Friday, August 28, 2015

Dates Pradhaman and a Delectable Onam

Make this delectable dates jaggery pradhaman for Onam or any special occasion
Let me start by wishing all of you a very Happy Onam. For the past few years, we have made it a tradition to either call friends over for Onam or at least distribute payasam. I was looking for a new payasam to try this year and coincidentally saw part of this recipe on a Malayalam channel.
Even though it was an experiment, I was quite sure that it would turn out delicious (not bragging about my cooking skills…its truly that simple to make).
Pitted dates – 2 ½ cups (approx.)
Melted jaggery – 1 – 1 ½ cups (to taste)
Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 tbsp
Coconut milk – 5 cups
Water for soaking the dates and melting the jaggery
For Garnish
Chopped dates – ¼ cup
Cashew nut (chopped) – ¼ cup
Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 tbsp
It is recommended to use a heavy bottomed vessel, like a cooker, for making this or any payasam. 
Chop the dates and make a paste (you could soak the dates in a little water for about 15-20 minutes for easier grinding). Keep aside.
Place a saucepan/vessel on medium heat. Add jaggery and about a ¼ cup of water and allow it to melt. Leave it on the lowest heat setting, while you start working on the dates.
Place the cooker on low heat and add 1-tablespoon ghee. Add the dates paste and allow it to cook for about 10-12 minutes, while stirring every 2 minutes or so.
Add half of the melted jaggery to the dates and stir well.
Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes. Taste and add more jaggery, if required.
Once the dates and jaggery mixture starts coming together, reduce the heat and add the coconut milk. (I used the ready-made variety that comes in a can. If using fresh milk, add the third/most diluted extract first, cook for about 10 minutes, add the second extract, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Finally, add the first or the thickest milk and take it off the heat).
With the ready-made milk, you can allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes after adding the milk and then remove it from the stove.
Heat a small pan, add 1-tablespoon ghee, and sauté the cashew nuts until they turn light brown. Turn off the heat and add the chopped dates. Mix well and garnish the dates pradhaman.
Serve warm or cold to suit your taste. 

For more Onam recipes, visit Onam Special and Onam and an Exciting Start to a Long Weekend.
Wishing you all a Very Happy and Delectable Onam!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Carrot-Papaya Salad

Has the summer sun been beating down on you fiercely? It has been quite hot in my neck of the woods and when the heat goes up, it is best to indulge in cold, refreshing foods. Be it thirst-quenching drinks, delectable ice creams, cold soups, or crunchy salads, go forth and enjoy.

I try to incorporate salads into my diet (occasionally) and have found that summers are best for experimenting with salads, because they can be refreshing and satisfying at the same time. So here is my interpretation of a popular salad found mostly in Thai restaurants: the crunchy and delicious carrot and papaya salad.

Ingredients (Serves 1-2)
Grated carrot – 1 cup
Grated raw papaya – 1 cup
Finely chopped green chili – 1 tsp
For Dressing
Lime juice – 1 tbsp or to taste
Grated ginger – 1 tsp
Honey – 1 tsp or to taste
Salt to taste
Crushed roasted peanuts – 2 tbsps or more
Mix together all the ingredients listed under Salad Dressing.  
Add the grated vegetables and green chilies to a bowl
Add the dressing and toss well.
Refrigerate the salad for 15-20 minutes or longer before serving as it taste best when cold.
Add the crushed peanuts just before serving. Please note that you can always place the crushed peanuts on the side, when serving people with food allergies. 
Enjoy this crunchy and refreshing salad as a side salad or even as a main course; you'll not be disappointed!

A garnish of cilantro would be ideal.