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

Asafoetida (Asafetida, Hing, Inguva)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.


Asafoetida (Asafetida, Hing, Inguva)

Asafoetida, Powdered Form
Asafoetida ~ Powdered Form

Asafoetida is a resinous gum that is extracted from the root and stem of genus ferula, a type of giant perennial fennels that is at least 4 yrs old. The stem/root of the plant is slashed and kept in shade while the sap seeps out and hardens. This dried, grayish-white gum is then scraped off which turns reddish and finally reddish-brown as it ages. The asafoetida that we buy in stores has only about 30 -40% of pure asafoetida and the rest is edible starch (rice or wheat flour) to make the powder more manageable. Sometimes gum arabic, turmeric and some additional color are also added to it.

In India, we use asafoetida in our pickles, as a substitute for garlic and of course, in our tadka/popu. The traditional popu/tadka process is incomplete without this spice. Asafoetida was introduced to the West by Alexander the Great in 4th century BC and was used in ancient Roman cuisine as a substitute for a North African plant named Silphium.

Ayurveda highly recommends including all six tastes in our meals. The six tastes are – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent. Asafoetida comes under the pungent category. Foods and spices that are pungent stimulate appetite and improve digestion. Asafoetida is very helpful in alleviating the sensation of heaviness, fullness or bloating after a heavy meal. Asafoetida has extra heating properties and is used in Ayurveda to rekindle digestive fire. It is also supposed to act as a blood purifier.

Many of us know that a pinch of asafoetida with a glass of buttermilk helps reduce indigestion. But not many know that asafoetida is also used to alleviate toothache. Add a little lemon juice to asafoetida powder and warm this mixture a bit. Soak a cotton ball in this warm mixture and place it on the aching tooth. Or another remedy is to mix pure asafoetida powder and salt, place this mixed powder on the aching tooth. Asafoetida is also used by Homeopathy doctors to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

When it comes to cooking, asafoetida is a must for lentil dishes and curries with green leafy vegetables. Asafoetida is also used a lot for flavoring pickles like tomato, mango etc, and in sauces and is one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. Adding asafoetida to popu/tadka results in a wonderfully complementary flavor. I also believe that this special spice adds relish to food.

An article on asafoetida is incomplete without a mention of Hingashtak, also known as Hingawastaka. It’s a mixture of 8 spices – asafoetida, black pepper, carom seeds (ajwan), cumin, ginger, pipli (Long Pepper), nigella seeds (Kalonji) and rock salt. In olden times, every family had its own variation of Hingashtak. My own version is a simple mixture of asafoetida, black pepper, ginger, cumin, ajwan and salt. Grind all these spices and mix with rice (squeeze a bit of lime juice if you want) and have just 2-3 morsels of this yummy rice. You can make tiny pills of the Hingashtak and have it before meal. Hingashtak is very heating (and hence aids digestion), so eat very little.

Asafoetida, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cumin and Ajwan ~ for Hingashtak

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

If you have questions about asafoetida spice, please post them in comments section. Anjali would be glad to answer them for you. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Anjali Damerla,Asafoetida (Inguva),Herbs and Spices,Indian Ingredients,Indian Kitchen (Thursday August 30, 2007 at 6:31 pm- permalink)
Comments (57)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Beerakaya~Pesara Pappu Kootu

Ridge gourd and Moong Dal :

I see the world around me. There is a deep tantric style worship of all-purpose flour and its endless avatars. All-purpose flour, butter, eggs and sugar: the central content is the same but by just changing the vessel and the decorations, several different avatars are possible. Like the prayers to the Gods, the all-purpose flour mantram resonates like this: cakes… yum, cookies… yum, cupcakes… yum, muffins… yum, bread… yum, biscotti… yum, pizzas, pies, scones… yum … yum … yum … the mantram goes on. The sugar bliss and the atma content follow… yum!

I am amazed by this boundless fascination all-purpose flour attracts. The Maya intensity of all-purpose flour is so great that each of its avatars is perceived as its own creation. I too use the flour mantram, but the avatars are limited to chapati… yum, puri… yum, paratha… yum. I’m just talking out loud.

Anyway, cakes and cookies could be divinely delicious, but vegetables are what inspire me to cook and write. Vegetables keep me happy in a world which is insanely flour-sugar coated. So here it is, another sane vegetable recipe from an all-purpose flour atheist. A hearty, dense, satisfying dal recipe with ridge gourd and moong dal, called Kootu.

Attempt this kootu recipe only when you have asafetida in your kitchen. Because the tiny amount of asafetida is what makes the recipe come alive. Onions and garlic are a big no but potatoes are a must. Ridge gourd, drumsticks and brinjal separately or together in combination are added to cooked, watery moong dal. And the whole thing gets simmered until a thick, honey like consistency is achieved. This is a good dal recipe for people who have low tolerance levels for onions and garlic, and also during early pregnancy times. Mild and soothing, this moong dal Kootu is a favorite for moong fans like me.

Ridge gourd, Red Potato, Lime and Yellow Moong Dal ~ Ingredients for Pesara pappu Kootu


Step 1: 1 cup yellow moong dal – Roast the yellow moong dal to pale red color in an iron skillet. Take the roasted dal in a pressure-cooker, add about 4 cups of water and pressure-cook to soft. Then, lightly mash the dal to smooth consistency.

Meanwhile blend six green chillies, two tablespoons of grated fresh coconut and a pinch of salt to smooth paste.

Step 2: In a saucepan – add a teaspoon of oil. Add and saute two cups of cubed potatoes first. Once the potatoes are half cooked, add 2 cups of finely chopped ridge gourd pieces and saute to tender. (3 potatoes and 1 ridge gourd.)

To the vegetables, add the mashed moong dal, green chilli-coconut paste, ½ tsp each -turmeric and salt, plus a quarter cup of lime/lemon juice, along with two cups of water. Mix, have a taste and adjust the spice, salt to your liking. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3: In the end, do the popu or tadka. Add and toast few curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces, cumin and mustard seeds and quarter teaspoon of asafetida in an iron skillet in a small amount of oil or ghee. Add the toasted contents to simmering dal. Mix and serve hot with chapatis. A state of bliss will surely follow.

Beerakaya Pesara Pappu Kootu ~ for a Light Meal

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd),Moong Dal (Washed) (Wednesday August 29, 2007 at 10:19 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Gasagasalu ~ Bendakaaya

Okra ~ Poppy Seed Curry:

When people think of Andhra kuralu (curries), they think of chana dal, chilli and coconut podi flavored ones. Although these are very commonly added to spice-up the vegetables, in our homes in Nandyala, Kurnool regions, along with peanuts and sesame, poppy seeds also make frequent appearance. Alone or together with coconut, both in dry style curries like the one I prepared today with okra and in sauce form like the one blogged here.

I realize that poppy seeds are not a familiar ingredient to many of you fellow Bharatiya. Their creamy-nut like flavor is really worth getting to know. You won’t regret trying, I assure you.

Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus, Gasagasalu)Poppy Seed PowderOkra (Bendakaya, Bendi, Ladies Fingers)


20 young and fresh looking okra (Bendakaya, Bendi)
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (Gasagasalu, Khus Khus)
3 dried red chillies – Indian variety
Salt and turmeric – to taste or ½ teaspoon each
Popu or tadka: 1 tablespoon peanut oil,
Pinch each – cumin, mustard seeds and 6 curry leaves

1 Trim the ends and cut the okra to quarter to half inch wide rounds. For a gummy free okra experience, follow the tips outlined here.

2 Roast poppy seeds in a dry, hot iron skillet for about 3 minutes, until they just start to color and release their aromas. Add dried red chillies and a pinch of salt and pound or blend all the ingredients together. Keep working until a nice, moist paste is formed. I usually use a spice grinder or Sumeet small jar for this purpose.

3 In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and toast the tadka ingredients first and then add the okra pieces. Mix once and fry the pieces, very rarely stirring, until they are free from moisture. A well seasoned cast-iron skillet charms the okra to a beautiful crispiness. If you have one, use it for this recipe. When okra pieces transform from clinging kids to leave me alone type teenagers, it’s time to introduce the adulthood delights with spices. Add the poppy seed powder, turmeric and salt. Mix gently and saute for few more minutes.

Serve the curry hot with rotis/chapatis or with rice and dal. Okra-poppy seed curry makes a great tasting side dish.

Okra-Poppy Seed Curry
Okra-Poppy Seed Curry with Ragi Roti and Olive Chutney ~ Meal Today

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala
Poppy Seed Based Recipes from Archives:
Brinjal-Potato Curry ~ on Oct 25th, 05
Banana Pepper-Baby Potatoes in Poppy Seed Sauce ~ on April 21st, 06
Moong Dal Payasam ~ on June 9th, 06
Ridgegourd (Turai/Beerakaya) in Poppy Seed Sauce ~ on May 22nd, 07
Ratatouille:India Inspired ~ on July 10th, 07

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Benda Kaaya(Okra),Poppy Seeds (Tuesday August 28, 2007 at 9:45 pm- permalink)
Comments (20)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Romano Beans (Flat Beans)

Romano Beans Curry ~ Traditional South Indian Style

Romano beans are green beans gone broad. If green beans face a concave mirror they would definitely look like romano beans. The same green color, the same length, but instead of cigar rounds, they are shaped like spongebob squarepants style flat.

The romano beans I purchased at neighbourhood’s farmers market yesterday were in very tender stage with thin skin and didn’t need any prior blanching. I just followed the established south-Indian method of pairing the beans with fresh coconut and green chilli seasoning. The beans were cut to half-inch length strips, stirred frequently with very little oil over medium flame, until they were slightly dried out and fragrant. The curry was quick to prepare and the outcome was beautiful to look at, as you can see from the photograph. It also tasted superb with chapatis. The beans gave the dish its crucial texture and the coconut-chilli seasoning gave its distinctive flavor.

Romano Beans (Flat Beans)


1 tablespoon peanut oil
10 curry leaves
¼ teaspoon each- cumin and mustard seeds
1 big red onion or shallot – finely sliced to tiny pieces
30 romano beans – cut to half-inch length pieces
2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
1 tablespoon finely minced green chilli
½ teaspoon each – turmeric and salt (or to taste)

In a wide skillet, on high flame heat peanut oil until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Reduce the heat to medium. Add and toast curry leaves to pale gold color. Then toss in cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the onion pieces. Saute until the onion pieces become golden brown. Add the beans. Mix and cover the skillet and cook for few minutes until the beans soften a bit. Then remove the lid and sprinkle the grated coconut, chilli, turmeric and salt. Frequently stirring, saute for couple of minutes until the beans reach the stiff/tenderness you desire. Serve the curry hot with chapatis or rice and dal.

Romano Beans Curry with Chapatis, a Glass of Buttermilk and A Bowl of Black Plums ~ Brunch Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Green Beans (Monday August 27, 2007 at 1:04 pm- permalink)
Comments (19)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Naivedyam and Thambulam


Naivedyam for Lakshmi Devi (Peace and Prosperity) and
Thambulam for You, My Dear Family and Friends

Thambulam (Vayanam)
వరలక్ష్మి పూజ శుభాకాంక్షలు!
Have a Lovely Weekend Everyone!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Naivedyam(Festival Sweets),Zen (Personal) (Friday August 24, 2007 at 3:20 pm- permalink)
Comments (28)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Coconut for Pooja

Coconut for Pooja
Pooja Coconut

The festival season officially will begin tomorrow for us. Last year in moving hungama, I totally missed the pooja, but this year I have planned to celebrate all festivals.

For Varalakshmi vratham:

Shopping – done
House cleaning – done
Pooja mandir decoration – done

Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Varalakshmi Vratha Shubhakankshalu!
వరలక్ష్మి పూజ శుభాకాంక్షలు!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Coconut (Fresh),Indian Ingredients,Zen (Personal) (Thursday August 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm- permalink)
Comments (13)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sambars for Supper~ Beetroot Sambar

Red and Gold Beets
Beets ~ Gold and Ruby

The flavor and the color of beets are unique. Their sweetness is more like saccharine than sugarcane. One thing is for sure, they do brighten up any meal with that bold, ruby-red color. But the new variety, the golden beets that I see at farmers markets in recent years is little bit different. They taste more like carrots than beets and they do not stain or bleed like red beets. I personally feel that golden beets taste much better than red beets. But, they are still in designer, fancy stage and I look forward to the days when they become more affordable.

After the yesterday’s curry, I had three each, red and golden beets left from Sunday’s farmers market purchase. I have added few carrot pieces to the bunch and made a hearty sambar with toor dal. The sweet beets and carrots, creamy rich toor dal and spicy sambar masala, together with rice and papads ~ it was a good supper today.

Red Beets, Gold Beets and Carrots ~ for Sambar
Red Beets, Gold Beets and Carrots ~ for Sambar


Pressure-cook the dal:
Take one cup toor dal and two cups water in a pressure-cooker. Cook the dal to very soft and mash to smooth with an immersion blender or wood masher.

Prepare the vegetables:
Carrots, red and golden beets, 3 each – peel, cut to thin, two-inch length pieces
tomato and onion – one each, finely sliced

Do the Popu and Simmer:
In a heavy pot, heat a teaspoon of oil until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Keep the heat to medium. Add a sprig of curry leaves and toast to pale gold color. Then, add a pinch each cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the onions. Saute to soft. Next goes tomatoes, carrots and beets. Saute for about ten minutes.

Then, stir in half teaspoon each – turmeric, salt, red chilli powder and a tablespoon each –sambar masala powder and tamarind pulp. Also the cooked and mashed toor dal along with three cups of water. Mix everything thoroughly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Garnish with few sprigs of finely chopped coriander leaves if you wish and serve warm. Tastes great mixed with rice.

Beetroot Sambar
Beetroot Sambar ~ Under the Golden Sun Rays

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Beetroot,Toor Dal (Wednesday August 22, 2007 at 11:00 pm- permalink)
Comments (16)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Gold and Red Beets Curry

Shopping at farmers markets is a great experience. Here, the atmosphere and the hungama usually resembles a pelli-chupula party than a humble raitu bazar. The bridegroom is the fresh produce and the merchants are the proud papas and mamas.

“We did nothing but best for our produce. Actual soil, real Sun and no chemical sprays. It’s all ORGANIC.” They boast.

“How much? 10? What? Are these for real?”, a skeptical smile.

“Do you want nutrient-rich experience and a blessed, healthy life or not?” The looks say it all.

“How can a poor man stand such times and live?” No such soulful cry from the surrounding performing artists.

Natural yet painfully artificial, it’s different kind of atmosphere here. But the lure of open air shopping is irresistible, so I go. In between the greediness, there are always few good stalls with decent prices. At one such stall, I purchased the gold and red beets last weekend. I have added the kobbari kaaram and prepared a curry for meal today. With kobbari kaaram at hand, it’s real easy to create a multitude of habit forming dishes. And, the sweet beets love the spicy kobbari kaaram touch.

Gold and Red BeetrootsGolden and Red Beetroots
Gold and Red ~ Beaming Beets


Gold and red beetroots :
Peel, cut to thin rings and then dice to small pieces, like shown in the image, one cup each
Chana dal – 2 tbs, presoaked in water for 30 minutes beforehand
(added for it’s sugar-control properties and nutty crunchiness)
Kobbari Kaaram – 4 tablespoons
Turmeric and salt to taste or ½ teaspoon each
For popu or tadka: 1 tablespoon ghee, a curry leaves sprig and
¼ tsp each -cumin and mustard seeds

In a wide skillet, heat the ghee until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Keep the heat to medium. Add the curry leaves and toast to pale gold color. Then, toss in the cumin and the mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the chana dal and beets. Stir-fry for couple of minutes and then sprinkle about two tablespoons of water. Cover the skillet and steam-saute the pieces to tender, mixing in-between on medium-low heat. When the beets reach the softness you desire, then sprinkle the kobbari kaaram, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook couple of minutes. That’s it. A colorful sidedish would be ready to serve with rice, chapati or pasta.

Rice mixed with Gold and Red beets Curry, Mudda Pappu with Ghee and Pickled Cucumbers ~ Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Beetroot (Tuesday August 21, 2007 at 10:14 pm- permalink)
Comments (18)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Baby Brinjals and Potatoes

Vankaya~Urlagadda Vepudu:

Brinjals and Red Potatoes ~ Babies Dressed up in Kobbari Kaaram

Last weekend, I purchased these baby brinjals and tiny red potatoes at an Asian grocery shop. Tender and cute, they are about one to one and half inches in size, like small night bulbs. I pressure-cooked the potatoes but for brinjals, following my mother’s philosophy of “less we do, the more the brinjal’s delicate flavor comes through”, I just made two small slits in plus shape and steam-sautéed them. Within ten minutes, the lavender colored brinjals turned to beige and fork-tender. Once the brinjals were done, I just added the potatoes and the kobbari kaaram podi. That’s it, a nice side dish was ready for our meal today.

Small Night-bulb Sized Baby Brinjals and Baby Red Potatoes


Peanut oil – 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves 6, cumin and mustard seeds – Pinch each
Onion, thinly sliced lengthwise – half cup
Baby brinjals (1-2 inches long) – 10, cut in plus shape
Baby red potatoes – 10, pressure-cook or boil to fork-tender
Kobbari kaaram podi – 4 tablespoons
Turmeric and salt – ½ teaspoon each or to taste

In a wide skillet, heat peanut oil. Add and toast curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Add onion and fry to soft.

Add the brinjals. Sprinkle about two tablespoons of water. Cover the skillet and steam-saute the brinjals to tender, stirring in-between. The young brinjals turn to fork-tender quickly, in about 10-15 minutes.

Add baby potatoes. Sprinkle kobbari kaaram podi, turmeric and salt. Gently mix and cook another 5-10 minutes on low heat. Serve hot. It’s a good side dish to have with rice and sambar or pappu chaaru.

Brinjal-Potato Saute with Kobbari Kaaram and Tomato Pappucharu mixed with Rice ~ Brunch today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Baby Potatoes,Potato,Vankaya (Brinjal) (Monday August 20, 2007 at 11:38 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Weekend Seattle

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
Daily Ritual ~ a Walk in the Park

Top 15 Indian blogs: Mahanandi is at 9.
An Adorable Patriot!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Saturday August 18, 2007 at 11:57 am- permalink)
Comments (25)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.


Pasupu (Turmeric, Haldi)

Turmeric (Pasupu, Haldi)
Fresh and Dried Turmeric Root, Turmeric Powder and Fresh Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is probably the most revered spice in Ayurveda.

One cannot imagine a Hindu festival or wedding without this amazing wonder of nature. The western world has just started to understand turmeric whereas our ancestors knew it properties for centuries and incorporated it in our daily cuisine.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and is considered a blood purifier. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidant is a substance that has the ability to stabilize or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. An anti-oxidant may be a vitamin or mineral such as vitamin C or zinc. Free radicals are produced when cells convert oxygen to energy. A few free radicals are not dangerous, but too many can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA. To get more information on free-radicals read this article. There’s a lot of research being done to see whether turmeric can be used to treat arthritis. Studies have also found that India, with its turmeric rich cuisine, has fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

It’s interesting to see how Indian culture has incorporated turmeric in everyday life. In Andhra, women used to apply turmeric paste to their feet everyday (this custom is still going strong in some interior parts of Andhra). The reason behind this custom is that not many wore sandals/chappals in olden days and by applying turmeric paste they made sure that their feet were healthy. Now that’s smart.

Unfortunately, the turmeric powder that we buy in stores nowadays has some food color added to it. In my experience, pure turmeric has an orangish tinge to it. No wonder turmeric was confused for saffron in olden times and was also known as “Poor man’s saffron”.

Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea
Turmeric and Honey ~ for Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea

When it comes to turmeric in cooking, I add it to the tadka/popu but also sprinkle some after the vegetables are cooked. The most popular usage is warm milk with some turmeric and honey/sugar. My daughter sometimes complains of body ache after a long day of jumping and running (or after “sports day” in school which is invariably on the hottest day of the month). I give her a glass of warm milk with turmeric and it really helps. Milk with turmeric is also good for preventing and curing pimples. A mixture of honey and turmeric is a time tested remedy for sore throat. Gargling with warm water to which salt and turmeric is added, works well too.

Another interesting way to benefit from turmeric is to take it in the form of tea. Here is a simple recipe for Turmeric Tea: Boil water, add turmeric powder, grated ginger (or cardamom pods work well too), little sugar. Add some milk. Let it simmer for a few more seconds. Enjoy.

Turmeric is getting a lot of attention from researchers around the world. Hopefully this will generate more interest in Ayurveda too.

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Anjali Damerla,Herbs and Spices,Indian Ingredients,Indian Kitchen,The Essentials,Turmeric (Pasupu) (Thursday August 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm- permalink)
Comments (31)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Puri Pictorial

Puris ~ The Happy, Lovable Cousins of Chapatis

Made with special wheat flour called atta, rolled out to paper-thin circles and puffed to peach colored balloons, delicate and delectable puris means pure pleasure guaranteed.

I usually prepare puris at home for friends get-togethers or when I host a party, but very rarely for us. It has to be a special occasion and today is one such day for us. To celebrate, a party call was sent out by Anita of A Mad Tea Party, the fabulous food blogger from Delhi. I wanted to join. So, here I am at the party with Nandyala-style puri treats.

Whole Wheat Flour from India and Tap Water from Seattle:) ~ for Puri Dough

(Makes about 15- 18 small salad-plate sized puris)

For Puri dough:
3 cups atta (Special wheat flour from India)
1½ cups of warm water
1 teaspoon salt

To deep-fry
3 cups peanut oil
sturdy based kadai or wok
A big slotted spoon

In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Move the flour to the sides of the bowl to make a small well in the center. Pour water into the well. Using fingers combine the ingredients, until the flour comes together to firm dough. (For puris, I make the dough very tight, so that when deep fried they won’t absorb lot of oil and look greasy. Tight dough also helps to balloon the puris.)

Gently knead the dough for a minute or two to remove the creases and until the surface is smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for about 30 minutes. Then, follow the puri pictorial.

Roll out the Puri dough to a round coil about the width of baby’s fist.

Divide the dough to equal portions and shape each portion to a round.

Using a rolling pin, press the round to a circle of greeting card thickness

Place the kadai on stovetop. Add and heat the peanut oil to frying hot(375 F). Carefully slip the pressed puri round into hot oil. Gently push-down once with slotted spoon, and let the hot oil work its magic.

The puri comes out of the oil like a balloon. Flip and fry for few seconds

We want not red nor angry-red but peach color for Puri. Remove to a paper covered plate. Serve hot with a curry, dal or chutney.

Puris with Red and Green Capsicum Bhaji ~ for A Mad Tea Party

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Goduma (Wheat),ID Food Parade,Wheat Flour (Durum Atta) (Wednesday August 15, 2007 at 6:51 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Swatantra Dina Subhakankshalu!

To the beautiful people of Bharat,
Happy Independence Day!

Let’s party with puri-bhaji. Yum, yum, yum!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Tuesday August 14, 2007 at 4:43 pm- permalink)
Comments (21)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Kobbari Kaaram

Coconut sweetness
Curry leaves aroma
Chillies divine spiciness
Chana dal and Urad dal nutty crunchiness

That is kobbari kaaram. The traditional, famous spice powder from Andhra Pradesh, India. The secret to success of this spicy powder lies in slow-roasting of ingredients to seductive gold color. As you can see, there is a lot going on in this deceptively simple spicy powder.

Some recipes make us feel defeated while also stirring in the feelings of joy. Kobbari Kaaram is one such recipe for me. It has too much amma (mother) association and attached memories to it. While standing in front of the stove, waiting for the ingredients to reach that perfect gold color, the deep longing for gentle landscape of my childhood days was too much to feel. But once I finished the preparation and started to dip the warm gheelious rice-ravva upma rounds in kobbari kaaram, I rolled back to my routine content self and began to make happy cooking plans.

Oven-Dried Coconut, Toasted Curry Leaves, Roasted Dried Chillies, Chana dal and Urad dal

2 cups – thinly sliced dried coconut pieces
Quarter cup each – chana dal and urad dal
20 fresh curry leaves
15 dried red chillies – Indian variety
1 teaspoon – sea salt

Break a fresh coconut. Remove the coconut from shell. Thinly slice and spread the pieces on a baking pan and bake/ovendry to pale brown color at 200 F. Or simply sun-dry the coconut pieces to golden brown, like we used to do at Nandyala.
Place an iron skillet on stove-top, on medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, reduce the heat to low and one after another, add and roast chana dal, next urad dal and finally red chillies to pale brown color. Mix frequently and take care not to black the ingredients. Remove each one to a plate. In the end, coat the skillet with a teaspoon of peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add and toast curry leaves to gold color. Remove to a plate.

Let the ingredients come down to room temperature. Both texture-wise and taste-wise, this is important. Go sit down and wait.

When they are cool enough to touch, take the coconut pieces, roasted ingredients in a Sumeet style mixie jar. Add salt and grind to fine powder. Store the kobbari kaaram in a clean glass jar. Kobbari kaaram tastes great with all types of breakfast items like upma, pongal, dosa, idly and also on stir-fried vegetables like bell peppers, potatoes, brinjals, ridge gourd and okra etc. It’s a good thing to have in the kitchen.

Kitchen Notes:
I prefer either Ballari coconut or fresh coconut for this recipe because of their superior taste.
(From Telugu to English : Kobbari=coconut, Kaaram=Chilli)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Coconut (Dry),Dried Red Chillies,The Essentials (Monday August 13, 2007 at 5:57 pm- permalink)
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Vegetarian Beet Borscht

Vegetarian Beet Borscht

This vegetarian version of Russian Borscht is a delight to make during summer time, when fresh beets, carrots and potatoes are in abundance at local farmers markets. I also add the cabbage and fresh dill to the pile, following the traditional borscht recipe. The attractive fire-red color is from beets but thanks for the success of this dish must go to the Indian spice-blend and the modest amount of powdered cashews that I usually add. They help to create a rich, flavorful sauce that binds all the ingredients in an endearing way.

Although I have enjoyed the beet borscht as a light soup at restaurants, I usually make it as the main meal of the day at home, by adding big bulky style pasta. Daring liberties are taken with good intentions, so I would like to think the darling people of eastern Europe would approve of my beet borscht.

Red Onion, Lime, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, Fresh Dill and Red Potatoes ~ From Ritu Bazar for Borscht

(for two adults with a healthy appetite, for two meals)

Beets, carrots and red potatoes – peeled and cubed, 2 cups each
Cabbage – coarsely cut to pieces, about two cups
Red onion – finely sliced, about a cup
4 cloves of garlic – finely sliced
Quarter cup – roasted cashews, powdered to fine
Quarter cup – fresh dill, finely chopped
Quarter cup – lime juice
1 tablespoon – cumin:clove:cinnamon:coriander powder
½ teaspoon – chilli powder, salt and turmeric (or to taste)
1 tablespoon – ghee or butter
1 cup ( I chose the Trottole pasta for this recipe.)

In a sturdy big pot, heat the ghee or butter. Add and saute garlic and onions to soft. Add potatoes, beets and carrots. Saute for about ten minutes, stirring in-between. Next in line would be the delicate cabbage. When cabbage starts to wilt, add the seasoning – cashew powder, fresh dill, spice blend, lime juice, chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Mix and cook for couple of minutes.

Add in about 6 cups of water. Cover the pot with lid and simmer the ingredients on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. By this time the potatoes, beets will be turning to tender. Have a taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

Add in the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Ladle the pasta-beet borscht into serving bowls and enjoy!

Beet Borscht with Pasta and Kiwi Fruit ~ Our Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Beetroot,Cabbage,Potato,Suwa (Dill) (Wednesday August 8, 2007 at 7:23 pm- permalink)
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