FESTIVAL SPECIALS

HALLOWEEN 

Halloween – The Eve of the Feast of “All Saints Day” a day for the Dead observed by the Christians World Wide. The Word Halloween means Hallowed Evening or Holy Evening.
The tradition of carving Pumpkin is associated with the Harvest time and also there are some stories of “Jack-O’-Lantern ” which is placed outside houses at this time of the year to scare away any spirits if ever they come for a visit 😉

Anyways its kept as a Halloween decoration so I also carved some pumpkins.

Nadia wanted a happy face , so tried to carve a Happy Witch 🙂

Here’s some goodies for Halloween Party.

Got some happy faced Worms too

Make some chocolate cup cakes , spread crushed chocolate cookies over the cake and place Jelly Worms on top

Make some Mummy Dogs –

Super easy if you have Crescent dough , may try making it with any dough , left over pizza dough should work perfect for these.
May use cheese while you wrap the sausages , make strips with the dough and wrap each sausages, may give some milk wash (Brush the top part with some milk) Bake in 370 Preheated oven for 10 Minutes or till done.

I had to explain what a “MUMMY” is to NA as she knew only one “MOMMY” till yesterday

And some Meringue Ghost I made the other day , had posted it here last week 🙂

Click Meringue Ghosts Cookies – Recipe

 And finally NA could wear her Halloween Costume, to her school , all excited 🙂

Happy Halloween !
Cheers
TN

Meringue Ghosts 


Is it Halloween today ? This is the question that I have been answering NA for almost a month now, she asks this everyday when she wakes up in the morning, from the time she started seeing Costumes for sale in stores, she’s eagerly waiting for Halloween day to dress up like her favorite Princess “Elsa” from the Movie ” Frozen “

Seeing her eagerness we took her to a Costume store nearby and to our surprise she started crying, she got scared with all the Skeleton, smokes, sounds and the hanging dummies there, am sure she wouldn’t have imagined this spooky seen in her Halloween – Dreams so far. Yesterday when I woke in the middle of the night I saw some fluorescent Ghost Stickers in my bed room , which was in NA’S bedroom till then, am not sure when she pasted it in our room,
when asked she told she’s scared if those ghost would become “REAL”
🙂

Since most “Mothers” are busy entertaining kids with  Halloween-baking and costume shopping, I also decided to do some Pumpkin Carvings and baking this time.
Starting with some Meringue Ghost Cookies – which are super easy to make , made it one time last year but  this year I made it for a friend of mine who’s a Meringue Cookie fan.

Adapted from Joy of baking.com – Meringue Ghosts – followed the exact same procedure and recipe for Meringue Cookies as there wouldn’t be a better explained Video for the same.
Ingredients – 

(I made these with half the quantity given below – gives up to 30 small Sized Cookies) 
Egg Whites – 4 no’s 
Powdered Sugar – 1 cup
Salt – a pinch or use 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar (Which helps the Egg whites to fluff up)

Method 

* Preheat the Oven to 200 Degree F

*Beat Egg whites in a clean and dry bowl (Beaters should be dry too) , add Salt or Cream of Tartar and continue beating in low speed till the egg whites hold soft peaks.

* Continue beating in a medium to high speed, while adding powdered sugar little at a time until the whites can hold stiff peaks.

* Rub little of the Meringue with your fingers to check if its smooth , if its gritty the sugar need to be more dissolved so keep beating until its smooth.

* Transfer to a piping bag and pipe’em to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

* Use some Candy Eyes as shown in Joy of Baking or may use some mini-chocolate chips to press’em carefully in to each Meringue cookies. I used some chocolate dessert toppers.

* Bake in 200 Degree preheated Oven for 1 hour , till they look dry and turns crispy. Leave these in the oven for some more time (2 to 3 Hour’s) then transfer to an air tight container. 

Notes : Certain things if not taken care would ruin  Meringue cookies , I have experienced the same, a few times it came out really well,  with that confidence tried it again to get disastrous Cookies 🙂
hence things like – Baking temperature , Clean and dry vessels and Beaters, Careful separation of Egg-whites from the Yolks and proper storage of the Cookies is important.

Watch You tube video – Joy Of Baking – Below
If planning to make these for the first time.

     
Cheers
TN

DIWALI 

Boondi Ladoo 

Ladoo – the most popular Indian Sweet. Since all Indians are celebrating “Diwali” today – the most popular Indian Festival.

Ingredients

Gram Flour – 1 cup
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Water – 1 cup (For Sugar Syrup)
Cardamom – few no’s crushed (3 to 6 No’s)
Any Dry fruits – few or one each for each Ladoo’s (I used Raisins, May use Cashew nuts/Pistachios)
Oil – For Frying
Ghee – 2 to 4 Tsp (To rub your palm while shaping  Ladoo’s )
Melon Seeds – 1 Tb Sp (Optional – I didn’t use)

Important Utensil – A Ladle or Sieve with perforations – to make Boondi’s. Droplets of batter when fried retains that small round shape called “Boondi ” which in Hindi means Droplets.

Method

* Stir in little water (Little at a time) to the Gram flour, stir nicely to make the batter thick and Lump-free. Whisk this batter rigorously, Make it lightly pouring consistency. Keep Aside.

* Heat sugar with 1 cup water for the sugar syrup, boil till it reaches -one thread Consistency. (Little thick sugar syrup) – rub and try stretching a drop of syrup within your thump and forefinger to check if its one thread consistency, if not allow to boil for some more time then add crushed Cardamom, then keep the heat to low.

* Heat oil in an other pan ( before starting to fry, drop few drops of the batter to the oil , it should come up once dropped in to the oil if then Oil is ready) then reduce the heat to medium.

* Take the ladle with perforation hold it little up from the heated oil , using another spoon pour the batter over it , the batter should drop down from the holes of the ladle only when you slightly shake it up and down or else use another spoon to lightly spread to make its flow easy.
(Before directly frying it, make sure the batter is in right consistency – it shouldn’t easily drop down from the holes of the ladle nor should they get blocked) adjust consistency accordingly.

* Fry the Boondi’s till nicely cooked but not too crispy (Temperature is important , keep the heat to medium only) , drain and transfer these boondi’s strait away to the sugar syrup. Then fry the next batch of Boondi’s simultaneously, by that time the boondi’s absorb the syrup and its ready to be drained.

* Drain again the first batch of boondi’s from the Sugar syrup, transfer to a paper towel (use paper towel only if you think the boondi’s are very soggy if not transfer and spread these boondi’s to a flat plate)

*  Add the dry fruits and Melon seeds (If using) , apply little ghee to your palms and start shaping the Ladoo’s (Size depending on your preference)  If more soggy use a paper towel to wipe the boondi’s once and then mix little powdered sugar(About 1 Tbsp)  to help shape’em – though your ladoo’s will turn super sweet 😉

* Shape all the Ladoo’s accordingly .May skip your daily routine of “Yoga” for Patience 😉
   No wonder our ancestors took it light to have more than a dozen kids, making stuffs like these slowly helps built patience , I now know 😛

 Sweet People should be fine spending some time for making sweets 😉

Notes

          : If the Laddo’s look soggy , wipe the Boondi’s once with a paper towel and then add few Tbsp’s of Powdered sugar – this helps to shape’em easier.

          : If the Boondi’s looks crispy and less soggy – mix few Tsp’s of thick sugar syrup to the boondi’s – it may help.

         : I added a pinch of Baking Powder to the batter 😉 Hope those who are experts would forgive, as I felt the boondi’s do fluff up nicely, making them nice and round shaped.

          :  If at all you are finding it difficult to shape the Ladoo’s, please don’t get disappointed as these are “Yummy” even if not in shape  🙂

Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali !

Cheers
TN

MYSORE PAK 

” Diwali “one of the popular festival of India  is around the corner.  A festival signifying the victory of light over darkness , hence also called the The  Festival of Lights.
I don’t have much Diwali – Fun memories as its not celebrated much in Kerala, only thing  I remember about the same are the Diwali Sweet Box’s my Achachen (Dad) used to bring home.
And on that day my Mummy re-plays – narrating her childhood memories, the celebration and fun they used to have, as she was brought up in North India.
In-fact my elder brother was born on a Diwali day , so he was named “Deepak” – which in Hindi means “Diya or Light”

My neighbor friend who is from North India is busy cleaning her house, which is usually done in every houses before Diwali, then they start lighting up Diyas (Lamps and Candles) and decorate entrances of their house with “Rangoli” – Colorful floor designs.

Thanks to my friend who inspired me to make Mysore Pak first time almost a year ago,  never thought it was this easy to make 🙂
These are my favorite and I make it often at home as it can be made within 1/2 an hour time,

Ingredients

Gram Flour – 1/2 cup (Heaped)
Sugar – 1 cup
Milk – 1/2 cup(Optional , or else use water 3/4 cup)
water – 1/4 cup
Ghee – 1/2 cup Approx (Use more or little less as per your preference)

Method


* Pour water to sugar and heat it to melt the same, when it starts to melt pour milk and allow to melt completely and thicken up. (Strain away any foam which might float over the syrup – this happens only if you use milk)

* Dry roast Gram flour in a heavy bottom pan till the raw smell of the flour is gone (Keep the heat in low heat ,do keep stirring )

* When the gram flour is almost done (about 3 to 5 minutes) , pour the thickened sugar -Milk syrup to this and stir vigorously.

* Add ghee little at a time and keep on stirring (keep heat in medium to low) , stir till it begins to solidify and lightly becomes frothy.

* Transfer this to a greased plate (Apply ghee to the base of the plate) and level with a spoon.
 Once cooled cut in to desired shapes.

Super tasty Mysore Pak 🙂

Watch Youtube Video – Soft Mysore Pak – I adapted the exact same recipe here but with half the quantity (and with little less Ghee) comes our really well.

Cheers
TN

KERALA SADHYA FOR ONAM & VISHU 

KALAN

(Yam and Raw Plantain in yogurt and Coconut gravy)

Onam – the rice harvest festival , also known as Rain Festival which falls on the Malayalam month “Chingam”  is being celebrated today.

People of Kerala celebrates the Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from the “Underworld”  – not the Underworld in Modern times 🙂

This Underworld is called ” Pathalam ” / Patala – which in Sanskrit denotes several lower regions of the Universe which are located under the Earth / or else may call it –  from the World of the Dead. 
For me it was welcoming an ancient King who wants to visit his region every year during the harvest time.Preparing Flower Carpet ” Atthapookallam”in front of houses for 10 days till Thiru-Onam day is the most interesting part of this festival.
Preparing a Flower Carpet in my Husband’s place.
 A feast is being prepared and served on a Banana Leaf on Thiru-Onam Day, which is in honor of the Vising King. Rice is  served with about 26 dishes or else the maximum number of Vegetarian Kerala side Dishes as there’s no limit.

There is a belief that “Mahabali” the King visits every home on Thiru-Onam , and so while serving the meal,  one Banana Leaf is to be placed for him too while the family sits to enjoy the feast together, 
I remember once when I was a kid , we were all set to sit on the floor cross legged, where the Leaf was placed and curries served on its sides , there was a light breeze by which one leaf just got folded – and some elders there told the kids that it was indeed “Mahabali”  who visited our home that day and I being a kid got immediately transferred  to that imaginary world, which my elders explained to me.
Our Onam Sadhya – 2014

Here’s the recipe for Kalan, a specialty dish prepared for Sadhya. 
Ingredients 
Raw Plantain – 2 No’s cubed 
Yam /Chaena / Suran – 1 cup cubed 
Green Chili’s – 3 no’s slit 
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1/4 tsp 
Yogurt (Sour)  – 3 cups  
Salt to taste 
To Grind 
Coconut Grated – 1 cup 
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp 
Green Chili’s – 1 
For Seasoning 

Coconut Oil – 2 Tb sp
Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel Seeds – 1/4 tsp 
Curry Leaves – 2 Spring 
Dry Red Chili’s – 3 no’s crushed 

Method 

* Wash and peel away the skin of raw plantains, rub little salt and coconut oil to this and keep aside for a few minutes (this helps remove the stickiness of plantains)  wash this and cook these with cubed Yam pieces , Green chili’s , Turmeric powder, Black pepper powder & Red chili Powder, May add little water for the vegetable’s to get cooked nicely. 
* Grind nicely coconut ,cumin seeds & green chili to make a smooth paste, add little water to make grind easier, once the vegetables are all nicely done , add this ground coconut mixture to it and stir, keep heat to low.
* Add thick curd to this curry , stir well to combine. Heat for another 5 to 7 minutes in very low heat ( do not let it boil) 
* In an other pan, heat oil, pop mustard seeds and fennel seeds then add dry red chili’s and curry leaves.Pour this over the curry and its ready to serve. 
The following are links to some of the recipe’s of Side dishes posted in this blog , which are usually prepared for Sadhya -though I am yet to post all the side dishes for a Kerala Sadhya. 
Mathanga Erissery
Olan  (Central Kerala Style) 
Thoran with Cabbage or Cauliflower 
Mezhukkupurattiathu With Achinga Payar /Long Beans 
Paalpayasam – Rice Payasam 
Wishing all my readers a very Happy Onam. Hope you all had a wonderful Feast 🙂 
Cheers
TN

RICE KHEER / PAAL PAYASAM 

 (Ambalapuzha Paal Payasam) 


” Vishu ” is a festival in Kerala ,considered as the first day of zodiac Calender (Malayalam Zodiac) a festival of lights and color works for Hindu – Malayalees in special.

When we were kids, we were excited most to celebrate “Vishu” as that was the day when we collect money – they call it “Vishukkaineetam” when the elders give money to the kids , with which we used to buy candy’s……something like the “Halloween” here in US…
I felt sad & was hard to realize that I am no longer considered a kid , on my First ” Vishu” after my wedding & that I would no longer be given any “Kaineetam” / Money from my dad or any elders 😦
Now am behind my hubby to give “Kaineetam ” 😉

Palpayasam is one main dessert dish every Hindu Family would prepare on Vishu – Day ,
A sweet completion to “Sadhya” – Veg Meal.
So I made this  Palpayasam /Milk based dessert , this is special because its made with Rice & milk , may also call it Ambalapuzha Palpayasam – that’s a famous dessert in our place.
It takes a whole lot of time to prepare the same in “Uruli’s “-  Large Pan, milk which is boiled in low flame until it reaches half the quantity , which then changes its taste – similar to Condensed milk…
Since I don’t have the patience to wait to make this in its traditional way , tried with the pressure cooker method , tastes good in less time.
This Payasam tastes best when chilled.

Ingredients 

Whole Milk – 5 cups 
Raw rice – 1/4 cup (hand full , preferably chemba – pachari )
I used regular Kerala Brown rice , may use any rice , but texture & color do defer with it.
Sugar – 3/4 cup rice
Condensed Milk – 2 Tb Sp (Optional)
(May use Sago/Sabudana / Chavvary to thicken it)

Pressure Cooker to cook the same.


Method 

 Soak rice in water for sometime ( 30 minutes)
    May use broken rice too , if using broken rice soaking is not required.

* Mix Milk with 1/4 cup sugar in a pressure cooker and bring to a boil , stirring occasionally ,until it bubbles up.

* Add the soaked rice (and Sago if using) and close the lid , keep the heat in medium to low heat.
 If possible do not let it whistle up (if you think the pressure is coming up to a point it may whistle , take the cooker away and place it to cool down a bit , and then lower the heat and place it back to the heat to cook again)

* Need to keep it for at least 30 minutes in low heat , I kept the same for 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool and open the lid, add condensed milk (if using) and the rest of the sugar.
Cook keeping it open for another half an hour stirring in between until rice is well cooked and the milk changes its color to light brown and becomes thick.
(Milk changes its color soon only if Red Rice is used)

* This can be served hot but tastes best when cooled.

Notes:

      Instead of raw rice , may cook this rice first in little milk and water , till just done, strain and then add to the boiling milk and pressure cook the same (same as the method given above, then rice would get nicely cooked and makes this payasam thick).

     Cooker used to make this dessert should be clean , if any thing with acidic content is cooked in the same before, milk tend to curdle, to avoid that, boil water & throw it away first and then use the cooker to make this Payasam.

     This can be made in any other thick bottom pan too but it takes time to get that required milk-flavor.

     Traditionally Payasam rice (which is available in some Kerala stores) is used to make this Payasam , white rice tastes good too.

     I used less sugar , do add more if necessary.Lightly mash the cooked rice with a spoon while cooking it open.

Wishing you all those who are celebrating “Vishu” today , a fun filled & happy Vishu.
Have a blessed year ahead.

 

Cheers
TN

CHRISTMAS SPECIALS 

Strawberry Chocolate Dip 

That was a Beautiful Christmas , till last year I had my Achachen (Dad) with me for Christmas , the only thing and the biggest thing I missed during this Christmas was ” His Presence ” I really wished Santa would show me a dream of my Achachen’s smiling face and also a hug from him…I didn’t want to write all these here but then I don’t want to delete what I have written. 
The beautiful thing I enjoyed this Christmas was my NA’s expression after she saw her “wish – toy” under the Christmas Tree , she was dumbstruck for a few seconds ….moments which made me very happy and satisfied…..
The funniest thing was her question to me ” why Santa forgot to take the gift wrap ” OMG I really didn’t notice that gift wrap – roll lying in the room anyways that’s a lesson learned now.
These Strawberries here was the centerpiece this Christmas , its a super easy and attractive way to decorate your table , insert these in skewers/ toothpick and place it in a glass or insert the other end of the skewers/tooth pics in a cake or any other edible stuff or fruits like Pineapple or Melon. 
Ingredients 
Strawberries – A few 
White Chocolate chips – 1/4 cup or less 
Green color – a drop (Optional) 
Method 
* Wash and dry the strawberries , insert a toothpick or skewers (if you have it ) in to the strawberries through its leaf end.
* Melt 3/4rth of the White chocolates (of how much ever taken) in a microwave for 7 seconds , take out , touch to see if its all melted , if not ,place it back again and microwave for another 5 seconds , to melt it completely , do not over heat it ,  as if over heated it becomes thick  (other option is to double boil the chocolates to needed liquid y consistency ) .  
* Dip the strawberries when the chocolates are hot and liquidy . Freeze these strawberries for a few seconds to keep the coating intact.
* Melt the remaining white chocolates in the microwave with a few drops of water. Need’em to be more flowing , mix green color to the melted chocolate and pipe these on to the strawberries how ever you want it , can be creative here. (I used a plastic storage bag , cut its ends off to pipe these chocolate)
I know its not neatly done , excuse is that I was tired after the Christmas Cooking 😦 
Happy Day After Christmas 🙂 
Tip :  Use fruits of your choice to dip.
Cheers
TN

PORT WINE / GRAPE WINE 

The history of Port Wine in Kerala/India : That’s a long long story I guess …..in short – A story of Portuguese influence in Kerala , as Port wine is a Portuguese wine. These are sweet Red wine.
Its a pleasure for the Homemakers in Kerala to make these at home during Christmas season and one thing I cannot omit is that its now almost a custom to serve this Port Wine and the Kerala Plum cake (which is made during the Christmas season ) to the newly wedded couples when they visit their relatives for the first time….
Initially I thought Wine has to be made in a “Baranni ” A unique  earthen ware , which can be made air tight ,which is also dark in the inside and doesn’t allow light to pass in but then I read in a couple of blogs that “Barani” is not a mandatory thing in making wines , so thought to try making wine in a glass container , the people here uses these container for dry storage , what so ever , Soccer man with full-spirit bought for me this glass ware and I decided to try making this wine half minded as there wasn’t 21 days left for Christmas to try these , 21 days is the minimum to make wine that’s what I have heard , anyways I strained my wine today kept these for 19 days  and am supposed to keep it untouched for another 7 days , don’t ask me why that’s how it is , I really don’t know the reason , need to do some research , may be the time for the sediments to settle down or something , wine experts forgive me if I am wrong….
This is how my mummy used to make and her wine was appreciated much so thought to follow the same recipe.


Ingredients 

Equal Quantity of seedless Grapes & Sugar – I took 3 kg each.
Water – 2.5 liters 
Yeast – 1 tsp
Wheat Kernels/ Godambu – a hand full (mine is a big hand 😉 ) 
Cinamon and cloves – a few (Optional) 

Method 

* Boil water and cool completely. 
* Wash the grapes and steam it just for 5 minutes in a steamer or Idli maker , steaming is optional. 
* Blend half of the total grapes in a blender for just a few seconds , just for crushing the grapes.
* Clean the container and layer first the whole grapes (which is not blended) followed by little sugar and then the crushed grapes and the procedure of layering sugar and grapes goes on till the whole ingredients are arranged , inside the container.
*Pour the boiled and cooled water to the container.
* Add in half of the wheat kernels in a muslin/cheese cloth along with the whole spices , twist and tie the cloth to make it like a small bag. put this bag in side the container with the grape mixture.
* Add in, the left over wheat kernels and yeast on to the grapes and close the container tight. Keep it in a comparatively warmer and dark place.
* Stir this mixture daily with a dry wooden spoon , not sure why a wooden spoon ,I sometimes used a metal spoon to stir it though.
*On the 21st day ,strain it using a muslin / cheese cloth , transfer to clean glass bottles or to an air tight container.
Tips : I like burgundy color so I added 1 Beetroot to the wine mixture , just cut and put that in. Can add caramelized sugar syrup too gives it a different color. I was lazy to caramelize sugar so went with the easy way.  
     : Steaming and blending are not necessary ,can make it with simple whole grapes without much fuzz I did it because I couldn’t keep these for a full 21 days , thought this would make the process easier .
Merry Christmas 
Cheers
TN

CHRISTMAS JELLO 

Its a Snowy day today, extremely lazy to do anything but it reminded me that the Christmas is near. Snow has something to do with Christmas that’s what I have heard , all those stories about the Santa coming in the sleigh,  sitting near the fire place ….
I thought to start with some Christmas cooking.Saw this one in my favorite blog of (Ree Drummond) a few months ago and was waiting for Christmas to come to try the same, I was the most excited one here to see these jello’s all set though my NA came rushing to eat these, didn’t have the patience to wait till I finish taking pictures.
All you need are these 
Hey but mine was a small square shaped dish , I used One packet each of these colored jello’s and 3 sachets of Gelatin and also half a tin of sweetened condensed milk.
The mixture is the same , just follow the procedure given below 
* Butter the pudding dish preferably glass ware and wipe with a tissue paper to remove any excess butter.
* Prepare 1 cup of red jello (Cherry Flavored ) first 
For 1 cup jello – put a little more than 1/2 portion of one Gelatin sachet in to a glass or cup , mix with little cold water, once its mixed , add boiling water to it to fill the cup ( I used a  glass ) add less than half portion of a cherry flavored jello powder to the glass , mix nicely till all the powder dissolves , pour it to a glass dish or pudding tray and freeze.
* Next is the white mixture 
For 1 cup White mixture – put the rest of the gelatin (from the sachet used for the above mixture ) mix with a little cold water , then pour hot or boiling  water , and stir , followed by the condensed milk ,add about 2 to 3 table spoon of condensed milk , mix well and keep in a warmer place like some where near the stove , wait till the above mixture (Red mixture) solidifies , takes less than 10 minutes. Pour this white mixture over the red one  , but first check if the red layer is nicely set.
* Prepare the green Jello as you do for the Red one (given above) and pour over the white mixture, make sure the white mixture is all set or else it would ruin the whole dish. Repeat ,  till the glass container is filled or till you think you should stop , three layered with just red , white and green looks good too. 
Poke the bubble’s with a toothpick before pouring the next layer.
Thought to keep the dish outside to set , just for the fun of it 
The End 
Cheers
TN

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