Thursday, June 05, 2008

All kinds of PODIS

Father bought all our groceries from a Society in the congested market place after mother wrote down the elaborate list. The provisions were loaded in a horse carriage (jutka) and brought to our house.
Lingamma cleaned the groceries one by one with the help of winnows and sieves. Then mother stored them in their respective containers and bottles, and arranged them in the store room (Ugrana) shelves. After this, the sambar powders, chutney powders and other spice powders were prepared in bulk .

Gowramma was especially summoned for this purpose.
Gowramma was a short and frail person. Her well oiled, back combed pig tail was rolled into a tight bun, well above the nape of her neck. A black bead chain adorned her neck and she wore at least a dozen of colourful glass bangles on each of her hands. Her cotton saree always stood at ‘ flood level’. She wrapped her saree pallu masking her nose and mouth in an abortive effort to smother the cascading sneezes while she roasted the red chillies in the huge iron “bandli”, at the farthest end of the vast kitchen. Her half closed dreamy eyes ,her protruding front teeth, the rhythmic jingling of the glass bangles while she pounded the spice in the enormous stone pastle– she looked a picture of a saint in meditation.
A simplified version of Gowramma’s recipes for preparing the ‘podis’ are given below.:

Red Chillies --- 250 gms
coriander seeds---250 gms
Tuvar dal ---- 50 gms
Bengal gram dal ---50 gms
Black gram dal----1 tbsp
Black pepper---1 tbsp
Cumin seeds ---1tbsp
Fenugreek seeds -1 tsp
Dry turmeric sticks -2
Or turmeric powder-2 tsps
Mix all ingredients except red chillies and lightly roast in a pre heated pan or sun dry all ingredients.
Dry roast or microwave or sun dry chillies until crisp.
Powder all ingredients smoothly in a mixer.
Cool and store in dry containers.
This powder can be used in the preparation of sambars, spicy curries and gravys.

1. Tuvar dal -1 cup
2. Black pepper corns -1/4 tsp
3. Asafoetida – 1 pinch
4. Red chilly -1 or 2
5. Salt -1/2 tsp
1. Heat a pan and dry roast all ingredients together till it gives out a pleasant aroma.
2. Cool and powder with salt into a slightly coarse powder.

One spoon of paruppu podi with a spoon of ghee or sesame oil or olive oil, with hot plain rice is a delicacy.
Vattal kuzambu (tamarind based spicy gravy) and roasted papads go well with parappu podi rice.

1. Coconut gratings -2 cups
2. Asafoetida -1/4 tsp
3. Split black gram dal-1/4 cup
4. Red chillies -2 or 3
5. Salt -1/4 tsp
6. Oil -1/4 tsp
1. Heat oil in a pan and roast asafoetida.
2. Add black gram dal and roast to a golden colour
3. Add red chilly and roast until crisp
4. Transfer the seasoning into a plate and allow it to cool
5. Add the coconut gratings in the same pan and roast to a golden colour on low heat until it emanates a pleasant aroma
6. Powder the cooled seasoning coarsely.
7. Add the roasted coconut gratings and salt and run the mixer for ½ a minute so that all the ingredients blend together .
8. Cool and store the tengai podi in .a dry container
This delicious podi may be used as a side dish or savored with rice similar to paruppu podi.

1. Bengal gram dal -1 cup
2 .Black gram dal-1 cup
3 Sesame seeds -1 cup
4 Asafoetida -1/2 tsp
5. Broken red chillies -.12
6. Salt -11/2tsp
7. Oil -1/4 tsp
1. Heat a pan and add sesame seeds and roast until it splutters.
2 Transfer the sesame into a plate and allow it to cool
3. Heat oil in the pan and roast the asafoetida.
4. Add all the dals and roast to a golden colour
5. Add the red chillies and roast till crisp
6. Allow all ingredients to cool
7. Coarsely powder all ingredients except the sesame seeds
8. Lastly add the roasted sesame and salt and run the mixer for a minute.
9. One tsp of jaggery blended with the milagai podi will tone down its sharp stinging taste.
This podi with ghee or sesame oil or olive oil goes well with idlies, dosas and adais (A thick dosa prepared with rice ,dal and spice).

1. Curry leaves – 2 cups
2. Black gram dal -4 tbsps
3. Black pepper corns -1 tbsp
4. Cumin seeds -2 tsps
5. Asafoetida -1/4 tsp
6. Red chilly (optional) -1
7. Salt -1/2 tsp
8. Cooking oil – 1/4 tsp
1. Separate curry leaves from stalk to make 2 cups
2. Wash and spread the leaves on a tissue .to drain and dry
3. Heat oil in a pan and add asafoetida.
4. Add black gram dal and roast till golden in colour
5. Add pepper and let it crack
6. Add cumin seeds and red chilly and roast for a minute
7. Allow all roasted ingredients to dry
8. Dry roast the thoroughly dried leaves till crisp
9. To preserve the green colour the curry leaves can be micro waved till crisp
10. Cool all the ingredients and powder smoothly with salt

It is a very good digestive. Enjoy with steaming hot rice and ghee or with curd rice. A dash of this podi in a glass of butter milk will make a refreshing drink.

1. Coriander leaves – 2 cups
2. Black gram dal -2 tbsps
3. Bengal gram dal 2 tbsps
4. Asafoetida -1/4 tsp
5. Red chillies – 2
6. Salt -1 tsp
7. Dry tamarind -1/4 tsp
8. Cooking oil -1 drop

1. Clean and chop the coriander leaves and allow to drain and dry on a tissue. Stalks can also be used provided they are tender
2. Heat oil in a pan and add asafoetida
3. Add the dals and roast till they are golden in colour
4. Add red chillies and roast till crisp
5. Cool all ingredients and grind coarsely with salt and dry tamarind.
6. Add the thoroughly dried coriander leaves and run the mixer for a few more seconds just to blend
7. Air on a dry plate. Break evenly if there are any lumps
8. Store in a dry container
Enjoy as a side dish.

The same method can be followed to make PUDINA PODI (MINT LEAVES POWDER).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Banana Walnut Cake

I started my baking journey 4 years ago in Taipei when my hubby was working there for 7 months. The first cake I baked was Banana Walnut Cake. I still remember I didn't have any baking experience at that time and also didn't have an oven so I urged my hubby to get a small little toaster for me to try baking some small cakes (which I thought this toaster could bake cake).This little toaster had no temperature control system and the size was just enough to place two pieces of bread. So, I bought a tin (this tin normally used for take away food) which the size was just enough to fit in the toaster.

With no temperature control system, my first banana cake was burnt. The upper part of the cake was over cooked and when I inserted a tooth pick into the center of the cake, the result came out was under cooked. So the second time I used a piece of aluminium foil to make a roof top for the cake tin so that the heat will not heat directly to the cake surface. I took one hour to bake the cake but it was still undercooked. The third time I tried using aluminium foil and poked a few little holes on top of the aluminium "roof" so that the heat could help the cakes rise and cook faster.

Finally, I had this banana cake baked within 30 minutes and the cake was cooked very well. From this experience, I learned how to control temperature in baking cakes. So, whenever I baked banana cake, it reminded me the first ever experience I have.
Now, this was the latest version of Banana Walnut Cake I baked days ago. I added in some toasted walnut and chopped it into small pieces so whenever there is a bite I will feel some nutty flavor and crunch in it.
I find this is kind of light and soft cake which is not too sweet as the natural sweetness from the fresh banana is just so real and you don't really need to add in any banana essence. I just added some low fat natural yogurt to give a much better texture.

Recipe for 17 x 8 x 6cm loaf tin:

Unsalted butter 60g
Sugar 80g
Egg 1
Plain flour 120g
Baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder 1/4 teaspoon
Pinch of salt
Low fat natural yoghurt 80g
Mashed banana 100g
Toasted walnut (chopped)

1. Whisk butter with sugar (add little by little) until light and pale in color.
2. Mix in egg follow by baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combine.
3. Add in mashed banana and mix until combine (not to mix too much).
4. Add in 1/3 of the plain flour and follow by the rest.
5. Mix in the yogurt until combine then fold in the chopped walnut.
6. Bake in a preheat oven at 180'C for about 50 - 60 minutes.

I'm Back!!

My husband has returned home and we are trying to get back into the swing of things with work and such.

Yes, he spent almost three months in the (truly) wonderful Palo Alto VA Hospital being treated for abscesses. They finally surgically removed the 39 year old bullet that was causing the problems about three weeks ago...and viola! Here we are back among the living! It wasn't all that easy: I almost lost him to sepsis twice in the process, and he still has lingering effects and some stitches that will come out next week.

Going to the VA every day was like living in a parallel universe. We made dear friends with a lot of people there:

There was dear Pat, whose husband Robert was dying of cancer on 4A (the hospice) - She brought in her dogs to see Robert every weekend. Robert passed away last week, may he rest in peace; Mervin, who has lived more than a year beyond his death prediction in the hospice...He has abdominal cancer and is often in great pain, but always ready to help anyone who needs it; Alexander, who has had a toe amputated due to diabetes and was in to treat a sore on the bottom of his foot. Alexander went home the same day we did, and emails often. Then there were Joe and his wife: Joe was admitted looking as though he was nine months pregnant with a bowel obstruction. He had surgery to open things up and went home after recuperating, but still came back to see us now and then...and many others.

After all that communing with life and death, I am taking my time and easing back into the world of the healthy and living.

Glad to be back,