AFAM – November – Dates

WISH YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES A VERY HAPPY DIWALI! Hope you have a wonderful, fun filled time!
Onto the post now… ๐Ÿ™‚
The time has come for me to host a blog event – My very first blog event. I am both excited and nervous. Do lend me your support and help me make it memorable and successful…

AFAM (A Fruit A Month) is a wonderful event started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual, to highlight fruits. Till now, AFAM has seen Banana, Orange, Pineapple, Apple, Watermelon, Peach, Lychee, Grapes and Strawberry. Needless to say, our wonderful blogger friends have brought out the best in all of them.

This month, I have chosen DATES! Back home in India, Dates are very common. But if you are wondering where to find it here, look no further than the dry fruit sections in your grocery stores. Popular brands like Dole and Sun Maid offer both pitted and chopped dates.


Though fresh date fruits are available in the markets seasonally, the dried version is more common. Fresh dates ferment very quickly, while dried dates have a longer shelf life.

So, roll up your sleeves and create wonders with dates!

The rules and guidelines are as follows:

1. Prepare a dish using fresh or dried Dates in any form.

2. Post the recipe in your blog from now till December 1st, 2007 and provide a link to this post. Non-bloggers can directly send me an email with the recipe and picture.

3. Send me an email (chandrika@inbox.com) with your blog name, blog link, perma link of your post and the picture of the recipe. Please use ‘AFAM-Dates’ as the subject in your email.

Do not bother about resizing your pictures. Send them to me as is.

I am eagerly looking forward to all of your wonderful entries to make my first blog event a success!

Thank you all in advance!

Peach Tart

Peach TartI love the color ‘Peach’. At one point, my wardrobe was overflowing with garments in every shade of peach, that my mom, dad and sis frowned when I reached for one more piece of clothing in Peach. Well, that was in the past. I have reached a state of balance when it comes to my love for Peach. ๐Ÿ™‚

About the fruit Peach, there is only one word which comes to my mind – luscious! Until now, I have not tried anything with peaches. From the farmer market’s, they go straight to our stomachs, after a quick wash. But for Mansi’s AFAM-Peach, I decided to make a tart. I found a very simple recipe in Food Network in Sandra Lee’s Semi Homemade Cooking section and I adapted it.

Here it is:

Peach Tart:

Recipe Source: FoodNetwork


Puff Pastry Sheet – 1
Canned Peach halves – 1 can
Sugar – 1 Tbsp
Butter – 2 Tbsps
Milk – A couple of drops
Apricot or Peach Jam – 2 Tbsps

Thaw the puff pastry sheet as per the directions given on the Puff Pastry package. For Pepperidge Farms brand, the pastry sheet has to be thawed for 40 minutes.

While the pastry sheet is thawing, drain the liquid off the canned peaches and thin slicely lengthwise. Keep aside.

After thawing the sheet, unfold and place it on an ungreased baking sheet. Fold the edges on all four sides for a rim. Prick holes inside the rim to prevent the puff pastry from puffing up. We want the rim to puff up and form a border.

Next, arrange the peach slices on the pastry sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle sugar all over the fruit and dot with butter. Brush the rim with a couple of drops of milk. Now the tart needs to be baked.

Preheat the oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit and bake for about 15 to 20 mins or until golden brown.

While the tart is baking, microwave 2 tbsps of apricot or peach jam for about 30 seconds and keep aside. After the tart is baked, remove from oven and while it is still hot, brush the melted jam all over the tart.

Let it cool and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚ The tart is very light and airy and would go well with a hot cup of tea.


Aatukkaal Soup/Paaya

Aatukkal Paaya
It has been quite a long time since I posted something new. It had been a very busy month, dotted with bouts of sickness. The cold weather which is slowly sneeking into this part of the world along with the flu virus, did give me quite a number of headaches. So, my expriments in the kitchen swayed from wild and wacky to bland and pure, in accordance to what my tastebuds craved. Wow, what a month it was! I feasted on plain steamed Basmati rice with steamed vegetables and loved the taste of it. The same could be said of pureed rice with buttermilk, and rice rawa porridge. Certainly bouts of sickness make me appreciate the taste and texture of food better.

Last week, on our grocery shopping I was shocked at the increase in rice prices. The rice variety in question being Sona Masoori. A little search threw me the news of ban on non-basmati rice varieties and also the news of the partial lift of the ban. News here: http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c_online.php?leftnm=11&bKeyFlag=IN&autono=29218 Back to long grained rice in a short while, should I say?

On a sunny note, I found a particular brand of yogurt which gave me good homemade yogurt. I found Horizons Organic yogurt in Wegmans and I loved the texture and flavor of the yogurt I was able to make using it. Try it..You are sure to like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

On a side note, Padma of Padma’s Kitchen sent me the Amish Friendship bread starter and I made a batch of bread. It turned out delicious. However I could not send the starter packages on time and hence have started the second batch. I will post on the Amish bread pretty soon.

Ok..enough of notes.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Last week, for the first time, I made Aatukkal paaya which roughly translates to ‘Goat Leg Soup’. Back home, my dad gets smoked goat legs from our local ‘Baai’ and mom pressure cooks them in water laced with turmeric and salt and keeps them in the fridge overnight. Here, I made the Paaya the same day.

Onto the recipe now:

Aatu Kaal Soup – Paaya:

Recipe Source: My mom

Goat Legs/Mutton Legs – 1 lb
Big Red onion – 1
Medium tomatoes -2
Curry Leaves – 10
Coriander – A fistful
Garlic flakes – 8
Chilli Powder – 1 Tsp
Coriander Seeds/Dhaniya – 2 Tbsp
Black Pepper /Milagu – 1 tsp
Turmeric – A pinch
Salt – As per taste
Oil – 1 Tbsp

Cook the mutton legs in water with turmeric and salt.

Fry Coriander seeds and black pepper in ghee and grind to a fine paste using a little water.

Crush the garlic flakes. Heat the oil and fry onions till light brown. Add the garlic d and fry till very light brown. Next add the tomatoes along with a little salt and chilli powder. Fry till the tomatoes turn mushy. Next add the goat legs along with the water it was cooked in. Let it thicken a bit. And then add the ground paste, curry leaves and coriander and cook till the gravy thickens.

Serve with steaming hot idlis, dosas, aappams or rice.

Note that my recipe does not use any cinnamon, cloves or other spices. The gravy derives its flavor only from coriander seeds and black pepper.

In Tamilnadu, Aatukaal Paaya is supposed to be good for recuperating patients and is a regular feature in their diet.

Check out another Aatukkaal Paya recipe at Joseph’s Kitchen.


Plantain Chips Fry – Aratikaya Chips Vepudu – Vaazhaikai Chips Poriyal

Plantain Chips FryIt’s JFI time again and lovely host Mandira has chosen the ubiquitous fruit Banana to be the star this month. Banana is rich in potassium and is a powerhouse of energy. A glass of milk and a banana forms a complete meal. My original choice for JFI – Banana was a Banana Cream pie from one of my favorite cook books. But there has been a surge in the number of sweet items I am baking and cooking nowadays and for a change I changed my choice to a savory recipe using Plantains.

Onto the recipe now:

Plantains/ Aratikaya/ Vaazhaikai- 4

Channa Dal – 1/2 Cup
Urad Dal -1/2 Cup
Jeera – 1/8 Cup
Dry Red Chillies – 5
Garlic – 10 Flakes
Curry Leaves – About 10 big ones
Coriander – 1 bunch

Oil – 4 Tblsps

Peel plantains and slice into thin rounds. Use a mandoline if possible, as we need really thin slices. Add a generous amount of salt to the plantain slices and mix thoroughly. Set aside for about 5 to 10 mins. Then wash with water and drain thoroughly. Spread on a cloth and let it dry for 25 mins. Deep fry in oil and set aside.

Next, roast channa dal, urad dal and jeera, one after the other, till light brown. Fry dry red chillies and garlic in a little oil. Grind all of of it together.

Heat oil in a pan and add curry leaves and coriander. Fry till they wilt. Add the ground powder and fry. But do not let it brown. Add the plantain rounds, reduce heat and stir gently to mix with the rest of the ingredients for about 5 mins. Remove from heat.

Serve with hot rice with drop of ghee or as a side dish.

Check out information about bananas here.


Raisin Syrup

Raisin Syrup

It’s been quite a long time since I blogged. And blame it all on the hard drive crash which left me pretty disabled for more than a fortnight. Family recipes, treasured photographs along with a plethora of documents went down with the hard drive. I chided myself for not taking a backup, but it was too late. However DH fished them all out diligently. My prayers were answered, but the lessons were learnt the hard way.

Coming to today’s post, the focus is on dried grapes or raisins for AFAM’s Grapes hosted by Swapna of Swad. In one of my previous posts, I had professed my love for milk and as usual I was on the hunt for a new recipe to flavor my favorite calcium rich food. To keep it simple I made a syrup which could be used to flavor milk, but it can be used to dress up any fruit salad, pudding or as a drizzle on cakes.


Raisins – 1/2 Cup
Water – 1 cup
Cardamom – 1

Simmer all the ingredients on low heat till the water evaporates. Let it cool and blend to a honey consistency using a little water if necessary. To serve mix two tablespoons of this syrup with milk and serve warm or cold.

Raisin syrup keeps well in the refrigerator for about 10 days.

Check out yummy recipes and benefits of milk @ GotMilk and BodyByMilk and ThinkAboutYourDrink!

UPDATE: Date Syrup can be made the same way using dried dates. The simmering time and the blending time would increase. You can remove the skin of the dates for a very smooth syrup and can substitute cinnamon for cardamom.


BlogRolling Working Again!

Yippee! BlogRolling seems to be working again, which is pretty much evident from the little stars in the my blog roll. But for how long, only Blogrolling can tell. I rely heavily on this particular tracker to keep track of new posts in my favorite blogs and when it stopped working, I almost lost touch with the my foodie friends. Even though Google Reader provides a similar facility, I always missed BlogRolling and the ease of use it came with. Now I am really really happy!

Visit Blogrolling at http://www.blogrolling.com!


Lychee Tapioca Pudding

Lychee Tapioca Pudding

Lychee or Litchi – The fruit with a prickly rough skin and luscious pearly pulp. The aroma of the pulp reminds me of roses or rose essence to be precise. And thanks to Sig, the host of AFAM, I tried my hand on Litchis this month.

I didn’t have the heart to juice or puree these beauties which stood with the toughest of tenacity. So I simply blended them in a creamy tapioca pudding.


Litchies – 12
Milk – 1 Cup
Water – 3/4 Cup
Sugar – 2 Tbsp or As per taste
Tapioca Pearls/Sago/Javvarisi – 3 to 4 Tbsp
Cardamom – 1/8 Tsp
Vanilla Extract -1/2 Tsp
Red Food Coloring – 3 drops

Peel and cut the litchies into halves. Soak Sago in about a cup of water for 20 mins. Mix milk with water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and cardamom. Drain the water from the sagos and add next. Simmer on a low heat till sago is cooked. Sago/Tapioca pearls are cooked when they turn transparent. Add food coloring if desired and stir till well blended. Next stir in the litchies and the vanilla extract and cook for 10 more minutes. Garnish with nuts.

Sig very graciously agreed to accept my entry, when I asked her if I can send it in late. Thank you Sig!

And armed with this pudding, I celebrate the two awards which have come to my keeping – the Rocking Girl blogger award from Kribha of En Veetu Samayal and Madhavi of MyVeggieWorld and the Schmooze award from Mallugirl of Malabar Spices.

The goodness passed to me should be passed others too and I pass my awards to my fellow foodies. I pass Rocking Girl blogger award to
Vidya of My Musings,
Seema of Recipe Junction,
Nidhi of Cooking Made Easy,
Revathi of En Ulagam,
Sig of Live To Eat and
Linda of Out of the Garden

And the Schmooze Award to
Sharmi of Neivedyam,
Sandeepa of BongMom’s Cookbook,
Anisha of Kovai Samayal and
Coffee of The Spice Cafe.

Check out how to peel a litchi here.
Check out what Tapioca is made from here.


Terror Strikes Hyderabad – Aug 25th

Terror strikes our India again in the form of twin blasts at Hyderabad, the quaint old city. Among the myriad of emotions coursing through my mind at the moment, the one which is all consuming is the awareness that terrorism can strike so close. At this most distressing moment, my heart goes out to the innocent lives and I pray for the strength of their kith and kin.

More Information here.

Hyderabad police have setup the following helpline numbers: 91-40-23202833, 91-40-9440815456

Blood Donation Help line numbers are: 91-40-23559555, 91-40-9948118765


Blueberry Milk Shake

Blueberry Shake

For MM-Earth Food, Meeta has asked us to write about the measures we have taken to save our earth and the two things which come to my mind right away are :

1. My family stopped lighting fireworks ever since I was 13. My dad pointed out the hazards created by the debris and noise of fireworks and we kids agreed. The first year was hard but the feeling of satisfaction was immense. On Diwali while all other houses are adding their share to the garbage and noise pollution, we light lamps all over the house and turn off the electric ones.

2. I have stopped using incandescent light bulbs and have switched over to compact flourescent ones.

And what better way to celebrate MM – Earth Food than with organic fresh produce? Using the organic blueberries which we picked from a farm a month ago, I made a milk shake. The original recipe is from the web, though I donโ€™t remember the source and I modified it to suit my taste.

Here is the recipe:

Banana – 1 ripe one
Blueberries (Frozen or Fresh) – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1 Cup
Honey – 1 Tbsp

Blend everything till smooth. Adjust the honey according to your taste or replace it with sugar. A very ripe banana makes this drink very flavorful.

This is a very simple recipe and I am not sure if Meeta would accept my entry. But nevertheless I am sending it across.