Monday, August 7, 2017

Athirasam using KitchenAid grain mill attachment (cup measurement)

Athirasam is an Indian sweet that tastes something like ginger bread cookies fried in oil (more sweeter than the cookies). This definition is not necessary for any South Indian, but thought it may help others to understand the taste.

 In this athirasam recipe , I have used kitchenAid grain mill attachment to powder the rice. The grain mill attachment has various settings from finest to coarse  that can be used to prepare wheat flour or any kind of flours and cracked wheat like stuff.  Many stores offer cash back deals and offers on KitchenAid. I used Kohl's cash back offers and a 30% discount coupon.  I am sure KitchenAid is a boon for all who love to cook from scratch.

Even though, athirasam is quite a simple snack with only a few ingredients, it needs lot of concentration while preparing the dough. For the first try in my grainmill attachment , I wanted a solid recipe with cup measurements on small scale .   I came across this Athirasam Video by Tamil virunthu and it has very good tips.  Thanks to her detailed video I could improvise mine.   My traditional athirasam recipe calls for kg measurements while this video has shown it in cup measures.  This time I bought an authentic ponni pacharisi (Lakshmi brand). Earlier I was using the basmati rice (which is less expensive here), and I found that the pacharisi is better for all kinds of palagarams :) (reinvented the wheel 😀 ).

This is one of my most favorite snacks and my memories with athirasam would revolve around my  Deepavalis. Then after marriage, I too started making it by myself in Chennai.  We had a rice mill near our house and so these kind of snacks were easy for me then. There Sandhya amma and her family and friends (every household in neighborhood) would bring me athirasam and murukku during Deepavali.  That's a traditional snack there in Chennai. Should I say, my hubby dear loves these festival days to munch these goodies  🤗  ! Also he loves traditional sweets better than my "experimental recipes " .
So here is a successful recipe for athirasam using cup measures. Try this and enjoy !

It should be soft inside but cooked well

Soaking the rice for 2 - 3 hours

Bought this towel on sale for 75 cents from walmart ....just for drying the rice 😏

Air dried rice

 KitchenAid with grain mill attachment 😄

Grain mill for Indian recipes too !

Powdered rice

(Or) Use an Indian mixer. Powder the cardamom and dry ginger first.

Put the dried rice in mixie

Powder it to a fine stage. Add sesame, powdered cardamom, poppy and keep ready.

This is the jaggery I used. It is called as soft jaggery and it tastes good.

Melt the jaggery in water till it gets rolling consistency (sticky stage)

Mix with powdered rice and it should not be like a chapati dough, it should be little runny.

Let cool, keep it in a container for 3 days.

On a plastic sheet and flatten the dough

fry it in oil

Try to remove as much oil as possible by pressing it with paper towels

Athirasam with hole 
Chennai style 'hole-less' athirasam

raw Rice - 1 1/4 cup (pacharisi)
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
poppy seed (kasakasa) - 1/2 tsp
jaggery - 3/4 cup
water - 3/4 cup
ghee - 1 tbsp
sesame - 1 tsp
dry ginger powder (sukku) - 1/4 tsp
oil - to deep fry (in small batches)

Soak rice for 2-3 hours.
(One time I used Everest brand daily Basmati rice as I didn't buy real raw rice / pacharisi. Then I used Lakshmi brand Ponni pacharisi and found that this one is the best for Tamil recipes)
Drain water and spread over clean cloth / plastic sheet for 1 hour under fan.
In a mixie grind to fine powder along with cardamom. Though we should try for a fine powder, I could get a medium fine (little coarse) powder only. If needed use a sieve and sort out coarse rice and grind again.
Bring water to boil. Dissolve jaggery. (Filter and remove any dust or sand, if needed).
(I bought 'Taste of India - soft jaggery of Gujarat'. It is almost same as paahu vellam of Tamilnadu).
Boil the jaggery solution till it gets thicker (just before uruttu patham / soft rollable stage).
Take the jaggery out of heat immediately and mix with ghee, rice powder, sesame, ginger powder.
Mix well. (see photo for the consistency of dough. It should not be hard. It should be pourable but not runny).
Keep this dough in an airtight container. for 3 days in room temperature.

Smudge a drop of oil on a plastic sheet (I used a small ziplock cover).
Divide the athirasam mavu (dough) into 10 - 12 of  amla size balls.
Place one ball over the plastic sheet. Press with hand to a flat (1/4 inch thickness) disc.
Just like this prepare 5 to 6 athirasam as per need or do the whole batch.

Heat corn oil / sesame oil / ghee (?) to medium heat (not smoking hot).
Fry a pinch and test , if it rises suddenly.

Put the flattened dough into hot oil. It will start rising like tiny poori. Flip within 10 seconds. Let it cook both sides for less than 35 seconds. Take out and press carefully between two spatula to remove excess oil. Keep it over paper towel and start frying the next one.

Let cool and store in airtight container or consume immediately :)

Serving suggestion:
Let the athirasam cool a little bit before serving .
The dough stays good at room temperature for up to a week.
Counting : Makes 12 medium size athirasam

KitchenAid grain mill attachment can be used to powder rice, wheat and any cereals.
We should not use the grains with more moisture.
I have air dried the rice (under fan) for nearly 3 hours before grinding it to a powder.
I have set it in setting 3 (setting 1 is for finest).

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Barbecue party !

Last weekend, our friends Mr.Raghu and Mrs. Uma Raghu invited us for a barbecue party at their house.  We were all excited to see each other again on that beautiful evening. I was wondering how they were going to arrange this event along with both of their busy schedules and kids. So I felt like bringing some dessert to help a little bit. I made some carrot halwa and ice cream, while Shaila had brought Baklava.  But before that , Uma had prepared everything with lots of care and love. I love the way she has planned and prepared a vast number of starter dishes like Indian lemonade, chaat salad, chips spread, a flavorful veg pulav , an yummy raitha (recipe below) , kadalai curry and that amazing jigarthanda with native touch .....not only the cooking part, I admire the way she talked and played with Sunish's  kids and hers in between :) . Her husband Raghu did the barbecue. Raghu prepared a juicy tandoori chicken on barbecue and I would say that is the best I have ever had. Hot dogs and garlic bread on grill were also great and Uma's avocado spread was also delicious. To my surprise, they prepared Malaysian parotta over the grill and it was more flakier than tawa version.
Shaila and myself along with Sunish and my hubby enjoyed spending the evening with that beautiful couple.
On the way home, we both felt happy for that fun filled evening that rejoiced both our palates as well as our minds.

The Menu:
Chat salad
Nimbu paani (lemonade)
chips and dip
bite size pizza
garlic bread with homemade guacamole
hot dogs
grilled tandoori chicken
Vegetable pulav
Tempered Raitha (recipe below)
Grilled parotta
Channa curry
sprouted bean salad
Jigarthanda (recipe below)
Tandoori chicken on grill

Barbecued tandoori chicken

Bite size pizza, nimbu paani, avocado topped garlic bread

Also that yummy chaat salad !

Grilled parotta !

Jill Jill Jigarthanda !

Recipe for tempered raitha: (my guessing) 
Indian curd - 1 cup
Shredded carrot - 1
onion - 1
brinjal - 1
oil - 1 tsp
mustard seed - 1/2 tsp
salt , curry leaf, cilantro - as per need
chili powder -  a pinch

Heat oil in a wok. Let mustard crackle, then add sliced onion, hing, curry leaf, cilantro and saute well. Add finely sliced brinjal and carrot. Cook covered with required salt and tbsp of water. Add pinch of chili powder. Switch off and let cool. Add curd , salt and mix well.
Yummy raitha is ready !

Recipe for a quick Jigarthand :
Rose syrup - homemade
(Sugar syrup mixed with rose essence and pink food color or traditionally prepared using rose petals)
Vanilla ice cream
Badam pisin (a tiny piece for each cup)
(soak it in water overnight for next day's use)

In a glass tumbler, put a tbsp of soaked badam pisin, add little rose syrup. Top it with a scoop of ice cream and then top it with some more rose syrup.
Jigarthanda is ready !

Thank you Uma and Raghu, for this nice dinner party ! We had an amazing evening.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seppan kilangu roast

Before the fancy entry of noodles and parotta into the small towns of Tamilnadu,  whatever food that is cooked for lunch would be served for dinner too.  Most of the days would be veg days in Tamilans house and rice with sambar or some other curry is the primary food. Though green veggies like okra or green beans and spinach would be the side dish during lunch, mothers would hide some root vegetables like potato , senai kilangu (elephant yam) and Seppan kizhangu (arbi) in the pantry for their fussy loved ones. These kind of veggies can be stored even in Indian weather (at room temperature) for a week to month. So these would come handy, if the vegetable curry made for the lunch was not sufficient for dinner. This seppan kilangu roast is one of our most favorites and so I too make it at least once month.

This is one of the popular ways to cook arbi in South Indian cuisine. Try this and let me know, how your family loves this !

Seppan kilangu / cheppan kilangu (Tamil) means colocasia or taro root(English), Arbi (Hindi).

1/2 lb Seppan kilangu before cooking (@ $1.39 /lb 2017)

Boiled arbi is cubed.

After the tempering, add the masala powders and cook for few seconds.

Arbi added to fried masala

Mix well

Hot and spicy arbi roast is ready !

Seppan kilangu 4 or 5 - 250 gms
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
fennel (sombu) - 1 tsp
curry leaf - few
salt - to taste
Masala powders:
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

Rinse the arbi thoroughly to remove all dirt.
Put it in a vessel and add water enough to cover. Boil for at least 10 minutes. The arbi should be parboiled (not soft). Put in cold water and it would be easy to remove the skin.
Chop into small cubes. Keep aside.
Put all the masalas mentioned in a bowl and keep ready.
Heat oil in a wok and add fennel. After the fennel gets mild red, add curry leaf. Then add the masala powders and fry in low heat for few seconds.  Add the cubed arbi. Stir well. If needed sprinkle a handful of water and cook covered for 2 minutes.
Switch off.
Arbi roast is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with dal rice or sambar rice or curd rice.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Aiyirai meen kulambu

Ayira meen (Tamil அயிரை மீன் ) is a variety of river fish (fresh water fish , especially paddy fields or ponds) , that we used to enjoy in Tirunelveli. At that time, this fish would come to the market around evening only (market means, the local vendor who used to come by bicycle). I have never seen this in Chennai. Though everything is available anywhere nowadays, this ayira meen kulambu can be found in other cities too. This ayirai fish is a speciality of Tamilnadu and I am not sure if anyone other than Tamilians would have heard of this.

My amma used to tell me that , this fish season occurs during the beginning of summer in Madurai (when the lakes dry and the fishes and brinjal would come in auction). During summer (at that time) they used to clean the ponds and the rain water gets collected afresh when it rains and would feed the entire city.

Amma had a house help called Padarathi amma. She had shown us the process of cleaning this fish. I am not a fan of looking at live food. So I request my readers to browse and find the videos on cleaning this ayira meen.

Ayirai meen literally lives in mud there. So it has to be forced to spit the mud from their mouth (may be a tale , I don't know if it is true). So the live fish would be put in milk and let for 30 minutes and within that time , it is believed that they loose all the mud.

Luckily I bought a well cleaned ayirai meen (not fresh) that was farm raised from an Asian store in my area. I didn't go through that cleaning process (I won't and I can't, but this curry tastes amazing, if someone prepares this for us ....ha ha).

My hubby never likes tiny fishes :) So I got a small scoop (1/2 lb) of this for $2.99 / lb.

I have read somewhere that , this curry is actor Kamal's favorite and he would have this fish curry along with idli dosai, during his South Tamilnadu visits. So I too made this one evening , had it with rice and the next morning enjoyed it with dosai :)

Ps: My recipe is a no-tamarind one. This is how we prepare fresh water (tiny) fish in my native. This version is recommended in native health recipes.
Ayira meen

ayirai meen kulambu
Aiyirai meen kulambu with dosai

Ayirai meen - 1/2 lb (200 gm approx)
Tomato - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tbsp
coconut oil  or sesame oil - 1 tbsp 
fennel (sombu) - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 2 sprig
green chillies - 2 (slit)
salt - 1 tsp (add to taste)

To grind:
Coconut (shredded) - 1/2 cup
Shallot - 3
cumin - 1/2 tsp
black pepper - 1 tsp
green chilly - 2 (increase as per taste)

Wash and clean the ayirai meen as per need to remove any sand or impurities. Keep aside.
Grind coconut, shallot, green chillies, black pepper, cumin together to a fine paste.
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil or sesame oil in a wok. Fry the fennel seeds to red. Now add the curry leaves along with chopped tomato and fry till the tomato gets cooked well.
Add 2 cups of water , turmeric powder , coriander powder, salt, ground masala and bring them to a boil.
Now add the cleaned fish and stir only one time before it gets cooked. Spread a few slit green chillies and curry leaves over it. Reduce flame and cook uncovered.
DO NOT stir in between. Just shake the vessel gently to mix the masala with the fish.
Take off heat in 15 minutes.

Ayirai meen kulambu is ready! 

Serving suggestions:
Serve over hot rice or along idli or dosai.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 4 weekend !

Here in NJ, the July 4 th weekend is one of the most awaited one . This year we didn't go anywhere far, but just enjoyed nearby places. I always wish to enjoy the first day of the weekend in a special manner. Sometimes I make his favorite meal or if there is enough time, we may go to a movie and restaurant... On that Friday,  we went to a restaurant called 'Nanking' for dinner. We usually buy one plate of everything and share. That day too we split up a plate of veg spring rolls and 'pad kee mao'.  It took more than an hour to see them in our table :) Other than that, this restaurant is strategically located near Kohl's and the ambiance is romantic. It would be a better choice for anyone who prefers a bar, but for people like us the buffet would be a good choice.
The next day had a rain forecast, so we went to a movie 'Transformers' in AMC NewBrunswick. Then we had a pizza buffet at Cici's. For dinner I made sambar rice and beans poriyal.
On Sunday we had a superb evening at 'State Fair' in Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. (See below for photos). The world's largest traveling candy store amazed us. My hubby dear started collecting candy from almost every bin and filled a small basket. Though I cannot approve  his purchase, he has promised me to take that candy bag to share with all at his office :)
We enjoyed the petting zoo and feeding those cute animals was much entertaining for us. I enjoyed walking around in that bright light along with those happy faces :) and I loved that 'blooming onion fry'. We enjoyed some music and had a nice cheese pizza slice along with that onion fry.
We came home almost after midnight :) and that was one of the best fairs we have visited.
Monday became our movie day with Redbox movies (Hidden figures and Logan) and also some Netflix movies. As usual we had it like a house picnic and that was a beautiful day too.
On Tuesday hubby asked me to prepare some chicken biriyani and luckily it turned out very well within an hour. Hubby continuously watched movies as well as worked on something in laptop whenever possible :) I love the way we enjoyed that July 4 weekend , it was relaxing as well as entertaining :).
Here are some pics. to enjoy !
The Nanking restaurant

Pad kee mao

Cici's thin crust pineapple jalapeno pizza

Cici's salad
The State fair in Rutherford, NJ
Candy apple stall

Fries and burger stalls

A cooking show
Candy apples
Candy we bought ! I am sure hubby is sharing this with all his friends :)

World's largest traveling candy store
Candy ....candy ....candy !

More candy !

Wow !

Definitely this is a kid's dream come true :)

Lots of candy !

I have never seen this kind of candy before !

Hard candy section ! There are more than this !!!!
Carousel ....our most fav to look at !
Music concert along with dining !

Pretty donkey ....and there are many animals in petting zoo.

This seemed like the most favorite ride among teens...'The Enterprise'  ...only for those strong !

Hypnotic show

My favorite stall....the fries look like Indian style bajji...Love it !

We came here around 10 Pm and enjoyed some show and dinner !

Pizza with onion fries (what !)....Sunday July 2 !
July 4, Chicken Biriyani !

I could see happiness in every face during this season.  Even the grocery store was filled with people buying corn, burger buns, chicken and coke for their party.
Happy Independence day !

Note: After this mega eating festival days , my dear hubby has promised me to workout along with me 1 hour most days in a week :)  Let's see !