Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Fame Spreads

I didn't know I had 193 recipes on my blog!!! If you want to know more such wonderful facts about me and my blog, and a recipe to boot, go here. It's one of the newest food blogs on the block and a rollicking fun read too. Thanks for the invitation, Cynic!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Dost Thou Reach Me? Let Me Count ...

After a long time, I found some new hilarious search terms again in my stats - here they are:

Moong dal ladies squats - You'd think this is an unlikely pairing. But no! Among the many combinations these search terms threw up, here's one!

Do guinea pigs eat wheat pearls? I guess the reasons they landed in my blog are here.

Drooling sentences went here.

How can I sell my soup came here.

Rayalseema biscuits company case study solution found no solution here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Legumes, And a Bit of Cheese

A few weeks ago, our air-conditioner went kaput and we spent as much of the day as we could outside our house. Quite a few air-conditioned stores that day saw us wandering about aimlessly, touching and feeling the goods, never buying. Our last stop before we went to dinner in another air-conditioned place, was a bookstore. Or rather, as large bookstores tend to be, a books, music and gifts store.

For a while now, my favourite bedtime reading has been cookbooks, when mysteries and chicklit are hard to come by, and though my conscience knows I don't need any more cookbooks, I succumbed when I saw this well-produced book called Pumpkin Flower Fritters on Bengali cooking. I told myself that it had recipes my other Bengali cookbooks didn't, paid for it, and walked out without daring to look at it any longer in case the guilt got compounded.

It turned out my justifications to myself were well-justified - it DID contain some recipes that my other books didn't. Here's one recipe that I tried from it - it's unusual in that paneer/cottage cheese is mixed with moong dal, delicately flavoured, very heavy, and I don't think I'll try it again.

It's not really this yellow!

Warning: The quantities here make A LOT!

Roasted split moong dal: 250 gm
Paneer: 15-16 pieces
Potatoes: 2-3, medium-sized, cubed (The book recommends 8-10 small new potatoes, halved)
Chopped ginger: 2 tsp
Green chillies: 8-10

Cardamom: 2-3
Cinnamon: 3-4 pieces

Red chillies: 2-3, broken into pieces
Cumin seeds/jeera: 1 tsp
Fennel: 1/2 tsp
Bay leaves: 2

Sugar: 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil: 2 tsp
Ghee: A little

Boil the dal in hot water. Cook till half done. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan, fry the paneer pieces and remove. Fry the potatoes.

Add to the dal, and boil till cooked. Add half the chopped ginger and sugar.

Heat more oil in the pan and add a little ghee.

Add the red chilli pieces, cumin seeds, fennel, and bay leaves. Now add the rest of the ginger and the crushed garam masala.

Add the dal.

Bring to a boil and add the panee pieces and green chillies.

Simmer a few minutes.

This goes off to Susan's My Legume Love Affair, hosted this month by Annarasa.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Stack of Goodies

Heaven melts in your mouth

Is it paper? It looks like it," said a Bengali colleague when I held out a box of this and asked him to try some, many years ago. I didn't know too well myself but hazarded a guess. As it turns out, my little knowledge was no dangerous thing, and I was right, though not detailed. (The details are further down.)

Last week, we went home for an important party and came back with enough stuff for a party of our own. At least, it seems that way. We brought back several of two varieties of mangoes, home-made mango pickle, sweetu, haatu (to put it in typical Indian English - that's sweets and "hot"/savouries for the uninitiated). Just before we drove out of the city, I visited the supermarket close to home and when I saw these, it struck me that I could use them for Click - Stacks.

I'd always wanted to do a post on pootarekulu but didn't know much about them beyond their taste. Then, some time ago a Telugu cookery show on TV featured the making of this very traditional, very regional and quite tough-to-make delicacy.

And delicate are they! No wonder they are called paper sweet or mica sweet outside Andhra Pradesh. Can you guess what these sweet rolls of thinner-than-tissue sheets are made from?

Starchy rice flour. According to the people featured on the TV programme, a variety of rice called 'Jaya Biyyam', which is found only in and around that village in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh (it could be Aatreyapuram, I'm not sure) is soaked and ground to a very watery consistency.

An inverted earthen pot is heated from inside, and a cloth dipped in the rice paste is spread on the pot and removed almost immediately. The result is a thin, gauzy sheet of starch - like the one that forms around the vent of the pressure cooker sometimes after cooking the rice. You can see it in the first one in the stack.

The sheets (rekulu) are transferred to another surface, to be given a coating (poota) of finely powdered sugar and ghee. It could contain powdered cardamom too, for extra flavour. A few such sheets are layered and folded to form one pootareku.

The miracle, I believe, is one of texture and experience. At first glance, it looks compact - more and more of the same thing folded over and over. I would judge a good pootareku by this: Just bite into it, and it should literally melt in the mouth, leaving a cool, sweet feeling. It shouldn't smell overwhelmingly of ghee, either. (Sadly, supermarket versions smell both of ghee and plastic.) It looks light. It isn't.

I knew only of the white variety of pootarekulu but the TV show also showed a jaggery version and a "modern" version, which came as rather a shocker to me. The modern version, in addition to the jaggery or the sugar, was filled with cashew nuts and raisins. The next 'value addition' could be coloured pootarekulu - if you begin seeing some after this post, you know where they flicked the idea from! Let me know, I could claim some royalty.

An Uncle tells me more about pootarekulu (also known as mallinga madupulu):
They were usually made by families from the Raju community in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
The tougher but more traditional way of making a pootareku renders it crisp - for this, the sheets in a single unit have to be alternately coated with ghee and sugar, not coated with both as that will make it soggy. (The TV show's guests were preparing them the second way, which Uncle calls the lazy way.)
Uncle didn't know about Jaya Biyyam but said that rice harvested from a crop solely rain-fed (as opposed to one cultivated by flooding the fields) is used to make this sweet (and feed new mothers) as it contains less water.

Here's a recipe if you must absolutely try it, though I doubt the results will even approximate the original.

The first photo is off to join a stack of other treats at Click-Stacks.