Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Besan Laddoo

The first time I had tasted besan laddoo was when, for my daughter's school International Fest, we had to represent India by displaying our culture, history and food. We prepared a few dishes that other parents, teachers and the students can sample. One of our friends had then made besan laddoo.
At home, we only made the boondhi laddoo which also has the same ingredients but prepared differently in an elaborate process. That has to be another post in future.
The other day, my friend mentioned that she made besan laddoo as her daughter wanted to learn to make it. Then I requested that she makes for me and I shall put a post on the dish.
July, in my home, is a month dotted with frequent occasions to celebrate, through the month. It happened to be my daughter's birthday on the weekend and my friend suggested that we can celebrate with the sweet. We drove down to their home and after a leisurely meal, she set out to prepare them while I only watched. It seemed easy enough to prepare, the hardest part being roasting the chickpea flour/ besan in ghee until it is aromatic and shining without allowing it to burn. That takes quite a while and after that it the mix has to cool sufficiently in order that the sugar will not melt while added to it. She made it seem easy as she rolled out about 25 laddoos in minutes.They are mildly sweet and fragrant from the ghee and the roasted flour, a good sweet dish to prepare anytime.

Besan Laddoo
Recipe: Lalitha Burde


Ingredients:
Makes 25 ping-pong ball sized laddoos.


4 cups besan/ gram flour / chick peas flour
2 cups sugar (we have used very fine granulated sugar as is. You may powder the sugar, if desired)
                     ( Usually Boora sugar /Tagar is favourable)
1 cup melted ghee
2 - 3 tablespoons mixed, slivered nuts ( We used almonds and pistachios)
2 teaspoons cardamom powder
Few strands of saffron, slightly roasted and crushed

Method:
Sift the flour and removes the grainy lumps.
Reserve a little amount of ghee and heat the rest in a heavy bottom wide pan.
Add the sifted flour and on low heat roast it in the ghee. Initially the flour mix may seem to be dry.
Keep roasting the flour and carefully break any lump that forms. The flour has to lose the raw taste and get very aromatic.
Halfway through the roasting add mixed nuts, cardamom and the saffron. Mix well and continue to cook. If you find the mix dry, add the reserved ghee.
As it cooks, the flour will blend with the ghee and become a mass that will have a shiny coat of ghee.
Remove from the heat and allow the flour mix to cool down.It has to be warm to touch but not hot that you cannot hold.
Add the sugar or powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.
Pinch out small portions of the dough like mix and roll them in a smooth ball.
Arrange the rolled out laddoos on a dish slightly apart from each other.



Cool and store them.
The laddoo may feel sticky on the day of preparation and be very soft. The ghee gets absorbed and the laddoos also firm up by the next day.
They taste good whether served warm or stored.









Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sundaikkai Gothsu - Turkey Berries and Onions Stew

It had been many years ago that I may have last tasted some of the vegetables that we had often been given in our childhood and until little older too. Most times greens, spinach and few other vegetables were grown in the home garden. Some yielded abundantly and my grandmother would share with the neighbours. They encouraged us to help around; we have helped making trellis for the beans and spinach, water the plants and such.The home patch yielded few varieties of vegetables that were locally easy to grow and many flowers. It now seems like ages ago and I had lost touch with such pleasures. Once we had a huge turkey berry plant and I remember that my mother cooked the berries in a stir fry kind of dish with lot of coconut and condiments.
When we set our house in Coimbatore, we laboured a bit and have a garden to show. The area has fertile soil and hence the garden thrives. few of the neighbours have fruit trees and flowering plants all in their glory. One of them has the turkey berry planted nearer to their front wall and thus as we pass by we get to see bunches of them in the plant. They have generously shared those with any of us who would cook them.
During the few months, I slowly settled in, the neighbours have pampered me to the point of being spoilt. Sometimes, most unexpectedly, someone would send me piping hot food just so I can cook only rice and such. That was when one of them sent me this tangy and spicy stew. It was lip smacking, finger licking delicious.
You might well imagine my delight when the other evening I spotted in the shop assistant's trolley these small packs of these berries labelled green eggplant. I read up later that these are the same family.


I picked up one pack and soon as I reached home, I shot a message to the lady to share her recipe. She promptly messaged the next morning and I waited for today to cook them.
I was chatting with my mother and gave her the small details in the recipe. she then informed me that her grandmother would cook the berries in similar dish adding her touch. That has to be another day and post to share that.

Sunadaikkai Gothsu
Recipe: Mrs. Padma Balu, my neighbour 


Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 cup / 250 ml Turkey berries/ Sundaikkai
1 cup finely chopped onions
6 tablespoons thick tamarind extract
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6-8 dry red chillis
4 tablespoons fresh coconut scrapes
1&1/2 teaspoon powdered jaggery
1&1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons gingelley oil or any cooking oil (divided)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
Few fresh curry leaves
Coriander leaves ( I did not have any, so had not added)

Method:
Wash the turkey berries, place them in a plastic bag and give a few vigorous taps with a rolling pin. Alternately, place them in a stone mortar and crush the berries. they will break open and few seeds will be strewn. transfer the berries to a colander and clean wash the seeds away under running water.
In a heavy pan, dry roast the sesame seeds until golden brown and they start to pop. Cool and make a fine powder. Keep aside.
In the same pan dry roast the red chillis, cumin and coriander seeds until well roasted.
Add this to the coconut and grind to a slightly coarse paste. Keep aside.


Keep reserve about 2 teaspoons of the oil for the tempering. Add the rest of the oil to the cooking pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and the berries. Cook them until the onions are transparent and the berries change to a pale green colour. Add the salt and turmeric powder and cook a bit longer.

Add the tamarind extract and cook on low flame until the raw taste of the tamarind subsides.
Add the jaggery and let it cook fora further 3 minutes.
Dilute the ground paste with some water and add to the stew.
Mix well, adjust the water and cook until a thick gravy is obtained.
Transfer to a serving dish.
To temper heat the reserved 2 teaspoons oil, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Toss the curry leaves and add the tempering to the gothsu.

 
Sprinkle the roasted sesame powder on top. This enhances the flavour.
Garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves if you have  them.
serve the hot gothsu with steamed rice. It makes a good side for adai and venpongal also.