Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carrot halwa

This is one sweet that I never get bored of eating. Gajar ka halwa with vanilla icecream is the coolest combo ever.

Recipe is pretty simple, but the method of preparation can either be effortless or painful depending on how you choose to grate the carrots. Doing it manually does impart additional taste to the dish but trust me, it isn't really worth the effort. The first time when I made this halwa, I grated the carrots manually and ended up with swollen hands. The next time, I chopped the carrot into inch long pieces and fed them into the mixer. The end result wasn't much different from the mechanical version. However, when you use the mixer, be careful not to over grind the carrots. Remember, you want halwa, not carrot juice.

  1. Carrots - 1lb
  2. Sugar - slightly less that half cup
  3. Ghee - 4 tbsp
  4. Milk - about 3/4th cup
  5. Cardamom powder
  6. Nuts and raisins to garnish
  1. Keep the grated carrot ready - either using a mixer or the hand tool
  2. Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a wide bottomed pan
  3. Add the grated carrot and fry till the carrot turns from bright orange to paler yellowish orange
  4. Now add the milk and cook covered on low flame for about 10min. Keep checking in between so as to avoid burning the carrots. Add little more milk if necessary. Again, its carrot halwa that you want to make, not carrot payasam. So, don't add too much milk. Just sufficient to cook the carrots.
  5. Once the carrots look cooked, remove the lid and leave the flame on until all the milk gets absorbed by the carrots. If you end up with a pool of milk in step 4, don't you worry. Carrot payasam tastes as good as the halwa.
  6. Whether you choose to have payasam or halwa, you need to add the sugar and cardamom powder now. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Ghee roast the nuts (cashew pieces and almond slices) with raisins and garnish the halwa. Carrot halwa tastes yummy whether served hot or cold or at room temperature.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Menthikaya pachadi (Sweet and Spicy Mango Pickle)

Surfing the Internet you accidentally land on a page that tells you that you can fly to India for under 1000$ - what's the first thought that pops up in your mind? Parents, Home-Sweet-Home, Family, Weddings, so on & so forth.. An avid Mango lover that I am, the first motivation to grab the ticket and fly home was M.A.N.G.O!!! Oh my!! God only knows how much I miss them here in US. Gone are the days I used to snack on two juicy mangoes everyday, all I can do now is lick the packaged mango pulp from the can. If fruity mangoes are my first love (in May), mango pickles are the second. Avakaya is the famous mango pickle made in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are several variants of this pickle and each one has its own charm. There's this dialogue from some Telugu movie: "Amma, Avakaya eppudu bore kottaru" which precisely means "You can never get bored of your Mom and also Avakaya".

This year, I'm really lucky to get some freshly prepared Avakaya pickle from India. Last year when I missed the taste of mango pickle in Summer, I asked my mom for the recipe so that I could try it here. "Menthikaya" is a sweeter version of Avakaya which is easier to prepare and also it doesn't require the mango to be too sour. Its a blend of several different tastes just like the Ugadi pachadi (Sour/Mango, Sweet/jaggery, Bitter/Fenugreek powder, Spice and salty) Can be made in less than half an hour and goes well with steamed rice as well as tiffins.

  1. Raw mango (should be sour, okay even if it's moderately sour) - 1
  2. Sesame/Gingelly oil - 1/2 cup
  3. Jaggery powder- 2 tbsp
  4. Chilli powder - atleast 2 tbsp
  5. Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tbsp
  6. Salt, Turmeric, Mustard seeds and Heeng
  1. Peel the mango. Make sure its completely dry (no water/moisture).
  2. Cut the mango into small pieces (see pic below). Trash the seed portion.
  3. Add sufficient salt and a pinch of turmeric powder to the pieces and mix them all. Allow the mango pieces to marinate for about 20 min.
  4. Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and powder them in a mixer.
  5. Take about 1/3 cup oil and heat it in a kadai. Add the powdered jaggery powder and stir continously. Leave it on the flame till the jaggery starts to melt. Leaving it for too long causes the molten jaggery to become hard.
  6. Now add the heated jaggery along with the oil to the mango pieces. While its hot, add chilli powder.
  7. Fenugreek powder - add little by little, because adding in excess would result in a bitter tasting pickle. To start with just add a pinch.
  8. Using the remaining oil, do the tadka with mustard seeds (about a tbsp) and lots of heeng (unlike regular curry tadka).
  9. Time-to-taste: Mix all the ingredients really well and taste the syrup. It should be a little bitter, mostly sweet and spicy. Adjust fenugreek/chilli powder/jaggery/salt. I'm sorry about the measurements. Next time, I'll take a note of how much of each ingredient went into the making of the pickle.
Cover the pickle and leave it undisturbed for about half day so that the sourness of the mango pieces seeps into the syrup.

Few clicks:


After marinating-

End result :)

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