Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Masala Brinjal Curry (Vankaaya Masala)

Hi Friends! Iam back after a short trip to Atlanta & Orlando for Thanks Giving Holidays. We had a very good time there. I hope same with you too:-) I will update some of my trip photographs in my intoduction post after some time. Right now as I said..I will be back with good recipes in store, today Iam here with one of the traditional recipe and all time favourite from my mom's kitchen called "Vankaaya Masala". We call this recipe vankaaya Masala (brinjal spices), since masala(spices) used in this recipe is the key for this tasty dish, ofcourse Brinjal's should be very tender and fresh once to get more taste and flavour to the dish. I thought to blog some specific recipes with photographs as main, to explain the dish. One I did mooli paratha and now Iam going to do with this recipe. With no delay..here I go....

Ingredients For Main Cooking:
..Fresh Brinjals 10 to 12 of same size
..1 big onion
..2 medium lemon sized tamarind
..1 big stem curry leaves
..zeera or cumin seeds 1 tsp full
..1 tbsp fresh cut cilantro
..oil for cooking (2tbsp) (you can decrease if you want to 1tbsp, but for more taste 2tbsp)

Ingredients For Masala:(you can see all masala powders in below pic togeather)
..2tsp white sesame seeds roasted powder (Nuvvula podi)
(here I roasted sesame seeds and mixed with other powders in blender since I did not had its powder ready)
..1tsp cumin seeds roasted powder (Jilakara podi)
..1/2 tsp Methi seeds roasted powder (menthula podi)
..2 or 2 1/2 tsp Coriander roasted powder (Dhaniyala podi)
..2 tsp Dry coconut powder (kobbari podi)
..2 or 2 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
..2 tsp turmeric powder
..Salt as per your taste (I recommend 2 to 2 1/2 tsp salt)
..2 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste

Cut onions roughly and fry in little oil in a wide and deep container till they turn to brown in color. Or else the traditional method is Fry onion whole on flame all around if it is possible and keep aside. I follow first method here. In india the another method. Keep thease onions aside. After it cools down, add this to above all masala ingredients in a blender or grinder and paste them. If needed you can add little water. Keep the paste aside.

Wash the brinjals and do not remove the tail. Since they help while eating brinjal or vankaaya in the curry. You can just grab a full one brinjal into your mouth with the help of tail:-)) But ofcourse again its your choice:-) I prefer keeping them as it is. Cut each one of the brinjals across. See here they are not cut completely till end. That means brinjal should be one, not four pieces. You can check in the beside pic. They are waiting to dip in the masala;-)

Wash the tamarind and soak in a warm water till tamarind becomes soft. After that take juice out of it. Here, the tamarind juice should be thick. In the same container, in which you fried the onions, heat the recommended oil or as per your requirement and taste for main dish to cook. Add jeera or cumin seeds and fry until they start changing color. Cook this dish on medium heat. Now add curry leaves and fry them. Remember they should be crispy. Now add cut brinjals in to the container and fry till they turn into dark color all around. See the brinjals should not break.

Now add the masala paste to above fried brinjals and mix well. See again brinjals should not break into pieces. Cook for 2 minutes with closed lid so that masala or spices get into the cut brinjals. After that add tamarind juice and mix well. Do not add any water here. That is why tamarind juice should be taken a/c to your gravy requirement. I.e., if you want more gravy than soak little more tamarind.

Allow to cook whole thing on medium heat till the brinjals are cooked well. They should be soft and cooked well. Remember, brinjals are cooked fast like fish. Finally, add cilantro and close the lid and cook on low heat for couple of minutes and turn off the heat. Here, you can taste the gravy and can add required chilli powder, salt and coriander powder if needed. The Vanakaya Masala is ready to serve. This dish taste more better the next day or another day. So if you have some work next day than you can prepare this and keep aside (no need to refrigerate) and can enjoy next couple of days if you are going to cook in lots:-))

My Variations:
You can replace brinjals with fish pieces too. My mother cooks the same way for both fish and brinjals. Only difference is here you add brinjals first, where as If you use fish than add it after all the the masala and tamarind juice is cooked togeather and cook till fishes are done. Though brinjals are cooked fast, remember fishes are even cooked more fast comparitively.

You can prepare all the spice powders by roasting them individually and powder them and can store, so that, when ever you want prepare this dish you can just add masala powders or spice powders then, which can save your time and energy. Also add methi powder still less if you want, since it gives little bitter taste, if added more. Recommended amount in this recipe is fine. Enjoy the dish:-))

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dryfruits Sesame Bar (Dryfruits Til Chikki)

Black Sesame Seeds & Dryfruits(Baadam,Kaaju and Kishmish) Jaggery Chikkis

This recipe is adopted from TarlaDalal's Calcium Rich Recipes. As soon as I read this recipe, I was very much eager to try this out. Because, it is rich in calcium and very much good for growing children. Also, the recipe was very simple to try out. So why late?? With little variations in the recipe (or in correct words, I used some extra ingredients, to make it more rich in calcium as well as in taste). This is also another entry to the Jhiva For Jaggery, going to be hosted by Kay of "Towards A Better Tomprrow". Actual version name was Badaam Til Chikki. Since I added kaaju and kishmish (another two dryfruits), I renamed it as "Dryfruits Til Chikki". Sesame seeds, one of the ingredients in this recipe, is rich in calcium. I.e., is the reason for choosing this ingredient. You can read more about sesame seeds and black sesame seeds here. The another main ingredient used here is Jaggery or Gud or Bellam. This is used from ages in Indian culture especially for preparing sweets. It contains not only calcium, but also protiens, vitamins, iron etc. So here I go with the recipe....Before that A Very Happy Thanks Giving Holidays to all my readers and fellow bloggers. Iam going on a short trip on this vacation. I will be missing all your daily post for thease few days...but I will return with same enthusiasm, with which Iam ready to go for trip:-)) and will return with lot more traditional, religious and other intresting recipes to blog. And will catch you all at..Kay's Jhiva event for Jaggery. Happy Holidays!! Enjoy!!

Jaggery or Gud or Bellam 3/4th cup
Black Sesame seeds or Nalla Nuvvulu 1/2 cup
Dryfruits 1/4 cup (mixture of Baddam, Kaaju & Khishmish)
3tsp Ghee (I used cow ghee)
Little water (If required)

  1. Grate Jaggery and keep aside.
  2. Grind or grate dryfruits too and keep aside (as shown in above pic)
  3. Roast sesame seeds till they turn into light golden color (which acutually not much visible as golden color, but can find out when they start changing color, so roast for few minutes)
  4. Roast dryfruits too, separately not with sesame seeds. Allow to cool them both.
  5. Take a flat plate or on any flat surface, grease it with 1 tsp of ghee.
  6. Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a container, and add grated Jaggery to it. Stir continously, untill it melts completely and should become thick enough for makking chikkis. Just as we do for sugar syrup. But see that, If you put a drop in the syrup it should form a hard ball.
  7. Remove from the heat and add roasted sesame seeds and dryfruits and mix well.
  8. While the jaggery melts, if you think the syrup is less for making chikkis, add 1/4th cup of water and heat till syrup consistency. Or elase can take little more jaggery if needed.
  9. Pour the above mixture on the greases surface and roll with greased rolling pin. (Here I greased the chapathi making pin with little ghee and rolled over the mixture)
  10. Cut them into diamond or square or any other desired shape after it cools down. Healthy, rich in calcium Chikkis are ready to serve for children or any body as a snak or a sweet:-)

Note: Out of this praportion, I got 20'no chikki's. If you make more than store in a airtight container for long freshness.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Egg Dosa (Egg Double Toast) & Jaggery Dosa (Gud Dosa/Bellam Dosa)

LEFT: Jaggery/Gud/Bellam Dosa RIGHT: Egg Dosa

Gud Dosa or Jaggery Dosa and Egg dosa were our breakfast yesterday. They both are easy in a way, can be prepared on finger tips:-) Jaggery Dosa and Egg Dosa, I prepared using regular Atta flour or Wheat Flour. But both can also be prepared with actual dosa batter. I prepared once, egg dosa was heavy and superb, but jaggery dosa with actual dosa batter did'nt turp up that well. But as soon as I try next time and taste it...I will blog that too. Now coming to this breakfast, Gud Dosa or Jaggery Dosa is my entry to the JFI Jaggery going to host by Kay of Towards A Better Tomorrow. Thank You Kay, being a busy mother, took this work to do a round up. I appriciate it very well and wish you all the best:-) I will re-post again on dec 1st a/c to her rules. Anyways...coming to recipes, here I go...
LEFT: Batter of Jaggery Dosa RIGHT: Batter of Egg Dosa

Ingredients For Egg Dosa:
1 egg (raw)
little less than 1/4th cup wheat flour
1 tbsp milk (or less/more as required)
Salt a/c to taste
Chilli Powder 1/4th tsp or less (a/c to your spice taste)

Mix all the ingredients with the help of desired milk into thick batter just like we do for uttapam. Make sure the pan you use is wider so that the dosa cooks well. You can also make two dosas, out of this batter. It takes little more time than an omlette to be cooked. Since it becomes double in size, the batter should spread into thin circle on the pan. Spray oil on the pan and then spread this batter. Cook both sides well and serve hot with tomato ketchup or any tomato chutney. It was like double bread toast with one big omllette:-) Important thing to remember is don'nt add any water..just use milk for making batter.

Ingredients For Jaggery Dosa:
1/4th cup fine grated Jaggery/Gud/Bellam (or as required can increase or decrease amount)
1/4th cup wheat flour
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds/Nuvvulu
Water as required

Mix all above ingredeints except sesame seeds to make a dosa batter with the help of required water. Mix untill, Jaggery or Gud or Bellam competely dessolves into the batter. Heat the pan, spray oil and spread this batter on the pan. Make sure the circle should be little thick, not like regular dosa. Since we use jaggery here, to avoid it from sticking to the pan, the spread of batter should be small, so that the dosa becomes little thick. Spray sesame seeds on both the sides before the dosa is cooked. i.e., when one side is almost cooked, before turning to another side, spray sesame seeds and press them into the dosa with wooden stick (or which ever your using to make dosas) Reapeat the same other side too. Remove from heat & have when it is warm. With the touch of sesame seeds, the Jaggery Dosa was too tasty:-))

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Okra Bake (Bendakaaya Bake)

Okra and Tomatoes Baked Dish

Few weeks back, we three went to our usual bookstore called "Barnes and Noble". We do visit other book stores too like "Borders". But apart from our choice, my son loves to visit B&N. Because, he has got lot of freedom over there, to choose his own books, irrespective of choice, size and language. Any book which appeals to the eyes my darling 18 months old son, is his choice. He gets freedom there, which his mom, i.e., me don'nt give at home, by restricting him from touching many things:-)) I think, this happens to all those poor toddlers, for whom, home is very little place to explore new things and do trial & error. Ending this mother and son, daily story and switching back to the world of food, I was going through some cook book for diabetics. I really don'nt remember the author, since I was just giving a glance, I found some recipes in that book, of which most of them are baked one's. Since, it has less oil, less cholesterol and all suitable for diabetics. Now a days it has become a big problem. Because other than family history of diabetics, it can attack to any body irrespective of age bar, say from 10 yr old to 90 yr old. So, it has become necessary to take lot of precautions for our good health. In that perticular book I found this simple recipe of Okra ("Bendakaaya" or "Lady Finger" or "Bendhi"). I even don'nt remember the ingredients, the author mentioned. So, I just added my flavours to it. It is easy to cook and you need to use your hands almost "No"!! Since, it is a baked dish. And this is my entry to the Saffron Trail's WBB#7 Baking For BreakFast! As our friend Nandita said "Explore baking with any thing like sweet, Savoury, Spicy etc...". My okra Bake comes under Spicy options. This goes best in breakfast with chapathis or parathas, also easy and fast to prepare for busy morning:-) So lets go to the recipe....

1 lb Okra (Bendakaaya)
2 medium sized Tomatoes
1 big Onion
1 to 2 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
1tsp Turmeric powder
Salt as per required
oil (use low cholesterol spray oil ) I use palm spray oil


  1. Wash, top and trail the okra, cut into 1cm in pieces.
  2. Cut tomatoes and onions into small pieces.
  3. Mix all ingredients and keep in the baking sheet, spray oil from the top as shown above.
  4. Preheat oven for 10 to 15 minutes on 350 F.
  5. Bake for 1/2 hr to 40 minutes on 350F, until okra and tomatoes are cooked well.
  6. Stir in between to avoid burning.
  7. Serve hot with chapathis.
Note: The day I baked this dish, from then onwards when ever I get okra, I bake it. Every time I bake this dish, my son & my husband have it, almost, before I serve chapathis. They taste great as it is and can be served as side dish too.

My Variations: You can add other masala or spices to this dish. Onions are optional. I baked okra once with onions and once without onions. Both were yummy and little crispy.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fruit Custard

Custard Served With Fresh Fruits Namely: Apples,Bananas and Grapes

Fruit Custard is the easy one on the earth among sweets I think. Yeah!..even you think so. I knew that. Then why to blog?? The answer is simple..because I like it:-)) It really gave lot of comfort while enjoying this one. Actually speaking in true words..I made this for my son, who love fruits a lot, but not much in favour of sweets. Some times for his healthy fat requirement I make sweets for him. Stories about children just goes on, on & on....But always love to listen to their stories. So coming to this sweet, unlike traditional preparation, it is cooked in oven, just in 10 minutes. This was suggested my one of my friends, Chaaru. Thank you Chaaru..it was a delight. As she said I bought Jello-0 Custrad pack and made a/c to the instructions. You can always choose traditional method. But the one my mother used to make is more richer and tastier than this. But If you speak in terms of fat, calories..etc, etc.,....then better to go for this:-)

You Need:

Any Custard Ready Pack (I used Jello-O Custard) (As you all can see in the above pic)
3 cups of milk (low fat milk for Diet Conscious & Whole milk for Children&sweet lovers for best results)
A whole cup of Fresh Fruits a/c to your choice (I preffered- Bananas, Apples and Grapes)
An Egg (optional--Add in the mixture before boiling, If you want more rich custard) (I did not add)
Sugar (optional ---If you want more sweet than go for it a/c to your taste) (I did not add, but still very yummy!)

Micro Oven Method:

  1. In a micro oven based container (always choose glass or thick plastic oven based but not thin plastic, since they are not good for health), take 3 cups of milk and mix the Ready Custard Powder in to that. See it is mixed well.
  2. Cook in micro oven about 10 minutes or untill the mixture comes to full boiling.
  3. In between cooking time, for every 3 minutes stir into the mixture to avoid any lumps formation.
  4. Allow to cool the mixture to the room temperature by sttiring in between. Remember, as it cools down it becomes more thick.
  5. Once it comes down to room temperature, store in the fridge for 1hr. And finally while serving, add your favourite fresh fruits and serve.
Note: After few hours in the fridge, the custard becomes more thick and very cool. In this winter for children or of any body best is...just warm the custard say about 30 to 40 sec and add fruits and serve. (Which I did for my son and my self:-)) Traditional method is also mentioned on the pack like micro oven method.

My Variations: You can add chocolate cream or fresh home made cream on the top of the custard and serve. My mother used add fresh home made cream i.e., taken above from the milk which is formed, after the milk is boiled and cool down.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Egg Pulusu (Kodi Guddu Pulusu Koora)

Egg Pulusu is my favourite among egg dishes I know. Since my son started eating eggs, we too started buying organic eggs for all of us. You can see them behind this one cooked egg, talking to each other:-) The recipe is very simple and tastes greater day by day. As you know, any dish with pulusu taste great, the next day than the day it is cooked. Namely, Pulusu Pulihora, Egg Pulusu, Chaamagadda Pulusu, Vankaaya Pulusu ......etc. I forget to mention famous Chaapala Pulusu i.e., Fish Pulusu Koora. I love the one my mother-in-law cook and famous in Nellore, know as "Nellore Chepala Pulusu Koora". The day I could cook like my mother-in-law, I will blog that. Till then I will go with rest of the pulusu kooralu. Right now its the time for Egg Pulusu Recipe.....Here I go......

5 to 6 eggs (preferrably organic)
Tamarind or Chinthapandu equal to 2 lemons ( For more gravy..you need to soak more tamarind)
2 to 3 medium sized tomatoes
1 or 2 big onions (2 onions are preffered)
2 to 3 green chillis
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 stem curry leaves
1 tsp ginger pulp
1 tsp garlic pulp
1 tsp turmeric powder (pasupu)
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 to 1/2 tsp ground coriander powder
Salt a/c to taste
Oil for cooking
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or kothmeeru(optional)

  1. Boil eggs well, remove shell, make cuts in between the eggs with knife (as you can see in the picture above) and keep aside.
  2. Wash once and soak tamarind or chinthapandu in warm water. Water level should be 1 or 2 inches more than tamarind level.
  3. Cut onions into very thin slices. Make slits in the green chillies.Cut tomatoes into medium thick slices and keep all of them aside.
  4. Now heat oil in a deep sauce pan, add green chillies, curry leaves, cumin seeds and fry for 1 minutes. Now add onions and fry on medium heat till they all turn into dark brown in color. For this curry it is necessary that onions should be fried well i.e., into dark brown color(so that curry stay fresh for 2 days and also for that dark color we want in the curry)
  5. After that add ginger and garlic pulp and fry for 1 minute. Add turmeric powder and mix with other ingredients.
  6. Now add tomatoes and mix with other ingredients. Add salt from above and cover the sauce pan. Allow tomatoes to become soft. Then mix salt and add chilli powder and coriander powder with tomatoes and mix well. Add little water and allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
  7. Meanwhile, take juice outof tamarind in the same container it is soaked. Remove tamarind and add juice to the saucepan. Also add eggs with slits to this curry.
  8. The overall curry should be thick..see and add little more water if you want.
  9. Now cover the saucepan and allow to cook for abt 10 to 15 minutes or untill the eggs change its color from white to light brown. this is beacuse the pulusu or gravy should go into the eggs through cuts made on them. The real secret for this curry lies here. The taste of eggs changes ..ofcourse very yummy:-)
  10. Finally add fresh cilantro , mix and sim heat with cover on saucepan for 1 minute more and turn off the heat.
Note: Serve hot with chapathis or plain rice or biryani. It taste great with all of them. I like eggs in this gravy as much as they become dark.

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Meena and Srinivasulu Kandlakuti
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