Sunday, November 27, 2011

Colourful Plates

I always make it a point to spend some time browsing or window shopping some of the stalls in exhibitions or sales. Many a time I could pick up some unique pieces of crockery or other such items. A recent addition to my kitchen are colourful ceramic plates for serving:

This is like Chinese Cabbage. I loved this. This is from China.

I loved the above two plates with their shaded colours. They will definitely add colour to any setting. What do you say?

Keep watching for some yummy recipes.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jujube Crispies

In my last post, I told you that this is the season (winter) for the Jujube fruits also known as Indian Dates. They are rich in Vitamin C and many other minerals. Because they are sour in taste, they also reduce nausea.

These are preserved in the form of crispies and pickles, so that we can enjoy them off season too. Here is the recipe for crispies. These are known as Regi Vadiyaalu in Telugu or Ber ke Badiya in Hindi. Though the recipe is simple, the process of cleaning and preparing the fruit is a bit tedious. But the end product is really yummy.


Jujube Fruits       1 Kg
Salt                  50 to 75 Gms
Green Chillies      50 Gms
Cumin Seeds       2 Tbsps

Jujube and Green Chillies

Stone Grinder and Wooden Pestle
  • Put these fruit in a big tub of water, wash very gently but thoroughly by rubbing them between hands. Care should be taken to see that the fruits don't break open. Some of the fruits are very soft and easily break open.
  • Drain them thoroughly and leave them well spread out on a cotton cloth in the shade for 2-3 hrs so that excess water is absorbed or dries away. We use old cotton saris, dhotis or bed sheets for this purpose.
  • Check each of the fruit carefully for these fruits have worms inside. Each fruit scan be pinched open with fingers or use knife and examine for worms. Discard the infested ones.
  • Now grind the cumin seeds to a coarse powder. 
  • Grind the green chillies or red chillies to a paste.
Green Chilly Paste
  • Now comes the tricky part. We have to grind the fruits carefully without breaking the seeds inside.
  • One way is to squeeze the fruits with your fingers/hand to bring out the pulp. This is OK with most of the fruits as they are soft and very easily break open. But some are firm. Such fruits should be separated and use a knife to slice them with out breaking the seed.
  • Some people discard the seeds. But that way most of the flesh is lost as it is attached to these seeds. 
  • I use the traditional  stone grinder along with a wooden pestle. Here it is very easy to grind the fruit with out breaking the seed, by controlling the pressure or force and also angling the strike of the pestle used for pounding. One need not grind much as it is enough if the skins of the fruit separate and the flesh comes out.
Grounded Jujubes
  • Now take this fruit into a bowl. add green chilly paste, salt and cumin powder. Mix well. Check and adjust the salt and chilly.
Jujube Mixture
  • Spread a thick polythene sheet or a cotton sheet and make small round patties on to the sheet taking lemon sized portions. Let them dry in the hot sun for a day or two and reverse them and dry them for another day or two until they are completely dry. 
Jujube Crispies -Sun Dried
  • Store them in air tight container.
  • One or two can be eaten as a snack. Children will love this as this is sweet, sour and hot at the same time. this is good for health and reduces nausea. But one should not eat too many at a time.

  1. The quantity of salt depends on how sour the fruits are. So add a little at a time and taste it. Don't add all the quantity at a time.
  2. The quantity of green chillies also depends upon the sourness of the fruit. this should also be added a little at a time and then decided.
  3. Some add dried red chillies instead of green ones. If that is the case, soak them in enough water and make a paste and adjust the quantity according to your taste.
  4. I prefer the green ones as they taste better

Hope you like them......

Monday, November 21, 2011

Season For Indian Dates-Jujubes

It is winter time here in India. We South Indians are lucky to have a pleasant climate this time of the year, though day times are hot enough. This is the season for many fruits and vegetables through out India. So we enjoy them.

One of the berries unique to India is Indian Date. It is also know as Chinese Date, Korean Date or Red Date. This is Botanically known as Ziziphus Jujube. It is known as Ber in Hindi, Regi Pallu in Telugu and Badarika Phalam in Sanskrit. 

This is the Bigger variety used as a snack-known as Seema regi or Ganga Regi in Telugu

The fruits are rich in Vitamin 'C' and contain, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. 

It is grown from  the regions of Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Korea. 

The tree is a medium sized one, bushy with thorns on its bark, small oval shaped thick leaves. It grows well in hot climates and desserts or semi arid to arid regions. It can tolerate cold climates too.

The fruit is available in the winter months of October to February and are green when raw and turn to red/dark maroon when they ripe. The fruit are sour when half ripe and when fully ripe taste sweet and sour. 

Religious Significance: 

The tree is associated with Lord Shiva. Its fruit are offered to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivaratri. The crispies made out of these fruits along with other ingredients are also offered to Lord Ganesha on Vinayaka Chaturthi.

There is also the story of Sabari. Sabari was a tribal woman very pious and was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. She comes to know that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama will visit her. She continues her prayers and devotion just hoping for that visit of the Lord. She grows old but lives just with the hope of seeing the Lord. When Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana visit her, she is so old that she can hardly lift her head to see them. her eye sight becomes very poor. She does not have any thing to offer to lord except for Jujube fruits. She bites into each fruit to check whether it is sweet or not and then offers it to Lord. It is considered sin to offer food tasted by us to any one else especially to God. But Lord happily eats them all, showing that God loves HIS devotees, blesses her, gives her Moksha (liberation of soul from the birth and death cycles) and her soul reaches the Lord. 
The tree is also considered sacred by the Sikh community. The Golden temple in Amritsar has a ‘Ber’ tree called the ‘Beri Sahib’ in its central courtyard, which is worshipped.

Medicinal Value:

The leaves, fruit and the bark have been used for ages in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as well as Chinese and Korean traditional medicine. It has anti fungal, anti bacterial, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, antioxidant properties. It has also got the properties of stress reliever, sedative, can be used as contraceptive, fight obesity etc.

The tree makes a good hedge or fence because of its thorny stems. Its leaves are used as fodder. Its wood is also used for making bowls, agricultural implements and is useful for wood carvings.

This is the most popular variety used as a snack and for recipes.


The fruit (fresh ones) are a great hit with children and grown ups. It is eaten as a snack with salt and chilly powder. 

Jujube based drinks are available in some countries. Dried and fresh fruits, canned fruits, tea made from berries, honey from the berries, extract or syrup of fruits are used in many countries. They are used in many dishes. Pickles, candies, desserts are made from these fruits. 

There may be many varieties of this fruit. But in India, I have come across three varieties. One is a big oval shaped fruit, green and orange or even golden yellow in colour, crunchy to eat and with a sweet taste. These are called Seema Regi or Ganga Regi and used as a snack only. The second is medium sized, sweet and sour fleshy fruit known as Regi Pallu or Ber, which is most commonly used as a snack and for culinary purposes. The third are very small pea sized ones which are dark red or sometimes black in colour with almost no flesh and taste mildly sweet and sour. These are from dessert areas of Rajasthan and hence we call them as Rajasthani Ber. These are almost dry and don't have any flesh inside.These are are used for snacking.

One can eat them in moderation. Excessive usage may give, coughs, colds and sour throat apart from acidity problems. But then who can resist these sweet and sour berries. Children and women go for it with no holds barred...:) :).

Watch out for recipes on Jujube....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spring Onion Flowers

After a long time. I am back with one more vegetable carving. Though I have already dealt with this before, this time it is a bit different. 

My previous post I showed you how to make Lilies out of spring onions which is here:


Spring onions with leaves
Bamboo skewers (or Dried veins of Coconut leaves)
Sharp knife

While buying the spring onions make sure that they are fresh. No wilted, broken or crumpled leaves. The bulbs should also be  medium sized (not too small or too thin), round, healthy and perfect with no damages etc.

Clean the onions and leaves thoroughly with water taking care not to damage any part of them. Drain them on a soft thin cloth till they are completely dry.

Now separate the bulbs from the leaves, just cutting at the base portion of the greens. But see that the greens remain as a bunch and do not get separated. The bulbs should be at least 5cm (2").

Now slice of the root portion of the bulbs taking care that the layers of bulb do not get separated. Remove the outer layers(dry ones) on the bulb.Holding the root side away from you and leaving at least 1cm or so at the top, make vertical slits from top to bottom. 
The slits should be deep enough to reach the center and a little apart from each other. Slowly rotating the bulb, continue to make the slits. 
Now slightly pry open the layers and immerse in ice cold water for 15 minutes or till the onion blooms. Remove and drain these flowers.

For leaves, take a bunch of greens. If required, snip off the tops at different levels to adjust the height of the shoots to suit your requirement. Now pierce a bamboo skewer through the base of the greens and into one of the leaves (preferably the center shoot) slowly taking care not to rip the shoots. 
At the top attach the flower and arrange in a vase or a glass or as you would like it.

I din't have much shoots left with me when I attempted this. So you see only a few greens. But this arrangement will look good with more greens.  This will make a good arrangement on a dining table or a side table. Depending on the space available make a bigger or a smaller arrangement.

Keep watching for more to come.....