Friday, October 19, 2012

Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Kheer - Festive Recipes

Semiya Payasam is super-quick to make and hence, this post will be a short one as well :-) My sis loves Semiya Payasam always and I totally licked the cup clean this time when amma made it during Navartri. She never adds Condensed milk to any Kheer she makes, as it's high in calories and definitely unhealthy. Yet her payasam was yum-yum-yummy and I asked her if she did the Pressure-cooker method that she taught me to get the perfect Pal Payasam easily everytime.  No, no pressure-cooker needed for Semiya Payasam, all you need is a pot to boil milk and water. Here's how :-

Semiya Payasam / Vermicelli Kheer

What Amma Uses -

  • Semiya / Vermicelli - 1 cup
  • Milk - 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Water - 2 and 1/2 cups
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder (jadikkai) - 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar - 2/3 cup (Use 1/2 cup if you prefer slightly lesser sweetness)
  • About 12-15 Raisins roasted in 1/2 tsp Ghee

How She Makes the Yummy Kheer -

  1. Boil water in a pot and when ready, add the semiya/vermicelli to the boiling hot water and let cook. There will still be water remaining after vermicelli has cooked well. Don't fret.
  2. Boil about 2 cups of milk in a pot or milk cooker (follow your usual method;  in Singapore, I would just microwave milk for 3-4 minutes, thats it) and keep aside.
  3. Add sugar and cardamom + nutmeg powder to the cooked semiya/vermicelli. Stir gently to uniformly mix. Keep on sim/low flame for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Take cooked vermicelli off the stove and pour 1 cup milk first.  Add the roasted raisins. Voila! :-) Tasty Semiya Payasam is ready for neivedhyam! :-) Add another 1/2 cup milk later, just before serving.

Notes :

  • Never ever boil milk and sugar together, it would get spoilt easily.
  • This payasam tastes awesome both warm and cold. 
  • Ratio of vermicelli to water is 1: 2.5 and you can start with equal quantity of milk (as that of vermicelli) to begin with and then add some more milk as required.
  • Add some more milk (boiled and cooled) if all the milk gets absorbed over time.

Semiya Payasam/ Vermicelli Kheer

Here are other yummy Kheer / Payasam Recipes for Navaratri and other festivals -

Click on the pictures to read the entire recipe.

Palada/ Rice Ada Payasam - Famous in Kerala 

Palada Payasam / Rice Ada Kheer

Aval Payasam - Kheer with Poha/ Flattened Rice 

Aval Payasam / Kheer with Poha/ Flattened Rice

Carrot Kheer - Yummy Dessert drink full of goodness of carrots!

Carrot Kheer/ Payasam

Bring on the festive spirit! :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dal Makhani aka Maa ki Dal - Punjabi Cuisine

After a hat-trick of sweet recipes, I thought I should post something spicy for a change. I am at my mom's place right now and she won't let me cook anything elaborate, so I browsed through my Drafts and found this one waiting to be beautified and posted :-)

I had made this months ago when I had invited some friends home for lunch on a Sunday.  Dal Makhani is a sumptuous dish full of nutrition from dals/lentils and the cream on top to finish just makes this a super-hit with everyone! :-)  It goes very well with both rice and roti varieties alike. I generally make a simple Garlic Rice or Jeera Rice and they make a good pair.

Dal Makhani

Let me take you through a pictorial first :-)

Rajma and Black whole Urad dal soaked in water overnight

Tadka with butter, zeera and red chillies

Onions fried

Tomatoes mushed up

Add spices, cooked dal and finish with cream :-)

What I Used -

Rajma / Red Bean- 1/2 cup
Whole Black Urad Dal - 3/4 cup
Onions - 1 medium
Tomatoes - 2 medium (Using additional Tomato puree greatly enhances the taste)
Fresh Cream - 4 tbsp + 1 tbsp

Spices To Temper - Tadka - Thalikka -

Butter - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 4
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric / Haldi - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 1/2 tsp (I used Kashmiri variety for a rich color)  
Dhania powder / coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom spice mix - 3/4 tsp (you can get them pre-made from your Indian store or powder them yourself using your dry spice grinder)
Kitchen King Masala - 3/4 tsp
Salt - taste

How To -

  • Soak the lentils overnight with enough water. Drain the water and pressure-cook the dals with sufficient (fresh) water for 4-5 whistles (It's okay to over-cook than to under-cook the lentils) .You could add salt as well. Wait for the pressure to get released naturally.
  • Take a kadai, melt butter and add jeera. When they crackle, add red chillies and then add ginger-garlic paste.
  • Add finely sliced/chopped onions and let them turn brown.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and let them turn mushy.
  • Add the spice powders - turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, kitchne king and the cardamom-cinnamom-cloves spice mix.
  • Add the water/ stock from the cooked dal and then slowly add the lentils and lower the flame. Let the dals absorb the flavors form the masalas. Close with a lid for about 5-7 minutes.
    • Tip : I like to mash up about 4 tbsp of cooked dal and then add to the gravy. This gives thickness to the gravy and also a good flavor to Dal Makhani as such :-)
  • Check for salt.
  • Add cream and mix well and you can see the gravy coming together as a thick, creamy mixture :-)
  • Serve hot. You could add another tablespoon of cream just before serving! :-)

Isn't it inviting ??

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(Red) Banana Halwa - Chev vazhai pazha Halwa

Step out of Palakkad (Palghat) station and all you can see is shop after shop, tempting you with different varieties of Halwas (or Haluwa! as they call it) and Chips. Vibrant colors and the rich aroma of ghee - ummm :-)  They make a good combination too - halwa for sweet and chips for something savory.  We always bring back freshly-made Halwa and Chips (especially love the sweet banana chips ;-)) whenever we visit Palakkad.

Bananas and Halwa go hand-in-hand  - both are gooey substances and since bananas are so sweet themselves, we can cut down on the added sugar and still have a great-tasting sweet! In addition, this doesn't take more than 25 minutes (end-to-end) on stove-top and it just tasted awesome even with the minimum amount of ghee I used :-)  I'm very happy with the results and so were my guests!

I didn't plan to use Chev vazhais (Chivappu means Red in Tamil, Chev is derived from it) specifically but I was ecstatic when I spotted them in Bukit Gombak market one day! You can use any bananas to make this Halwa!

Ingredients -

Ripe bananas - 5
Sugar - 80 ml
Ghee - 3 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Cashews - about 12

Method -

  • Peel and mash bananas with a potato masher.

  • In a kadai, heat 1 tsp of ghee and roast cashewnuts. Keep aside. 

  • Add another tsp of ghee and add the banana puree.

  • Stir well for about 12-15 minutes. Take care to ensure that it doesn't stick to the bottom of your kadai/pan.
  • Add 1 tsp of ghee and add all the sugar and mix well with the banana mixture in the kadai.
  • Wait until the banana puree changes to a brown color (பழுப்பு நிறம்). By this time, the whole mixture comes together so well into a mass (see pic below). The glossy effect is due to the caramelization of sugar (we haven't added much ghee, remember?)

  • Reduce the flame and sprinkle cardamom powder.
  • Add ghee-roasted cashewnuts and mix for a minute.
  • Spread on a greased plate and make squares on cooling. 

Yield - I got about six, rather big 2 inch-by-2 inch halwa pieces.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Badam Ladoo/ Laddu - No sugar or ghee added! - 5 Minute Recipe!

You can make Badam Laddu without sugar (in fact no extra sweetener added) or ghee! Did you know that? Well, I didn't know it too, until a good friend of mine, Karpagam aunty told me the secret! She let me taste the laddu first and then told me that it's a single ingredient sweet!!! I couldn't believe it! Absolutely yummy and so easy to make!

So full of nutrition (good cholesterol), it is great for both kids and adults alike to eat a laddu a day! :-) This is an easy, healthy and a really quick recipe :-) What are you waiting for!!

What You Need -

A cup of badam or raw almonds

That's it!!! :-) No, I'm not joking :-)

How To -

  • Spread the raw almonds on a microwaveable plate and microwave for 2-3 minutes. The heat helps to release the natural oils in them. Alternatively you can toast them on a tawa too, but be careful not to burn them.
  • Let cool.
  • Take your mixer (the one in which you powder dry ingredients) or coffee grinder and powder the almonds. don't bother if it's a bit coarse! That will add some crunch too!
  • Transfer to a wide plate and make them into small round balls (typical size of laddu you would make). You don't need to add ghee for binding, they come together easily with the inherent oil in them. Be patient, you have to hold each laddu tightly for a good 30 seconds to 1 minute to help them keep the shape.


Notes -

  • You may add a teaspoon of warm milk to bind, but that would lessen the shelf life a lot - you can't keep for more than 2 days! 
  •  With 150 to 180 grams of almonds, I got about 10 laddus.  I had opened the pack earlier and used for making something else (or just gobbled up a few plain!) so I had less than 200 grams for preparing these laddus.
  • If you still don't trust my words, make just 1 laddu and taste it and check for yourself if the sweetness level is sufficient. If really required, powder 2 tbsp of sugar and heat & add 2 tsp of ghee to suit your tastebuds.

What healthy recipe did you recently experiment on and were satisfied with? Please share with me! :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Peda using Gulab Jamun Mix - Super Quick Sweet in 3 minutes!

So, I had a packet of MTR Gulab Jamun Mix sitting in my pantry and about to expire in a month's time. I definitely did not want to make them into jamuns...deep frying plus lots of sugar in the syrup...strictly prohibited, given the rate at which I am gaining weight nowadays. I looked at what went into the Jamun Mix and had to think hard looking at the ingredients' list. Obviously, sugar was out of the equation, so I thought of jaggery spontaneously.  I decided to make jaggery syrup and mix in this powder but that turned out to be not-so-good. Figured out it needed some diary products (too much of wheat cream doesn't taste good), so I made jaggery syrup with milk (and not water) and also added some milk powder along with the Gulab Jamun mix. Parfait!

What I Used -

100 g of MTR Gulab Jamun Mix
50 g of Nestle Instant Milk powder
3 tbsp of jaggery
2 tbsp of milk
2 pinches of cardamom powder
2-3 pistachios - to garnish
a few drops of oil - to bring everything together and make into pedas.

How I Made These Cute Pedas -

  1. Added jaggery and milk to a microwave-safe bowl and microwaved for 2 minutes.
  2. Once syrupy, added the Gulab Jamun mix powder and the Milk powder, along with cardamom powder.
  3. Used my hand (clean!) to bring everything together. Had to sprinkle a teaspoon or two of milk powder additionally since it was a bit too sticky.
  4. Finally, brought the whole mass into a rather tough dough after greasing my palms with oil.
  5. Divided the dough into 6, shaped them into balls first and then flattened into pedas.
  6. Decorated by pressing the center a bit and filling with crushed pistachios!
  7. Keep them refrigerated and Microwave each peda for 30-40 seconds just before serving.

When I showed this to my dad, he asked me if I bought them from Sri Krishna Sweets! Isn't that enough? :-)

Make these pedas and show off to your friends and family and let them marvel at your culinary skills and creativity! Enjoy :-)


  • Shred and Use Paneer in place of milk powder for enhanced taste
  • Replace jaggery with sugar (brown or white) for a different flavor.
  • Since we add fresh milk to this, finish consuming the pedas within a day or two! (As if this has been a problem anytime! :D)
  • Microwave times vary with the power of your microwave, so adjust accordingly. Mine is a 1000 W oven. 
  • I got 6 pedas (as in the picture) with the above quantities. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back again! This time with a Sweet recipe!

Hello people! A lot of you, my friends have asked me why I had abandoned the blog and wasn't updating with new recipes. Some of you even requested specific recipes and all I could do was to search them from reliable, trustworthy sources (blogs I trust and that I've personally tried from) and point you to them. Yes, time was the issue and over a few months of inactivity, I felt lazy to go back and write long posts, shoot pics as I cook and do a neat post! Totally inexcusable!

Now, it seems like I will manage to find some time again to spend with my dear online cookbook...I don't promise anything about the frequency of posts, but I certainly hope to continue updating the blog with my experiments :-) After all, I really enjoy reading through the old posts myself, so it would be so nostalgic to read something after a couple of years from now and travel back in time. Especially since I write a prelude for every recipe and those are associated with good memories from life at that point in time.

As is conventional in India to begin any good venture on a sweet note, I am going to restart with a Dessert Recipe. You know me well, it will be a super-quick recipe with easy-to-find ingredients and almost no-cooking required! Interested? Watch this space tomorrow :- )


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