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

Moong Dal Rasam (Pesara Pappu Charu)

Like bitter gourd curry and chappidi pappu, this moong dal rasam is again one of the recipes, only my mom prepares and very special to me. When I am out of ideas/vegetables or tired of too much food, I make this rasam. A small bowl of rasam with little bit of hot rice and ghee, on the side, a small piece of juicy lime pickle… just enough!

 Roasted Moong beans, Red Chilli Powder, Tamarind and Onion


1 cup yellow moong dal (pesara bedalu)
Onion, one – cut into chunks
½ tsp each- red chilli powder and turmeric
Small marble size tamarind pieces
Salt to taste

Preparation of Moong dal rasam(soup) is very simple. Roast moong dal lightly in an iron skillet to light brown color first. Let cool. Take the roasted dal in a pressure cooker, wash and then add onion, red chilli powder, turmeric, tamarind along with about a glass of water. Pressure cook to three whistles and turn off the heat. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid. Add salt and mash the dal to smooth consistency.

In a seperate vessel, do the popu or tadka (toasting the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves etc, in one teaspoon of oil/ghee). Add the smoothly mashed dal and two glasses of water. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning (salt, chilli and tamarind) to your liking. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, strring in-between. My mothers comforting rasam will be ready.

Mung dal Rasam (Pesara Pappy Chaaru)
Moong dal rasam, ghee and rice ~ Giving a break to stomachs ~ Our simple Sunday meal.

Recipe Source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Moong Dal (Washed) (Monday November 28, 2005 at 9:28 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

The Coffee Filter

For this week Indian kitchen:

It is a stainless steel coffee filter for South Indian style, freshly brewed, chicory coffee

South Indian coffee filter

Indian type of Stainless Steel Coffee Filter

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen,Indian Utensils (Sunday November 27, 2005 at 1:47 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ma’amoul (Dates & Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Chanit of My Mom’s Recipes and More left a comment on my blog last month. To return the compliments I visited her blog, and what I found was a very detailed recipe for mamoul (dates filled cookies) with photos. I knew I had to try it. What attracted me to this recipe more than anything is the use of semolina for dough. I did some googling on these famous Middle Eastern cookies to know more about them and how they are made. Next, I went and bought the ingredients: fine Tunisian pitted dates, pistachios and wooden ma’amoul mold from the only ethnic grocery store in our small town, Ghossians Mid East Bakery.

I did experiment with the recipe. First, I used ghee instead of butter because ghee is not only more flavorful and unlike butter has no unnecessary baggage. I reduced the ratio of all-purpose flour to semolina. I also complimented the dates filling by adding pistachios. Finally I skipped the eggs. One more thing is I prepped the mamoul mold with ghee so that when cookie dough pressed into the mold and reversed, it can come out easily without sticking to the mold.

The final result of my experimentation was exquisite, one of a kind sweet cookies, the one I am going to make many more times from now on. A delicious paradox, they have a mildly sweet, crisp and grainy outside because of semolina and insides are moistly sweet and tender. Thanks Chanit! It is little bit of time consuming to make these using the ma’amoul mold but I had time and so happy with the beautiful outcome.

Ma'amoul mould, Pistachios, Dates, Rose water, Semolina, All Pupose Flour (Maida)


2 cups – semolina
½ cup – all purpose flour (maida)
½ cup – melted ghee
½ cup – powdered sugar ( or more if you like sweet cookie covering)
1 tablespoon – rose water
1 teaspoon – active dried yeast melted in 1 tablespoon of luke warm water
Pinch of salt

Melt the ghee and cool it to room temperature. Sift the all purpose flour(maida) and mix it with semolina and ghee. Add the yeast water, rose water, powdered sugar and salt. Mix and make a dough by adding little bit of water. Set aside for about 3 hours, covered, to rest.

Cookie Dough after 3 hours of rest and Dates-Pistachios Filling Making of Ma'amouls - Pressing the cookies dough into ma'amoul mold

Dates- Pistachios Filling:
2 cups – fresh soft-pitted dates
½ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup – powdered cane sugar
1 teaspoon – rose water
and Ma’amoul mould to press and shape the cookies

In a food processor, take pistachios and powder to fine. Then add the dates, sugar and rose water. Blend them together into fine paste. Remove to a cup.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Nut filled Cookies) Ready for Oven Ma'amouls After 20 minutes in the Oven


After 3 hours of rest, knead and divide the dough into lime sized balls. Flatten each ball using your hand and lift the sides up to form a hollow. It is now ready for the filling. Place one tablespoon of dates-pistachios filling into the hollowed dough. Close the dough over the dates mixture. Press the edges to seal well. Press it into the ma’amoul mold to give it a decorated appearance. Reverse the mold; gently shake to loosen it from the mold. Prepare each one in this way and place them neatly in rows, on a greased/parchment paper lined baking tray.

Place the tray in a preheated oven at 350° F and bake for about 20 minutes. I reversed the cookies to the opposite side after 10 minutes in the oven for even baking. After 20 minutes or when they turn lightly golden, remove them from the oven and let them cool.

Ma'amouls (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies)

Ma’amoul (Dates-Pistachios Filled Cookies) ~ Delicate, rose flavored and naturally sweet. Our Thanksgiving treat and contribution to this month’s SHF-IMBB Cookie-Swap event.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida),Dates (kharjuram),Ghee,Molasses,Pistachios,Sugar, Jaggery and Honey,Suji/Semolina (Friday November 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Black Friday Bargains

There are not that many exciting deals on this Friday, for after Thanksgiving Sale. None was very exciting to go and wait in the lines before the shops were opened. So, we went for shopping around 9 O’ clock. We finished our shopping by 10.30. These are the items we purchased on this Black Friday:

After Thanksgiving day bargains in Boardman, Ohio

6″ Poinsettia – Lowe’s for $1.98. I bought 3 pots.
Appalachian Trail multipurpose tool set – Lowe’s for $9.99
GE 5.8 GHz Cordless phone – Circuit City for $ 4.95 after mail in rebates
Sharp electronic calculator – Circuit City for free after mail in rebates – these two items are for India
Sandisk 512MB compact flash memory card – Staples for $14.95 after mail in rebates – for my digital camera.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Friday November 25, 2005 at 12:46 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Happy Thanksgiving

House across the street on this snowy Thanksgiving day:

House across the street on this snowy Thanksgiving day

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Thursday November 24, 2005 at 10:38 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Upma with Couscous

The only ethnic grocery in our small town is a Middle Eastern shop called Ghossains Mid East Bakery. We buy dates and couscous, occasionally goat cheese, pita bread and baklava and other Middle Eastern sweets like mamoul from that shop.

I love the shape, texture and taste of tiny round couscous. Even though the authentic way to make couscous (according to middle easterners) is using a coucousiere (double boiler with a perforated top to hold the couscous), I make it just like bulgar/suji/semolina upma and with lots of vegetables for a light meal.



2 cups couscous
Vegetables: onion, green chillies, tomato, bell pepper, potato, carrot, ginger, garlic – all finely chopped – how much, your choice.
One fistful of fresh peas and golden raisins
1 tablespoon of ghee
1 teaspoon of cumin and mustard seeds
Limejuice to taste and fresh cilantro for garnish

Melt ghee in a big pan. Toast cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add and sauté the finely chopped vegetables (onions, tomato, green chilli, bell pepper, potato, carrot, ginger, garlic, peas and raisins) until they turn light brown. Add three cups of water and stir in half teaspoon of salt. Cover, increase the heat and bring that water to rolling boil.

Stir in couscous. It won’t form lumps unlike suji/semolina. Very forgiving, you don’ even have to stir, just pour all of couscous into hot water without any worries of lump formation. Cook covered over low medium heat for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and cook until fluffy. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. For zing, drizzle some lime juice and serve hot.

Couscous Upma
Couscous Upma ~ a light meal today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Couscous,Goduma (Wheat) (Wednesday November 23, 2005 at 4:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Indian Food Magazines

Barbara of Tigers and Strawberries is doing a project on food magazines of the US and the world. She is asking for opinions, like which food magazines you subscribe, why and which ones you hate etc., She is also interested to know about Indian food magazines. That got me curious about our food magazines.

The only ones that I am aware of are Upper Crust and Tarladalal. There is not one food magazine in Telugu, that I know for sure. Do you know any other Indian food magazines in English or in your language? I would really appreciate your input in this matter. Thanks

For more discussion about food magazines, visit Barbara’s food blog.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Wednesday November 23, 2005 at 9:07 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Chole with Potatoes (Aloo Chole)

I think in availability, price, food value, versatility and taste, chickpeas are without any match. There is no better way to prove this to the uninitiated than by sampling a few dishes that make use of this tasty and nourishing legume.

For people who are always searching for a new dish to add variety to their meals, one day, they will discover the hearty Punjabi fare, chana masala or this aloo chole; and when they do, I am sure they’ll turn into ‘Choleacs‘ like us. We Love Chole!

Chickpeas(Channa, Garbanzo Beans, Ceci, Hummus) and Red Potato for Chole


3 cups of dried chickpeas
(soaked in water beforehand then pressure cooked to tender)
A fistful of cooked chickpeas made into smooth paste

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 large onion and 4 ripe tomatoes finely chopped
1 tablespoon – readymade chana masala powder(any brand will do)
1 teaspoon – garlic-ginger-cilantro paste
½ teaspoon each – red chilli powder, salt and turmeric
For garnish – finely chopped cilantro and lime wedges

cooked chickpeas, chickpea paste, onion, tomatoes, chana masala powder, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt and fresh cilantro
Ingredients for Aloo Chole

Heat one teaspoon of ghee or peanut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add and toast quarter teaspoon each – mustard seeds and cumin, wait till they start to dance; then add ginger-garlic-cilantro paste and onions, saute for few minutes until onions soften.

Add the ingredients – potatoes, tomatoes, chickpea paste, chana masala powder, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric, along with 2 to 3 cups of water. Cook them covered for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are slightly tender.

At this stage, stir in chickpeas. Turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the curry thickens. (When curry served on a plate, it shouldn’t spread like flodding river.) Garnish with finely chopped fresh cilantro and serve.

My favorite way to have this curry is with limejuice squeezed and few finely chopped onions (washed beforehand in water) on the side with parathas.

Paratha, Chole with Potatoes (aloo Chole), Lime wedge and finely chopped onions
Aloo Chole with Parathas – Creating Indian restaurant kind of meal at our home ~ Our weekend brunch.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chickpeas,Potato (Tuesday November 22, 2005 at 6:44 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

This Week in Indian Kitchen

This week in Indian kitchen images ~ It’s Mandoline, Coconut Scraper, Idly stand, Tongs(Idukki, Pattakara), Idiyappam wood mold, Spice box and stainless steel Ghee holder.

Nupur's MandolineFrom Nupur of One Hot Stove kitchen, comes this beautiful image of Mandoline or vegetable slicer. Low in price but a very handy tool in kitchen to cut, slice and to shred vegetables. Allure of home made potato chips is what made this tool, a must have thing in all our kitchens, I think.

Indian Coconut ScraperLera of Myriad Tastes sent me these two beautiful images via email. Coconut scraper to shred coconut from fresh coconut and idly stand to make idlis.

Idly Stand

Making Idlis using Idly stand Shammi of Food In The Main showed us in beautiful images, how she makes idlies using the idly mould.

Indian Tongs (Idukki, Pattakara) Mika from The Green Jackfruit sent this beautiful image of ‘Tongs(Idukki or Pattakara), a must have thing in an Indian kitchen to hold different kinds of hot vessels and also to prevent burnt hands. Very useful indeed.

Idiyappam Wooden Mold, with Idiyappam , Spice Box with Glass Lid, Ghee Holder and with spoon Priya from Arkansas sent me via email, these beautiful images of Idiyappam wood mold and idiyappam batter(white dough), Spice box with a glass lid for holding various spices in one neat container and a traditional Indian stainless steel ghee holder.

Thank you Nupur, Lera, Shammi, Mika and Priya for sending these gorgeous images for “Indian Kitchen“.

I want to do this but with the current settings and features I have on my web site, it’s not going to work as I thought of doing. So I would keep the idea of creating an online ‘Indian glossary in images’ on hold, for a while. Currently I am working to make a detailed categories and subcategories in a new section on this website. When I complete my work on this, I will start asking for your help and participation again for ‘Indian Kitchen’.

You all have shown lot of enthusiasm in this project, I really appreciate your time and input. Thank you!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen (Monday November 21, 2005 at 10:15 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Saffron (Kumkuma Puvvu)

Saffron (Kumkuma Puvvu):

Saffron, Kumkuma Puvvu, Kesar, Kungumapoo

India, Kashmir, hard work, awe and reverence.. these are things that come to my mind, whenever I use saffron in my cooking. It is produced in Kashmir, India. Harvesting is slow hard work which needs delicate touch. Awe and reverence… because I use it only in personally important and spiritually special occasions. Bold in color, subtle in flavor, precious saffron brings an ethereal touch.

In traditional sweets like laddu and payasam (Kheer) is where I add saffron to my cooking. Example is ‘saffron infused sabudana payasam’ that I prepared, celebrating my own space on the Net, the onset of My blog, ‘Mahanandi’.

Part of my Indian Kitchen, more about Saffron ~ here and here.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients,Indian Kitchen (Sunday November 20, 2005 at 10:08 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Indian Kitchen

Indian cuisine requires lot of ingredients and utensils which are unique to this style of cookery. When you try to find a picture or details of these ingredients on the Internet, you would seldom find any. This is especially true for some simple cooking tools like a wood masher (for preparing dal) or a spice box, vegetables like drumsticks etc.,

Wouldn’t it be great to share images of Indian Kitchen with the world? I know, I would be very happy to see images of this kind on the Net. If you are interested, join me and please post a picture of your Indian kitchen ingredient/utensil or a tool every Sunday or any day convenient for you. The item could be unique, common or anything in-between. On every Monday, I will add a link of your specific post on my website.

I thought of doing this, because it’s always a visual treat to find the images you are searching for. When these images are put on the net, search engines like Yahoo and Goggle would be able to show them for everybody’s use and ofcourse the main purpose of this fun, group project is creating an online Indian glossary in images.

All are welcome to show off their Indian Kitchen ingredients/things.


Added on November 27th, 2005

I want to do this but with the current settings and features I have on my web site, it’s not going to work as I thought of doing. So I would keep the idea of creating an online “Indian glossary in images” on hold, for a while. Currently I am working to make a detailed categories and subcategories in a new section on this website. When I complete my work on this, I will start asking for your help and participation again for “Indian Kitchen”.

You all have shown lot of enthusiasm in this project, I really appreciate your time and input. Thank you!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Kitchen (Saturday November 19, 2005 at 8:43 am- permalink)
Comments (27)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Banana Pepper Curry

What we get here in abundance is banana peppers in all seasons. Italians, the majority of population in this small town love their banana peppers, I guess. Usually I stuff banana peppers and cook them like I did cherry peppers.
Mika, my blog friend, posted a wonderful recipe with banana peppers, last month. I tried it today and we both (Vijay & I) really liked it. It is very easy to prepare too.

Banana Peppers - Whole and Cut


Take four banana peppers. Wash & dry, slit them in the middle and remove the seeds. Cut them into bite-sized pieces.
In a pan, heat one teaspoon of peanut oil, do the popu or tadka (toasting cumin, mustard seeds and minced garlic). Add the cut banana pepper pieces. Cover and cook them, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until they are tender to touch. Stir in spicy dalia powder, pinch of salt and turmeric, then cook for few more minutes and serve.

Tasted real good and hot with spinach dal and rice.

Banana Pepper Curry, Rice, Spinach Dal and Rice Vadiyaalu(papad)
A Meal with Banana Pepper Curry ~ (Banana Pepper Curry, Rice, Spinach Dal and Rice Papads)

Thanks Mika for sharing this recipe, we really liked it.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Banana Pepper,Peppers (Friday November 18, 2005 at 2:30 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Skillet Cornbread with Okra Topping

The first snow of the season has arrived this morning. The rain turned to snow for few minutes, giving us a brief glimpse of coming season. It was cold enough, so to warm the house and the stomach, I cranked up the oven to 400° F and baked cornbread with okra toppings. This is my first attempt at cornbread and it was a success, thanks to the detailed recipe written by Barbara of Tigers and Strawberries. I changed the recipe to my liking and also added crisply fried okra as cornbread topping.


Okra topping :
1 cup thinly sliced okra rounds, one onion, three green chillies and two garlic cloves all finely chopped. Saute them in oil, until they turn crisp and crunchy, like you normally do for a dry curry.

Cornbread Batter :
• Mix together 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 1 tsp each- baking powder and soda, 1/2 tsp salt.
• In another bowl, mix – 2 eggs (I removed yellows), 1 cup buttermilk, 4 tablespoons of molasses/sugar and 4 tablespoons of peanut oil.
• Combine the dry and wet ingredients.
• I also added half cup watermelon seeds that I brought from Nandyala to this mixture for some nutty crunch and nutritional value..

Covering sautéed okra with cornbread batter Sautéed okra fully covered with cornbread batter


Preheat the oven to 400 ° F. When you are ready with cornbread batter and sautéed okra, place the empty iron skillet in oven and heat it up (Barbara’s tip). Remove the hot skillet from the oven. First place the okra in the skillet, then pour the cornbread batter over it. Spread the batter neat and even with a spatula. Place the iron skillet in oven, bake at 400° F, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

Baked Skillet Cornbread with Okra Skillet Cornbread with Okra topping

Because this is for our lunch, I also baked some cauliflower florets and some baby lima beans along with cornbread. Just tossed the baby limas and cauliflower florets in some oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and baked until they turn crisp.

We both liked cornbread with okra very much. Thanks Barbara for the wonderful cornbread recipe.

Baked lima beans are good too, but cauliflower florets…oy!. Not that good. I won’t be baking cauliflower again, ever!

Skillet Cornbread with Okra and on the side Baked Lima beans, cauliflower and a drink- Ragi Malt ...Our meal today
Skillet Cornbread with okra toppings, baked baby lima beans and baked cauliflower florets & Ragi malt ~ our meal today.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Benda Kaaya(Okra),Corn Meal (Thursday November 17, 2005 at 3:21 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Spinach Curry (Paalakura Talimpu)

I make this spinach curry so often but I never got around to post the recipe or pictures till now. Part of basic everyday meal, versatile, feel good kind of curry and also simple enough to make frequently.


1 bunch of spinach, washed and chopped coarsely
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon, coconut powder or grated
Salt to taste, and pinch of turmeric
For popu – ¼ tsp each, mustard seeds and cumin

Spinach Curry on Whole Wheat Bread

Heat one teaspoon of peanut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.
Add and toast the mustard seeds, cumin and garlic (popu).
Add the onion and green chillies and saute, stirring, until soft.
Add the coarsely chopped spinach. Cover and cook them under high heat for about 5 minutes, until they collapse and reduce in volume.
At this stage, remove the lid and sprinkle the coconut, salt and turmeric. Mix and stir-fry for another 5 more minutes, uncovered, until the water from spinach reduces in quantity.
I also added some pre cooked black chickpeas (kala Chana) to this curry.

Serve hot. Make a curry sandwich or enjoy with rice, dal and ghee or with chapati.

Spinach Curry With Rice and Tomato Dal
Our another Everyday Meal ~ Spinach Curry with Rice, Tomato Dal and Ghee.

Going to be on road for couple of days.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Spinach (Monday November 14, 2005 at 6:26 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Spinach (Palak, Pala Kura)

Spinach (Palak, Pala Kura)

Spinach, Palak, Pala Kura

This green leafy vegetable is a must buy at least once a week, for me. Spinach dal and spinach curry are the most common ways, how I use this vegetable. Sometimes, when I am in a mood for fancy, restaurant kind of meal, I make the famous Palak Paneer. With rice, roti or as sandwich filler, I like my spinach.

For this weekend herb/food ingredient blogging –
It’s Time for Thyme at Kalyn’s Kitchen and 80th birthday party for her dad. Wow, congratulations Kalyn’s Dad and many more happy returns of the day!
Nature’s complete food – Dates at My Dhaba and also checkout Adarsh, the cute taste tester of My Dhaba.

Sam of Beck and Posh is requesting our prayers for Fred. Please send some goodwill towards her way. Thanks!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients,Spinach (Sunday November 13, 2005 at 12:12 pm- permalink)
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