Rice Badam Kheer

Dasara is such exciting time. Celebrated all across India, various traditions are popular in various parts of the country. Mysore Dasara for me is synonymous with crowded Mysore, the time my father planned carefully to get us out of the city while the tourists flocked to see the spectacular Jambosavari. My memory of the only time I went to see the Jambosavari is perched up on someone's shoulder (most likely our then maid servant ) trying to make sense beyond the sea of people. I do not think I got a single glimpse of Drona or his Howda. Nothing short of a VIP pass would make Jambosavari an enjoyable experience. I consoled myself that in the absence of VIP passes, Drona looked majestic on Doordarshan with all its "Rukaavat Ke Liye Khedh Hai"!!
Apart from the Jambosavari which is indeed a culmination of the ten days long celebration, there is the Palace illumination, Exhibition, Kacheri aka concerts, flower show ,Khusti -wrestling matches in the arena near the palace and the most recent addition 'Ahara Mela' the food show. We lived a stones throw away from Mysore palace and could see the Palace illumination from our terrace. We could occasionally hear the Kacheri if it was not drown down by the 'Mikasura' - huge stereos playing Sandalwood songs from the Exhibition grounds.

On a sad note, I do remember Drona 26 years after he passed away. Peace to Drona once again. Having seen Dasara elephants closely as they lumbered on early each morning during their stay in the Palace, to Karangikere right by our doorstep, they have a special place in my heart. Hearing the tinkle of their bells, we would run out with occasional bananas or mostly a handful of grass and leaves to feed the Jumbos. Perhaps to the Jumbos we were like little curios, with an occasional surprise. What ever they thought of us, we loved those gentle giants. So here it is Rice and Badam Kheer, celebrating Mysore Dasara and the Dasara Aane/elephants.

We will need,

Rice 1/4 cup
Almonds 1/4 cup
Milk 2 cups
Evaporated milk 1 cup
Condensed milk 1/2 cup (+2-3 tbsp as per taste)
Saffron a pinch
Pista for garnish (optional)

  • Soak the almonds in warm water for a few hours. Peel the almond and discard the skin. Combine it with 1/4 cup of milk and grind it into a paste.
  • Remove 2 tbsp of milk into a separate container and stir in the saffron. Keep aside.
  • Combine the remaining milk and rice and cook till the rice falls apart. Keep stirring the mixture so that the mixture does not burn. 
  • Once the rice is completely done, stir in the almond mixture,evaporated milk and condensed milk. keep stirring till the mixture thickens and changes color.
  • Stir in the saffron and bring it to one gentle boil while stirring the mixture. Remove from heat.
  • Pop the Kheer into the refrigerator and serve chilled.


Wishing all my readers a very happy Navratri. Dasara is in full swing here. It is already the sixth day! We feast-ers cannot believe how fast the last six days have passed. For fast-ers I know a few more days to go. I was toying with the idea of fasting sometime during Navratri. But ours is Mysore style feasting Dasara and I always guiltlessly adopt the more convenient of traditions. So it has been sweet naivedya for the Bombe Habba here. I will be covering the offerings made on all the ten days. The idea was to post the recipe the same day I make it. But that proved to be too ambitious. So here it is, a lagged coverage of Dasara, Kannada Cuisine style.

This time around, it is getting rather difficult to make elaborate recipes the first thing in the morning. Though always a from-the-scratch home made  kind of girl, this time I have made it a little easy on me. So this series will see a lot of made in the microwave recipes.

Kunda is rich, caramelized, condensed milk  un-apologetically rich but just sweet enough to bring out all the goodness of the fatty milk but never too sweet that you feel like you are swimming in a barrel of sugarcane juice. That dubious distinction will go to our Payasas... Kunda is delicate and rustic but comforting and proven to lift me up on those blue days.

We will need,

Dry Mawa/ milk powder 1/2 cup
Condensed milk  1/3 cup
Evaporated milk  1/4 cup
Butter melted 3 tbsp

  • Combine all the ingredients in a microwave proof bowl.
  • Pop the mixture into the microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and stir the mixture very well.
  • Pop the mixture again into the microwave for a minute more repeat the stirring part. 
  • Keep alternating between microwaving for a minute and stirring.
  • The mixture will start loosing moisture and the fat sort of separates slightly and the mixture will sort of turn golden brown as well. That is when the mixture is ready. At that point stop cooking it. Stir well and remove to a cool platter. Serve at room temperature.

Pine nut Peda

As I have mentioned many a times in my previous posts, this is my favorite time of the year. No wonder I go crazy on and off starting the month of Sravana all the way up to Diwali to New year. (That is pretty much half the year any way) I just need excuses to prepare, serve and eat something nice, mostly sweets.

To think of it, I never had a sweet tooth while growing up. My only weakness was for chocolate which any respectable kid back then would be fond of. Besides there was a scarcity value attached to chocolates be it Amul, be it Chadbury's. It was not like today, where kids just go and buy a bar of chocolate at a local Kirana store. We had to wait for days, months before we could get our bar of chocolate, mostly when one of my favorite uncles or my grandfather would visit us with the gift  of a bar. Most often than not, a single bar would be handed over to myself and my sister to share. I would eat mine up and wait for sister to save part of her's so that I could steal and eat it later when she was not around. I did that all the time. Most often my sister would not even remember the last few pieces that she had 'saved' in the fridge. When she did remember there would be a Mahabharatha -2 war unfolding in my own living room! I feel bad about it now. But as my Karma would have it , I am at the receiving end now. Honey steals and eats my share of 'nice' food before I realize it is gone.

My sweet tooth, I think I grew them when I was pregnant with Sunny boy. Somehow I did not crave for anything spicy at all through out my pregnancy. I was absolutely unable to tolerate chillies and ended up eating sweet-tart-mild Pulioggare by the tonnes. Normal times I would not even touch Pulioggare.  Pregnancy is indeed strange and makes you a stranger to your own self.

So to satisfy my sweet tooth, here are some Pedas I made using Pine nuts.  Pine nuts are very fatty and yummy. They make a perfect ingredient to make Pedas. These Pedas are great with kids, Sunny boy loved it and so did a few other kids, a perfect item for Dasara Bombe habba. So here it is the Pinenut Peda.

We will need,

Pine nuts 1 cup
Evaporated milk or regular milk 3/4 cup
Sugar 3/4 cup
Kewra a few drops
Rose Water a few drops
Cardamon 2 (seeds crushed and pod discarded)

  1. On a thick bottomed skillet, toast the Pinenuts till fragrant. Pine nuts are very fatty and sort to burn right away. So it is important to keep stirring them to get a nice golden color without burning them. Remove and spread out to cool on a cookie sheet.
  2. Once the nuts are cool, combine it with the milk/evaporated milk in a blender and blend till smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a thick bottom pan (I use a non-stick pan, just for sweets and prasadas)
  4. Stir in the sugar into the nut mixture and cook on a gentle heat stirring frequently.
  5. After about 25 minutes, the mixture will start coming together into a ball.
  6. Now fold into it the Kewra, rose water and cardamon powder. Mix very well and remove from heat. 
  7. Let the mixture cool down a bit and then pinch little ball the size of a small lime from the mixture and roll it between two palms of your hands. Flatten it slightly and stamp a desired design on the Pedas. 
  8. I just used my citrus zest peeler to sort of create a design on the Pedas. Let the Pedas cool and set before serving.

Seekarane / Sweetened Hung Yogurt

I love Krishna, as they  say, he is my 'Istha Deiva'. He might have been a historical person, a power broker, an astute politician we probably will never know. But to me he is that cherubic little kid who stole butter as well as hearts. What is there not to love in the little kid who did everything to bring the pot of butter down, especially if you have one such kid yourself!. He is worshiped as god, yet he is no human, so one among us, so close to heart. If he were ever a historical figure, it would be so difficult to objectively judge him, because of the personal bond that we share. We grew up hearing the stories of his naughtiness, kindness, bravery and everything else. So it is indeed very easy to fall in love with him.
So Janmastami happens to be special. It is after all the birthday of the little lovable imp. I try to fast during the day and prepare a lavish spread for the evening, but this time I could not really do that. Simple does not necessarily mean an ordinary affair. It had to be something special, something Krishna liked. So I decided to make Poori and Seekarane along with Bendekai gojju. After all Krishna was fond of milk, yogurt  and butter.

We will need,

Yogurt 3 cups
Milk 2 tbsp (warm)
Saffron 1 pinch
Sugar 1/4 to 1/2 cup adjust according to taste
Cardamon 1 pod, seeds crushed and pod discarded

  • Set a sieve over a smaller container. Line the sieve with a piece of muslin or cheese cloth. Pour the yogurt into the sieve, cover and keep it aside for a couple of hours in the refrigerator till the moisture in the yogurt is drained and a thick creamy solids are left in the sieve.
  • Crush the saffron and dump it into the warm milk. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Remove the hung curds into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. I used the super fine variety and it was a breeze to get it all mixed up. 
  • Throw in  the crushed cardamon and the saffron milk. Stir well to combine.
  • Chill it in the refrigerator for several hours for the flavors to develop and serve well chilled with Pooris.

Khoa Kobari Peda

Sunny boy started school today. My little baby rode on the school bus all by himself, I mean neither me nor Honey were with him. It was a mixed feeling. A was going through a gamut of emotions. My little baby did not need me as much as he did when he was say 2 years old. There is a degree of pride when I see him pick up his back ease his tiny feet into his shoes and walks to the door. At the same time, a part of me cries and cringes that my baby is now a boy, not the tiny little bundle in my arms that could stare into for hour. Like the little bird who has mastered the art of flying, he too one day will fly away from me in the quest for his life.

It is when I am under such emotional duress that my heart starts to ache, remembering people who never came back. It does not help that living here in NJ so close to New York city, September is a brutal month, at least the first two weeks are. Deliberate switching off the TV or avoiding the news papers, is not really enough to escape the 9-11 tragedy. It somehow hangs around like an apparition. The other day I saw this on the notice board of a local church "Grief Share starts Sep 10, 6 PM". For a moment I was wondering what it could be, before it hit me that it is September. And then there are the local memorials, which gets drenched in tears around this time of the year. Of course it is this time of the year that my eye start catching "We remember", " We will never forget.." and such. I do not know if my mind is unconsciously playing the trick or if it really happens at this of the year. No September 11 has been a normal day for me ever since I came to this country.  Somehow a tragedy of this extent feels way more painful here. May be it is the way they remember indeed. Many more people have died back home say due to natural calamities, insurgency and of course terrorism. They have all been equally painful, but grief is not public back home, it is personal, it is got nothing to do with our collect psyche as a society. But here it is a fully public grief share and re-living the memories of those who never came back on a very typical balmy feeling summer day. We have friends who worked there but were caught in the traffic jam and thankfully never made it to their office. We know of people who were in the building a few hours before the incident happened and could not believe what happened a few hours, minutes after they left. We know people who worked there, safely made it out  even as the building smouldered on at the top and never had the nerve to go back to the highrises of the city. All these somehow hits so hard.
On the contrary the Mumbai terror attacks have all but forgotten. I remember what I was doing as the tragedy unfolded, just like I remember that day when I heard what happened in NYC on that fateful day. Perhaps we all do. You cannot  forget the moment something so disturbing happens. But Mumbai terror attacks were soon forgotten. We do not remember the victims any more. All I can see is may be a small article in  some news paper. No public grief share, no public tribute  and not much impact on the collective Psyche of the city. I do salute the resilience of the city, it is perhaps a different way of coping up with a tragedy like that, to move on.
The difference how it is treated here and back home are however very stark. Ultimately, why it happened does not matter. All that matters is that people never came back because of  some one amongst us was crazy.
After all this let us go back to Khoa Kobari Peda, a nice tribute to all our dear departed as well as our Pitru's (ancestors). The timing could not have been right 9-11 and Pitrupaksha coinciding.

We will need,

Khoa (the moist variety ) grated 1 cup
Sugar 1/2-3/4 cup
Evaporated milk 1 can (the small one)
Kopra /dessicated coconut 1/4 cup
Ghee 2 tbsp

  • On a hot skillet, toast the dessicated coconut till the coconut is slightly golden and aromatic. Remove it on to a cool plate and set it aside.
  • Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan. Throw in the Khoa. Keep stirring till it changes colour to slightly golden. This takes a while.
  • Pour in the evaporated milk and sugar. Cook till the sugar is well incorporated and the mixture comes together into a ball.
  • Remove from heat. Once it is cool enough to handle, pinch lime sized balls of the khoa mixture and roll it in the toasted coconut mixture. 
  • Set the coconut coated khoa balls in a tray and air dry for a few hours till the Pedas harden slightly. serve at room temperature.