The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

October 23, 2020

Poornalu - A Gluten Free Festival Sweet

Yummy Poornalu!


Today is Durga Ashtami. It is celebrated with great passion and fervor, all over India and especially in West Bengal. 


Ashtami marks the eighth day of the Navratri and on this auspicious day, devotees observe rigorous fast, feast, and worship Goddess Durga who symbolizes πŸ’ͺ strength. A celebration of traditional culture and customs, massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed throughout India while enormous puja pandals are set up at various places for devotees to visit and worship.

 


Poornalu (or Boorelu, as known in Telugu speaking regions) is a traditional Andhra sweet that is most commonly made for festivals like Dussehra, Varalakshmi Puja, Ugadi, etc, and also served at weddings. With the advent of milk-based sweets, the popularity of traditional sweets has dwindled in the past few years. Lately, sweets like Poornalu are making a comeback along with the interest in traditional culture habits.

This Poornalu recipe was passed down to my mom from her mother who learned to make it from her mother-in-law. I love learning about these dishes because it is a way for me to learn about culture and family history. This year has been especially difficult because my maternal grandmother passed away at the end of March. She used to visit us during the festival season and shared stories about the festivals and the food. She was a vivacious spirit. 

Below is the recipe for this sweet. Hope you like it as much as I do. 


Ingredients for the lentil filling
- 1 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
- 1 cup grated jaggery 
- 10 to 12 cardamom pods, seeded and (powdered with a pinch of sugar)


Ingredients for the dough
- 3/4 cup urad dal (husked black gram dal), soaked for 5-6 hours or overnight and ground to a thick fine paste
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of baking soda

Ingredients for frying
- 3 cups of vegetable oil

Procedure
1) Pressure cook channa dal with plenty of water until dal is soft but not soupy. Using a colander, drain the excess water. Transfer the dal into a flat container and mash well until it is in paste consistency.

2) Add the jaggery and cardamom to the dal paste into a non-stick pan and keep mixing under low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together (approx. 10 minutes) without sticking to the walls. Transfer it into a container and cool it for 15-20 minutes. 

3) Grease a plate with 1/2 tsp of oil and make lime size balls of the lentil mixture and arrange them on the plate without touching each other. 



4) Mix the rice flour, salt, and baking soda into the ground urad dal paste and add water as needed to loosen it to a pancake batter consistency. 


5) Heat oil in the frying pan on medium heat, when heat it felt to your palm placed safely at a distance above the oil, drop a small amount of dough into the oil. If the dough rises up to the surface of the oil quickly, the oil is ready for frying. 





6) Take a lentil ball and dip in the coating dough well to cover all over and gently drop it into the oil. Continue this step with an additional 3-4 balls coated and gently dropped into the oil. After a couple of minutes when the oil bubbles subside on the Purnalu, turn them over and continue to fry them to golden brown color. Using a slotted ladle, collect them from the oil, and let the oil drain further by placing them into a strainer. In a couple of minutes, transfer them onto a flat serving dish. Continue these frying steps with remaining lentil balls. 


7) Serve them hot to experience the crunchy coating. 




Quick Tips
- Brown sugar can be substituted for jaggery; if jaggery is not readily available. Keep in mind, it will have a slightly different taste. Adjust the brown sugar as per your taste. 
- Store-bought dosa dough can be used instead of making your own coating batter. 
- Cold Purnalu can be reheated in the toaster oven for a better taste; just dab the oozed-out oil after heating. 
- Dry coconut can be substituted if fresh coconut is not available. 

October 22, 2020

Tip Three: Boost Nutrition to Food Items - Wheat and Ragi Flatbread

Wheat and Ragi Roti or Flatbread

Roti or fire-toasted/puffed flatbread is the most common part of the meal all over India, but more prevalent in the Central and Northern parts of the country. It is made with whole wheat flour and comparatively nutritious as compared to another basic grain such as Rice. 

Diabetes is very prevalent among Indians because carbohydrates are a major portion of Indian food which increases the glucose release in the system. This value is called as Glycemic Index (GI).

In simple words, the Glycemic Index is explained as the measurement of glucose release after the intake of carbohydrate-containing food. It is a carbohydrate ranking based on its impact on glucose release levels. The GI index is measured from 1 - 100 and is divided into three levels as follows:

  • Low GI: 1 to 55
  • Medium GI: 56 to 69
  • High GI: 70 to 100
However, the GI index does not take into account other nutritional content of the food such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals. To counteract the quantity issue, researchers developed the glycemic load (GL) measurement, which accounts for the quantity of the food being eaten. The glycemic load looks at both the quality and the quantity of the carb. It is calculated by multiplying the GI by the number of carbohydrates (in grams) in your portion size, then dividing that number by 100. It is recommended to keep your daily GL under 100.

For example, an apple has a GI of 40 and contains 15 grams of carbs. (40 x 15)/100 = 6, so the glycemic load of an apple is 6. This is considered a low GL food.

The GL values can also be broken down into three ranges.

  • Low GL: 1 to 10
  • Medium GL: 11 to 19
  • High GL: 20 or more
Depending on your health goals, following a GI-based diet might mean you'll be able to rely less on standard dieting measures such as calorie counting or regimented portion control. Simply being more mindful of your carb choices rather than severely limiting them can also be more sustainable in the long run, as compared to more restrictive diets.

Any guesses what is the GI value of Whole Wheat Roti is? It stands at 69; at an upper Medium level. That's pretty high πŸ˜” !

Can we reduce the GI value so that the basic food item can still be enjoyed and will be nutritious? 

By pairing the Whole Wheat flour with Ragi flour, you can reduce the GI value. Ragi Flour stands at <40 GI value (finger millet). It is considered a poor man's food. I wonder why? 




Make the roti dough using Whole Wheat /Ragi flour in a 1:1 ratio that will reduce the GI value and GL too, ultimately. In such a ratio, the GI will be 69+40/2 = 54.5, taking it to a low GI level. In addition to lowering the GI value, Ragi flour has many other nutritious qualities.

Ragi is finger millet, which is high in protein and minerals in comparison to all other cereals and millets. It is also a source of protein, which is perfect for vegetarians. Ragi is a great source of iron making it beneficial for individuals with low hemoglobin levels. 

Below are the instructions on how we made the whole wheat and ragi roti or flatbread:

The ingredients needed to make the dough for flatbread are 1/2 cup of Whole Wheat flour (atta), 1/2 cup of Ragi flour, 2 pinches salt, and 100 ml of lukewarm water. Combine the dry ingredients and slowly add the water to bring the ingredients together. Make sure to gather all the mixture from the sides and knead the dough until it's not sticky and make it into a ball. Rub a teaspoon of cooking oil on the surface of the dough and place it in a bowl with a lid to cover. Put it aside for 15 -30 minutes. 



Quick Tips: Add water slowly as sometimes based on the flour, it may not require all the amount. If the dough seems flaky and dry, add a little more water.  However, if the dough seems sticky, add more flour to absorb the water.

                                         

Make lime size balls and then roll out each ball into flat roti with a rolling pin. Make sure each roti is evenly rolled out. 



Then toast each of the roti for a couple of minutes on each side on the Tawa (or flat pan). Next, transfer the toasted rotis onto the round stainless steel BBQ Grill Netted Mesh with Handle. Once the roti or flatbread puffs up, transfer into a flat container with a lid to keep the rotis warm. Rub or spray oil or butter to keep them soft.

The rotis or flatbread are now ready to be served and enjoyed with your favorite curry. We have a great selection of curries as well; check them out on our recipes page. 

We hope you are enjoying reading about our tips during this Navratri. If you have a good tip to share, please post a comment. We love hearing from our readers. 


*Reference Materials: https://www.verywellhealth.com/glycemic-index-chart-for-common-foods-1087476

October 20, 2020

Tip Two: Boost Nutrition with Food Pairings - Apple with Peanut Butter

What is your favorite type of Apple?
Empire, Mutsu Crispin, Gala, Red Delicious, Cortland, or Jonagold? 


There is a saying that...

🍎🍏 AN APPLE A DAY, KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY! πŸ πŸŽ

How many of us really believe that?


 

My husband and I went apple picking two weeks ago and picked about half a bushel bag of apples. And since then, we've been eating 2-3 apples a day. 

I will tell you this...an apple actually has plenty of nutrients in it that helps us keep many health conditions at bay. Below are some nutritional facts about Apples:

  • A medium-sized apple has 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vit K, as well as other B-Vitamins. It also has 95 calories. 
  • An apple contains fiber and water, two qualities that make them filling and aids in weight loss. Half of the fiber is in the skin so eat it with the skin as it also contains some polyphenols.
    • However, make sure to wash it thoroughly before eating. 
  • The high soluble fiber in apples helps lower cholesterol and heart health and the polyphenols help with blood pressure, stroke risk, and Type-2 Diabetes. 
  • The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in apples help preserve bone mass as we age.

You've heard about...





However, did you know about Peanut Butter Apple time? 🍎 Apples are often eaten as a snack. Its nutrition can be boosted further by pairing it with protein-rich peanut butter to make a wholesome sustenance snack that fuels our body. This snack can even appeal to muscle-building πŸ’ͺ men. πŸ




Peanut butter contains protein, essential vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Below are some health facts about peanut butter.  In every 2 tablespoons of the butter, there is:
  • Protein: 7.02 grams. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for average women is 46 grams and for men is 56 grams. 
  • Magnesium: Contains 57 milligrams; RDA of 310-320 milligrams, for women and 400-420 milligrams, for men. It plays a key role in many chemical processes of the body. 
  • Phosphorous: 107 milligrams, providing 15.3% of the RDA. Phosphorous helps build healthy cells and bones. 
  • Zinc, Niacin, and Vitamin B6 that are helpful for various body functions like immunity, digestion, enzyme reactions, and protein synthesis. 

Here are more fun facts for the Health Nuts

By bringing these two nutrient-filled food items together, we are boosting their health benefits. The ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats in peanut butter is similar to Olive oil which is considered a Heart-healthy option. However, its consumption should be limited to a moderate level as each serving also has 3.05 grams or 23.5% of RDA of saturated fats (to aim for less than 13 grams per day). 

So, next time instead of thinking...peanut butter jelly time, think of Peanut Butter 🍎Apple time and enjoy its benefits!  

October 18, 2020

Tip One: Boost Nutrition to Food items - Sprouted Mung Beans

 



Mung Beans are small green-colored beans that are most commonly used in Indian cooking. We make many delicious dishes using these mung beans: dal, dosas, moong dal kattu (soup), as well as adding them to vegetable curries like carrots and moong. Steamed or cooked beans can also be added to chaat or bhel puri. The dried version of the whole mung bean is typically used and carries lots of nutrition and protein. However, it can be difficult to digest for some people and can cause abdominal distress like gas and cramps which limits their use. 

Surprisingly, the simplest way to enjoy mung beans is by sprouting them. By sprouting them, you avoid the issues, boost the nutrition value, and improve digestion. Boost their strength by getting some help from the water!


How to sprout Mung Beans

Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight or for at least 10 to 12 hours. Drain the water and transfer them onto muslin or cheesecloth. Then tie them loosely, and leave them to sprout for an additional 24 to 48 hours. Sprinkle some water every few hours to keep them moist. You will notice white shoots arising from the beans. Plan to use them in 2 to 3 days' time as they tend to attract bacteria. If time is an issue, you can also buy them in grocery stores. 



Benefits of Eating Sprouts

  • Improve digestion as sprouting breaks down complex carbohydrates, and also increases the fiber content.
  • Have a good source of B-Vitamins, Potassium, and Magnesium. 
  • Pack lots of Protein as with Amino acids which help cell growth and maintenance, build strong bones and improve immunity by capturing free radicals. 
  • The high fiber content of sprouted beans helps in Weight Loss by keeping the stomach fuller for a longer time and avoid unhealthy snacking.
  • Their high Iron count helps improve the Hemoglobin levels. 
  • The high fiber in sprouts helps Cholesterol (LDL - Low-Density Lipoprotein) and decreases the risk of heart diseases.
  • Their good source of Potassium and Magnesium help maintain Blood Pressure.
  • The abundant source of Folates in sprouts help pregnant women from Neural tube defects.

 Tips to keep in mind when eating Sprouts
  • Eat them raw or steam them, but cooking kills all the nutrients in them
  • Even when sprouted at home, wash them thoroughly before eating. 
  • You can add them to salads, sandwiches, or eat just as a snack.
  • Eat sprouts in the morning or before dinner
  • In addition to Mung, wheat, Chick-peas or any other beans can be sprouted for consumption.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the first tip. Stay tuned for more tips to be shared during this Navratri. 

October 17, 2020

Legends behind Navratri and Dusshera

Every Indian looks forward to October/ November time as it marks the beginning of the major festival season bringing families together for a celebration. 

This year, we are in the midst of a pandemic which may not allow us to join together with friends and relatives as much as we want. However, we can use some novel thinking to connect with each other and enjoy the season with positive thinking. Relating to the gist of the upcoming holidays, Dusshera and Diwali, are the basis of 'the good wins over the evil'.

Dusshera Navratri begins on October 17th and culminates on October 25th which is known as Vijayadashami. Various epic stories are associated with this festival in different parts of India, such as:

  • In Northern, Western, and Central parts of India, they believe that the demon Ravana was killed on this day, hence many towns enact 'Ramleela' for nine days, and on the 10th day, effigies of Ravana are burned. 
  • In Southern India, it is believed that on Vijayadashami, the demon 'Mahishasura' was killed by the goddess Durga also called 'Mahishasura Mardini. 
  • In the Eastern part of India, it is considered that the goddess, Durga, Mahishasura Mardini comes to earth, her natal home, every year at the start of Navratri. She is welcomed with joy and festivities held in every neighborhood. On the 10th day, her idol is immersed in water denoting that she is sent home. 
Most commonly, Dusshera is associated with goddess Durga who is considered as an embodiment of strength, courage, and fierceness. Legend says that the goddess Durga defeated and killed the demon through the strength and power the other gods and goddesses transferred to her. 

While the gods and goddesses share their strength and tools with Durga to fight the demon, they stand as idols at that time. In some southern regions of India, a 'Gollu' is displayed with the arrangement of idols of gods and goddesses depicting this story.




In the spirit of this festival, using the theme of pairing to boost the strength, we're going to share 9-food tips for each day of Navratri. We hope you will enjoy them and adopt them to boost your strength and immunity in this uncertain time.

*🌹*🌹*🌹*Happy Navratri to all! *🌹*🌹*🌹*

August 9, 2020

You're Never Too Old to Enjoy Murukku!!

Pretzels, potato chips, and Chex Mix are some examples of crunchy and fun snacks we all enjoy!

However, have you ever tried Indian snacks? Most Indian snacks are also gluten-free. Some examples are Murukku or Chakralu, Pappuchekkalu, Corn Flakes Mixture, and nutty pakoda


Whenever my relatives from India visit, they always bring these tasty and spicy snacks for us. It feels like Christmas but instead of presents, we receive snacks! 
I'm a big fan of edible presents any day! 

Murukku is a pretzel-like Indian snack. I love murukku because they are light and crunchy. Besides using gluten-free flours, you can also add ajwain seeds, whole cumin, or sesame into the mix. Every ingredient adds more flavor and taste to these snacks. 

Aren't you curious how we make this snack? Let's take a look:

Ingredients for the Dough:
3-1/2 cups rice flour
- 1 cup Roasted chana dal, finely powdered
- 1 tbsp Ajwain or Carom seeds
- 2 to 3 tsp chili powder
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 pinches of Hing (Asafoetida)
- 5 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp Vegetable oil, lukewarm (to mix into the dough)
- Water (as needed to mix flours into a tight dough, not sticky or wet)

Utensils needed:
Kitchen Press (use the single star disc in the press)
Large mixing bowl
Frying pan
Mesh strainer

Ingredients for Frying:
- 2 to 3 cups Vegetable oil 

Procedure

1) Sieve together rice flour and chana dal powder into a large mixing bowl, and then add the dry ingredients as listed above. Mix well and adjust the salt and chili powder at this time by tasting a pinch of the mixture. 

2) Next, add the warm vegetable oil into the mixture and coat it well. Slowly, add water to the flour until it forms into a soft and tight lump, but it's not sticky. Keep the dough covered. 

3) Insert the single star disc into the kitchen press. Take a handful of dough, and form a log and insert it into the press cylinder and then close the cylinder with the screw-on cap. 


Make murukku in spiral design starting from the center and then circling and towards outward circle to the desired size on a greased plate or on wax paper. Cover all the spirals with a towel until you have made 10 to 15 or so to fry.  



4) Heat the oil for frying until you feel the heat when you place your palm at a safe height above the frying pan. Test the heat by dropping a small ball of dough into the oil. If the ball sizzles and surfaces to the top, then it is ready. 


Slowly insert approximately 10 murukkus (reduce the number based on your frying pan size) into the oil and fry them until golden brown by turning them over in between for uniform frying. 


Remove them from oil using a slotted ladle and put them into a mesh strainer for the oil to drain further. Later transfer into a container. 

5) Cool them for 10 to 15 minutes to attain the proper crunchiness to serve. Store them in a tight lid container after it is cooled for 1 hour. Makes approximately 30 to 40 murukkus. It is best to store this snack in a tight lid container and can be enjoyed for 15 to 20 days. 


I like stacking my murukku or chakralu as high as I can before I pop them into my mouth. How do you enjoy murukku? 


May 28, 2020

Reflections on Our Travel to the Motherland - A Bat Cave, Mini Taj and more

Last November, my husband and I traveled to Aurangabad to see the Ajanta and Ellora Caves and ended up seeing more than we imagined. 

Our driver (booked through Rajjas Travels and Tours Ltd) is local to the area and made our trip to this city and surrounding towns memorable in more than one way. He drove us to all the sights and to the best places to eat. 

We ate this 4-foot Paper Masala Dosa with potato curry and chutneys for breakfast at a roadside dhaba on the way to the caves. It was wonderful and filling. 

There are many such dhabas (roadside canteens) on the way and we recommend that you definitely dine at one of them. 


We also enjoyed tropical fruits that were in season, such as these sitaphal or custard apples below. 

A basket of Hanuman custard apples
A basket full of delectable Hanuman phal (a variety of custard apples)


What the inside of a custard apple looks like
When you break open a ripened custard apple, eat the fleshy part and take out the black seeds.


Don't they look so mouth-watering? Our driver took us to his family's roadside stall where they were selling these fruits and we got a great deal. We also bought some fruit at the stalls outside of Daulatabad Fort. 


The Daulatabad Fort is about 9 miles northwest of Aurangabad in a town called Daulatabad. It was once known as the invincible fort because of its impressive defenses and strategic traps laid throughout the fort. 



Entrance gate to Daulatabad Fort
Look at the spikes on this gate!


Just look at him grinning, standing next to the massive entrance gate. Before gunpowder, intoxicated elephants were used as a battering ram to break open the gates. The presence of spikes ensured that the elephants died of the injury. 


Those poor elephants. Where was P.E.T.A.?


As we walked through the entrance gate, we saw canons like the one below lined up against one side of the fort wall. 




I wonder if that is the "curb" appeal for the adventure buffs like my husband. He couldn't wait to go inside and explore the fort.


Below is a picture of Chand Minar or the Tower of the Moon. Chand Minar was inspired by Qutub Minar in Delhi. A small mosque sits at the base of the tower. You can see the tower from every corner of the fort. 


Chand Minar in the distant

The tower was closed so we couldn't peek inside. :( We moved onwards into the fort. It was a long walk up the fort with twists and turns and many, many steps. You must wear good walking shoes or sneakers for this trek. 


Michael on top of the Daulatabad Fort


Michael climbed on top of the fort's wall to get a better look at the view. He didn't say anything but I knew he was thinking, "I'm on top of the world." 



The view of Chand Minar from the top of Daulatabad Fort
You can see Chand Minar from every corner and touch it as well! hehe



Hello, honey. How's the view from up there?


There is a narrow set of steps that lead visitors up to the tippy top of this fort. Of course, my husband had to check it out. I, on the other hand, wanted to live to see the next day, so I decided to let him go up and took a picture of his great feat from below. 

The best and only part my husband seems to remember from our trip to the fort is what happened after we came up the stairs in the picture below:


About midway in the fort, there is an entrance into the cave...the Bat Cave to be precise. This cave was meant to confuse enemies. I'm sure it did precisely that...it confused the hell out of me. It seemed to go on forever and reeked of bat guano. We were crawling through the cave because if you dared to look up, there were thousands of BATSSSS!!! 

I was hanging onto my husband for dear life and hoping nothing touched me. After what felt like an hour but it was really 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how slowly you are walking/crawling through the cave), we climbed up the stairs and into the open air. 

FREEDOM!!! I had never been so happy to breathe in my life. By the way, I'm sorry there aren't any pictures from inside the Bat cave. I really didn't want to die. 

If this is how I felt, can you imagine how the enemies felt back then? There must have been mass confusion. Not to mention that there was a massive moat around this fort. One wrong step and down you go into the moat filled with monstrous creatures. 


Another view of Chand Minar!


We had fun exploring this fort and learned more about its importance. Another gem in Aurangabad that is worth visiting is Bibi ka Maqbara:


Doesn't it remind you of the Taj Mahal? 

Although not as well known as the Taj Mahal, Bibi ka Maqbara ("Mini Taj") is important in its own right. It was commissioned in 1660 by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his first and chief wife, Dilras Banu Begum. 

As we walked along the path, it seemed like we were walking towards the Taj Mahal because of how it was constructed. The Taj Mahal is actually the "final resting place" or mausoleum of Aurangzeb's mother, Mumtaz Mahal. 

Michael and I enjoyed our 2.5 days stay in Aurangabad and explored as much as we could. We also indulged in the cuisine and seasonal fruits such as the many varieties of custard apples (regular, Hanuman phal, and chocolate), and pink guavas. We definitely recommend to all to visit Aurangabad and discover the historical gems in and around this city. 

Come back and visit our blog again as we will be sharing more stories from our trip to India last November, from Aurangabad we headed south to Hyderabad and Bangalore. 

May 24, 2020

Pappuchekkalu - Gluten Free Indian Crisps

Boo to all those who think of celebrating one's birthday all month long is wrong! It's not wrong at all. 

This year, I've been lucky enough to be with my parents for my birthday and boy am I enjoying myself. It was much needed TLC. We've bonded over cocktails, wine, and yummy Indian food. 

Every year, my mom asks me what I would like to eat for my birthday and she makes those dishes. So far, I've enjoyed Sarvapindi, Double Ka Meetha (also known as Shahi Tukra), Onion Rava Masala dosa with Chutney Powder, sweet roti, and Pappuchekkalu. 



Pappuchekkalu are gluten-free crisps that are made with rice flour, lentils, and spices. They are fun, crackling, and crunchy...once I crunch into one, I can't stop crunching away. So addictive. I don't feel so guilty about eating 4 or 5 at a time because they are made with healthy ingredients. 

Aren't you dying to find out how they are made? I'm munching on some while typing up this post. MMMM, Pappuchekkalu! Me wants more! 

Ingredients for making the dough
- 4 cups Rice Flour                        
- 1 cup Roasted Chana dal (putnalu), finely powdered                         
- ½ cup  Chana dal, soaked in water for 3 hours                                            
- ½ cup peanuts, soaked for 3-4 hours and de-skinned                                                     
- ¼ cup Sesame seeds                                   
- 3 tsp Chili powder (or as needed)
- 5 tsp Salt (or to taste)                                               
- 15-20 Curry leaves, finely chopped (optional)                                                       
- 4 Tbsp Vegetable oil,  heat oil to lukewarm temperature to mix into the dough
- approx. 450ml (or 2 cups) of water

Ingredients for frying the Pappuchekkalu (or crisps)
2 to 3 cups of Vegetable oil for frying in a wok


Procedure
  • Drain and de-skin the peanuts, coarse crush them in a food processor. If you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop them on a cutting board running the knife over them carefully. Drain the soaked Chana dal too.
  • Add rice flour into a wide mixing bowl and the dry ingredients for the crisps (from the pappuchekkalu ingredients list). Mix well and adjust the salt and chili powder, by tasting a pinch of the mixture.
Ingredients for Pappuchekkalu

  • Now add the remaining items, peanuts, chana dal, curry leaves, and mix well. 
Dough for Pappuchekkalu
Add the warm oil into the mixture and mix again. Slowly add water to the flour until it forms into a lump, soft and tight but not sticky.


 Take a handful of the dough and make a log and pinch off a lime size and make round balls.



  • Place 8" by 10" size wax paper on the counter and spread a few drops of oil on it (can also use unfolded cereal bag). Fold the wax paper in half and place a dough ball on one half of the wax paper and cover it with the other half and press the ball to make a thin, round disk.   
  •  Place these disks on a wide tray (as shown above) and cover it with a towel until you have made 20 or so to fry.


  •  Heat the oil for frying in the wok at medium to high heat. Place your palm over the wok at a safe height to feel the heat. Test the heat by dropping a small ball of dough into the oil. If the ball sizzles and surfaces to top, then the oil is ready for frying the flattened dough disks. Slowly, insert 10 – 12 dough disks into the oil and fry them until they are golden brown, turning them over in between for uniform frying. Remove them from oil using a slotted ladle into a mesh strainer for the oil to drain further. Later transfer into a container.
A bowl full of Pappuchekkalu
  •   Cool them for 10 – 15 minutes to attain the proper crunchiness to serve. Store them in a tight lid container after they have cooled for 1 hour. This recipe makes 65 crisps of 3” size. They can be stored and enjoyed for 15 -20 days. 
Have you tried this snack before? I love snacking on these pappuchekkalu or crisps because they are made with good wholesome ingredients. Happy Snacking! 

What snacks have you been enjoying during this current COVID-19 situation? We would love to hear from you. 

May 1, 2020

For the Love of Podis - Chutney Powder

It's been a month since my ammamma (maternal grandmother) passed away.  The last time I visited her in India, I could already tell her health had deteriorated. She was barely able to move around and was mostly in her wheelchair or in bed. Although I am sad that she is longer with us, I know she is at peace now.  

My ammamma was a storyteller, a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter.  Although she was a housewife, she was very knowledgeable about the world, very sociable, and a philanthropist.  

I will miss her stories, our conversations about cooking and recipes, and our Telugu/English lessons. 



I found the video above of my ammamma cooking while I was looking through all of my photos and videos. This is how I want to remember her. She enjoyed cooking and helped my mom in the kitchen whenever she had time. In the video above, my ammamma is roasting spices and lentils together to make chutney powder. 


Chutney powder is a mixture of various spices and dal (lentil) that are roasted and then coarsely powdered. We use chutney powder as a condiment for idli, uttapam and dosa. It is also one of the ingredients for making the stuffing for Gutti Vankaya (stuffed eggplant)




You can also add it as a seasoning when making vegetable curries. I sometimes add this spice mix when I'm making baked penne pasta with vegetables. It adds more flavor to the pasta dish.

So you see, chutney powder is one of the essential podis found in a South Indian kitchen. Below are the ingredients that we need to make this podi (or spice mix):

Left to Right: Urad dal (black lentil), Coriander seeds, Channa dal (Indian chickpea), black peppercorn, dry Tamarind, dried red chilies and in the center are cumin seeds

Ingredients
- 2 cups coriander seeds
- 1.5 cups urad dal (black lentil)
- 2 cups channa dal
- 1/4 cup Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 12 dry red chilies
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorn
- small lime size of dry Tamarind
- a handful of curry leaves (optional)
- 2 Tbsp salt (or per your taste)
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 2 Tbsp oil (or per your taste)


Procedure
  • The dal (lentils) and spices have to be roasted in a particular order. 



After you roast the channa dal (Indian chickpea) and then ural dal (black lentil), you have to roast the spices in the following order:

Now add coriander seeds, dried red chilies, tamarind (see the quick tip), cumin, and lastly black peppercorn. 
  • Roast the spices and lentils for about 15 to 20 minutes on low-medium heat.


  • When you start to smell the aroma of roasted lentils and spices, turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool down. After it cools down, grind it coarsely with salt and brown sugar. Adjust the salt and sugar accordingly to your taste. 
  • The chutney powder is now ready to be used any way you like. The ingredient quantities above are enough to make 940 grams or about 2 pounds. If this quantity seems like a lot, just reduce the measurements by half for your comfort level. We make it in large quantities and store it so we can use it whenever needed. 

Quick Tips:
Sometimes you will find fiber strings in the tamarind. It is best to remove these before using them.

Reflections on Our Travel to the Motherland - Sightseeing in Aurangabad, Part Two

I wish I could escape to another place and time with all that's going on with the current COVID-19 pandemic. I would travel back in time to when my husband and I were in India last November. We enjoyed traveling to various cities as well as the nice weather.

One of my favorite places was Aurangabad. We saw so many historical sites in two and a half days. In my previous post, I covered the Ajanta caves we visited. In this post, I will cover the Ellora caves.

Overall, I am so glad we picked the Lemon Tree hotel for our stay while we were in Aurangabad. The Lemon Tree Hotel had a warm ambiance, a huge pool, and a nice breakfast spread which included Indian and "American" dishes.

Lemon Tree Hotel, Aurangabad
Our second day in Aurangabad, we explored the Ellora Caves. Although our travel agent said one day would be sufficient for both caves, we decided to take a more relaxing tour and split the caves into 2 days. It was exhausting enough just exploring one set of caves each day. That's our advice to anyone thinking about exploring these caves. 

After an early breakfast on day 2, we headed out to the Ellora caves. We recommend booking a local driver with a car versus going out on your own. The drive to the Ellora caves was not as far as the drive to the Ajanta caves.

The most popular cave (Cave 16) at the Ellora caves is the monolithic Kailasha Temple. We were in awe of the sight and how well preserved it was. Below are some pictures:


Entrance to the monolithic Kailasha Temple






When you enter inside, you can walk around the temple structure




I hope you enjoyed the various views of the Kailasha Temple. We really enjoyed exploring these caves and learning more about the culture.

Before we departed from Aurangabad, we also visited Daulatabad Fort and Bibi ka Maqbara. Stayed tuned for more posts about our trip.