuba) (Monday April 3, 2006 at 12:42 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Reading – Our School

Swami Vivekananda Vidyalaya

Some invest their money in stock market; we invested ours in our hometown. The school we built with the help of our family back in Nandyala, successfully completed 3 years this April. It’s a high risk, conscious kind of investment, mainly because no one in our family is in the education field until now and our goal is not geared towards profits.

Vijay and his equally talented brother Kiran, worked hard for the last three years, everyday. They designed the building, playground and education curriculum to create a good, quality environment for the children to learn. We started the school first with preschool – LKG, UKG, First class and then every year we are increasing the class to next level. Now we have upto third class. We have big plans for our school and ideas about what it should represent. The kind of education and adults it will create in future. This project is our labor of love and our passion.

This is one of the photos we took last year during our visit to school in Nandyala. Here, the children are all gathered for a school photo. Adorable and pretty innocent, healthy and full of energy – we were like them thirty years ago.

Swami Vivekananda Vidyalaya - School Children

More about our school project at –

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Sunday April 2, 2006 at 8:52 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Cat Blogging

Playing Kittaya:


Checkout all the other kitties of food blogging world and cute Kiri in turtle woolwear at Clare’s ‘Eat Stuff’.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday April 1, 2006 at 10:10 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

13. Chana Dal Payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam)

Yesterday, on Ugadi, the weather was perfect with temperatures around 70 F. It felt like spring and Andhra weather. To celebrate this perfect day on Ugadi, I prepared chana dal payasam (sanaga pappu payasam) for puja.

Payasam is the most common type of dessert served in homes across south India. Prepared with basic ingredients and following a simple method, Payasam– the liquidy dessert, is a people pleaser. Usually the base is a thickened milk and sugar or jaggery syrup. The solid component varies – protein in the form of chana dal or moong dal are added. Or by adding carbos like rice, vermicelli, sabudana and nuts like almonds; different types of payasams are prepared. Real easy and the outcome is always sweet mouthfuls, it is a favorite among children and adults all alike. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite payasams:

(For two)

1 cup chana dal
¼ cup sabudana (Sago, Saggu Biyyam)
separately, soak them in water for at least two hours. Presoaking both chana dal and sabudana (sago) reduces the cooking time, considerably.
For sweet syrup
1 cup of powdered jaggery or sugar
3 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of ghee
¼ cup of cashews and golden raisins
4 cardamom pods – seeds finely powdered

Chana dal, Sabudana (Sago), Milk and Jaggery - Ingredients for Payasam

1. Take chana dal and one cup each of milk and water in a pressure-cooker. Pressure-cook the dal until one whistle, just to soften the chana dal. Do not disintegrate the dal; take care not to over cook.

2. Meanwhile in a thick bottomed, big vessel, take half cup of water. Add sugar or powdered jaggery. Stir and cook, until the sugar/jaggery melts. When the syrup starts to thicken, add the soaked sabudana, and 2 cups of milk. Cook them on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between. To this milk-sugar-sabudana syrup, add the contents of the pressure cooker – chana dal and the milky liquid it is cooked. Stir and check the sweetness level, add sugar if needed. Simmer on medium heat, Uncovered, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes or until it reaches consistency/thickness, you desire. Keep in mind payasam further thickens on cooling.

3. When all this is happening, heat a spoonful of ghee in a small pan. Add and toast – first cashews, then golden raisins until light brown. Add these toasted things along with ghee, to the simmering payasam.

4. Finally stir in powdered cardamom, simmer another 5 minutes. Switch off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it sit for at least half an hour. Serve warm or cold.

Golden Raisins fried in ghee, Cashews, Soaked Chana dal, Payasam (Sanaga pappu Payasam)
Chana dal payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam) ~ For this week’s Indian sweets 101

I also prepare the same payasam with chana dal(bengal gram) without adding the sabudana(sago).
Sometimes, I also add fine semolina instead of sabudana to chana dal payasam.
Toasted fresh coconut gratings are also added along with cashews and golden raisins for that rich nutty sweetness.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Chana Dal,Indian Sweets 101,Milk,Naivedyam(Festival Sweets) (Friday March 31, 2006 at 1:15 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Celebrating One Year Anniversary on Ugadi

Mahanandi - photo by Vijay Singari
Spectacularly Beautiful Mahanandi, India

The temple which my blog named after is at least 900 years old, and my blog just turned one.

‘Mahanandi’ is my desire to capture the ‘real, everyday kind’ of homemade Indian food in images. Thanks for being so supportive and so generous both with your words and show of affection. Thank you for being part of my beloved ‘Mahanandi’.

Happy Ugadi and Gudi Padwa!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Wednesday March 29, 2006 at 7:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Maamidikaya pulihora (Mango Rice)

Rice mixed with grated unripe mango is a festival rice that is specifically prepared on “Ugadi” – The Telugu New Year celebration, in our homes.

Here is the simple, 4-step preparation process of festival rice – in images:

Grating the unripe mango

Step 1:
Peel the skin and grate the unripe mango. Measurement is: for 1 cup raw rice – 1½ cups grated mango to 2 cups. (Adjust the quantity to suit your tart/tangy preference.)

Cook the rice (preferably ‘Sona Masuri’). Maintain the grain integrity, don’t cook to mush.

Step 2:
In a skillet, heat peanut oil or ghee. Add and toast the listed ingredients below. One by one, until pale gold, in this order:

Chana dal (presoaked in water for about 30 minutes beforehand)
Slit green chillies -brown them for better taste
Curry leaves and few pieces of dried red chillies
Mustard seeds and cumin

At the end, bring all these toasted ingredients, sprinkle turmeric and asafetida. Stir to mix and saute for another two minutes. (See the photo above)

Step 3:
Add the grated mango to the pan. Stir to mix with other toasted contents in the pan. Cook it on medium-high just for two minutes and switch off the heat. (This is done to remove the raw smell of grated mango. Do not cook the mango gratings more than two minutes, that would kill the precious mango flavor.)

Step 4:
Add salt and mix this toasted mango-peanut mixture with cooked rice thoroughly with a big spoon or with your right hand. Serve hot.

Celebrating Ugadi Festival with Maamidikaya Pulihora

(For two)
1 cup rice (uncooked, raw)
1 to 2 cups grated green mango (quantity needed depends on how sour the green mango is)
6 to 8 Indian or Thai variety small-sized green chillies – Cut into 2or4 pieces lengthwise
¼ cup of cashews and peanuts combined
1 tablespoon of chana dal (soaked in water for ½ hour)
1 teaspoon each – cumin and mustard seeds
10 curry leaves, and 4-6 small pieces of dried red chilli
½ teaspoon of turmeric
Pinch of asafetida
Salt to taste or ½ teaspoon

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Mamidikaya (Green Mango),Sona Masuri Rice (Tuesday March 28, 2006 at 10:07 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Maamidikaya Pappu (Mango Dal)

We celebrate Ugadi (New Year) festival on 30th of March this year, and Ugadi is all about mangoes traditionally. Back in India, we decorate our houses with mango leave garlands; at home we prepare recipes with unripe mangoes. You see, by March and April, the bazars are usually flooded with mangoes. First the unripe mangoes in a beautiful shade of pure green, then golden yellow colored ripe mangoes make an appearance at local ‘ritu bazars’ tantalizing the senses. No wonder, we celebrate mango season with a festival.

But here, where I live, green mangoes are hard to come by. I had to travel 100 miles, paid humungous amounts, just because I couldn’t resist a beautiful tradition and I’m very lucky to get them. With the green mangoes I purchased, here is one, an original Andhra recipe – ‘Mango dal’. Green mango cooked with toordal. Little bit tart, fruity with a hint of caramel undertones from mango and earthy nutty smoothness because of toor dal – is a taste that one will never forget.

Green mango, Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Toordal and Onion - Ingredients for Mango dal (Click on the image to get a closer look)

Green mango, Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Toordal and onion – Ingredients for Mango dal


1 green mango
1 medium sized red onion – sliced into big chunks
4 fistfuls of toor dal (¾ cup)
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
¼ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of salt or to taste

1 tsp of peanut oil or ghee
1 tsp of each – mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal, chana dal
4 to 6 dried red chilli pieces and curry leaves
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped

1.Wash green mango thoroughly to remove any pesticide sprayings. Dry it with a towel then cut it into small cubes. I don’t like to peel the mango skin for this recipe. The tough outer skin of mango, imparts kind of tarty flavor to the dal, so following the tradition, I keep the skin. Scrape any white flesh attached to the seed with a peeler and then only discard the seed. (see this photo for the stripped seed.)

2. Take toordal, mango, onion, chilli powder and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Add one and half cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until 3 whistles or until you are sure the dal is soft and mushy. Turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to go off.

3. After all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid. The contents usually are cooked soft by now, add salt and with a wood masher or whisker, mash the dal, until all the toordal turns into fine mush.

4. In a vessel, heat peanut oil or ghee, Toast the popu ingredients in this order. First add dried red chilli pieces, garlic and chana dal. Then urad dal and curry leaves, finally add and toast cumin and mustard seeds.

5. Remove the mashed mango dal from pressure cooker and add it to the popu in the vessel. Stir to mix and cover the vessel with a lid so that the dal could absorb the flavors of popu

Serve with rice and ghee, a dry sauté curry by the side and some papads for a memorable meal.
My preference: Mix mango dal with rice and ghee thoroughly. Shape the mixture into small rounds and have them with papads preferably sago (sabudana) papad.

Mango dal and rice mudda in a sabudana papad
(Maamidikaya pappannam mudda on a saggubiyyam vadiyam)
Mango dal mixed with rice&ghee. Shaped into round ball & placed on a deep fried sago(sabudana) papad.

For mango dal, we in our homes, use only chilli powder. Do not substitute it with green chillies.
Sago (sabudana) papads are available in Indian grocery shops and green unripe mangoes- during spring and summer seasons.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Mamidikaya (Green Mango),Toor Dal (Monday March 27, 2006 at 10:45 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Maamidikaya (Unripe Green Mango)

Mamidi Kaya (Raw mango)
Maamidikaya (Unripe Green Mango) ~ For this week’s Indian Kitchen.

Maamidi kaya cut into small cubes and the seed inside
(Cut Green Mango and on the side is seed of the mango)


Mango Dal
Mango Rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients,Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Sunday March 26, 2006 at 9:32 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Spaghetti in Spicy Cherry Tomato Sauce

(Imitating Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meal episode narration
for this month’s IMBB-Make it in 30 minutes)

Hi I’m Indira Singari, I’m going to prepare a 30 minute meal today. Spaghetti in spicy cherry tomato sauce. Who said we couldn’t have pasta in a spicy sauce? You know, I’ve tried commercial pasta sauces but my tastebuds, once you are used to spicy stuff, it’s tough to go back to that kind of childhood bland, flat taste. giggle… ok enough of chit chat…

Going to the pantry area… Grabbing 2 pints of cherry tomatoes. You know, I like cherry tomatoes. They have a very thin skin and have more zing than the romas. I bought two of these boxes for 99 cents each from the local grocery shop. What a deal, you know. gigggle…

Next thing on the list is, pasta – I’m in the mood for thin spaghetti. So thin spaghetti it is then. Also to add to the tomatoes… here is a teaspoon of cumin, 5 dried red chillies and 4 big garlic cloves. I see some nuts in my cupboard, ya…grabbing those…hmm…Quarter cup of watermelon seeds and a tablespoon of chironji(sara pappu), just to give that extra nutty sweetness to the tomato sauce. It’s going to be one Yum O sauce… giggle… I’m also going to add boiled and sliced eggs to the pasta as a side dish. 4 eggs are enough…

Garbage bowl is a handy one, I can carry all these in this big bowl and later when I am chopping I can dump all the waste like eggshells etc in the bowl. Believe me, it’s one handy thing to have by side. … giggle

Ok… first cooking the pasta: place the big saucepan on the burner. Fill two thirds of pot with water. Nothing is wrong with tap water, so fill it up. Drop 2 teaspoons of salt into water and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Also in other saucepan, take pot full of water, add eggs and pinch of salt, cover and cook them.

Prepping the cherry tomato sauce: It takes at least 5 minutes for water to come to a boil, so in the meantime, we prepare tomato sauce. Let’s go…Separate 10 cherry tomatoes from the box and keep them aside. You are going to see what I’m going to do with them later. Ok, back to tomatoes. Take the remaining cherry tomatoes in a blender; add cumin, garlic, dried red chillies and a teaspoon of salt. Blend them finely. This is going to be our spicy sauce… it took less than one minute, the time it takes to open a can of tomato sauce. giggle…

Now cooking the sauce: heat a teaspoon of EVOO.. that means extra virgin olive oil giggle…and drop one or two finely minced garlic. Also watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu). Sauté them till golden, then add the pureed spicy tomato sauce and one cup of water. Close the lid. Hmmm that starts smelling good. Cook this mixture on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between.

Checking on the water — the water is boiling ready now. Add the pasta, you know, some people like to break the pasta to half before adding to the water. But I like them long, so here they go into the boiling water. I’ll wait for 5 minutes then I remove them. Checking the other pot…the eggs are cooked perfectly. I’m going to take them out of water with a big spoon.

Now getting ready to plate the meal: everything is coming together perfectly, ahh… the smell… I wish you could smell the tomato sauce… all that cumin, garlic… it’s like heaven in here. giggle… Ok, slice the cherry tomatoes we kept aside, to halves. Place them on a round plate to the edges. Peel and slice the boiled eggs into thin strips.

Pasta is cooked perfectly… slurping one spaghettial dente, just perfect. Pour the whole thing into a colander to drain the water. Add the spaghetti to the spicy tomato sauce and stir. Look how beautiful it looks… Wheaty white spaghetti in ruby red tomato sauce… Gorgeous!

Plating: Grab a couple of forkfuls of pasta and place them on the plate. Arrange some more sliced cherry tomatoes and some egg slices around the pasta to give that pretty look. Our 30-minute meal is ready. For dessert I’m going to have one of those muffin sized Mango Halwa pieces, I prepared yesterday. Just perfect to end the meal.

Tasting: Yum O…not only appealing to the eyes, this super simple meal has everything going on for it. It has carbos, nutty fat, eggy protein and veggies in the form of cherry tomatoes. Even more its spicy…taking a bite…hmm… loving it.. giggles

Hey I’m Indira Singari, you can prepare a great, satisfying meal in just 30 minutes. See… Signing off…(Camera focuses on the meal.)

Spaghetti In Spicy Tomato Sauce
30 minute meal – Spaghetti in Spicy Tomato Sauce served with cherry tomatoes and boiled egg slices

2 fistfuls of thin spaghetti
2 pints of cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
5 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin
¼ cup of watermelon seeds and chironji (sara pappu, charoli)
Olive oil and salt to taste
Additions: 4 boiled eggs- yellows removed and sliced thin

Thanks “Too Many Chefs” for hosting this month’s IMBB event.
Tagged with: +

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Pasta,Tomato (Friday March 24, 2006 at 2:56 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

12.Mango Halwa (Mango Flavored Ravva Kesari)

“Heavenly” – that’s how I remember Indian mangoes. “Damn…” That�s what comes out of my mouth, whenever I buy mangoes here. Mangoes available here look big and bulky and if you cut them open, there won’t be rich yellow color, there won’t be any heavenly aroma, and the less said the better about the taste. The product of poor soil and excessive fertilizer use. Well, that’s what we get here. At first, the taste was a shock, then over the time we began to ‘appreciate’ the poor taste of mangoes, of course we don’t have a choice.

Whenever I crave Indian mangoes, out comes the treasured family recipe, mango halwa. Preparing like halwa intensifies the mango flavor. In this recipe, mango puree is cooked with toasted semolina in sugar syrup. The result – rich yellow color is back, heavenly taste and aroma of mangoes that we remember from India is there. Also milk free and relatively low calorie. A little bit different than how the regular halwa is prepared, this favorite of mine is more like – mango flavored ravva kesari.

Mango Halwa
A delight to the senses – mango halwa


3 ripe mangoes or 6 cups of cut mango (3 Costco/Samsclub kind of mangoes)
½ cup fine semolina (Suji ravva works fine too)
¼ to ½ cup sugar (add less or more according to the mango sweetness)
1 tablespoon of melted ghee
3 cardamom pods – seeds finely powdered
1 cup of water

Ripe Mango, Cardamom, Semolina and Sugar - Ingredients for Mango Halwa

1. Peel the mangoes, cut them into cubes. Keep a quarter-cup of finely cubed mango aside. Take the remaining mango in a mixer, blend into fine, smooth puree, without adding water.

2. Heat a half tablespoon of ghee in a skillet, add and lightly toast semolina, just until it leaves raw smell. Remove and keep it aside.

3. In a thick bottomed, wide pan, take water and sugar. Heat them slowly until the sugar melts. Then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Wait for sugar syrup to thicken a bit and stir in blended mango puree and toasted semolina. Cook the mixture, on medium heat, stirring in-between to prevent sticking, until the mixture reduces by one third. It takes at least 20 minutes. At this stage, sprinkle the cardamom powder and finely cubed mango pieces that were kept aside. Stir, stir…for 2 to 3 minutes and then turn off the heat.

4. Coat a pan or tray with melted ghee and spoon the cooked halwa into the pan. Allow it to cool (halwa thickens further as it cools) and cut into squares. Remove and serve.

Mango halwa tastes great warm or cold. This time, I spooned it into muffin cups for individual sized servings and kept the muffin pan in the refrigerator for about one hour.

Mango Halwa - in Muffin size
Celebrating spring with mango halwa ~ For this week’s Indian Sweets 101.

Makes about 6 regular sized muffin cup portions.
Recipe Source: family
Kitchen Notes: Prepare it with fresh ripe mangoes. Fresh mango puree tastes better and the fiber etc., when cooked contributes to faster thickening of halwa. For this reason avoid store bought watery and preservatives added mango concentrate to prepare this sweet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Sweets 101,Mango,Mitai,Suji/Semolina (Thursday March 23, 2006 at 2:20 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Aloo Methi (Potato-Menthikura)

Though ordinary in looks, Aloo methi- the famous north Indian curry is full of flavor. Boiled and quartered baby potatoes are saut̩ed with methi (fresh fenugreek leaves) and generously flavored with pan grilled garlic, onions and green chillies Рthe result is one simple yet delicious curry, which tastes great when combined with rice and dal or with chapatis.

Aloo Methi with Methi dal and rice.
Aloo Methi with Rice and Methi Dal ~ Our Simple Meal Today.

6 baby potatoes – boiled in water until tender and then skins removed and cubed
1 bunch of fresh methi – washed and leaves plucked
1 red onion – finely chopped
4 green chillies – finely chopped
4 garlic cloves – finely chopped
Pinch of turmeric and salt to taste
For popu or tadka – 1 tsp of each, peanut oil, cumin and mustard seeds
In a kadai or sauté pan, heat peanut oil; toast the cumin and mustard seeds. Add and fry the garlic, onion and chillies, stirring well for few minutes. Stir in turmeric and salt. Add the cubed potatoes and sauté them for few minutes until they turn light red. When potatoes are almost done, stir in fresh methi leaves, stir-fry for few minutes, until they wilt. Turnoff the heat, close the lid and allow them to absorb the flavors for few minutes. Turn on to a dish and serve.

Baby Red Potato, Red Onion, Methi Leaf, Garlic and Green chilli
Red onion, Methi leaves, Garlic, Green chilli and Baby red potato – Ingredients for Aloo Methi

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Baby Potatoes,Menthi Kura(Fenugreek) (Wednesday March 22, 2006 at 1:44 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney and a cup of shallot and carrot sambhar

How can anyone not like dosas? Just one bite, that’s all it takes to fall in love with them. They are such a knockout mini meal any time of the day. I often dream of starting my own franchise here, 🙂 to cater freshly cooked dosas with all kinds of filling inside them. There is one already in New York, New Jersey area, called ‘Dosa Express’, which boasts about 50 different types of dosas – all kinds, from just plain dosa to dosas with variety of fillings, like cheese-potato curry combo etc.,

But if you ask me, nothing can beat the old classic, ‘Masala Dosa’. Crisp dosas filled with spicy powders, onion-red chilli paste and potato curry, if that’s not enough they are served with coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar. Can’t stand on your feet kind of knockout combo. Preparing this type of restaurant dosa at home is really easy, only thing you need is time and some planning.


A thick bottomed, flat, seasoned cast-iron pan
1 cup of rice
½ cup urad dal

Wash and soak rice and dal together in 2 to 3 cups of water for at least 6 hours. Drain and grind them in a blender or wet grinder into a smooth batter. Add little water in-between for smooth grinding, if necessary. The consistency of batter must be like that of evaporated milk (commercial kind). Not too watery or not too thick.

Pour the batter into a big vessel, cover it with a lid and keep it in a warm place for overnight fermentation. By morning the batter will be doubled, usually. Add half teaspoon of salt to the batter and stir thoroughly and the batter is ready for dosas. Place and heat the dosa skillet on the stove and follow the procedure shown in the pictures below.

Season the Dosa skillet with a teaspoon of oil and rub it with a cut onion. Onion not only gives nice flavor to dosa, also seasons the skillet.(this is an oldtime tip)

Pour a ladleful of batter on the skillet. Spread it around with the ladle.

With the ladle, shape and move the batter outwards in concentric circles – until it shapes in a circular, thin round. Sprinkle half teaspoon of peanut oil around the batter. Increase the heat high and cook it for few minutes.

Flip it to other side to cook for few seconds.

Reverse it again and quickly sprinkle some pappula podi(spicy dalia powder), apply red onion-dried red chilli paste around the dosa and then place a general portion of potato curry in the middle.

Fold the dosa in middle, remove and serve it immediately. This whole process must be done in maximum two to three minutes. Hot skillet and fast hand action is necessary and do not keep dosa on skillet for long, it’ll turnout hard and brittle, instead of soft and chewy.

Masala Dosa with Coconut chutney and a cup of sambhar
Masala dosa with coconut chutney & a cup of sambhar ~ Our weekend brunch

Prepared in a style of Udipi restaurant dosa, Nandyala, India.
Potato Curry: Pressure cook/boil potaotoes until tender. Remove the skin, cut or crumble them into bite-sized pieces. Saut̩ finely chopped onions, green chillies and crumbled potatoes together. Season to taste Рpotato curry for dosa is ready.
Onion -red chilli paste: Cut one big red onion or 4 to 6 shallots into chunks. Add 6 dried red chillies and quarter teaspoon of salt or to taste, and grind into coarse mixture.
Pappula podi – recipe.
Coconut chutney – recipe.
Sambhar – recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Sona Masuri Rice,Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday March 21, 2006 at 4:53 pm- permalink)
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