POOSANIKAI HALWA – ASH GOURD HALWA

POOSANIKAI HALWA: Ash Gourd known in Tamil as “Poosanikai” is a vegetable commonly found and used in every part of Tamil Nadu and most parts of India.  In Tamil Nadu it is preferred as a vegetable cooked in “more kuzhambu” or as a side dish.  It is grated and prepared as  halwa  ( a sweet dish) which is usually served in weddings and other functions. Ash Gourd is not high in calories but it is nutritious with good mineral and vitamin content.
Pumpkin 6 008
 
COOKING TIME: 1 ½ hours
SERVINGS:  8
INGREDIENTS:
1.      Ash Gourd (grated finely in a grater) : 6 Cups
2.      Refined Sugar: 2 ½ Cups ( 500 grams)
3.      Milk : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4.      Ghee (clarified butter) : 1 Cup ( 200 ml)
5.      Cardamom : 3
6.      Cashew : 15 no
7.      Raisin : 15
8.      Food Color : a pinch (optional)
 
 

METHOD:

                  Remove the skin and the centre pith with seeds and finely grate the ash gourd pieces.  Keep it aside. Powder the cardamom and with a tablespoon of ghee fry the cashew nuts and raisins.  Over moderate flame, keep a thick bottomed vessel and add the grated ash gourd pulp with water and milk and allow it to simmer till the water etc evaporates completely. Keep stirring this mixture continuously without getting it burnt and this will take 20 to 30 minutes to get the water absorbed well.   Sugar should be added next with the cardamom powder and food color.  When the sugar melts fully, add the ghee to the mixture.  It will take another 15  to 20 minutes for the entire mixture to blend and it will  stop sticking to the sides of the vessel, oozing out the ghee.  Finally add the fried cashew and raisins and remove from stove.
 
Pumpkin 6 002
Tips:  Adding extra sugar and ghee is optional as per one’s taste.
 
This sweet can stay fresh for 4,5 days at room temperature. It takes some time to cook the grated ash gourd with water to evaporate and so instead it can be cooked in the pressure cooker allowing for one or two whistles.
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MYSORE PAK

Mysore Pak : Though the name suggests the place of origin of this sweet as Mysore, it is common in every part of Tamil Nadu.  The very name brings to our mind the sweet dripping with ghee and laden with sugar. Earlier this Sweet was prepared at homes for all festivals and weddings. Originally it was prepared in such a way it was a bit hard and porous.  These days’ people prefer the “melt in the mouth” version of this Sweet which is famous in Coimbatore  and the recipe is given below. Though it is quite easy to make, the trick lies in getting the right consistency of the sugar syrup.
 
Mysore Pak
 
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
No of pieces: 10

INGREDIENTS:

1.      Bengal gram flour (besan or kadalai mavu) : ½ Cup (  60 grams)
2.      Refined Sugar : 1 Cup ( 200 grams )
3.      Ghee (clarified butter) : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4.      Oil ( Sun flower oil or any refined oil ) : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
5.      Soda bi-carb (cooking soda) : a pinch
6.      Water : ¼ Cup
 

METHOD:

Grease a plate well with a teaspoon of ghee. Sieve the gram flour with a teaspoon of hot ghee fry the flour lightly in a skillet over low flame for a couple of minutes.  Again sieve the flour and remove hard lumps. In a thick bottomed vessel add the sugar with water and keep it over medium flame and stir it well to get the one thread consistency.
Heat another skillet with ghee and oil over low flame to keep it hot in another burner or stove.  When the sugar syrup comes to the one thread consistency (Please see laddu recipe for making this one thread consistency), start adding the flour slowly with a ladle in one hand and with the other hand stirring the sugar syrup- flour mixture continuously.  After this, add the ghee to the mixture slowly like you did with the gram flour. When the ghee is completely added, keep stirring it for another 10 to 15 minutes carefully. The whole ghee is absorbed and then the mixture comes out frothy and leaves the sides of the vessel and immediately add the soda bicarb and pour the mixture fast in to the greased plate. Wait for a couple of minutes to cool and start cutting the pieces to shapes of your choice.
Tips:  Shelf life for this sweet is longer and it can be kept fresh for a couple of weeks easily
at room temperature.
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Adhirasam (Athirasam)

Adhirasam or Athirasam is a typical, traditional Tamilnadu sweet item that is usually made during festivals. Jaggery is a main ingredient used here, instead of cane sugar. Adhirasam is popular mainly in the Southern districts of Tamilnadu and also in the Chettinad area.

Adhirasam
Adhirasam

Cooking Time: 2 hours (over 2 days).

No of pieces: 20

Ingredients:

  1. Raw rice: 500 grams (3 cups)
    2. Powdered Jaggery (unrefined sugar): 400 grams ( 3 cups)
    3. Cardamom: 8
    4. Water (for making syrup):  3/4 cup
    5. Ghee (Clarified butter): 75 grams
    6. Oil (preferably sunflower): 750 ml

Method:

Soak raw rice in water for an hour. Drain water and using a blender, make into smooth fine flour. You will get nearly 6 cups of rice flour. Powder the cardamom and add to the flour. For 2 cups raw rice flour use one cup powdered jaggery to make syrup.

Take 3/4  cup water in a pan, add the jaggery and simmer over medium heat till it becomes syrup. Strain the syrup to remove large particles and let simmer again over low heat.  You must get the syrup flavor and a “one thread” consistency. Pour a drop or two in a cup of water. If the syrup settles down into a ball at the bottom of the cup of water without disintegrating, you have reached the desired consistency. Remove from stove and add the wet rice flour with the ghee. Mix the flour and  the syrup well and set aside for 1 – 3 days, covering the mouth of the container with a thin cloth.

Heat oil in a deep-fry pan over medium flame. Apply some oil on a strip of banana leaf.  Make balls of the mixture from the previous step and press them into round adhirasams on the leaf and gently drop them into the hot oil. Use a “poondhi” (boondhi) ladle to remove the adhirasam when they are fried to a deep golden brown. To remove excess oil use a thick flat ladle to press down the athirasam and squeeze the oil out.

Adhirasam (Athirasam) 2

Tips: Adhirasams can be stored for up to a month in airtight containers. The rice flour should not become dry when it is added to the jaggery syrup. You will get about 20 adhirasams for half kg rice.

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Paniyaram – Pan Cakes

Paniyaram is a quick-to-make snack eaten during tea time and at special occasions. It is easy to make in a few minutes when unexpected guests or hungry kids need to be served.

Paniyaram (Pan Cakes)

Cooking Time: 15 minutes.

Servings :  2

Ingredients:

  • Refined wheat flour (Maida)  – 1 cup or 100grams
  • Egg  – 1
  • Refined sugar  – 50 grams
  • Banana (ripe)  – 1
  • Soda bi-carb (cooking soda)  – A pinch
  • Oil  –  In a pan for deep frying.

Method:

Sift the flour and cooking soda in a sieve. Beat the egg with sugar till sugar dissolves. Mix the flour and egg-sugar mixture with the mashed banana, adding enough water to make a thick batter. Heat the oil in a deep fryer. Take a spoonful of this batter and drop gently into the hot oil.  5,6 pieces can be fried together. Cook till they are fluffy and evenly cooked to a golden brown color. Drain the excess oil and serve.

Tip: Use medium heat for frying as the inside of the paniyarams should be cooked thoroughly.

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Murukku

Murukku (or Muruku) is a crispy type of fried snack that originated in Tamil Nadu, and spread to the rest of the Indian subcontinent.

Murukku 1

 

Murukku is known as Chakli in Maharashtra and Chakri in Gujarat. Murukku is prepared during all auspicious events and gathering of friends and family. Being a traditional item, it is easily available all in snack shops over the state, and also in other parts of India. It is eaten and relished by both young and old. The basic ingredient is rice.

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Shelf Life: 1 Month

Ingredients:

1. Raw rice : 1 kilogram
2. UradDhal : 2 cups ( skin removed)
3. Sesame seeds -til (ell in Tamil) : 2 teaspoons
4. Cumin seeds : 2 teaspoons
5. Asafoetidapowder : 1 teaspoon
6. Butter : 75 Grams
7. Salt : 2 and 1/2 teaspoons
8. Cooking Oil : 1 litre (preferably sunflower oil)
9. Water : 4 and 1/2 cups (for kneading flour)

You need a “Murukku Maker” for making this item

Murukku 2

Method:

Soak one kg. raw rice in water for an hour and drain the water. Grind the softened rice in a blender, run it through a sieve and set aside 10 cups of fine rice flour. Roast the urad dhal in a dry frying pan till light brown in colour. Grind to a fine powder in the blender. Sieve and set aside 2 cups of fine urad dhal flour. Dissolve the Asafoetida powder in water.

Mix the rice and dhal flour together along with salt, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, butter and and the water with asafoetida, till you have a smooth dough with no lumps.  Heat the oil in a frying pan over high. Take a small ball of dough and in the murukku maker. Squeeze, moving the murukku maker in a circular to make small murukkus. Make 5 or 6 of these directly onto a wet cloth or in plate that won’t stick.Carefully drop the murukus one at a time into the hot oil. Turn them over until both sides turn a golden brown in color. Remove and drain the excess oil and store the murukkus  in airtight containers.

Optional: You can use coconut milk instead of water for kneading the flour into dough.  Murukku 3

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