Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Beautiful Film on bloging

When ever I am away on my work, I don't get much sleep in new surroundings. I have lots of free time in the evenings and night. I am used to a very hectic schedule most of the time and some times having nothing to do is really depressive. Any way I do try out some embroidery, or creating new designs for embroidery and Rangolis, or read a book. 

I end up listening to the TV. Having it on is like having someone in my room and this continues till I doze off. Mostly I prefer music or programs on travel or on discovery, animal planet etc. But at times it is really difficult to find something worth viewing.

One of those times I was flicking through the channels and settled rather frustratedly to watch a movie. That movie turned out to be very interesting and I just kept on following it till the last.

It was a film on bloging. The film was "Julie and Julia". It is a contrast between two women from different times- both interested in cooking. The first one is Julia Child a Chef very much devoted to cooking and her life in Paris during 1950s. She joins Le Cordon Bleu   to learn the French Cooking. She masters it with much enthusiasm and  then wants to write a cook book in English fo American house wives. It shows how she struggles to translate from French to English, how she experiments and masters each recipe or course  and how she struggles to bring the first volume of the  book in 1960s and second one in 1970s.  She becomes very popular with  TV shows. Her books become one of the most popular ones.

Much later  in 2002, Julie Powell, a young writer, living in New York and doing a job which she doesn't like wants to cook all the 500 and recipes of Julia Child's Book in an year. She describes her trials and tribunals, successes and failures with her project on her blog. She becomes so obsessive about her project and also her blog. She craves for the readers, responses, their appreciations and this leads to a lot of stress. Her husband is very supportive, he keeps on motivating her and tells her she should enjoy her project and bloging and should not get stressed out because of that. But in the end, unable to cope up with her obsession he leaves her. Oh he comes back after a short while. Her blog is written about in The New York Times and other media follow her. She too becomes popular.

I loved every minute of the film. I found so many similarities to what I feel and what I go through with my cooking and especially my bloging...:). Like Julie Powell I too became obsessive with my blog at one time and also wanted appreciation of the readers and following. I became more stressed out as I have to balance my home and my work-both very hectic and lots of responsibilities. Then I took time out and thought out it all. after all I was bloging for fun, to share my knowledge with others, enjoy it to forget stress of home and work places. Then I found my peace. Many a time the most talented also don't get recognition so easily or sometimes not at all no matter how they struggle. So I could perfectly understand Julie's feelings and empathise with her. 

Just watch the movie-so beautifully made. I loved the 1950, their living, how they cooked how they shopped for the ingredients. Wow! Just watch it and let me know...:)

Majjiga Mirapakaayalu-Update

My Chillies are done. they have dried up nicely and taste so good when deep fried in oil.
Dried in hot Sun a nd preserved in a glass bottle.
Deep fried in hot oil

They are good with lentils, Sambar, Rasam  Curd Rice etc. They are easy to make and tasty too.

The Recipe is here:

Try it out and tell me how they are...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Healthy Drinks-1

Sweet  Sweet Sugar Cane Juice

Summers Of India are very hot. The day temperatures in most places are unbearable. From March to June this continues and if monsoon gets delayed it is even more difficult. But Mother Nature is so benevolent that she provides us with appropriate fruits, vegetables and other produce which helps us in surviving the seasons.

Well for summers we have so many natural products to enjoy. They are healthy, nutritious and help us to stay fit and healthy. One of them is Sugarcane. 

It is known as "Ganna" in Hindi and "Cheruku" in Telugu.

Sugar cane is a tall perennial grass. Its stem is tall and thick and it is grown from the cuttings of these stems. Stem cuttings are hand planted in the fields and this is the most popular method.The stems should have at least one bud. Once planted many harvests can be taken

It requires, tropical or temperate climates. It originated and was cultivated in Asia and South East Asia. Later on it was introduced to Egypt, Africa and introduced in America by Columbus.

India is perhaps the second largest producer of the cane. My state of Andhra Pradesh also grows this extensively as a commercial crop. 

It is a very popular commercial crop, as sugar, jaggery, molasses, Falernum, Rum and ethanol are produced out of it. The juice is extracted for this purpose and used. The  waste or the remaining fibrous matter known as "Bagasse" is used as fire wood, in paper industry, to protect house holds plants in summer etc. In India the Bagasse is used as fuel especially for making jaggery.

  • Can be eaten directly 
  • Extract juice and used as a refreshing drink
  • Sugar,  jaggery etc are used in our daily lives as sweeteners

We as children used to eat canes directly cut from the fields. We used to pull out the skin with our teeth, chew the inner fibrous portion thoroughly and then spit out the remaining Bagasse. Our mothers were worried that our teeth would be damaged. So they asked the canes to be cut into manageable pieces, remove the outer skin and then give to us. Actually vendors sell them from door to door in the season. Once we choose the cane they cut them into pieces remove the outer skin, so that they can be chewed. It is a hit with children even these days.

One of the most popular product derived from fresh sugar cane is its juice. It is popular through out India but more so in State.You will see one or two at each corner in each main street or busy areas. 

This is the crusher used for extracting sugar cane juice
See how the canes are fed into the crushers for juice.
               Cane juice

Benefits of consuming sugar cane juice are many:
  • It is natural and has no side effects
  • It is a good thirst quencher
  • It energises the drinker immediately
  • It is best in summers but can be consumed through the year
  • When one suffers from sun stroke, this revives the patient instantly
  • It is said to aid digestion as it has mild laxative
  • It improves the functioning of kidneys
  • It is said to be a good tonic for those who are suffering from jaundice
The vendors crush the canes by passing through two rollers to extract juice and then serve. The only problem with the fresh juice here in India is that the vendors who sell this is  don't keep their machines or vessels clean and also the ice used by them is not good. Because of this there are high chances of getting some infection or the other.

So what I do is go early as soon as the vendors start their business in the morning, see that they clean their machinery thoroughly, take my own vessel for collecting the juice directly and few bottles to carry it back.

The juice should be consumed immediately or else it gets spoiled. I store it in fridge till afternoon and then consume during the hot part of the day. But it should not be stored more than 6-7 hours even in refrigerator.

Now for the recipes..these are my own which my family and friends like it a lot....

1. Sweetie

Sugar cane juice     1 glass per head
Ice cubes

  • Chill the juice, add ice cubes and serve.
  • It is sweet naturally but you may add a little bit sugar if you feel so. Sometimes the juice may not be sweet enough too.

2. Honey-licious

Cane juice              1 huge glass
Honey                     1-2 tbsp
Lemon Juice            2 tsps
Salt                         a pinch
Cinnamon powder     1/2 tsp
Ice cubes

  • Chill the juice till served
  • In a tall glass pour the juice, half of honey and salt.
  • Stir it lightly till the honey and salt are mixed
  • Add the ice cubes and carefully pour the remaining honey on to the top of the cubes
  • Sprinkle cinnamon powder and serve
  • Try roasting the cinnamon slightly before powdering. It tastes differently

3. Tangy Treat

Cane Juice       1 huge glass
Lemon juice     2 tsp
Ginger juice      1 tsp
Sugar        To taste (if required)
Salt          a pinch
Ice cubes
Lemon slice 

  • Chill the juice
  • Just before serving mix the juice, sugar, lemon juice, ginger juice and salt, stir it lightly
  • pour it in the serving glass and add ice cubes
  • Cut a very thin slice of lemon. Make a small cut in the slice and fit it on the rim of the serving glass
  • Serve immediately

3. The Indian Tadka

Cane juice          1 huge glass
Lemon juice        2 tsps
Cumin                 1/2 tsp
Bishops weed or   1/4 tsp
Carom seeds         
Honey                 1-2 Tbsp
Black Rock salt       1/4 tp
ice cubes

  • Chill the cane juice till served
  • Roast the Cumin seeds and Bishop's weed separately and grind each to a coarse powder separately.
  • In a glass add the juice, honey, salt and stir it to mix them well. 
  • Add the ice cubes and sprinkle the spice powder  and serve.

4. Fresh n Minty

Cane juice        1 huge glass
Lemon Juice     1-2 tsps
Mint leaves       a handful
Honey               1 tbsp
Salt                  a pinch
crushed Ice      

  • Chill the juice till served
  • Wash the mint leaves and save 4-5 leaves for decoration. Extract juice out of the remaining ones. If you need strain it.
  • In a glass add the  cane juice,  lemon juice, salt, mint juice and half of the honey. Mix well.
  • add the crushed ice, pour on it the reaming honey, decorate with the mint leaves and serve

5. Spicy Punch

Cane juice          1-huge glass
Lemon juice        half a lemon
Honey                 2 Tbsps
3 Cs*   powder     1 tsp
Rock salt              1 tsp
Crushed ice

  • Chill the cane juice
  • The 3 Cs* are-Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon- roast the cloves and cinnamon slightly and powder all together. Take 1/4 to 1/2tsp of that powder
  • In a glass take the cane juice, lemon juice, honey  and rock salt. Mix well.
  • Add crushed ice and sprinkle the spice powder. Serve immediately

Note: adjust the ingredients-salt, honey lemon juice, ginger juice etc according to your taste

Some more recipes in my next post. Hope you try it out and enjoy it. Please let me know your comments and suggestions if any.....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sri Rama Navami Specials

Rama Navami is the day on which Lord Rama's Birth day as well as marriage is celebrated. Rama is known as Marayada Purushottama. He showed how a man should lead life. A man's responsibilities and duty towards his father, mother, brother and wife as well as a king's duty towards his subjects- all this he had shown through his own life and behaviour. That is why he is respected and worshipped so much.

On this day we offer special prayers. Whether in temples or at our homes we cook a feast for offering it to the Lord. I am  sharing with you the most important recipes. These are easy to make and very healthy too.

1. Paanakam

This is a drink which not only quenches thirst but also energises us. In olden days this drink was prepared especially in summers. In marriages there is a tradition of offering this drink to the groom and his family and relatives when they arrive at the bride's place before marriage. This is a welcome drink.  This drink is filled in two pots-made of gold or silver or at least brass depending upon the status of the bride's family and offered to the groom's party. The pots become the property of groom's sisters. So for each brother's marriage sisters get at least one such pot.

This is good for health as it is made of natural resources. It can be consumed in any season but more so in summer.
Water       1 liter
Jaggery     250-500gms
Cardamoms  2-3
Pepper corns   1tsp

  • Take chilled water if you want it so. I use water chilled in earthen ware pot. It is naturally cooled, hygienic and tasty when compared with refrigerated water.
  • Grate jaggery. 
  • Adjust the quantity of jaggery and pepper to your taste. I like it very sweet so I use 500gms of jaggery. Moreover sometimes the jaggery may not be too sweet. 
  • Ground cardamoms to fine powder
  • Crush pepper corns 
  • Mix all the ingredients till jaggery is completely dissolved. Leave it for a while sand serve.

2. Vada Pappu

This is very tasty and healthy snack. It is easy to make. In fact I make it very often. This can be served as a salad too. Traditionally this was served in our marriages along with the above drink.

Split and husked green lentil    250 gms
Cucumber (green)         1
Raw mango (small)        1
Green chillies               1
Fresh coconut               1/4th
Curry leaves                1-2 sprigs
Green coriander          1 bunch
Salt                            To taste

For Tempering:

Oil       1 Tbsp
Bengal gram lentil       2 tsp
Black gram lentil         2 tsp
Mustard seeds             2 tsp
Cumin seeds               2tsp
Fenugreek seeds         1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies        1

Asafoetida                1/2 tsp

  • Wash the green lentil thoroughly, and soak it in enough water for 2 hours or till it is soaked. Then drain the water and keep aside.
  • Peel and chop the cucumber into small cubes
  • Peel and grate raw mango.
  • Grate coconut.
  • Chop green chilli into small pieces.
  • Mix all these ingredients along with salt and keep aside
  • In a pan heat oil to smoking point and lower the heat. Add Bengal gram lentil, fry for two minutes, add black gram lentil and fenugreek seeds, fry for a minute. Now add mustard seeds, cumin, red chilli broken into pieces, curry leaves and asafoetida. Fry till you hear the crackling sound. Now add this to the above mixture, mix well, garnish with finely chopped green coriander and serve.
  • You can chill it for some time before serving in summer season.
  • You can substitute lemon juice for raw mango when it is not available.
  • Adjust the ingredients-chilli, coconut, cucumber, mango or lemon juice according to your taste. Some like more of lentil. I prefer more veggies.
  • A small part of coconut and raw mango can be chopped into small pieces and added along with the grated ones. It gives some texture to the recipe.
  • You can add seedless grapes and pomegranate seeds to make it more interesting.

Apart from these many cooked dishes are usually offered on all religious and festive occasions. But for Lord Rama these two are must.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Summer Specials

I have been receiving so many requests for recipes on pickles, papads, crispies and other recipes for summer season. I am sorry I was busy so far travelling. Now that I am back and settled down a bit, I am going to post regularly all these.

So keep an eye on my blog for recipes on authentic Andhra pickles, papads, vadiyaalu(crispies) and many other dishes........