Habanero Chutney

I love-hate Habanero, love it that it starts off fruity, very fragrant and slightly sweet but ends up with frantic call to the fire department. On our last trip to the farm where we pick our vegetables on good summer days, I found some pretty looking Habaneros, some red, some sort of yellow, they were indeed so adorable. I had to pick them. Never thought of what to do them. Once home, I started thinking of making a pickle with the fiery fellows. But my heart fainted when I ended up using just a couple in a curry in place of green chillies I had just run out. Boy! That was something. So instead of making a pickles with more chilli powder and spices, decided to do a chutney instead. So here comes the Habanero chutney, call the fire department.

Well I also did something very stupid.I decided to discard the seeds and ribs of the Habaneros. Despite knowing how nasty this fellow can get, I did it with my bare hands. Needless to say, my palms were burning for a long time. Tried every possible thing in the kitchen and bathroom closets, but the fiery fellow persisted. Some one told me to rub my hands with some alcohol. It seemed to have worked. So beware, never use bare hands to work on these little fire bombs.

Honey dumped a ladleful of this chutney thinking it was Pumpkin Palya! He did think it was not all that wise of him to do that.

We will need,

Habaneros 4-6 chopped (seeds discared)
Pineapple chopped 1 cup
Kopra 1/4 cup
Peanut oil `/4 cup
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Hing a dash
Curry leaves a handful
Jaggery 2 tbsp crushed (a little more or less depending on preference)
Salt to taste

  • Chop the Habaneors and discard the seeds and the veins. Reserve
  • Toast the Kopra and pound it into a fine powder.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Throw in the mustard, jeera and hing. Once the spluttering stops, throw in the curry leaves. Toss in the chopped chillies, saute for a few minutes.
  • Toss in the pineapple along with their juices. Saute for a few minutes and then throw in the Kopra.
  • Give it a stir. Add salt and jaggery. Add a little water if the mixture is dry. Cook till the pineapples are tender and the dish comes together.
  • Serve as a part of any meal. Goes well with rice, rasam and Mosaranna (curd rice)


Dry Fruits Laadooo

It is Dasara time and I have been trying hard not to make any sweets for Naivendya- offering to the good gods. We have had a great time with extended family the last 3 months and a large part of it was eating manic eating! Just the time we thought we had returned to more sane eating, here comes Dasara. I have not made any of my Dasara staples this time around. But for Saraswathi Pooja I simply could not resist the urge to make something sweet. So here is something that is no cook and no sweat.
We will need,

Raisins 1 measure
Copra 1 Measure
Dates 1 measure
Figs (dried) 1 measure
Almonds 1 measure
Cashew 1 measure
Cardamon a few seeds

  • Toast the copra, cashews and almonds separately on a moderately hot skillet. Set it aside to cool.
  • Once the nuts are cool, combine everything in a mixer and pulse till smooth and comes together.
  • Remove from the mixer and press it into balls the size of limes. 
  • Enjoy it as a prasada or as a part of a meal.
P.S: I did not add sugar because the dried fruits are quite sweet by themselves. If needed sugar can be added to the mixer before pulsing as desired.

Dasara Navarathri

'Mysooru Dasara yestondu sundara..' goes an old Kannada film song. Indeed, the Dasara celebrations in Mysore is world famous. We lived just off the Mysore Palace and had the good fortune of watching festivities up close. I remember the concerts of big artists like M.S.S, Bhimsen Joshi and the there was the Palace the 'Aramane' as we call it fondly in regal splendor complete with hundreds and thousands of light bulbs. In those times the bulbs were supplied by the Mysore Lamps. Wonder who is supplying the light bulbs since the company went belly up. Then there were the elephants, Drona the magnificent. Miss him every time I see the Jambo Savari. He did not have to die the way he did. If only we were a little sensitive as a species.

The entire nine days of celebrations meant lot of food consumed, sweets, savories everything. One hallmark of the old Mysore dasara is the festivities in almost all local temples. In most temples dedicated to goddess Devi, the nine days is celebrated with nine Alankaras, one on each day. The goddess will be dressed up to represent her various Avataras. Some times the theme will be "Asta-Lakshmi' some times 'Vishnu-Dashavatara' and others as well. I love temple hopping during this time of the year, not only  for the Alankaras but also for the prasadas that are served during the evening poojas. Temples seem to overflow with prasadas at this particular time. Visiting two-three temples mean dinner not required! I know I am shameless when it comes to food.

This is our Bombe Habba part of Navarathri. Most of my collection, which is quite large is back home. These are just a few I accumulated here, meant to be taken back home to be a part of the broader collection. For now this is it. I am finding it hard to restrain Sunny boy from touching these display. Wonder how long it would last.
To all of you  here is wishing you the best on the occasion of Navarathri. Dasara Habbada Shubhashayagalu.

Masala Akki Rotti

Akki Rotti is beloved favorite among southern Kannadagidas. We love it and eat it way too often, say like the north Indian eat their Parathas. Akki Rotti is again like a blank canvas, color it which ever way you  want. Mil makes amazing Masala akki rotti, the variety that has so many goodies in it that chutney need not be served at all. This time when she made it, I pushed her to measure down ingredients and viola, here it comes.

We will need,

Rice flour 1 cup
Water 1 cup
Onion minced 1 medium
Coriander fresh chopped a handful
Curry leaves shredded 10-12
Green chillies minced 2-3 adjust according to taste
Avarekalu /Indian beans (tender ones, cooked) 1/2 cup
Jeera 1/2 tbsp
Sesame seeds 2 tsp
Salt to taste

To cook the rotits and serve we will need Peanut oil /ghee/butter as preferred, but definitely optional

  • Stir a tbsp of rice flour with about 1/4 cup of water to form a slurry. Now combine the rest of the water in a non-stick pot, add salt and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the slurry starts to boil, dump the remaining flour and the rest of the ingredients except the ghee/oil/butter if using and stir. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, knead it as you would the dough for chapati. The mixture should be pliable but should come together easily  as well. If it is too wet, add a little extra rice flour. If it is too dry, add a little hot water. 
  • Once the kneading is done and the mixture has come together and is sort of uniform, divide it into three or four smaller balls. 
  • Preheat a skillet
  • Place one of the divided balls on a piece of plastic sheet or a parchment paper and start spreading it out into a large flat disc using your fingers. Dab a little oil on your fingers if the dough sticks. Once the disc is about 8" to 10",  poke a few holes, one in a center and a few around it. Mil makes five of them. 
  • Place it carefully on the preheated skillet. To do that, you can either gently remove the disc on to your palm and place it on the skillet or invert the Parchment disc side down on the skillet and gently peel the parchment away. 
  • Once the Rotti cooks on one side and the edges look set, dab a little oil/ghee if using and flip the Rotti carefully.Cook on the other side till golden. Remove from heat and serve it right away.
P.S: Other ingredients that makes this Rotti even more lovable are chopped dill, fenugreek greens, carrots.

Mango Tokku Mavinakayi tokku

We as a culture hate wasting.  Though a land of abundance, India has always emphasized a frugal lifestyle. We almost never waste anything. Food being equal to the Goddess Annapoorneshwari is never wasted at all. That is how I grew up. My mother never cooks food in huge quantities, she never wastes anything. I was like her while growing up. But of late the culture of my adopted homeland is getting the better of me. Still I make an effort to not through away food especially  the Produce. I might throw away a musty croissant with great impunity while try an salvage most of a rotting apple. I have stopped buying a lot of produce and stuffing it in my fridge. While the same is not true for prepared foods. There are times when I pick a huge pack of croissants from Costco or some cupcakes from our super market. Many a times such things end up in the garbage.
There are such ingenious ways of making the most of what we have, Typically during the summers when we start the pickle 'factory', we fetch good tart mangoes in huge quantities. Most of the fleshy parts of the mango goes into the Mango pickles- uppinakayi, the ones stuck to the seed in the core is grated and converted to either Tokku or use up in Chitranna . The seed itself goes into a curry. The entire fruit is used up with minimal wastage. Same with a messy fruit like Jackfruit. We use up the seeds, the fleshy parts and more.
This last batch of Mango pickles, made specially for my Fil, who happened to love my Mango pickles, I dished up some Tokku as well.

We will need,

Raw mango grated 2 cups
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
Peanut oil 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Dried red chillies 3-4 (Byadagi variety preferred)
Curry leaves a handful
Chilli powder 1-2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp 
Jaggery 1 tbsp (crushed, lightly packed)
Salt to taste

  • On a hot skillet, toast the fenugreek seeds till fragrant, remove from heat and cool. Once cool enough to handle, pound it into a powder. Reserve.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the mustard, hing, dried red chillies and curry leaves.
  • Once they stop spluttering,throw in the grated mangoes. Saute the mangoes till they are no longer raw.
  • Throw in the remaining ingredients and simmer till the oil separates, the spices fragrant  and the mango tender about 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Once it is back to room temperature, the mixture can be filled in glass containers and it stays good for at least a couple months in the refrigerator. 

Lane Cake

If Macaroons are for french and scones for Scots, layered cakes are for Americans. I was amazed when I  discovered the layers and layers of cake and fillings that seemed to defy gravity! But this is the nation of deep fried Oreos, Tur-Duc-Chicken, multiple stack Cheeseburgers and Paula Deen. Layer cakes belong to that genre of unapologetically rich foods that can either melt your heart or and make you curl up in a ball. In fact, layered cakes might just as well do the trick in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran etc albeit inexpensively. So as a tribute to a great nation and its even heavier culinary heritage I had to try and do layered cakes.I choose Lane cake, something that is mentioned in the book 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'. Back as a kid when I read the book for the first time, Lane cake was yet another food, I knew nothing about, just like the ones in Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Seven' series and 'The Famous Five'. Boy! it sure looked like kids in 'foreign' countries ate a lot of strange foods. Thanks to the British Library, the mist lifted when I was barely out of my teens.

The thing that struck me most when I looked up for the recipe of Lane cake on PBS was the addition of desiccated coconut in the filling. It reminded me so much of the Iyengar Bakery 'Dilkhush' and 'Dilpasand'. Imagine the goodness of cake and the sweet filling ah! I got all the energy required that very second. and off I went to make the cake.Purist might cringe at my version, but that is what enriches and grows a culture, a nation and us.India was the greatest nation during the first millennium because it was so outward looking, so open to new ideas, a laboratory of innovations. That India embraced and internalized foreign knowledge, culture and languages leading to successful institutions like Nalanda, as well as great advances in science, medicine, politics and philosophy. The acceptance and internalization which weakened during the reign of Sultanates ultimately crumbled under the British. Sadly, post-independent India started as an inward looking experiment, the burden of which is still obvious today. May be as a nation we will realise that inward looking India can never be as glorious as the outward looking India always was. The same thing with the United States. It is the most powerful country today only because of its ability to accept and internalize traditions, thoughts and people. The best and brightest come here only because they are welcome, their idea appreciated and rewarded. As long as the country remains receptive to people, ideas, culture it will be the richest and most powerful county.  This is my humble tribute to two great nations the world's oldest and largest democracies.
 We will need,

White cakes 8" 2 (boxed mix will do, mine is from the scratch) cooled

For the filling:
Kopra/ Dessicated coconut 1/4 cup
Raisins  3 tbsp
Tutti- fruiti or candied fruits 3 tbsp
Sugar 1/4 cup
Butter 2 tbsp
Heavy cream a few tbsp
Cardamon 1 (seeds crushed into a fine powder)
Nutmeg a dash

Heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup
Cream Cheese 1/2 a pack (4 oz)
Sugar 4 tbsp (adjust according to taste, I went slightly overboard this time for Fil loves his desset sweeeet)
Vanilla a few drops

  • For the filling, combine the raisin, Tutti-fruiti and coconut in a food processor and pulse till well combined and sort of comes together in a ball. 
  • Heat butter in a thick bottom pan and throw in the raisin mixture. Saute for a few minutes till fragrant. 
  • Add the sugar and cook till the sugar melts.Throw in the cardamon and grated nutmeg.
  • Add cream a tbsp at a time to loosen the mixture. The mixture should be have a jam like consistency and should be spreadable. Reserve.
  • To prepare the frosting, whip up the heavy cream into soft peaks, throw in about 2 tbsp sugar and work it to stiff peaks.
  • Cream the cheese and throw in about 2 tbsp of sugar and vanilla and whip it till smooth and creamy.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture gently till evenly combined.
  • To assemble the cake, Place one cake on a cake stand and spread the cooled raisin mixture starting the center, generously all over, except the last centimeter of the cake from outside.
  • Place the second cake, bottom up on the first cake-raisin filling. Press it gently making sure that the cake is sort of even.
  • Slather the frosting on top of the cake and all along the sides. Garnish with chocolate shavings, fruits and nuts of choice.

Carrot Kheer

It is Blog hop Wednesday time. This time I am paired with Farah . As I went through her collection, I fell in love with her Carrot Kheer. So here it is.

We will need

Carrots  2 cups grated
Whole milk 6 cups
Sugar 3 tbsp (adjust according to taste, this was just right for me, Honey would have preferred it sweeter)

Raisins a handful
Ghee 1 tbsp
Almonds 2-3
Saffron  a pinch 

  1. Combine the carrot and the milk in a heavy bottom pot. Cook till the carrots are soft.
  2. Once the carrots are soft, throw in the saffron and the sugar. Simmer till the sugar dissolves. 
  3. In a separate pan, heat the ghee and throw in the raisins. Cook till they plum up.Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the raisins into the simmering carrots and remove from heat.
  5. Garnish with almond shavings. Serve warm or chilled.