Monday, October 1, 2012


Coconut belongs to Palm family. Coconut is the fruit of Coconut palms and is found mostly in tropical areas. It is a staple food of the tropics. In South India it is used almost daily in one form or the other. It has got religious and cultural significance too. That is why every house has at least one tree, especially in the coastal areas. 
   The Coconut palms
The sandy and salty soils and hot and humid atmosphere near sea is good for cultivation of coconuts. The matured coconut is buried in the soil for sprouting and this is the seedling from which the palm grows. The shoot comes from one of the eyes of the nut.
   The seedlings from the nut
Coconut is known as Naarikella (Sanskrit), Naariyal (Hindi) and Kobbari Kaaya (Telugu). Actually a coconut is a drupe- the seed or kernel is surrounded by the hard shell which is surrounded by the fibrous cover or the husk.
   The flowers and nuts on the palm
   Nuts of some varieties are golden yellow in colour

Tender coconuts are green in colour, contain more water and almost no meat. This water of tender coconuts is very good for health and more so in hot summers. 

As the coconut matures, the water content decreases and the meat increases. Meat of tender coconut is very soft, jelly like, sweet, nutritious and healthy. During summers, people drink coconut water and snack or tender meat to stay cool and healthy.
   Fresh Coconut
As the coconut matures, its meat becomes hard and quantity of the water decreases when compared to tender ones. Once the husk becomes hard, it is harvested and used as fresh coconut. 

When left on the trees, the coconut ripens, its husk turns brown in colour and the husk becomes soft and dry. At this stage it falls from the tree. But by now the quantity of water is very less and bitter in taste and the meat is hard and oily. These ripened fruits with the brown husk are left alone for months together till the water inside disappears and the meat dries out naturally. These are used for producing dried coconut and oil extraction. The husk is first removed and is used as the coir used for ropes and many other products. The shell of the coconut is broke open and dried to get dried coconut known as "Copra". 
   Dried Coconut
Coconut tree and its products are useful and no part of it goes waste. Hence it is known as Kalpa Vruksha (meaning a tree which provides all the necessities of the life or is useful in many ways) in Sanskrit. Let us see how:
  • Tender coconut-water and meat are used as as drink and snack. Tender coconut water contains, sugar, proteins, salts, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is considered to be equal to saline water used for patients.
  • Meat of slightly matured coconut is consumed as food, used in making of desserts, sweets, curries, chutneys etc. 
  • The meat is also grated, grounded and pressed for obtaining the milk. This coconut milk is used in Indian and Thai recipes especially for curries. 
  • The dried coconut or copra is also used in various recipes of desserts, spicy powders and curries. 
  • Coconut oil extracted from dried coconut is used as cooking medium in the state of Kerala. The oil is used in cosmetics like soaps, skin tonics and hair tonics. It is considered as a hair tonic and applied to hair by the South Indians as it helps in growing hair and keeps it black. 
  • The trunk is used as walkways across aqua ducts or water bodies in rural areas. They are hollowed out and used as boats. Trunks are also used for construction, furniture etc. 
  • Green coconut leaves are woven in different designs and  used for decoration purposes in marriages, or by the rural folk as hedges or roofing materials. They are also used for making baskets, small bowls for cooking some recipes and also for serving. 
  • The veins of dried leaves are used as broom sticks in South India.
  • The shells are used as cups as ladles, serving bowls, storing and also used for various handicrafts including musical instruments, jewelry.
  • Coir is obtained from the husk and is used for making ropes, mats, carpets etc as well as for filling of mattresses.
  • Dried leaves, husk, shells etc are used as fuel.
  • The fruit and the roots have got medicinal uses too

You can read more about coconuts here:

How to break open a coconut:

Since we use coconuts very frequently, we are familiar with how to break it. 

One method is to hold the coconut firmly in left hand and use an iron rod or something hard to break. First the coconut is struck with the rod once, so that it cracks a little. the water is drained out. The nut is hit with the rod again once or twice to break it open completely into two halves. One should be careful in holding the nut so as to not to injure the fingers or the hand.

The most common method, which I also use is holding the nut in right hand firmly and hitting it on the floor(made of stone or cement) or a hard rock (granite type). It should be hit lightly first to make a crack, so that the water can be collected with out spilling. Then it should be hit again till it breaks.

if you observe the nut it has three eyes on one side. It should be held in such a way that two of the eyes face down. This way the break into two halves is equal and clean.

However since these days the floors are either made of wood or tiles, it is better to follow this procedure as explained in the link below:

Visit my other blog for crafts of coconut:

Watch out for recipes using coconut-fresh as well as dried in my next posts.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Corn On The Cobs

Roasting Over Coal Fire

Hi friends. Its raining here. Monsoon has arrived late and didn't bring much rain on time. But last week we had heavy and continuous rains. We had to spend week end in our homes. Its fun getting wet in the rain but going out in the rain is a huge risk. Lots of water flooding low lying roads, overflowing lakes, rivers and other water bodies, heavy traffic jams and what not. So it is best to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.

Well it is at these times we get to spend our time with our family. Monsoons bring in heavy rains and also unleash our cravings for hot spicy food. After all the whole of summer, we had to go easy on spices. 

It is also time for Corn on the Cobs. At this time it is tender and can be eaten raw. 

When we were children, we got the first corn cobs only just before Vinayaka Chawithi or Ganesh Chaturthi-the day we worship Lord Ganesha-The Elephant God. We used to offer the first cobs to Him and then eat them. But now a days we are getting them much in advance. So we cannot wait till the festival. Any way I do offer the first, flower, fruit or any produce of the season to God before eating. 

Here in India, we roast them over coal fire and it is really very tasty. It is quite a treat for a rainy afternoon to eat hot roasted cobs. It is known as Bhutta in Hindi. During the season we find many vendors on the street corners, parks or other picnic spots, doing brisk business selling roasted corn cobs. We get to choose the cobs, which is de husked and roasted before our eyes to our satisfaction. Some like it lightly roasted but some like it fully roasted. 

The roasting of food over coals or wood fire is one thing which has been handed over from generation to generation since ancient times.

Well my niece is fond of corn cobs. So am I.My niece liked the idea of roasting the cobs over coals so much that she wanted to try her hand at it.  So I promised her that during the week end, we would try it.

Well here is how to do them...
 Choose cobs which are neither too tender or too hard. First you remove the outer husk.
Then make the coal fire. The coals should be red hot. Place the cob on the coals and keep rotating so that it gets roasted all over. I have used an earthen ware tray to hold the coals. 
I put two cobs here.  We use a hand fan made of dried palm leaf to keep the flame of the coals burning. 
When they are done, cut a lemon into half. Dab one of the halves with salt and rub over the corn to your liking. Eat it hot. It is so very tasty. Just try it. You can use your barbecue stoves to roast the cobs.  

Well we had a great time ..... I am sorry I don't have the pictures of the roasted cobs as we were all so hungry and the smell of roasted corn made us just grab and eat it. i forgot to take the pictures....:P0 :0 i will update it some time. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Re-doing my blog....

I am re-organising my blog. Please bear with me as it will take some time to fix it.

 If you have any suggestions or advice to improve my blog please mail me. I would like to know how I can improve the look and content of my blog so that you feel it easy and convenient to browse.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Time is.....

Its hot summer here. Time for making pickles, crispies, poppadoms and sun dried vegetables. 
I am busy making all this and my busy schedule of travelling. Watch out  for authentic Andhra Recipies.

It is also time for thanda thanda cool coll sherbets and drinks.....Watch out for the lip smacking recipes...

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Its summer time. During this time we Indian women process certain vegetables and other things so that they can be preserved for use even after the season is over. There are many ways of preservation. You can read about it in one of my previous posts:

One of the methods of preserving is sun drying. In a country like India especially in South India where the Sun shines through out the year, we are all Sun worshipers. Because of him we get our agricultural produce, health, monsoons. 

One of the ways to preserve certain vegetables is by making crispies, known as Vadiyaalu(Telugu) or Vadis(Hindi). Vegetables are mixed with other ingredients and spices and dried in the Sun. They can be preserved for an year. These are deep fried in oil and eaten with cooked rice and rasam or sambar or as a light snack with tea or just like that in the evenings. 

These along with Poppadoms are a must in feasts and food served on all important occasions like marriages etc in my State of Andhra Pradesh. 

In earlier days we had no junk food to binge upon. We used to eat these crispies in the afternoon. They are very tasty and healthy if eaten moderately. These days we can just dab them with little oil and microwave them to avoid deep fries. 

There are many types of vadiyaalu /vadies. I am starting with those that are made in Andhra Pradesh-my state.

1. Crispies with Ash Gourd:

These are one of the most popular dishes of Andhra. These are known as Gummadi Kaaya Vadiyaalu.
Ash Gourd and Chillies
Black Gram-split and de husked


Ash Gourd  1 medium
Black gram split and husked  500gms
Green chillies      250 gms
Salt   to taste
Asafoetida powder 1-2 tsps

Method 1:
  • Soak gram over night in enough water.
  • Cut the gourd into pieces the night before.The seeds are generally discarded.
 Cut into half

Cut into pieces along with the outer rind.
I have discarded the seeds, used the juice and the fluffy white flesh while grinding the gram.
  • Put  them in a muslin cloth and wound tightly into a bundle.
  • Place the bundle in a platter and place a heavy weight over it. This squeezes out all the juice of the gourd.
  • The platter should be in a slightly slanting position. 
  • Keep a vessel under the platter  to collect the juice of the gourd. 
  • This is left over night. 
  • Next day the bundle is squeezed to remove all the juice.
  • Collect this juice into a vessel and keep aside.
  • Next morning wash the gram well with water and leave it for some time so that the water drains off completely. 
  • If you are using husked split gram washing with water will remove the husk. But keep the husk separately as it can also be made into crispies.
  • Now grind the gram to a very fine but very thick paste, using gourd juice. if needed a little water can be used.
  • Remove the stalks of the chillies. Cut into pieces and grind to a paste. This way you can add only that much that you require.
  • It can also be ground along with the gram. But here you cannot help if it becomes too spicy.
  • Add the chilly paste, asafoetida and salt when the gram is almost done. Grind for some time.
  • Remove and collect in a big vessel. Mix well taste and adjust the spices. Remember that it becomes more salty and spicy on drying then when it tastes wet.
 I use wet grinder for grinding the gram.
This is how the dough looks with green chillies, salt and asafoetida but before adding the gourd pieces.
  • Now add the gourd pieces mix well.
  • Take a big  cotton cloth not too thin. 
  • Dip it in enough water. Wring out the water.
  • Lay the cloth on a mat placed on a big table, or on the floor(but it leaves patches on the floor which are not easily cleanable) in hot sun.
  • Take a handful of the dough and place it on the cloth in a pyramid shape and slightly pat on the top. They should not be too flat.
  • There should be enough pieces of the gourd and also dough to bind them. Excess of any of these will not be good.
  • Keep mixing the dough in the vessel every time you take a handful, as the dough being heavier sinks to the bottom leaving the gourd pieces on the top.
  • Keep a bowl of water besides you and wet your hands as well as the cloth if necessary.
  • Place out all the dough and let it dry for 2 days. 
  • On the third day you will notice that the crispies will themselves detach from the cloth. if not carefully remove them from the cloth. They should not break into pieces of become too powdery. However a few causalities will always be there:)
  • If it is difficult to detach them spray/sprinkle a little water on the underside of the cloth and leave it or few minutes. It will now be easy to remove them.
  • Next two days reverse them bottoms up and dry in the Sun.
Drying out in the Sun.
  • Once they are tinder dry store them in an air tight container.
  • When needed, deep fry in hot oil. 
  • It is better to heat oil in a deep frying pan, lower the heat put the crispies  in a wire mesh and lower into hot oil and take out immediately to avoid burning. 
  • Place them on a blotter to drain excess oil and serve with steamed/cooked rice, Daal and Sambar or Rasam. Or just eat them as a snack with tea.

Method 2:

  • Grate the gourd with the rind after cutting them into big chunks.
  • Tie them in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the juice  into a separate vessel. Tie it into a tight bundle and leave over night.
  • Next morning again squeeze and collect the juice.
  • the rest of the method is same.

Points to be kept in mind:

I . Ash Gourd
  1. It is round to oblong shape, green in colour with a white ash like coating. Hence the name.
  2. The size of Ash Gourd is as per your requirement. It depends upon the size of your family and how many crispies you want to make. The gourds are available from very small to biggest size.
  3. The gourd should be a matured one with tough outer rind.  Matured gourds  will have more coating of ash.  
  4. It will have less water content and are easy to dry when making the crispies. Also the thick rind and spongy inner white flesh don't burn when deep fried after making it into crispies.
  5. In order to know whether the gourd is matured or not, observe the coating of ash. It will have much ash. Its rind should be very tough. We usually dig in with our thumb nail. If it does not go in easily then it is matured. 
  6. The gourd cannot be cleaned. It can at best be cleaned with a soft cotton cloth lightly.
  7. The seeds can be used in the crispies but we usually discard them because when we dry the crispies in the sun, the squirrels or birds, dig out the seeds and make a mess of our crispies.
  8. The gourd is either cut into pieces or grated. 
II. Chillies
  1. Green chillies go best with this. But you can use powder of dried red chilies. 
  2. Adjust the quantity of chillies according to your taste. The quantity I gave you is quite spicy.
III.  Black Gram
  1. Black gram for this recipe is best if it is split but not de husked. The gram does not have much of its stickiness or binding quality, if we use cleaned (de-husked one). I use split gram with husk as it is much healthier and tastes very delicious. But you can use de husked split gram.
  2. The gram should be soaked over night.
  3. Next morning it is washed thoroughly to remove the husk or even when de husked one is used. The husk can also be made into vadies. Keep it separately.
  4. The gram is then placed in bamboo baskets or baskets made of dried palm leaves or a sieve and left for some time to drain all the water.
  5. Then it is ground well into a very thick but very soft paste using the gourd juice and a little water if necessary.
  6. I use wet grinder as it is easy to grind in this with very little water.
  7. If the paste is too watery, it cannot be made into crispies and also becomes very hard when dried and fried.
IV. The Cloth:
  1. The cloth to be used for placing the crispies must be made of cotton and not too thin. This enables the underside also to dry along with the upper side simultaneously.
  2. We use old saris or dhotis(folded into half i.e doubled) or bed linen as they have ability to absorb the moisture.
  3. Don't  lay out the entire cloth at a time. It gets dried quickly.
  4. Unfold a little at a time as you need it.
  5. If the cloth dries off despite all this sprinkle little water to make it wet.
  6. Too much water on cloth will make the crispy runny and it will not come out cleanly after drying.
  7. If the cloth is dry, the crispy cannot be separated from the cloth cleanly after drying and breaks into pieces.
  8. If you use a plastic sheet these crispies will not come out well though some people use it. The under side will not dry easily.
Most Important Things :
If you want your crispies to be Crisp and not hard follow these instructions very carefully:
  1. The crispies should be dried in very hot Sun. Plan these only when you have enough Sun shine for at least 6 hours of the day and that too very hot. 
  2. It should take only 3 to 4 days for them to dry. If it takes long to dry, they will become very hard.
  3. The gram should be ground with as little water as possible , using the gourd juice but should be ground to a very fine paste.
Yes it looks very tedious but the result is mouth watering , hygienic and healthy. I will upload pictures of fried crispies next time in here.

Hope you have understood the process and my post is clear. If you face any difficulty mail me please...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Hello

Friends, I have been neglecting two of my blogs for long because of my busy schedules. Cooking is one of my passions and when ever I get time I experiment in the kitchen. But during the past few months, with busy schedules, lots of travelling, I was under lot of stress and near to a break down. I could hardly rustle out a proper meal. Even now I feel burn out and need lots of rest. But I am recovering.

That means I will be more active in the kitchen, experimenting new ones, lots of pickling and other things. I have also promised myself this New Year that I would be concentrating on my blogs especially these two which I have been neglecting. It is a promise from me to you too....

But do drop in your comments, requests and suggestions...for there is nothing like your comments which motivate me to share with you more....

So watch out for yummy, recipes, easy recipes, healthy recipes and lots more.....

Pickles from Andhra (ఆంధ్ర ఊరగాయలు)-9

Pickles and Chutneys With Gooseberries-II

This is the season for Gooseberries. These berries are rich in Vitamin C and is extensively used in Indian Natural Medicine System of Ayurveda. Just by eating a fruit daily will improve our eye sight, protect it, blackens hair and keeps our body, eye sight and hair healthy. They can be preserved in the form of pickles or jams or preserves and also eaten fresh in the form of chutney.

My previous recipe on Pickles is here:

1. Gooseberry Pickle (ఉసిరి  నిలువ  పచ్చడి ):

This is one of the most famous pickle of Andhra cuisine. It is good for health and hence eaten first with cooked/steamed rice.

Gooseberries    1Kg
Turmeric      2-3 Tbsp
Salt  (Granulated sea salt)    75 to 100 gms

  • Wash the berries in plenty of water. Wipe them well with a cloth and spread them on a cotton cloth. Leave them for 2-3 hours (no need to keep in sun) till they are completely free from moisture.
  • Slice or chop (can be thick pieces) the berries with a knife and discard the seeds. We use the traditional stone grinder and wooden pestle instead of knife.
  • Mix in the turmeric and put them in a ceramic or glass jar. Close the lid tightly and leave for 3 days. These pieces will soften.
  • Don't use table or iodised salt. Dry natural granulated sea salt in the sun and powder it. If you can get the powder itself use it. 
  • On 4th day remove the berry pieces from the jar, mix in salt and grind to a rough paste. Again store in a glass or ceramic jar. The lid should be fitted tightly and cover it with a piece of cloth to avoid atmospheric moisture.
When you want to use it follow the following procedure.

Goose berry Paste 1 cup (around 100-150 gms)
Mustard seeds:  1/2 Tbsp
Black Lentils(split and husked) 1Tbsp
Red Chillies (dry)  5-6 (broken to pieces)
Asafoetida 1/4th tsp or 2-3 pinches
Oil             1 Tbsp
Salt to taste

The spice Box
  • Heat oil in a small pan to a smoking point.
  • Lower the heat to the minimum
  • Add Black lentils and mustard seeds after a minute add red chillies and asafoetida. When the mustard start spluttering remove and cool.
  • Grind this to a paste
  • Add the gooseberry paste and salt and grind a few seconds to mix it well.
  • it is served with hot steamed rice, slit green chillies and onion slices.
  1. This keeps for a week or two. 
  2. Usually both dried red chillies and green chillies  are used for spicy taste. Some fry the green chillies along with mustard seeds, red chillies etc before grinding. This is not only tasty but also reduces the spiciness of the chillies. Coriander greens are also added before grinding all the ingredients. But this pickle will keep only for 2-3 days because of the green chillies and coriander greens. I prefer this method and make it in small quantities at a time.
  3. A little bit of jaggery can be added to blend all the tastes.
  4. Grinding the ingredients in traditional stone mortar  and wooden pestle gives the pickle a taste which is different from that in the food processor. 
Watch out for more.......