Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mango Mania : Seekarane - A sweet mango relish

What’s the best thing about Summer? Other than summer holidays for kids, is it not mangoes that make summer a special season?
Summers are made special starting from the tangy, sour, raw mangoes of various varieties, to the ripe, juicy, sweet mangoes. With all the health benefits added to it, it surely deserves to be called the King of Fruits. It sure is a comfort food. Mangoes really can make one feel better! The heat of summer can be forgotten momentarily when having mangoes - be it the raw ones with salt and chili powder, or ripe and juicy ones, or any dish prepared from it!
There are many many regional cuisines prepared using this King of Fruits. Each has its own uniqueness and specialty. And the best part of it is that it makes you crave for more! So why not dedicate a special series for this king of fruits?
Let’s start with Seekarane - a Karnataka specialty using ripe mangoes, which can be had as an accompaniment with chapathi / poori / dosa, or just as a dessert. It’s a simple and easy recipe, with very few ingredients but still makes you feel great after having a bowl of it.
At home, it’s usually my FIL (yes, you read it right!) who makes it. He is very fond of this fruit and usually chops the fruits and makes it ready, and all of us savor it!

Here's how you make it.......

Mango Seekarane

Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : Nil
Serves : 4-5

Mangoes - 3-4 medium sized, any variety
Bananas - 1-2, preferably elakki variety
Milk - 1 cup, chilled
Sugar - 1-2 Tbsp, depending on whether the mangoes are sweet or sour
Honey - 1 Tbsp, optional
Cardamom - 3-4

• Peel and cut the mangoes into ½ inch pieces
• Scrape out the pulp and juice sticking to the seed
• Cut bananas into small pieces and mix with the mango pieces and pulp
• Add milk, sugar and/or honey
• Crush the cardamoms and add
• Mix thoroughly
• Pour into small bowls and refrigerate if needed
• Serve as dessert, or as accompaniment with chapathis/pooris/dosas

Tips n Tricks:
• Adjust the quantity of sugar / honey based on how sweet / sour the mangoes are

• Sugar or honey can both be added or one of them can be chosen - both give different tastes
• Bananas can be omitted

• The mango is indigenous to the Indian Subcontinent especially India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia
• The name mango is ultimately from the Tamil mangai and was loaned into Portuguese in the early 16th century as manga, from where the Portuguese passed into English.
• Mangoes account for approximately fifty percent of all tropical fruits produced worldwide.
• India is the largest producer of Mangoes
• Alphonso, grown exclusively in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, which is considered among the best mangoes in the Southern states of India is named after Afonso De Albuquerque who reputedly brought the fruit on his journeys to Goa
• Mango is rich in a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients that qualify it as a model "superfruit", a term used to highlight potential health value of certain edible fruits.
• Mangoes are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, as well as a good source of Potassium and contain beta carotene.
• Mangoes are high in fiber, but low in calories (approx. 110 per average sized mango), fat (only 1 gram) and sodium.
Source of facts:,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Raw Tomato Chutney - Tangy and tongue tingling

FIL: .... I have got a kilo of fresh raw tomatoes.... Will you make that chutney again?
Me : Oh yes, appa, I will
After a week,
MIL : I saw fresh raw-tomatoes on the way. Thought you’d make that chutney again....
Me : Ok! I’ll make it
After another week,
FIL : That chutney was very nice...... first time spicy and second time tangy... But it got over soon... So I bought another kilo of raw tomatoes....
Me : Ya ya... I’ll make it again!

Well, the story goes like this..... Mom had invited our family for dinner and she had made this spicy tangy raw tomato chutney, for akki rotti. Well, my FIL, who craves for spicy stuff, literally fell in love with this chutney. He kept on praising it even after we were home! Though mom was making it before, I, who am not an ardent fan of tomatoes, had never actually realized that it was that tasty!
Then once there were a few green ones lying among the freshly bought heap of tomatoes. And I decided to impress my FIL, by making them. Asked mom for the recipe, and tried it out. I usually make things a little less spicy, as I like it that way. But this time I decided I will not restrict myself to the number of chilies I add! And it did turn out the same way as mom had done, and sure was my FIL impressed with this spicy thing. He even openly praised me for it!! And the rest is history....

We’re getting tomatoes for a very cheap price and every week, there would be a pile of raw green tomatoes, and a request for that chutney! I too make it happily every time, and think I’ve made more quantity this time, so that it will last longer, but well, it just vanishes in a couple of days!

The best thing is that it has a shelf life of about a week..... so comes handy when in hurry..... And since tomatoes are available at throw-away price this season, you can make lots of it!
Raw Tomato Chutney

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 20 min
Makes : a bowl full of chutney

Raw tomatoes - 8-10
Coconut - ½ Cup
Green chilies - 10-12, depending on taste
Jaggery - 2 marble sized balls
Salt - 1 tsp, depending on taste
Asafetida - 2 big pinches
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sticks
Cooking Oil - 2 tbsp

• Chop raw tomatoes into big pieces
• In a pan, add 2 tsp of oil and sauté green chilies, a pinch of asafetida and the chopped tomato pieces for 3-4 minutes, till the raw smell of tomatoes disappear
• Let it cool for 5 min, and then transfer the contents to a mixer jar
• Add coconut, jaggery and salt to it
• Grind the mixture to a medium coarse paste, without adding any water
• In a fresh pan, heat the remaining oil, add mustard seeds and allow to sputter
• Then add remaining powdered asafetida, and curry leaves
• Once the curry leaves are crisp, add the ground chutney
• Sauté well, for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, not allowing the chutney to stick to the pan
• Put off the flame once the color of the chutney uniformly darkens
• Let it stand for sometime, till it cools
• Store it in an air-tight jar, in refrigerator and it stays fresh for about a week
• Tastes good with rice and as a side dish for rotti, dosa, etc

Tips n Tricks:
• Use only raw tomatoes, better if sour
• Hing in the mentioned quantity or more adds a special flavor and taste

P.S: Between the time I got this write-up ready and posted, there was one more batch of tomatoes ready in the kitchen, waiting for me to make this chutney! I’ve got bored of making I, but folks at home are still not bored of having it!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Peanut Cookies - Crispy Crunchy Munchies

My OTG (Oven-Toast-Grill) was brand new then. It was one of my marriage gifts. And I was desperate to try out some baking! I had been describing to Dee how well mom used to bake biscuits, cakes and even bread. Now, mom too had stopped baking and I wondered if Dee would trust me, if I said I too had learnt and used to make some kinds of cookies. Making some time on a usually busy weekend, fixing up a time, I started out my venture with the new oven. I was used to that huge old round oven, and this new OTG was something unfamiliar to me, but still I wanted to try.

Ok, I called up mom and confirmed the ingredients for a couple of my favorite biscuits, and very confidently started out. Everything was ready and I followed the instructions in the manual to set the temperature, mode etc of the oven. And there I started baking! After about 5-10 minutes, I peeped through the glass to check out my cookies, and Oops! There it had almost got charred!! And istead of expanding and getting crispy, it was a hard lump! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm..... Noooooooooo! It was not even half the time that was mentioned in the manual. And even the temperature was right! What went wrong???

I was totally upset and broken, when as usual, Dee consoled me that it was just the biscuits that had got spoilt, and that I should not spoil my mood for it! Okay, but I needed quite some time to get over with it. But guess what? My FIL who is a great fan of cookies had the un-burnt upper part of it, and said it tasted good! Hmmmmmmm...... I was not sure if he meant it or it was just to console me! Whatever it was, I lost the confidence to bake. But there was always this desire to bake and have home-made cookies.
Now last weekend, after a loooooooooooooog time, I mustered some courage to try it again. Got the old recipe book from mom, not to mess up with proportions. And this time I decided to use the microwave in convection mode, rather than the OTG. So I started out sieving flour, beating butter, mixing the dough, of course with Dee’s help and the first batch - a small quantity of Khara biscuits (recipe some time later) was fairly a success! After taking feedback from the family, I set out to make one of my favorites - Crispy Crunchy Peanut cookies. And it turned out to be great! Just the way I had expected it to be! And Whew! Everyone liked it too. And my baking-confidence is back again!!!

You wanna try some baking???? Here you go.........
Peanut Cookies

Preparation time : 15 min
Baking time : 20 min
Makes : ~20 cookies

Maida - 2 cups (All purpose Flour)
Butter - 1 cup
Castor Sugar - 1 cup (finely powdered sugar)
Cooking soda - ½ tsp (or Baking powder - ¾ tsp)
Peanuts - ¾ cup
Milk - 2-3 tbsp
Salt - a small pinch


• Dry roast peanuts and remove the husk
• Coarsely powder the peanuts in a food processor / mixer
• Separate the bigger pieces from the finer powder and keep aside till needed
• Sieve together flour and cooking soda/baking powder 4-5 times. This ensures that the two are mixed well and the cookies raise evenly
• Grease a baking tray with a little butter and keep aside till the dough is ready
• In a separate bowl beat butter, castor sugar and salt for 2-3 minutes till light and fluffy
• Fold in the flour mixture and the finer portion of peanut powder and mix well
• Add a little milk and mix, ensuring a good binding consistency
• Make small balls of the dough and flatten it with the help of your palms to about 3 cms in diameter and ¾ cm in height
• Press one side of this over the coarse peanut pieces, so that one face is coated with peanut pieces
• Place these on the greased tray, leaving enough space for expansion
• Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake at 190ºC for 18-20 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes and adjust the time, not to over bake or under bake.
• Let it stand in the oven for 10-15 minutes before serving hot and crisp cookies
• Allow it to cool completely and then store away the rest in a tight container

Tips n Tricks:
• Beat butter and sugar as much as possible, to get crispier cookies
• Do not forget to preheat the oven

• The same can be tried with other nuts like cashews or almonds too

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Potato-Bread Rolls - Fat free, hot ‘n crisp evening snack

Dee : Are there potatoes at home?
Me: Yeah, there are some. Why?
Dee: Shall we make Potato bajji?
I start drooling over the thought of my favorite potato bajji. But immediately the thought of my dieting plans flashes across my mind.
Err, not that I have a lot of accumulated fat, but just that I don’t want any fat to get accumulated, that’s it! But how can I resist the temptation of having that lovely evening snack? And is it not unfair that I restrict him also not to have what he wants to?
Me : Hmmm..... How bout something else with aloo?
Dee: Like? What’s your idea?
I remembered reading an oil-free version of aloo bread rolls in a book that came along with my Microwave. I just got up to find the book, without answering him, in the next moment we were looking into this recipe. It seemed to be a quite a simple one, just that we wanted bread for it, which Dee immediately set out to get. And I headed to the kitchen to cook potatoes.
The potatoes were cooked by the time he returned with a loaf of bread, and we started off our experimentation! Since we were using the Grill combo mode for the first time, we were almost hooked onto the Microwave – as if the rolls would get grilled only if we stood there!! Anyways, our effort paid off, when the crisp, fat-free rolls were ready to be munched.
Here’s how we made them.......
Aloo-Bread Rolls

Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 25 min
Makes : 12 rolls

Potatoes - 2 large
Onion - 2 med sized, finely chopped (optional - original recipe does not use)
Green chilies - 1-2, depending on taste, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 inch pc, grated
Coriander leaves - 1 Tbsp, finely cut
Garam masala pwd - 1 Tsp
Red chili pwd - ½ - 1 Tsp, depending on taste
Salt - ¾ Tsp or as per taste
Bread slices - 12
Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp

• Boil potatoes in a pressure cooker till it is well cooked
• In a pan, sauté onions with a Tsp of oil, till it turns translucent
• Meanwhile, cut and take off the brown part of the bread slices one by one, leaving only the white slices
• Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel them and mash them thoroughly, not leaving any lumps
• Mix in sautéed onions, green chilies, coriander, garam masala powder, chili powder and salt
• Mix thoroughly for even distribution of spices
• Make 12 cylindrical, sausage shaped rolls and keep aside
• Grease a non stick microwave tray with a little oil
• Now take a slice of bread, dip it in water and immediately take it out
• Squeeze out the water, spread the wet slice on your left palm, and place the potato filling roll in the middle
• Roll over the bread slice so that the potato filling is completely covered with a layer of wet bread
• Cover the two sides as well, and remove extra bread at the ends if extra
• Smear a few drops of oil over the bread roll and place it on the greased microwave tray
• Repeat for all the rolls, and place the rolls evenly on the tray
• Grill the rolls in microwave for 15 to 18 minutes in Grill-combination mode
• Turn the rolls every 5 minutes to ensure even browning on all sides
• Once done, let it cool slightly for 5 minutes, before serving
• Serve with Sonth (Recipe will follow soon) or tomato chili sauce

Tips n Tricks:
• Ensure that potato is boiled properly, else there will be lumps when mashed

• In case you do not have a microwave, then roast it in a pan adding little oil by constantly turning over the rolls. This is if you want a relatively fat-free version. Else, go ahead and deep fry them!