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

Going to India

Going home for my brother-in-law’s marriage.

You know what that means, good times with family and friends and of course Kanchi Pattu sarees, jewelry and food.

Kanchi Pattu Saree and Ruby Necklace

Kittaya is going to be with his friends Ace and Lucky at our kind neighbour Linas’ house. Thanks Lina.

See you all in September.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Sunday July 10, 2005 at 10:15 am- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Cat Blogging

Kittaya looking for his friends.

Kittaya on the Fence - His favourite lookout

His Friends – Lucky and Ace, our neighbours’ cats.

Lucky - Our Neighbours CatAce - 11 year old big and very serious cat of our neighbour.

Checkout playful Kiri and Taffy at Clare Eats Blog.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Kittaya (Saturday July 9, 2005 at 9:45 am- permalink)
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Paruppu Usili with Green Beans

Paruppu Usili or Lentil Curry, even though it’s an old classic from South India, I never made this at home before. Shammi’s post tempted me to try it. I liked the ingredients and nutritional aspects of this curry and also the quick way it can be made.

I followed Shammi’s recipe mostly.Toor dal-Chana dal, red chilli paste and in the background finely chopped green beans and onions - Ingredients for Paruppu Usili

-Soaked two fistfuls each of toor dal and chana dal overnight.

-Grinded the dals with half tsp of salt and six dry red chillies and pinch of hing into coarse matter, without adding any water.
-Fresh green beans are the vegetable I chose to make Parappu Usli.
-I chopped beans, one medium sized onion and one garlic clove finely.

Did the popu (frying mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves in 1 tsp of oil), then added onions and garlic, saut̩ed them for few minutes. Then added the coarsely grounded dal paste and green beans. Cooked them covered on low medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pinch of turmeric and salt to my taste, with these final touches and few more minutes on stove Рmy new favorite curry was ready for chapatis.

Chapati with Paruppu Usili made of Green beans (Roti and Lentil Curry with Green Beans)

Thanks Shammi for showing this classic recipe.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal,Green Beans,Toor Dal (Friday July 8, 2005 at 6:56 pm- permalink)
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Pappula Podi (Putnala/Bhuna Chana Powder) (Spicy Roasted Chickpea Powder)

Roasted Chickpeas, Pappulu, Putnala Pappulu, Dalia - 4 pounds for $4.99, purchased at Subji Mandi, NJ

Pappulu, Putnala pappulu or Dalia are prepared from chickpeas. Not the regular, white chickpeas but from a special variety of chickpeas specific to India and commonly sold under the name “Kala Chana or Black Chickpeas”.

The preparation of pappulu (dalia) is a fascinating process. First, the black chickpeas get soaked in water for several hours, and then after draining, chickpeas are roasted in big caldrons under controlled low fire for several hours. Until the chickpeas turn to crisp. Once the roasting process is completed, the hulls of chickpeas will be removed and each chickpea will be split into two equal pieces. This whole soaking-roasting process intensifies the chickpea flavor, and also changes them to light yellow, mildly sweet pappulu or Dalia. This process is done in special places called Bhattis. Almost every town in Andhra Pradesh would have a bhatti. People go there to buy the freshly prepared pappulu and also the puffed rice There were couple of bhattis near our home in Nandyala and we were used to buy them fresh and hot from those places.

Among all the lentil types available in an Indian store, pappulu are the only one which you can just open the packet and pop them into mouth. As kids and even now, we love to eat them as they are or mixed with murmura. They are a snack item for us, like popcorn. If you are from South India, I assume you already know the pappula taste. For those of you who don’t, you must try them at least once. They are usually sold in Indian grocery shops under the label “Dalia” in lentil section. They are really great tasting, guilt free snack.

Pappulu, Dry Red chillies, Cumin, Salt and Dry Coconut

Pappula Podi is a famous Andhra preparation. In some parts of Andhra this is also called gunpowder. We add it to season the curries and also to prepare chutneys and to spread on dosas, idly, pongali and upma. Pappula Podi not only spices but also adds a mild sweetness to the preparation. This following recipe is from my mother’s and my most valued one. If you are used to besan (gram flour) preparations, try this one instead. You will be delighted, I promise.

Pappula Podi:

1 cup – Pappulu
6 to 8 – dried red chillies, Indian variety
2 tablespoons – grated coconut or dried coconut pieces
1 tablespoon – cumin
½ teaspoon – salt or to taste
4 garlic cloves (this is optional, even without garlic this powder tastes great.)

Take pappulu, chillies, coconut, cumin, garlic and salt in a clean and dry mixer jar or food processor. Grind to fine powder. This is a dry preparation and do not add water. Store the powder in a clean, dry, airtight container. This will stay fresh as long as it remains dry.

The following are the most common ways I enjoy the Pappula Podi:

1. Add a tablespoon of Podi to fistful of cooked rice. Add a teaspoon of ghee. Mix and make small rounds. Eat.

2. Add a tablespoon of Podi to cooked rice and dal (tomato or spinach etc). Add a teaspoon of ghee. Mix and eat.

3. Prepare dosas and spread the pappula Podi on the dosa for Masala Dosa. Yum!

4. Dunk and coat the Idly, Upma and pongal morsels in Pappula Podi, and eat. My new favorite is Pappula Podi and oatmeal upma combination.

5. I also add pappula Podi to vegetable curries. Cabbage, bell pepper, green beans and Indian variety broad beans (Chikkudu kaya), the sauté style curries with these vegetables taste great spiced with pappula Podi. I usually sprinkle one tablespoon of this powder before turning off the heat.)

6. Add roasted onion, garlic and few branches of fresh cilantro to Pappula Podi, along with about half glass of water. Grind to smooth to make an instant chutney.

Pappula Podi (Spicy Roasted Chickpea powder, Putnala pappula powder, Dalia Powder)
Pappula Podi

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia),Dried Red Chillies (Thursday July 7, 2005 at 5:53 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Portabellas in Sesame Sauce

I don’t cook mushrooms that often. They are Vijay’s (my husband’s) division. He likes all types of mushrooms and often cooks them himself. He usually grills or dry sautés mushrooms but when he is in a mood to spend an extra 5 minutes in the kitchen, he whips up a sesame sauce to go along with his grilled mushrooms. He got this recipe from a Korean website. This sesame sauce is like an Indian version of one of the curry sauces but without the onions and other extras. I like the sauce so when he makes this, it’s a win-win for both us as I don’t eat mushrooms. Preparing this sauce is such an easy and quick task and he makes this himself most of the times without me setting foot in the kitchen.


Portabella mushrooms РQuickly rinse or wipe of portabellas with a paper towel. Remove the roots and make &#43(plus shape) cuts on them. After lightly covering them with sesame oil, stir-fry or grill them until they are golden and sprinkle with some salt and remove. When saut̩ing in a pan, leave space around the mushrooms, so that they brown evenly.

Sauce – Toast half cup of sesame seeds and 4 to 6 red chilli peppers. Make a fine paste of them by adding a small piece of ginger, salt and molasses or sugar, half teaspoon each or to your taste.

Portabellas, Sesame Seeds, Red Chilli Peppers and Molasses….Grilled Portabella Mushrooms


Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a pan. Add sesame sauce to the pan and also half cup of water. Simmer on medium-low heat for about five minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Plate a grilled portabella on a serving plate. Pour a tablespoon of sesame sauce over it. Enjoy the portabella with sesame sauce.

Grilled Portabellas in Sesame Sauce, Lentil Soup and Rice

Our meal – Rice with Portabellas in Sesame Sauce and Chappidi Pappu (Plain Lentil soup).

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mushrooms,Sesame Seeds (Wednesday July 6, 2005 at 12:54 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Buggani (Puffed Rice Upma)

Puffed Rice, Borugulu, Murmura, Mamra, ArisiPoriBuggani, the name itself makes my mouth water. A simple and common dish, prepared with puffed rice or borugulu , it’s traditionally served as breakfast in our Rayalaseema region. My mother makes the best buggani in the whole world, so I follow my mothers recipe exactly to the last words.

In Nandyala, my hometown in India, we buy freshly made puffed rice from street vendors. Here in US, in Indian grocery shops, puffed rice is available in only one size i.e. 14 OZ packets. Usually I prepare Buggani with half of that (25o g) packet for us two.


Puffed rice
One big onion – finely chopped lengthwise
4 green chillies – made into paste
1 tsp each of salt and oil
Pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp each of cumin, mustard seeds, urad dal, few curry leaves and one red chilli
1 tablespoon of roasted chickpea powder(putnala pappu podi)
1/4 cup of roasted peanuts
1 lime

Buggani needs hot, spiciness from green chillies. So don’t hesitate to add enough green chillies.

Onions, Green chilli paste, Turmeric, Curry leaves, Urad dal, mustard, cumin&redchilli, pappula podi, lemon and roasted peanuts


First, take a big pot, fill half of it with tap water and add puffed rice to the water. Because of lightweight, they will float. Using your hands push them under water for few seconds. Let them soak water. Exactly after 5 minutes, remove them from water by taking handfuls and firmly squeezing the water from them by pressing the hands together tightly. Remove them all from water in this way and put them in a colander.

Puffed Rice, Puffed Rice in Water, Removing Puffed rice from water with my hands

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat one tsp of oil and do the popu (frying the mustard seeds, cumin, red chillies and curry leaves in oil). Add onions, sauté them until light brown, then add green chilli paste, sauté it till it turns from bright green to light green colour, don’t brown it. Finally add a pinch of turmeric and salt. Stir them all once and turn off the heat.

Add this hot onion mixture immediately to puffed rice along with roasted peanuts and roasted chickpea powder. Mix them all together and add salt if needed. That’s it. Serve them as soon as you prepare them.

Sautéing the ingredientsMixing all the ingredients with soaked puffed rice

Just before eating, squeeze few drops of lime. We usually serve this Buggani along with few pieces of finely chopped onions (washed in water beforehand), some more roasted peanuts, and a lemon wedge.

Buggani (puffed rice or murmura upma)  - On the side a lemon wedge, onions and roasted peanuts.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal-Roasted (Dalia),Murmura (Borugulu) (Tuesday July 5, 2005 at 3:43 pm- permalink)
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July 4th in Pittsburgh

Going to spend July 4th in beautiful Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Skyline
Photo by Vijay Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Monday July 4, 2005 at 6:23 am- permalink)
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Flea Market Finds

My Sunday Flea Market Find – Made in India, bronze kadai for 25 cents. Isn’t it precious?

Bronze Kadai , Made in India

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Utensils,Zen (Personal) (Sunday July 3, 2005 at 2:11 pm- permalink)
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Weekend Non-Food Blogging

Kittaya Thinking

Kittaya Thinking

Check out the guest – 17 year old, red Burmese Taffy at Clares’ blog and the new cat trying to hide from camera at Farmgirls’ blog.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Kittaya (Saturday July 2, 2005 at 7:53 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Kitchen Gadgets

Sam of Beck & Posh came up with “Utensibility” meme, a chance to talk about our kitchen gadgets. Who can resist this meme, certainly not me. It’s a chance to show off my precious few, ‘I could live without them but I don’t want to’ type of kitchen gadgets.

My most expensive purchase is a Wet Grinder for about $100 from a friend. The actual price is about $250. She gave this item to me just before she moved back to India. I wanted a wet grinder for so long and when she offered, I couldn’t resist (Thanks Jyothi).

My Wet Grinder

I regularly prepare dosa, idly, vada and also different kinds of chutneys using this wet grinder. It has two parts – a steel drum and two roller stones connected with each other through a plastic rod in-between. Not only perfect in shape and size but also using and cleaning is hassle free.

Inside Wet Grinder Wet Grinder Parts

Advantage of this wet grinder over regular mixie/blender is that stone grinding do not generate heat/overheat the contents like the mixie/blender blade does, and so in a way this preserves the micronutrients of the contents. This is really true, you can taste the difference and the stone grind batter and chutneys are always taste so much better. My mother’s generation prepared different types of batters and chutneys using a big mortar and pestle and their hands. My generation, with this kind of appliances can get the same taste but without the hard work.

Cheap but most valuable one is the mortar and pestle I purchased at Ikea 3 years ago for about 3 dollars, I think. I can flavor my tea with cardamom or prepare fresh ginger-garlic paste in a jiff and also it’s so pretty to look at too.

My favorite bargain basement item is a Sawa 2000 cookie gun/press, I purchased in Houston at a garage sale for one dollar. It’s a brand new item and has all discs, tips etc., and inside the box, the owners even kept the original receipt from William-Sonoma for 19 dollars. Perhaps a wedding gift, I don’t know but I too keep the receipt inside the box and whenever I use this item I always look at the receipt and feel very happy about how good a deal I got.

I never used cookie gun for its intended purpose but I use it to prepare murukulu or chakri, my favorite snack food, same kind of operation only the dough I use is not cookie dough but different. Various discs and tips that came along with cookie gun are very useful to make murukulu in shapes. I didn’t bring muruku maker from India with me, so I decided to use cookie gun for muruku making and it worked.

Mortar and Pestle My Murukulu Maker

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorites.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Friday July 1, 2005 at 12:02 pm- permalink)
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