Monday, March 31, 2008

Baingan bartha pasta, why not?

Two weeks back I glanced upon Rachel Ray gleefully mashing up roasted eggplants and cherry tomatoes for a pasta dish. A few days back at the grocery store my little girl squealed with delight when she saw the shiny purple eggplants and I remembered Ray’s pasta. Yesterday after going through her recipe I was thinking of ways to sneak in some heat into the dish to satisfy our spice-craving tongues and it came to me, why not marry Italian to Indian and see what happens. So that’s how it all happened. This plus this and little tweaks here and there and you get this smoky, tangy, silky eggplant with pasta, simple as that.

Fettucine : half of a 12 0z pack
One large eggplant
One onion, thinly sliced
Four tomatoes, cubed
Two or three green chillies, sliced ( I used 1 jalapeno pepper as I had no green chillies, works great)
Two cloves of garlic, crushed
one inch piece of ginger crushed
chilly powder: 2 tsp
corriander powder: 3tsp
turmeric powder: ½ tsp
olive oil : 2 T
zest and juice of half of a lime

You are going to need just half of the cooked bartha as a sauce for the pasta, so you can store the other half for a later meal. The pasta dish yields four full servings.

Roast the eggplant. You can bake it in an oven at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until the eggplant collapse, grill or roast it on a grill or gas flame . I roasted the eggplant over the gas flame. Make several piercing all over eggplant and place it directly on the gas or grill flame. Keep turning it around frequently and make sure it is roasted evenly. Halfway through the process you may want to make deep cuts length wise along the bulkier bottom part of the eggplant so that the insides gets cooked. Once roasted, keep aside. Peel off the skin once it has cooled off and mash well.

Heat oil in a large sauce pan, saute the garlic and ginger just until their flavors come out, add the onions and sauté till golden brown. Now add the chilly powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder and fry the masala till the raw smell is gone. Add tomatoes and let it cook till soft. Add the eggplant and cook on low heat stirring often. Once the bartha is done remember to keep aside half of it before mixing in the pasta .Bring a large pot of water to boil , add the pasta and cook to desired tenderness. Drain and add the pasta to the bartha immediately. Mix well. You can garnish it with minced fresh ginger or cilantro.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Veeshi pathiri with spicy chicken fry : a slice of Malabar

Pathiri is the common term for the myriad varieties of bread in mappila cuisine. Veeshuka means to sway, to swirl in Malayalam, veeshi is its past form, and veeshi pathiri is a pathiri made by swirling the pan. Isn’t food the most scrumptious way to learn a new language?

To make these delicate, melt-in-your-mouth pathiris, besides rice, salt and water, you need a good non-stick pan and a willingness to have fun. A fine grain variety of rice which is shorter than the basmati variety and generally called ‘biriyani rice’ is used to make these pathiris in kerala. In the US I use the readily available basmati rice and is pleased with the results. Making these pathiris is a breeze if you get used to it- pour, swirl, cover, lift up. I marvel at those cooks from pre-nonstick age who swirled heavy pots called urulis to make these pathiris. For breakfast these pathiris are generally paired with a sweet dressing made of ripe bananas, milk and sugar-mash the bananas , add stir in milk and sugar and pour over the pathiris. They go very well with any dry curry too.

Soak the rice in luke warm water for three hours, and then grind to a fine watery batter adding enough salt, and a pinch of cardamom powder for some extra flavor. This has to be a really diluted thin batter for the pathiris to be thin.

Pour a small ladle full of this batter on a heated non-stick pan and swirl the pan quickly so that the batter coats all over. Gaps in between are perfectly fine, so let go of the urge to fill up the gaps. Doing so will only do more harm and make the pathiris thicker. It is also important to use just enough batter to form a thin coating. Once the pan is coated with batter cover with a lid and let it cook for thirty seconds or so. Since the batter is so thin it takes just a few seconds to cook, and when you find the edges curling up it is time to remove the pathiri from the pan. You may use a spatula or spoon to remove them if you feel confident, but the easiest way to take them off without breaking them is with your hand. Lift up an edge carefully, and then gently fold it over twice so that you have a small triangle and place it on the serving dish. Folding them will also prevent them from sticking together.

Spicy chicken fry:

This is another lip-smacking recipe from my aunt Jiya and it goes really well with veeshi pathiri. This is not a very elegant dish to look at, but it more than makes up with its taste. Chicken pieces are boiled with spices and then shallow fried in the gravy, and after all this handling the chicken naturally falls apart into crisp bits and pieces smothered with spices, and that is the secret of its oomph.

Chicken, cut into serving size pieces, cleaned, and washed: 1lb
Onion, chopped: 1
Red chilly powder: 1/2T
Corriander powder: ½ T
Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
Fennel powder: ½ tsp
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp
Curry leaves , a few
Oil- 4 T
Fresh cilantro for garnishing

Pressure cook the chicken with all the ingredients except the onions and curry leaves for two whistles, or cover and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken is just done. Try to use as little water as possible. Once done, take out the chicken pieces and keep the gravy aside. Heat oil in a kadai or a heavy pan, and shallow fry the chicken pieces until well browned. Remove them. Add the onions and curry leaves to the kadai or pan, and sauté till the onions start to turn golden brown. Now pour the gravy from boiling the chicken into the pan and simmer till it reduces into a thick paste, add the chicken pieces back into the pan and stir fry till all the gravy dries up and coats the chicken pieces. Serve hot.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Beyond borders: Couscous from Morocco

As I was walking towards the computer ready to type this recipe out, I heard an enthusiastic cook on the TV saying over a bean salad "one of the best ways to enjoy cultures is through food". I can't agree more with that unknown cook, the ingredients used, the methods of cooking and the way in which the food is served all hint at unique cultural traits.

Couscous is a very versatile semolina product, made by coarsely grinding the semolina wheat and then coating it with fine wheat powder. This cereal is the staple food of North africa, and can be used in many ways, as a main dish served with meat or vegetable sauce or as a dessert. It goes back to the Berber people, and has been mentioned in a 13th century cookbook as a recipe known all over the world. I first came across this dish at a Moroccon friend's place. She served it with a full-flavored meat sauce on a beautiful large platter, and six of us gathered around the platter and ate from the same platter with our hands moving over the food in harmony.Even more than the fluffiness of the grain or the soft buttery vegetables in the sauce, it was that act of eating out of the same dish that fascinated me. Eating from a single plate is very common in the African and middle-eastern cultures irrespective of relegion even to this day, with the entire family gathering around the large platter for the main meals everyday. I was aware of this custom in islamic culture, and can recollect seeing old photos of wedding feasts, called supras, from back home in India where biriyani is served in large platters and groups of people sit around each dish and eat from it. In my country we have lost this tradition, and coming from a place where food touched by someone's hand is considered as unfit to be eaten, I did feel hesitant to dig into the food with all the hands moving around it. Midway through the meal, I noticed how all the butternut squash pieces in the sauce had silently walked over to my side of the dish after I mentioned that I loved its buttery taste, and that undid all my self-conciousness.

couscous served in a pretty Moroccon platter

Meat or chicken and vegetables are stewed in a large pot over which the couscous is placed to steam absorbing the flavour from the sauce. To get the grains fluffy , it is taken out of the steamer twice, cooled down, rubbed with oil and water and then placed back on the steamer. Precooked couscous which requires considerably less time is available in most of the middle eastern and meditteranean markets in the US. I used my keralawala steamer meant for adas and idiyappams, using the base which is meant to boil water in as the sauce pot.

Shall we try?

couscous: 3 cups
one whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
tomato: 5
carrot: 4
butternut squash: half of a squash
zucchini: 2
quarter of a cabbage
turnip : 2
parsley, chopped : 1 cup
cilantro, chopped : 1/2 cup
olive oil : 1/2 cup +2T
turmeric: 1/4 tsp
cinnamon powder: 1T
freshly ground black pepper: 2 tsp
ghee: 2T
grated fresh ginger: 2 tsp
Brown the chicken pieces in a pan and set aside. (Alternatively, you can omit this and broil the chicken in the end to give them that roasted look). Chop the onions into large pieces. Crush 4 tomatoes , and cut the remaining one into two halves. Cut the zucchini , squash, carrots and turnips into halves.

In the bottom part of the steamer, mix together the browned chicken pieces, onions, crushed tomatoes, grated ginger, parsley, cilantro, turmeric powder, pepper powder, cinnamon powder, salt, 1 table spoon ghee, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and salt. Place the pot on the stove and cook uncovered.Meanwhile , in a large tray mix couscous with half a cup of cold water and a table spoon of olive oil. Work up the moisture thoroughly into the couscous with your hand. Arrange the top part of the steamer on the sauce pot, and place all the couscous in the top part. Let it cook uncovered till you see a steady steam coming out through the couscous- about 15 to twenty minutes. Give the couscous a stir just once ir twice during the steaming.

Now remove the couscous into the tray and quickly sprinkle about half a cup of cold water and salt and mix well with your hand. Let it cool down for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables to the sauce. Mix one table spoon of olive oil into the couscous and place it back over the sauce pot for the second steaming. Cook for another fifteen minutes.

In the serving platter, layer the couscous evenly.Then pour half of the liquid over it.Place the chicken pieces in the centre, and the vegetables around the chicken. Pour the remaning liquid from the sauce into a bowl and serve along with the couscous. This makes around four generous serving. Live, give and love!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Red-red pineapple chicken

I like to imagine the hot oil whispering to the red chilly powder " I would like to do to you what spring does to the cherry trees" and the chilly powder blushing to a deeper red while I cook this curry, well atleast on days I can afford the luxury of thinking of Neruda and all while trying to keep pace with a fast growing 10 month old. The rest of the days I make this curry because it is bold enough to make an appealing meal paired with roti or rice with no other sides, and also because it's just easy. There's a wee little too much oil used in this curry, and that's where it gets it lipsmacking taste.You can use fresh tomatos instead of the paste, but it's the tomato paste along with chilly powder sauteed in oil that gives the dish the deep red color.And with the tiny bursts of sweetness from pineapple bits every now and then in the fiery curry, you might be inspired to create poetry of your own.

chicken breast, cut into small pices: 1 lb
a quarter of an onion, sliced
ginger-garlic paste : 1 tsp
red chilly powder: 2 heaped tsp
tomato paste: 3 tsp
oil: around 5T
cilantro, chopped: 1/4 cup
pineapple cut into tiny pieces: 1T

Wash and drain the chicken. Heat oil , and add the red chilly powder and salt, and let the chilly powder cook until it gives out a deep red colour, this should take around 45 seconds to a minute. Keep stirring to prevent the powder from burning. Add the onion, ginger and garlic paste and saute till it is golden brown. Now add the tomato paste, cilantro and chicken , mix well, cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is done. Make sure you stir it now and then to avoid burning.Once the chicken is done, add the pineapple pieces , mix and serve.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuna balls stuffed with cheddar cheese

Like tuna? Looking for an easy appetizer? Here's something that might work for you. Deep fried tuna balls with fresh herbs and a touch of golden cheddar cheese in the centre, and when arranged on your favourite platter with a dipping sauce, they are a visual treat too. Perfect to win over your guests right away. The hardest part of these tiny balls is in shaping and stuffing the balls so you can roll the balls a day or two ahead and dip and fry them on the day of the party. I use cheddar cheese because i love it, and also because i love it and so on. Actually, since very little cheese is used as stuffing a strong tasting cheese is needed to stand out amidst the taste of herbs. You can also choose to do away with the cheese stuffing and simply have tuna balls.

One six ounce can of tuna
green chilli: 2
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
an inch piece of ginger
1 egg white, lightly beaten
half a cup of bread crumbs or more.
1 slice of cheddar cheese
shape, stuff, roll, dip- having fun
Grind together all the ingredients except the tuna, and then add the tuna and pulse it three or four times. Now for the shaping and stuffing. Cutting the cheese into tiny cubes will make them easier to work with. Take a lime sized amount of tuna mix and shape into a small circle on your hand, place the cheese bits on the center and fold over from all sides covering the cheese completely. Gently shape into a ball, dip in the egg white and then coat the crumbs all over the ball. Deep fry and serve with your favourite dip. One can of tuna will give you roughly about 8 to 9 stuffed balls and 10 to 11 tuna balls without stuffing.

Tuna balls with rava coating

I replaced the bread crumbs with rava or sooji once just for the heck of it. The result was a very crisp coating. Rava doesn't do a good job of covering up the tuna balls well and oil swept into almost all of the balls. Not a pretty sight, the coating however was crisper and stayed so for a longer time than the bread crumbs coating. My favourite? If you plan to eat them within an hour or so definitely go for bread crumbs. If you want them to stay crisp for a longer time and don't mind the extra oil sweeping into the fish try the rava coating. Either way, these tiny balls are delightful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mango-avocado chutney

Avocado brings in its richness, while raw mango gives it its sourness, jalapeno and cilantro livens things up while small onion adds a zing.Guacamole with raw-mango in it or chutney with avocado in it- choose any label you want for this tangy mix of food cultures, you might find yourself making it often. Pair it with upma or crisp dosa and it becomes a creamy rich chutney, dip a chip into it and it turns into an interesting guacamole and to top it all it is just so easy to make.
Blend to a fine paste half of a firm raw mango after peeling off the skin , half of an avocado , half of an jalapeno pepper, an inch piece of ginger , one small onion , 1/4 cup chopped cilantro , a squeeze of lime and salt . Enjoy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Semiya Biriyani

Thin strands of vermicelli delicately curling over tender chicken pieces and sending up wafts of spices- does that interest you? Try semiya biriyani as a snack or as a meal. This must be the most loved snack in our home, it marked all our special days, and turned many ordinary days into special ones.

Thin roasted vermicelli : 200 grams
Chicken breast halves, cut into fairly thin strips: 4
Onion, sliced: 1
Tomato, cubed : 1
Green chilli, crushed: 4 medium seized
Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tsp
Chilly powder: 1 tsp
corriander powder: 2 tsp
turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
cinnamon: 1 inch stick
clove: 3
cardamom: 1
cilantro, chopped: 2T
oil: 3T
ghee: 2 tsp W
Water : 1 cup

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions, crushed green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and saute till the onions are transparent.Add all the powdered spices, mix well and fry them up till they give you all their flavors. In goes the chopped tomato, chicken strips, and salt and cook till the chicken is done. Pour a little hot water if needed.

Meanwhile heat the ghee in a thick pan or kadai and add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to it. Pour a cup of water and when it gets to boil add the vermicelli one handful at a time stirring carefully to prevent the vermicelli from getting too mushy. Once its cooked gently stir in the vermicelli to the chicken masala and garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

You can spread out the cooked vermicelli on a tray and let it cool for a while before adding to the masala. This helps them from getting too mashed up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mellow yellow curry : Pumpkin in yogurt curry

The basic mooru kaachiyathu recipe goes like this. Beat the yogurt well and keep aside. Make a tadka of a sliceof onion, one clove of garlic sliced, jeera, one or two dry red chillies, curry leaves, a pinch of turmeric. Add the tadka to the beaten yogurt with a little salt and mix. Alternatively you can pour the yogurt into the tadka while it is cooking, and heat up the yogurt . Make sure you reduce the heat to low before adding the yogurt to the pot to prevent the yogurt from curdling. Today, I tried pumpkin with this basic curry and was surprised by the result. The mild sweetness of pumpkin really goes well with the sour yogurt, and coupled with a spicy eggplant curry, the meal was a treat for the tastebuds.
For pumpkin mooru kaachiyathu : cut the pumpkin into small pieces and boil in just enough water to cover the pieces,with a crushed green chilli and a pinch of turmeric. Make a tadka as above and pour into the pumpkin. Then add the yogurt too and mix well. A sweet-sour seesaw for your tongue is ready.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Moong bean with raw plantain

This is a thick curry , which usually plays the side role on our lunch plates back home, with a thinner fish, dal or yougurt based curry as the lead star. Nothing fancy about this wholesome curry, be it in the ingredients or in the cooking. I think 'rustic' would be an apt word to describe it.

One raw plantain, cubed
1/4 cup moon beans , soaked for half an hour
Shredded coconut, 2 T
2 green chillies
Jeera , 1/4 tsp
Garlic , 1 clove

Put the plantains and moong beans in a pressure cooker and pour enough water just to cover them(soaking the dal is not necessary, but it makes the dal a whole lot softer). Pressure cook on medium to high heat until two whistles and then cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Grind coconut, chillies, jeera and garlic coarsely, and add to the cooked dal and plantain with enough salt, and bring it to a boil. There, your very rustic plantain-dal curry is ready.

If you are a fish-fanatic like me, you can add some small fishto this curry. Back home, my mom usually adds cuttle fish or sardines, and it simply lifts up the curry to another level. Clean up the fish and place it on top of the plantain-dal in the cooker and cook as explained above. After cooking, carefully take out the fish and remove the flesh from the bones , discard the bones and mash up the fish into the mixture nicely. I used canned sardines this time to cut off the picking fish part. All you have to do is to mash the canned sardines with a fork and add to the cooked curry .

Sunday, February 03, 2008

What is Indian curry leaf doing in Chinese Chilli Chicken?

Curry leaf and Chinese- I know the words by themselves look odd when put next to each other in a sentence. But seriously, how long can you stick to a recipe without adding something of your own to the dish? My mother's version of chilli chicken has plenty of curry leaves swimming in the gravy, and yes, these aromatic leaves make the curry all the more exciting.

12 small pieces of chicken
One large onion, chopped
Green chillis, 5 or6 , slit lengthwise
5 or 6 plumb cloves of garlic , sliced
an inch piece of ginger, minced
curry leaf, 2 sprigs
chopped spring onions, 1 T
freshly crushed black pepper, 1 tsp
soy sauce , 2 or 3 t
corn flour mixed in a little cold water, 2 tsp

Let's get to the stove now.
Place the chicken pieces in a pot, and add enough water to cover. Add two tablespoons of soy sauce , cover and cook until the chicken is just done. Take out the chicken pieces from the liquid , and reserve the liquid. Heat oil in a kadai or wok, add the chicken pieces (be careful, the water in the chicken and hot oil together will give you some drama here) and let them brown nicely. Remove the chicken from the wok, and add the garlic and ginger. Once the garlic turns soft, add the green chillies , onions and curry leaves,and cook on high heat. Once the onions and chillies start to wilt , add the spring onions and pepper powder. Bring the browned chicken pieces back to the wok, stir fry for a minute or two and then pour the liquid. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium pour the cornflour mix and let it cook until the gravy is thickened. This not-so-chinese curry goes well with fried rice and plain rice and even roti.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Easy-dinner : foil-wrapped baked salmon and penne with vegetables

These days I am on the look for simple and healthy recipes that doesn't need a lot of watching over the pot. This baked salmon and pasta dinner meets all the requirements and tastes wonderful too.

Wash and pat dry the salmon fillets. Mix together fresh parsley or rosemary or any herb you fancy(fresh herbs give the best results), minced garlic, a little lime or lemon juice, a pinch of freshly crushed black pepper, salt and rub it on the salmon fillets. Add a dab of butter on each fillet and wrap each fillet in foil. Place then on a baking dish and bake in apre-heated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. This way the fish remains flavorful and very tender. Time saver tip : line the baking dish with foil so that juices running out of the wraps will not mess up your dish. I usually marinate the fish fillets in the morning, cover them in foil and leave them in the fridge.

Pasta :
One cup penne pasta
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, diced and crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 spring onion, chopped
a pinch of crushed dry chilli
a little parsley, chopped
Olive oil , 1 tablespoon

Cook and drain the pasta. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pan, add minced garlic and dry chilli flakes, throw in the mushrooms and spring onion and leave it until the mushrooms are fairly done. Now add the tomato and salt and simmer for three to four minutes. In goes the zucchini and parsley, and when the zucchini is done -this should take just two or three minutes- add the drained pasta and mix well and serve hot.

Colours for your baby: Avocado and Cherry

Purple for breakfast and green for lunch

Bring in the colours to your babies your diet - that's an easy way to make sure baby gets a variety of food and help you from setting into a pattern feeding your baby the same old food everyday. I didn't think of avocado as a feasible baby food until I came across this site. High in fat and calories avocados are a boon to babies who are busy all day climbing stairs and crawling all over the house. They can be served as such or mixed with other fruits. Cut the avocado into halves, remove the seed, scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork. You can wrap the other half in a plastic foil and store in the fridge for a day or two and mash it when needed. To make watery fruit and vegetables puree thicker and easier to feed, add a spoon ful of mashed avocado.

This week we got some sweet juicy cherries. Last evening my other-half fed our baby a cherry from his hand, and she eagerly ate it all up and clamoured for more. What relief when baby asks for food! Today morning she had pureed cherries with oatmeal cereal for breakfast, and made it known that she really likes this new food with a toothless grin. To puree cherries remove the seeds and cut the flesh into small bits. Add a little water and simmer it until its soft, and mash it up with a spoon or use the blender. To detect allergic reactions to new food, make sure you introduce them one at a time. (More on food allergies.) Have a colourful day!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fiery Tales : Moluttathu with kappa

Thankfully, recreating the tastes of home doesn't always mean hours spent in the kitchen chopping, slicing, stirring and watching over the pot. This fish curry, endearingly called Moluttathu or Moliyar ( molaku meaning chilly) around Malabar region is so easy to make and such a tease for your tongue that it is a daily fare in most of the homes around the region. A yellow coconut based curry, a red moluttathu, two or three sides of colorful vegetables, our lunches back home always have been colorful.This curry can be made with a wide variety of fish, but smaller fish like sardine, mackeral, silver belly fish are more commonly used.

Ingredients :

Half an onion , sliced
One tomato, sliced
An inch piece of ginger, crushed
One or two cloves of garlic, crushed
One green chilli, slit length wise
Two teaspoons chilli powder
Half teaspoon turmeric powder
A pinch of powdered fennel seeds
fish of your choice
juice of a lemon sized piece of tamarind

Simply put together all these, except the fish and the tamarind juice in a sauce pan or pot , mix it up nicely with your hand giving it a squeeze or two, pour the tamarind juice and bring it to a boil. Add the fish pieces, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Make a tadka of fenugreek seeds, one or two small red onions sliced and curry leaves, and pour it over the curry. That's it, no grinding, no sauteing, no stirring. Enjoy the curry with a rice-dal combination, or with kappa.

Today we had mullan moluttathu and kappa for lunch. Mullan (silver belly fish)being a small bony fish, you actually spend more time picking up the delicate flesh from the bones and eating the dish than cooking the curry; perfect for a day when you don't want to spend too much of your time and energy in the kitchen and yet want a nostalgia inducing meal.

Mullan or Silver belly fish

A fiery fish curry and kappa, my entry for RCI: cuisine of kerala event.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Warming up

It's been too long a break. Long enough to make me feel like a newcomer into food blogging :) She gave me the push I badly needed to get back to food-blogging. Her piggy bank story inspires me, but even more than that the sheer joy with which she shares her recipes and their stories warms me up. Keep going, girl!

Years back, watching my friend's newborn snuggle up resting his teenyweeny face on her breast, I was hit by a painful yearning to become a mom. A few months back, watching my mom carefully feed my baby her first solid food, nature or love or whatever it was struck again and am already looking forward to becoming a grandma:). Where I come from, homemade rice cereal called kurukku is given as the first solid food to babies because it's easy to digest, and generally a brownish variety of rice called navara ari is preferred for its higher nutritional value. My little girl was five and a half months old when she first tasted it- a spoonful the first day, a little more the next day, and a little more, thus my mom got her eating almost half a cup of rice kurukku thrice a day by the time baby and I had to come back to the U.S. Grandma magic, you see. She also packed finely powdered and roasted rice, ragi/muthari and wheat, doing all the work by herself to make sure her grandchild's food stays fresh.

navara ari

Rice (or ragi or wheat) is soaked in water for an hour, drained well and finely powdered in small quantities. This is then slowly roasted over low heat in a thick-bottomed pan to ensure no moisture is trapped. Carefully made, these powdered grains stay good for months in the fridge, and it is common practise to make and store these powdered grains in larger quantities. Mix about a quarter cup of this powdered grain in one cup of water and bring to a boil in a heavy- bottomed pan. Once it gets boiling reduce the heat to low and cook till it becomes a smooth and fairly thick paste, stirring all the time to avoid cleaning up a messy pan. If her kurukku is watery my girl thinks it is some game and starts blowing rasperries as I try to feed her, so I make sure it is thick enough. Back home a dash of salt and ghee is added to these kurukkus. If you would rather keep the salt away from your baby, a ripe fruit like banana or apple can be added to make these more appealing for your little gourmet. I sometimes use coconut jaggery too, by simply melting a tiny bit of jaggery in hot water and passing it through a sieve to remove any coarse lump, and then adding it to the pan.

coconut jaggery

This page says "Sweet coconut toddy is boiled to 1100C to 1200C and allowed to cool for solidification This so­lidified material is coconut jaggery or ‘gur’."

...and then my princess feasted on navara ari kurukku and a steamed nectarine, kissed me, and fell asleep.