I am translating the hand written book written for me by parvatham patti My MIL's aunt who stays in Lalgudi. She is an excellent cook, her patient hands have experimented with one herb and another, on low gentle flames called viragu aduppu (chulha) in traditional vessels. These vessels guard and endow essence and aroma to the dishes. I will also share recipes by my mom,dad, grandparents,MIL, my own kid's experiments and other recipes which are customised for my family.
Vazhai poo vadai is fried Lentil fritters made with Banana blossoms or banana hearts. Vazhaipoo is a common vegetable in the kitchens of most traditional tamil homes. It grew in the backyard of our patti's home and is easily available in traditional markets and selected supermarkets. Conical and purple in color, the petals mature into plaintain fruits. The purple bracts cover the petals. It has astringency property which is one of the 6 tastes(Aru suvai in tamil) required for wellness of our health. Chopping the petals is an art. The petals in bunch has to be removed from the bract, the pistil removed and then chopped. The hands that trim has to be smeared with oil to avoid the sap sticking to your fingers. It should then be soaked in water to which a ladle ful of buttermilk is added. Worth the effort, cause it has amazing health benefits.
Ingredients: Channa dal – 1 cup
Dry Red chillies – 2 or 3no.
Asafetida powder – ¼ teaspoon
Green chilli - 1/2
Banana flowers chopped – 1 cup
Curry leaf – 1 sprig chopped
Salt to taste
Cooking oil of your choice for frying.
Soak the channa dal for less than an hour. Drain the water. Keep aside a small soaked spoon of channa dal.
Grind coarsely the remaining channa dal with dry red chilli, green chilli and curry leaf without adding water.
Transfer the thick ground mixture to a shallow bowl.
Mix the asafoetida powder, curry leaf, banana flower and salt in the mixture.
Take a golf ball sized blob and pat them into small roundels.
Meanwhile heat a kadai and add the cooking oil. When it starts smoking, add the patted roundels.
Fry them till done on both sides.
It tastes good without any accompaniment. But still if you think, you require accompaniment, it tastes good only with ground coconut chutney. Avoid sauce to retain the nativity of the dish.
The ground channa mixture to which vazhaipoo is added
Patted and fried in oil
The roasted and fried flowers are dark brown in color , the green color is curryleaf
Sembu(colocassia/taro ) Elai vadai is Taro leaf rolls. This is famous as Patrode in Konkan region. My Konkani neighbours in Bangalore would do this often at home. It is availabe in super markets now. What surprised me was that it is made in Tamilnadu too. I was not aware of this till recently, when we saw this leaves being sold near Skandagiri and my MIL said she makes it too.
I am recording the version made at home, though konkanis i remember do not add dals, instead they add imli and jaggery to rice.
Ingredients for roll :
5-6 medium sized taro leaf or sembu elai
Ingredients for filling:
Raw rice --- ½ cup
Channa dal --- 1 table spoon
Tuvar dal ------1 table spoon
Moong dal ----- 1 table spoon
Red chilli – 3 nos
Saunf powder --- 1 teaspoon
Salt ( according to taste)
Method for mixture/filling:
Soak rice and dal for about 2 hours.
Grind soaked rice,dals , red chillli coarsely
Add salt and saunf powder to the coarse mixture.
Wash the taro leaves and wipe it with a clean cloth.
Now smear the ground paste on the back of the leaf( allow some free space around the edges)
Roll the leaf into cigar shape.
Steam them in a vessel.
You can eat
it straight away like a roll or cut them
horizontally into roundels. Tip: These leaves have itchy property and may leave you with a itchy feeling in the throat after eating. This itchiness can be removed by eating a clove bud.
One of my favorite food memories takes me to sastri nagar near yediyur lake in bangalore. There was this bhajjiwalah who used to sell fritters on the road side at 6 in the evening. Tempo travellers, mini office buses and cars would stop at this place on their way back from work. He would make hot fritters which complemented the then cool climes of bangalore.
I tried to recreate those bhajjis at home on a recent winter evening:
Capsicum/bell peppers (small size) - 6 nos
for the outer covering:
Besan - 2cups
rice flour - 1 cup
salt to taste
chilli powder to taste
hing powder a pinch.
Add all the above ( except bell pepper) and mix it with water to make a batter of pouring consistency. It should be thicker than dosa dough so that it can stick on the shiny surface of the capsicum.
For the filling:
Boiled and peeled potatoes - 6 no
chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
dhaniya powder- 1/2 teaspoon
salt to taste
chaat powder - 1/2 teaspoon
amchur powder - 1/2 teaspoon( i used amla powder)
ginger powder or finely chopped ginger - 1 teaspoon
Mash the potatoes and mix in all the ingredients to make the filling and keep aside For garnishing:
finely chopped onions - 4 table spoons
grated carrots - 2 tablespoons
chaat masala to taste
Make a small square from the sides of the capsicum, scoop out the seeds and smear some chat powder inside.
Now, put in the filling. Cover it with the cut square, dip it in the batter and fry in the cooking medium till done.
Serve hot by chopping it and garnish it with chat powder, finely chopped onions, grated carrots and coriander.
The reason it is called arikkin nada is because in olden days, there used to be a lantern called Hurricane lamp. This lamp had a wick shaped like a flat ribbon and this wick looks like a tape( nada )and so arikkin is the tamil version of hurricane. Arikkin nada is also called as Ribbon pakoda or nada thenkuzhal. An easy to make snack served usually during the 3'o clock tea time at tambrahm houses, but it is an any time snack.
rice flour: 2 cups
Besan: 1 cup
hing powder/hing dissolved water - 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
chilli powder to taste
butter - 50gms
Oil for frying:
Mix all the ingredients( except oil) and make a dough of chappati consistency.
Take a dollop of dough and put it into extruder which has the mould of ribbon pakoda
Extrude in circular motion in the heated oil. Fry till the sound of the oil subsides. flip it over and remove it when it turns golden brown.
variations: You can also variate by substituting 1 cup of besan with ragi flour/soya flour.
My daughter wanted to celebrate my son's b'day with the new Ibaco icecream cake. She initially was told by the store owner it costed Rs 300/kg which was way cheaper than her Melanie aunty's Chocalate haven cake of rs 450/kg. Next day, when she went to place the order at Ibaco, she was told it would cost 540/kg. She immediately came back home and said she would order cupcakes from Melanie aunty. We anyways were not throwing a birthday party(pre-board time) and she felt 4 pieces at rs 60 each and that would suffice for the family.
I and my husband felt Melanies cakes were too sweet, creamy and moreover we had to travel to her place to get the cake. My husband instead suggested we would order the cake from Vacs.( they are superspecialist and their cakes are to die for)
All the above discussions were two days prior to the birthday and finally all of us forget about the cake due to the pre-board preparations or whatever reason like last minute shopping for dresses or may be because of the late night outing.
Finally, on the birthday moning, my husband left for his morning walk and daughter and son were fast asleep. I decided to get into the kitchen to bake a cake. I flipped through my cake journal to narrow down on the choice. Rainbow cakes was my ideal choice, but i did'nt have many colors, No ingredients to make the black forest cake or the plum cake. I had almonds to make the almond cake but no other ingredients like milk maid. I had to make do with the available ingredients, since most stores are closed at 6a.m. And so. I started substituting most ingredients and finally ended with my own innovation and named it the Moist flax cake. Now over to the recipe,
grain flour (to which I added a spoon of
sprouted soya flour and barley flour)– 1 cup
Demerera sugar – 1 cup( you can even use ordinary sugar)
– 1 tsp
– ½ cup
tspoons flax seed powder ground with 6 spoons of water
2 teaspoons(optional)( you can add walnuts, cashew nut or almond too)
to suit your taste
the multigrain flour to which
baking soda and cinnamon powder has been added.
a separate bowl mix the demerera sugar , olive oil, vanilla essence and flax
seed and beat well.
fold in the sieved flour into the sugar mixture and beat well till they blend.
the mixture in a greasedcake tray and
place it in a microwave oven for 10- 12 minutes. While it is half way through
around 5 minutes, sprinkle the raisins
the cake with a skewer to check if done.
done, put it on a plate and decorate with rainbow sprinkles or any other topping like powdered sugar or sweetened cream etc.
multigrain, barley, soya flours along with baking soda and cinnamon powder
The end product taken side ways
can you see the texture? not too spongy, not too crumbly but soft and moist.
cake lost its shape while I tried to topple it on a plate and was not spongy like the regular cake but it was moist. It was'nt beautiful like Ibaco's,chocolate haven or vac's cakes but looked rustic and homemade. Tastewise it was
simply great, not too sweet, not too crumbly, not loaded with fat. Moreover there was health in every bite and it makes a great tea cake minus the cream. Most of all, I had the satisfaction of churning out a simple cake with some healthy ingredients in a normal microwave oven just before the teens woke up.