Ragi Sari for a toddler

Ragi porridge for baby is a preferred food back home. Starting with the blander version and continuing it with a picky toddler can be hard. So I had to tweak the original recipe to make it more flavorful and nutritious. So here I am experimenting with a lot of ingredients to check what my little one likes. Finally this is what he liked!  Sure they grow up very fast. 

We will need,

Whole Ragi  3/4 cup
Cardamon 2 pods
Saffron a generous pinch
Almonds  10-13 lightly toasted

  • Pick and clean Ragi for gravel and dirt. Wash it in several changes of water. Drain well and dry it indoor till no trace of moisture remains.
  • Heat a thick bottom skillet. Throw in the Ragi, reduce the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring till the ragi is fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Throw in the saffron and cardamon. Spread it out on a plate to cool down.
  • Once cool enough to handle, grind it into a powder in a coffee grinder. 
  • Remove and store it in a glass jar. It stays good for at least 3 weeks.
  • Grind the almonds separately and store it in another glass jar. ( Vary of plastic after the BPA mess)
Prepare the Sari like you would the regular variety. Stir in ground almonds while the Sari is still warm.

Sabakki Payasa Short cut

Festival season in full swing and here comes Sabakki payasa. As kids me and my sister called this one "gulle gulle payasa" aka 'bubble bubble' payasa, and the name has struck to it. Pearly bubbly milky delight it is still my sister's favorite dessert. To me it always reminds me of 'Pythons'.... well the story goes something like this. Mom was making this payasa one day probably the year was 1991. As usual I was lying on the couch probably reading or watching TV. Mom wanted me to help her, one of the very few days that she needed me to do something. But I did not move, I was there lying like a lazy Python. She got angry and called me just that, 'you lazy Python, come here and help me'. For some reason, I got very offended. Now that I look back what was it about? Just a Python! But back then I was very upset, 'Python' I hate snakes. I said I have nothing to do with anybody for the rest of the day. I went and shut myself up in my room. Later, at dinner time, my mom cajoled me to come and have some 'gulle gulle payasa'. Barely awake, I said ' Pythons do not eat gulle gulle payasa' and I did not eat it. I fell back asleep. Later the next day, I realized I had not had my 'gulle gulle payasa' but nothing remained it of, not even a trace. Probably that taught me well and I never skip my meals or for that matter, I just eat when ever I have a chance!

Like any other Payasa, the regular version means reducing milk till it becomes creamy and rich. But this time around, I did not have the time to stand at the stove and stir..stir and stir. I had to get it done fast, so I took the help of my pantry friend Nestle S A....It worked out fine. Though it is just not the same when I stand at the stove and stir the milk to make a creamy payasa. Like, I never had back ache later, and the payasa still managed to disappear with immediate effect!

We will need,

Sabudana/ Sabakki  1/2 cup
Whole milk  1 cup
Sweetened condensed milk  5 oz
Evaporated Milk 5 oz
Saffron a pinch
Cardamon ground a pinch
Raisins 1/4 cup
Ghee 1 tbsp

  • Wash the Sabbakki in several changes of water. Soak in water just enough to cover it for about 1 hour sometimes longer. When it is ready it should not be tough in the center when we bite it. Drain it throughly.
  • Soak the saffron in a tbsp of warm milk. Set it aside.
  • In a thick bottom pot, I use a non-stick pot, combine the Sabakki with 3/4 cup of water. Put the pot on medium-low heat. Cook till the Sabakki is almost translucent but not fully cooked. 
  • Now stir in the rest of the milk and cook till the Sabakki is completely cooked. Reduce heat to low and simmer till it thickens about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the evaporated milk, saffron, cardamon and the condensed milk. Cook till it is well blended and coats the back of the spoon. remove from heat.
  • Heat ghee in a pan. Once hot, throw in the raisins. Saute the raisins till they plump up. Remove from heat. 
  • Pour the ghee and the raisins on the Payasa. Serve hot/ cold/ room temperature.

Holige Saaru

I cannot believe the Sravana month is almost coming to an end! It feels like last week that we celebrated Ugadi..So official Hindu festival season has started. We have already had two sweets - Sabakki Payasa and Kesari Bhaath in as many weeks, one for Varamahalaxmi and then Krishnajanmastami, more to come in the next few weeks. After Honey went sugar free, I make sweets with a lot of guilt. I do try and make very small quantities just good enough for the Neivedya and probably one small serving for each of us. Even then it is a lot of sweets! Lo behold, Ganesha comes next week. Ganesh Gowri means Holige again. Here is Holige Saaru my Mom's version.  This is what we do with the stock after making Holige. 
Often the water used to clean up the grinder/ mixer used to grind the dal-jaggery mixture is also used with the dal stock to make this curry. After all we are a culture that treats wasting food as criminal offense! 

We will need,
Dal stock from making Holige (or cooked dal +water) 4 cups
Tili Saaru Pudi   2tbsp
Coconut fresh 3/4 cup grated
Ghee  3 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Curry leaves a generous handful
Whole red chillies dried  3-4
Coriander fresh a handful
Hurana/ the dal stuffing for Holige 1/4 cup (substitution is jaggery)
Tamarind extract 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

  • Combine the tamarind, saaru pudi and a little stock in a thick bottom pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer and cook till the mixture smells fragrant. Add more stock if the mixture reduces rapidly. The idea here is to mellow the spices and tamarind to the right consistency.
  • After about 20 minutes or so, add the remaining stock, the Hurana, coconut and salt. 
  • Prepare the oggarane. Heat ghee in a ladle, throw in the mustard, hing, curry leaves and red chillies. Once the sizzling stops, pour the mixture right onto the Saaru. I generally immerse the ladle into the dal so that the fumes perfumes the curry, just the way mom does.
  • Finish with the coriander.. Serve with Holige, rice and ghee...
P.S: Mom eats her Holige with a generous topping of this Saaru.. I do not :)

Happy Janmashtami

Happy Janmashtami ....Here is my little Krishna, after a meal of Gojjavalakki, Kosambari and Kesari Bhaath...

Summer Squash Chutney

Continuing with the season's best.. Summer Squash

We will need,

Summer Squash  1 lb cleaned and chopped into chunks
Garlic  2-3 cloves
Chillies (red/ green) 4-5 (adjust according to taste)
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - size of two peas
Coriander a generous handful (optional)
Black pepper  1/4 tsp
Peanut oil  3 tbsp
Mustard seeds a generous pinch
Salt to taste

  • Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the mustard seeds, cumin followed by the chillies.
  • Once the chillies stop sizzling add the squash, pepper,tamarind and garlic.
  • Saute till the squash is tender and garlic is mellow. Remove from fire, let it cool.
  • Once cool, combine the rest of the ingredients and pulse in a food processor to desired consistency. I like my chutney a little chunky! Serve with hot rice and ghee.