Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bharwan Karela (Stuffed Bitter Gourd) and AFAM - Orange

I got this awesome recipe from my friend. When I first had this at her place, I asked her for the recipe, she said in Hindi "yeh recipe tho bahauth simple hei, koob sara pyaaz aur koob saara tamatar bas!!" which means "this recipe is very simple, it makes use of lot of onions and tomatoes, thats it. Though it was not a very clear way of her to explain the recipe , I managed to get it right.


4 medium sized bitter gourds
4 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups of tomato puree
1tsp fennel seed
1 tsp garam masala or 2 tsp tava fry masala (Found in Indian Grocery stores)
1tsp Pomegranate seed powder
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp turmeric
1tsp Sugar


Slit the bitter gourd length wise on one side and remove the seeds from inside as shown in the picture.

Apply some salt to the inner surface and steam cook it in a vessel without adding any water for a few minutes (approx 10-15 minutes) on medium flame . Remember not to over cook it . It should just get a little soft. You can even steam cook it in the pressure cooker without using the whistle and on a medium heat.
Once the skin is little cooked remove from heat and keep aside.
In another pan add 3-4 tbsp oil and fry the onions well, add the masalas, fennel seeds, chilli powder, salt, turmeric and fold them all together. To this add tomato puree and fry until the moisture is gone. It should form a thick paste as shown in the picture. Tava fry masala contains all the masalas required for stir fried vegetables. this makes the vegetable very tasty.

Remove this stuffing from heat and let it cool. This stuffing is filled into the bitter gourd and tied with clean thread so that they don't spill out. see the picture.

In a wide frying pan add 4-5 tbsp oil and gently place the bitter gourds. Let them get fried on medium heat until they turn crispy on one side. Now turn them to the other side and fry. They should get fried equally on all sides. Its ready to relish with Garam Garam (hot) rotis.

This one is for "S" for stuffed bitter gourd. Hope Nupur accepts this for A-Z of Indian Vegetables .

For the first time I am hosting an Event and its AFAM for the month of June.

The Fruit of the Month is "orange".

A little info. about oranges. The word "orange" ultimately comes from Sanskrit "narang" or Tamil. The fruit typically has 11 individual pieces inside and in Tamil, the word "Orangu" translates to "6 and 5" implying 11. Oranges originated in southeast Asia, in either India, Vietnam or southern China. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from Citrus
(info. wiki)

So dear friends, get creative and start making wonderful recipes out of oranges.

So here is AFAM - A Fruit A Month Rules.

Rules are pretty much the same as other Blog Events.
1. Based on the fruit of the month, you have to come up with a recipe out of orange in any form.

2. Post the recipe on your blog by 25th of the month. Those who don't have a blog can directly email me their recipes and details.

3. If you can, write more information about the fruit.

4. Email me your name, a picture, perma-link of your recipe to with AFAM -(fruit name) as the subject.

5. Email me your post by the 25th of June and the final round up will be done within first week of July.

Thanks a lot Asha for letting me know about hosting this event.
I also thank Maheswari for confinding in me to host the event.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Andhra Bhojanam

My memories still wander around my Nanamma’s (father’s mother in Telugu) lovely home, where her kitchen opened into a beautiful wide backyard with Tulasi madam (place where Tulasi plant is worshiped), hibiscus plants, and coconut trees. In 1990’s I spent most of my childhood at my grandmother’s.

My Nanamma’s home was always busy with guests and relatives. She never used to get tired cooking for a large crowd. She was filled with energy and her kitchen was a lovely place to sit and have long chats. I come from a Telugu Brahmin family settled in Tamilnadu, so my Nanamma was an expert in both Telugu and Tamilian cuisine. Being a very strict and principled person, my Nanamma never allowed anyone inside her kitchen without completing the morning rituals such as bathing, praying, etc. Early in the morning, my cousins and I used to wait for her famous filter coffee, which would mesmerize the whole house with its aroma

During family gatherings, 10-12 cousins used to sit in a big circle in the backyard. Nanamma used to mix rice and curry for all of us in one big bowl and make Annam Mudda (rice ball prepared by mixing any curry with hot steamed rice and ghee). It used to be a very satisfying meal, which still lingers in my memory. Andhra is famous for cultural heritage, arts, crafts, festivals and food.

Some of famous Andhra paintings and handicraft works are Kalamkari, Bidri, Nirmal paintings.

This is a beautiful Konadapalli bomma. Bomma means doll. Some famous saris of Andhra are Pochampalli, Gadwal, Venkatagiri saris. Who ever visits Andhra never fails to buy them.

The soft wood available in many parts of the State is used in doll and toy making as well. The wooden figures are painted in bright colors that are pleasing to the eye Kondapalli is a small village in Krishna district and it is here that toys and dolls that have won international acclaim are made. The simple-looking Dolls depict the typical rural Indian life. Kondapalli dolls take the shape of humans, birds, animals and fruits The craftsmen of Nirmal too take advantage of the locally-available soft wood to carve brightlycoloured vegetables, fruits and animals. Wooden dolls are made of the soft Poniki or Ankudu wood and Etikoppaka in Visakhapatnam district is another centre that makes exquisite dolls with a rustic touch. Shopping for bangles in the narrow bazaars of the Old City Hyderabad is an experience one should not miss. Lac is used to manually create designs on glass bangles and the array in which they come is mind boggling. More romantic are the names given to sets of bangles by the local sellers. Hyderabad is also known as the city of pearls Though not close to the sea, Hyderabad has had a flourishing trade in pearls, as the Golconda kingdom was famous for its diamonds. The processing of pearls has been skillfully mastered in Hyderabad in that craftsmen can sort, refine and polish pearls with ease. Here is a beautiful handcrafted bag . The state is also famous for celebrating all kind of festival of with equal pomp and gaiety. Be it the age old traditional Hindu festivals or the Muslim festivity of brotherhood or Christmas. The diversity of the state is manifested in its people, languages, religions and cultures.

When we say Authentic Andhra food, it starts with Pachadi and podis which are of wide range. Pickles are also called as pachadis. Mango avakaya, gongura, dosa avakaya, ripe red chilli peppers pickle, nimakaya (lemon), allam (ginger) pachadi and many more have a longer shelf life. The other kind of pachadi with a weeks shelf life are kothmira (cilantro), tomato pachadi, Kandi pachadi, kobbari (coconut) pachadi, peanut pachadi, and many more. Pachadis are also made with yogurt like bendakaya perugu pachadi (okra yoghurt pachadi), vankaya perugu pachadi (egg plant yoghurt pachadi), carrot/ tomato, perugu pachadi. Even raw vegetable salads are called pachadis.

When summer begins in Andhra, we can see women in every household preparing pickles and vadiyalu (rice crispies). Every body must have heard of Hyderabad biriyani. Some of the other mughali dishes famous in Hyderabad are Sheermal, a local variety of bread, tandoori rotis, bagara baingan, mirchi ke salan and lot of other vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

Sheer Khorma is the milky vermicelli sweet popular in Hyderabad, other dessert delicacies include "Double-ka-meetha (a bread pudding)" and "Khubani-ka-meetha", a syrupy speciality made with apricots and lots of sugar. In other parts of Andhra, a rice and milk delicacy is "ksheerannam" in which jaggery (gur) and powdered cardamom enhance the taste. These are some dessert varieties I have brought in front of you a traditional Telugu Brahmin Bhojanam, where the recipes don’t have garlic and onions. I prepared most of the recipes which are derived from my family members like, mother, mother-in-law, husband, father and friends. Kobbari Karam podi (coconut red chilli powder)

This podi is eaten with hot rice and ghee/oil.


2 cup roasted Bengal gram dal (putnala pappu in telugu) 1 cup dry coconut 2 tbsp cumin seeds 4-5 dry red chillies Salt to taste Preparation Dry roast the roasted Bengal gram dal, cumin, red chillies, coconut, individually in a heavy bottomed pan. They all should be roasted on medium heat and should not turn dark. Grind them all together in to powder by adding salt . Kobbari karam podi is ready to go with rice. Kandhi Pachadi Kandhi means thoor dal. This is a pachadi made of thoor dal and coconut which is relished with rice. I learnt to make this pachadi from my husband. Ingredients ½ cup thoor dal (kandhi pappu in telugu) 1 cup fresh coconut 1 cup tamarind water 4-5 dry red chillies Salt

For Tempering

½ tsp mustard seed 1 tsp urad dal (black gram) 1/3 tsp fenugreek Curry leaves Dry red chillies Asafetida

Preparation Dry roast the thoor dal in a deep bottomed pan on medium heat, until it turns slight reddish color. Also roast red chillies for a few minutes. Grind together thoor dal, coconut, dry chillies and salt by adding very little tamarind water. Don’t add water. This pachadi has to be thick. So to blend in all the ingredients well by adding only tamarind water. This way the shelf life of the pachadi increases for a week. Now temper the pachadi with the given ingredients and enjoy with hot rice. Dosa Avakaya (yellow cucumber/Melon cucumber pickle) Dosa Avakai is an old Andhra culinary tradition that is closely similar to the famous Andhra Avakai or Mango Pickle. The main difference is that dosa avakai is ready to eat within 24 hours of preparing the pickle, while Andhra avakai takes one week.

Ingredients 1 cup of dosakaya (melon cucumber) 4 tbsp mustard seeds 4 tbsp chilli powder 1 1/2 cup Salt or lesser 2 tsp turmeric ½ tsp asafetida 1/3 cup oil Preparation

Wash a medium sized dosakaya (melon Cucumber) well and wipe it with a dry cloth before cutting. Cut it into two halves, de-seed and again cut them in to small pieces Approx 1″ size, along with the skin. Powder the mustard seed along with chilli powder and salt. (We powder mustard seeds with chilli powder and salt because if mustard is ground alone it might turn oily and sticky.) The combination of all these dry ingredients is an aromatic spice mix called the avalu pindi in Telugu, which means mustard powder. Mix these spices along with turmeric, asafoetida in a wide bowl. To this, add dosakaya pieces and mix well. Add oil and mix slowly and gently until all the pieces of cucumber are coated well. Transfer the pickle into a clean airtight jar. Leave it for 24 hours and next day gently toss the pickle with a ladle. The cucumber absorbs the spices and is ready to eat with rice and ghee. Dosa avakai is best consumed within 2-3 weeks of preparation.

Vankaya Masala Kura (egg plant masala subzi) I learnt this delicious kura from my mother-in law. Small sized eggplant is pampered in tamarind sauce and blend of masalas to make a mouthwatering kura. Ingredients 10 small sized eggplant 1/2 cup thick tamarind water For Masala 2tbsp coriander seeds 1tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram) 1tbsp urad dal (black gram) ¼ cup coconut (dry) 1tsp cumin seed ½ tsp fenugreek seeds 1tbsp sesame seed 4-5 dry red chillies ¼ tsp asafetida

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seeds Curry leaves Preparation In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, dry roast all the masala ingredients together except asafetida. Lovely aroma arises from all those ingredients. Roast them on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Grind them all together into a coarse powder. Not a fine one.

In another pan add 3tbsp oil and temper with mustard and curry leaves. Add the medium cut eggplant to it. Sauté for a few seconds and add tamarind water, salt, turmeric and cover with lid to cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the moisture evaporate out of the pan. Do not over cook the eggplants. Once you find them done add the masala to it and fold them carefully so that the eggplant doesn’t break. Simmer the heat cover with lid and leave it for another 10 minutes. That’s it, Vankaya masala kura is ready. Vaamu-Bangaala dumpa fry (carom seed-potato fry) This is my mom’s special. She makes this fry which goes great with rice or roti. Potato is called bangaala dumpa in telugu. Ingredients 2 cups Boiled potatoes 1tsp carom seeds (vaamu in telugu/ ajwain in Hindi) 1tsp red chilli powder ½ tsp turmeric ½ tsp urad dal (black gram) ½ tsp chana dal (Bengal gram) Salt Curry leaves Oil Preparation In to a pan add about 3-4 tbsp oil. When oil get warmer, add carom seeds, urad dal, chana dal, curry leaves and let it get golden brown. Aroma arises from carom seeds. Now add medium cut potatoes. You can either add raw potato or boiled potatoes. My mom adds boiled potatoes. Any thing would taste great. To the potatoes add chilli powder, turmeric and salt and sauté. The potatoes should get fried on medium high heat with regular tossing so that they don’t get burnt. All the sides of the potato should get crispy and golden brown. Dosakaya Pappu (melon cucumber dal) With the same dosakaya, a dal variety is made to relish with rice. This is called dosakaya pappu. Pappu in telugu means dal. There are a lot of other dal varieties in Andhra to be had with rice like palak kura pappu made with palak(spinach), menthi aaku pappu (methi leaves), and even lot of veggies are blend in with dal to make delicious dals. Ingredients 1 cup dosakaya (skin peeled off) 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes 1 cup thoor dal (cooked) 1cup tamarind water Green chillis 1tsp Coriander powder 1tsp Turmeric Fresh cilantro chopped Salt

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seeds ½ cumin seeds ½ tsp urad dal (black gram dal) Dry red chillies Curry leaves Asafetida Preparation In a heavy, deep bottomed pan add 2 tsp of oil and add the dosakaya pieces. Also add salt and turmeric, fold them all together and cover it with lid and cook for 10-15 minutes. In another sauce pan add tamarind water, a little salt, turmeric, coriander powder, green chillies, tomatoes and bring it to boil. Add the cooked thoor dal to this. Also add the cooked dosakaya and bring it to boil. Remove from heat, add fresh cilantro and temper. Nimakaya rasam (lemon rasam) My dad makes this rasam for us and it tastes simply heavenly. This rasam does not require tamarind. It’s quite simple yet very comforting. Ingredients 1cup cooked thoor dal 1cup water One lemon ½ cup chopped tomatoes 2 tsp Rasam powder ½ tsp Turmeric Salt Fresh Cilantro

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seed ½ tsp cumin seed Curry leaves Asafetida Oil Preparation Combine water to thoor dal, add salt, turmeric, rasam powder, tomato and bring it to boil on medium heat. After it has boiled well simmer the heat add the lemon juice of one lemon. If you want a little tangier you can add more lemon juice. Also add fresh cilantro and temper. Delicious Nimakaya rasam is ready. Chitrannam Chitrannam is variety rice in Andhra made for festivals and special occasions. They are lemon pulihara, tamarind pulihara, coconut pulihora and daddhojanam (yogurt rice). In this list I made two special varieties, the coconut rice and daddhojanam.

Kobbari palu posina kobbari annam ( coconut rice made of coconut milk) One of my friends gave me the idea of how to make it. 1cup rice ½ cup coconut milk 11/2 cup water

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seed 1 tsp chana dal (Bengal gram) 1 tsp urad dal (black gram) 1 tsp groundnuts (peanuts) 2tbsp chopped cashews 2tbsp raisins Red dry chilli Curry leaves 1tsp chopped ginger 1/4 cup Grated coconut Preparation You have to be very careful on the coconut milk water ratio as the rice might get over cooked. To ½ cup of coconut milk add 2 cups of water. I used canned coconut milk which is very thick so diluted it.

For making coconut milk at home, Soak 1 grated coconut in 2 1/2 cups water for 1 hour. Grind in a mixer using same water. Strain to extract the milk. Repeat process with the residue twice. Press out till residue is crumbly. The milk prepared at home has water content in it so 2 1/2 cups can be used with rice to cook rice.When the rice gets cooked, let it cool. In a pan add 3tbsp oil and temper with given ingredients. Add grated coconut at last, add salt and lower the heat. Add the rice and fold them all together and remove from stove.I had prepared this recipe for the first time, with the entire ratio in my head and no reference. So the rice had got a little over cooked. Best would be to use home made coconut milk and fresh coconut rather than canned milk. Chakkara pongali (Sweet pongal) Ingredients 1 cup rice 1/3 cup moong dal (pesara pappu, split green gram) 3 cups water 4tbsp ghee (clarified butter) ½ cup jaggery dissolved in ¼ cup water 1tsp crushed cardamom 3 tbsp cashews 3 tbsp raisins Preparation Pressure cook the rice and moong dal together adding water. In a pan heat the jaggery with water until it gets viscous. Separately fry cashews and raisins in ghee and keep aside. Add cardamom powder to the jaggery pan along with 4 tbsp ghee and add cooked rice/moong dal mix. Fold them all together. Add more ghee if required. Also add cashews and raisins to this.

I was in a rush to make so many items so didn’t use some steps. Here are some tips, use fried coconut chunks too to enhance the flavor. Roast the dal and rice in a skillet before pressure, for a lovely finish. If cooking on stove top add 31/2 cups water and 2tsp ghee to it. Daddojanam (Yogurt rice) Ingredients 1cup cooked rice 1 cup thick yogurt ¼ cup whole milk Salt

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seed ¼ tsp fenugreek seed 1tsp chana dal (Bengal gram) 1tsp urad dal(black gram) 2tsp groundnuts (peanuts) 2tsp cashews 2 tsp raisins 2 tsp chopped ginger 2tsp chopped green chillies 1-2 dry red chillies Curry leaves Chopped cilantro Oil

For garnish

Pomegranate seeds Grated carrot Preparation Mix the rice with yogurt and milk. Remember the rice should be warm. Add salt and keep aside. In a skillet add 3tbsp oil and add all the ingredients one by one in the sequence as given for tempering. Mix this tempered ingredients to the yoghurt rice and garnish with pomegranate seeds and grated carrot. Yummy daddojanam is ready.

Rest of the dishes on the banana leaf are, Garelu ( Urad dal vada), kobbari pachadi (Coconut chutney), ripe mango pieces, gongura pickle and avakaya pickle, mudda pappu (thick dal) and Plain rice. The Gongura and Avakaya pickles were made and sent from India. Will give the recipe when I make them myself.

Janthikalu I had also made Janthikalu also called as chakli or murukulu. Call it murukku, Janthikalu or chakli, there is nothing like eating this crispy and crunchy snack with a crackling noise. The other day my husband was telling me about his school days in his hometown. He used to come home from school and find these huge tins of janthikalu made and stored by his mother. He also mentioned that they used to never miss it while having tea. I thought of making some for him the next evening when he arrives from office to give him a good surprise. Ingredients 3 cups rice flour 1 cup besan flour (Gram flour) 2tbsp-unsalted butter 2tsp sesame seeds 1tsp Ajwain/ vaamu (carom seeds) 1tsp chilli powder 1tsp salt. Oil for deep-frying Preparation

Mix up all the ingredients in to dough and press it inside the murukku mold. For easy lubrication apply oil on the inner surface of the mold and fill in the dough. Heat oil in a deep wok or frying pan and press the dough with the murukku maker into the oil in circular manner. Be careful not to be too close to the oil as the hot steam from the oil might burn your hands. Remove from oil when they turn golden brown. I tried making some different shapes called the ribbon murukku and plain murukku.

Here is a palate filled with Pulla Reddy sweets. Pulla reddy sweets are very famous in Andhra. My friends got them for us from India. This post is my Contribution to RCI Andhra hosted by Latha of Masala Magic.

Also a small contribution for the letter "R", "Lemon Rasam" goes to Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables .