Maha Shivaratri Upvaas/Fasting Thali

Maha Shivaratri  is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in honor of Lord Shiva. On this auspicious day, devotees perform Abhishekam to the Shivalingam(An abstract representation of Lord Shiva). Abhishekam is a ceremony of bathing the idol of god with either water or milk or Panchamrutham(A mixture of milk, yogurt, honey, sugar and ghee). Some devotees observe Fasting/Upvaas/Not eating food for a period of time. Some devotees observe Fasting and Jaagaran/Stay awake all night. Special pujas and celebrations are held at the temples during Maha Shivaratri. Some devotees spend the night at temples singing devotional songs to honor Lord Shiva.

Every family has their own customs and traditions for this festival. Some people fast without eating any food and without drinking even a drop of water. My sister used to do that. I have never done that. Some people follow a diet of fruits and milk. At our home, we do not eat any food during daytime. We were allowed to have tea, coffee and milk during the day.  In the evening, we offer specific fasting foods like Sabudana Upma, Coconut Chutney, Sweet Potato Halwa, fresh fruits, dates and milk to the god. Fasting food/dinner is served after the evening prayers.

Fasting food  is served in a ‘Vistharaku/Thali/A leaf plate made with broad dried leaves of Banyan tree(Marri Chettu Aakulu in Telugu).  ‘Thali’ is an Indian style platter. It is a meal consisting of small portions of healthy, delicious and nutritious dishes served together on one plate. Upvaas Thali might sound like an oxymoron(combination of contradictory words), but it is a tradition(at our home) to fast on Maha Shivaratri, followed by a feast(made with specific foods) in the evening. I try to follow some traditions(at least sometimes, whenever it is possible). As I didn’t have Vistharaku/Leaf plate at my home in US,  I served the food in a metal plate. Today I am sharing the recipes of the special traditional dishes served at our home on Maha Shivaratri.

Sabudana Upma – Fasting Recipe:

Since this a fasting recipe it has minimal number of ingredients that are allowed to consume on fasting days.

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 cup = 160ml(Rice cooker cup)

Sabudana – 4 cups

Raw/Unroasted peanuts – 2 cups

Green chillies – 3(Add more or less as per desired spiciness)

Homemade Ghee – 2-3 Tbsp.

Sayndha namak/Crushed Rock salt – 1&1/4 Tsp.(approximately)

Procedure:

Step 1:

Place the sabudana in a colander and place it under tap water.  You will see white powdered stuff in the water. Continue to rinse until water runs clear. Transfer it to a wide bowl and add water. The water level should be a little above(1-2 cm) than the sabudana level. I added 3&1/2 cups water(approximately).

After few experiments I noticed that, 1 leveled  cup of sabudana needs (1 cup minus 2 Tbsp. water for soaking) approximately.

Cover with a lid and let it soak for 5-6 hours.

Step 2:

While the sabudana is getting soaked, we can prepare other ingredients/foods that are needed for our Thali/Platter. I have shared the process  below. I usually prepare everything on the same day but you can prepare (Roasted peanut powder, grated coconut and homemade ghee a day ahead). Click on each task to know the process in detail with step by step pictures.

Step 3:

After 5-6 hours, open the lid and check the sabudana. When I checked, it was perfectly soft and  it was not mushy. There was no water left in the pan. It was just the way I needed it to be. You can strain it to make sure there is no water left.

Step 4:

Add peanut powder to the soaked sabudana and mix it with a spoon. I didn’t add all the prepared peanut powder. I added more than half the quantity of the prepared peanut powder(you can little more or little less as per your preference).

Step 5:

Place a wide thick bottomed pan on medium heat. Add ghee. When the ghee is hot, add the chopped green chillies(I didn’t chop them into small pieces because my daughter likes it less spicy and it is easier for her to remove the bigger pieces). Saute. Add the sabudana and peanut powder mixture. Add salt(sanyndha namak). Lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook for a  minute or two. Saute it few times in between. Remove the lid and saute (give it a gentle mix) for few minutes.

Step 6:

Saute until sabudana turns transparent and looks cooked.

Step 7:

Transfer to a serving bowl.

 

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As we have already prepared coconut chutney and sweet potato halwa, we have everything ready for the naivedyam. I chopped fresh fruits just few minutes before offering to the god. Seasonal fruit Cantaloupe is also offered on this day(not in the picture). Another simple dessert(chopped bananas  are added to milk and sweetened with sugar) is also served on this day(not in picture). The food is placed before a deity and prayers are offered. Then the food is consumed as a holy offering also known as ‘Prasadam’.

Task 1: Procedure:

Dry roast the peanuts and grind them to a coarse powder using a food processor.

Add the raw peanuts in a pan and dry roast on medium/low heat.

Transfer the roasted peanuts to a wide plate. Let them cool for 5 minutes. While the peanuts are still warm, loosen the skin on the peanuts by gently rubbing on them with a potato masher or with your fingers.

Now we need to separate the skin from the peanuts. I used a traditional ‘Winnowing Fan/Chaata’ for this process. Winnowing Fan is an ancient/traditional tool used to blow the chaff off the grains. I like to try traditional methods of cooking whenever possible. Winnowing fan is usually made with bamboo. I have a cute and mini winnowing fan at my home in US. It is made with metal. My MIL gave it to me. My mom taught me how to use the winnowing fan when I was a kid. It is so much fun to do this. Add the peanuts in the winnowing fan. Line a dry kitchen sink  with a news paper to collect the skin blown from the peanuts. (You can spread the news paper on the kitchen floor too. I feel that, it is much easier to cleanup in the sink than cleaning/sweeping the floor). Hold the winnowing fan with two hands and move it in a rhythmic and consistent motion. The  skin from the peanuts gets collected on the front of the winnowing fan.. Blow lightly over the skin to separate it from the peanuts.

Add the peeled peanuts in a food processor. Grind the peanuts to a coarse powder and keep it aside. Transfer the crushed peanuts into a bowl. You can use the same food processor to make coconut chutney. You do not have to rinse and clean it now. Just keep it aside for now.

 

Task 2: Procedure:

Prepare fresh homemade ghee .

Preparing homemade ghee is a very very simple process. Add 4 sticks of butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Place the pan on low heat. Wait until milk solids are evaporated. No need to stir. Keep a close eye in the last few minutes. It will quickly turn dark. Turn off the heat when it turns golden color.  Let it cool completely in the pan. It will turn slighly darker in color. Strain it. That’s it. Homemade ghee is ready to use. The same sauce pan can be used to prepare sweet potato halwa. Just keep it aside for now.

Here is a step by step pictorial:

Task 3: Procedure:

Grate a fresh coconut and prepare coconut chutney.

Grate a fresh coconut using a coconut grater. I bought this coconut grater from an Indian grocery store. Add the grated fresh coconut, chopped green chilli(1-2) and saynda namak in the food processor bowl. Add little water(as needed) and grind it until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

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Task 4: Procedure:

Chop the sweet potatoes and prepare sweet potato halwa.

Sweet potatoes – 3(Chopped into 1″ cubes)

Ghee – 3-4 Tbsp.

Raw Sugar – 1/4 cup(Add more or less as per desired sweetness)

There are many ways to cook sweet potato halwa(using a regular pressure cooker or an Instant Pot pressure cooker). I like to follow an age old traditional method to prepare this halwa. The process I am sharing today, takes longer time to cook the sweet potatoes but with this cooking method, the flavor of the dish is totally different and it tastes absolutely delicious. I learnt this cooking method from my MIL.

Wash and peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1″ cubes.

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Add ghee in a thick bottomed sauce pan(Use the same suace pan which was used to prepare ghee). Place the pan on medium/low heat.

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Once the ghee is hot, add chopped sweet potatoes and stir. Stir for a couple minutes. Close the pan with a plate that has a raised edge and pour some water(1/2 cup) in the plate. (I didn’t have a plate with a raised edge, so I used a stainless pressure cooker insert and poured water in it).

Sweet potato cubes are roasted with the heat coming( from the bottom of the pan) and are cooked with the water droplets falling on it(from the bowl of water on the top of the pan). They are roasted and cooked at the same time. Sweet potato cubes doesn’t burn  and stick to the bottom of the pan because of the slowly released moisture from the water in the lid. Open the lid occasionally and quickly stir the sweet potato cubes in the pan.

When the sweet potato turns soft, add sugar and mix. Cook until the sugar melts and everything is mixed well.

Transfer the prepared halwa into a serving bowl. The color looks different when the picture is taken in the kitchen with yellow lights above.

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My friend forwarded me a link to an interesting article(published in Huffingtonpost.com) about ‘Fasting and Autophagy‘. You can click here to read the article.

Maha Shivaratri Upvaas/Fasting Thali consists of specific fasting foods that provide sustainable energy. This post is a humble effort to share recipes of the special traditional dishes served  at our home on Maha Shivaratri.

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Christmas is less than a week away. If you haven’t already started baking your homemade Christmas treats, you need to do it now. Today I am sharing with you Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread cookies recipe. These shortbread cookies are easy to make and are perfect for Christmas gifting. You can make them with only six ingredients. You don’t need eggs, baking soda or baking powder to make these cookies. I followed the recipe from here but also added pistachios. The bright red dried cranberries and lovely green pistachios make a very pretty homemade holiday gift.

If you are looking for more (eggless) baked goods recipes, you can find them here:

Eggless Chocolate Cookies,

Eggless Fruit Cake(which doesn’t require any pre-soaking of fruits and nuts) and

Eggless Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookie Recipe:

Ingredients:

Makes about 24-26 shortbread cookies

Icing sugar/Confectioner’s sugar – 100g

Salted butter(softened) – 200g

All purpose flour – 300g

Vanilla extract – 1/4 Tsp.

Dried Cranberries – 20g(coarsely chopped)

Unsalted Pistachios – 20g(coarsely chopped)

Procedure:

Step 1:

Sift flour and keep aside.

Step 2:

Cut the butter into small pieces. Add the butter in the stand mixer.

Note: Use room temperature butter. It should not be too soft and mushy. It should be soft and you should be able to scrape it using a butter knife.

Sift the sugar into the stand mixer. Attach the paddle and beat until smooth and creamy(about 2-3 minutes on medium speed)(start mixing on  low speed and gradually increase it to speed 4)). Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

Step 3:

Reduce the speed of the stand mixer to the lowest speed(speed 1) and gradually add the sifted flour in 3-4 batches until blended.

Step 4:

Finally stir in the chopped dried cranberries and pistachios.

Step 5:

Divide the prepared cookie dough  into 2 portions. Roll each portion into a log(with even thickness), keeping the dough squared off on all sides.

Wrap the logs with a cling wrap. Place the wrapped cookie dough logs in the freezer for  60 minutes/one hour.

Step 6:

Preheat the oven to 325F for 15 minutes.  Use a big sharp knife and cut each log into 12 slices. . Place the slices 1 inch apart, on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

 

Step 7:

Bake them for 15-20 minutes until it turns deep golden brown around the edges. Remove the tray and let the cookies cool in the tray for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack/wire rack  and let them cool completely. Store them in airtight containers.

You can simply swap the cranberries and pistachios with chocolate chips(Kids favorite), Tutti Frutti or other nuts. I made 3 other variations with the same cookie dough.

Variation 1: I used 40g dried cranberries.

Variation 2: I used 40g mini dark chocolate chips

Variation 3: I used 40g Tutti Frutii.

My personal favorite was cranberry version(with and without pistachios). Soft, chewy, sweet and tart dried cranberries add great flavor to the short bread cookies. Yumm!!

Notes: It is recommended to use salted butter in shortbread cookie recipes. Just in case,  you do not have access to salted butter, you can replace it with same quantity of unsalted butter + 1/4 Tsp. salt. In step 1:  Add the salt to the flour and mix. Sift them together.

Make sure to include these buttery, crumbly, easy shortbread cookies to your holiday baking list. This recipe for shortbread is sure to be a crowd pleaser!!!

Happy Holidays!!!!!!

 

 

 

Mung Sprouts Dosa/Sprouted Mung Bean Dosa

Mung/Moong sprouts dosa is a protein rich, healthy and nutritious south Indian crepe that can be eaten as breakfast or snack. You can make these dosas even more nutritious by adding paneer, greens and seasonal vegetables like carrots, beetroots and roll it like a wrap. It makes a complete meal in itself. Mung sprouts dosa batter is prepared by grinding mung sprouts and it doesn’t require any fermentation. Yes, this batter can be used right away. No fermentation needed. 🙂 I make these dosas very often. They are so easy to make and so healthy.

If you are looking for fermented Idli/Dosa batter recipe, you can find it here.

Let’s see the process of making this crispy and delicious mung sprouts dosa:

We need sprouted mung beans for this recipe. How to sprout mung beans? –  (Instant Pot Method). 

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 cup = 250ml

Sprouted mung beans – 3 cups

Green chilli – 1 or 2

Fresh ginger – 1 inch piece

Cumin seeds – 1 Tsp.

Rice flour – 3- 4 Tbsp.(for crispy dosas)

Onion(medium size) – 1(finely chopped)

Water – as needed

Salt – as needed

Oil – as needed(to use on the dosa pan)

Ghee(optional) – as needed(to drizzle on the dosas)

Procedure:

Step 1:

You do not need a wet grinder to grind the batter. Add 3 cups of  sprouted mung beans in a blender. Add green chilli, cumin seeds and ginger(missing in the picture). Add 1 cup(approximately) cold water and grind to a smooth paste. (I used smoothie setting in Vitamix blender).

Step 2:

Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl. Add rice flour and salt. Mix it well. Add water(as needed) to adjust the consistency of the batter. Batter shouldn’t be too thick or too runny. Use the batter right away.

Step 3:

Heat dosa pan/tawa on medium heat. Spread 1/4 tsp. of oil on the pan and wipe it with a clean cloth or paper towel. When the pan is hot enough, pour a ladle full of batter into the center of the pan and swirl it around to spread it into a thin layer(for crispy dosas). Add few chopped onions on top. Press them gently with a flat bottomed bowl, to make them stick to the dosa. Drizzle 1/4 tsp. ghee on top of dosa. Once the dosa is roasted on the bottom, flip it to the other side with the help of a spatula.(this step is optional, you can cook it on one side only). After few seconds, flip it again and fold it in half and serve immediately with Ginger chutney.

For softer dosas, spread the batter into a slightly thick layer and do not roast it for too long. Some times, I do not add  ginger, cumin seeds and green chillies while grinding the batter. I add cumin seeds, finely chopped green chillies and finely chopped ginger on top of dosa, along with the chopped onions.

Traditional mung bean dosa(Pesarattu) is usually served with Sooji Upma and Ginger Chutney(Allam Pachadi). This fall season, we enjoyed sprouted mung bean dosas with yummy cranberry ginger chutney. 

 

How to sprout beans – Instant Pot Method

Sprouting is the process of germinating beans, seeds and nuts. Sprouting involves soaking beans for several hours. Soaking softens the skin on the beans, allowing the sprout to grow. The soaked beans are rinsed and placed  in a dark, warm place(away from the sun light) for at least 24 hours. The goal is to create dark, warm and moist environment for the sprouts germination. 24 hours later, you will see that the  beans have sprouted. There are different methods to create a sprouting environment. You can tie the soaked beans in a cheese cloth and place them in a casserole. You can use mason jars and cover them with a cheese cloth or sprouting lid. I usually follow a very basic and simple method. I place the soaked beans in a wide colander. I rinse them with fresh water and when the water is completely drained, I cover the colander with a loose lid and place it in the oven. I check them after 12 hours and if  they look dry,  I place a damp paper towel/cheese cloth on it. After 24 hours, beans are sprouted and ready to use.

There are many other ways to sprout beans. I wanted to explore the ‘Yogurt’ option in Instant Pot to sprout beans. I experimented with mung beans and was very happy with the results. I am sharing the procedure along with some useful tips. If you are looking for the method of sprouting the beans in Instant Pot, then this post is for you. This is another new method of sprouting beans.

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 cup = 250 ml

Whole mung beans – 1 cup

Water – as needed

Procedure:

Step 1:

Rinse and soak mung beans in enough hot water for 12 hours. I usually soak them overnight.

Note: Since past few years, when I soak mung beans in normal water at room temperature, some beans remained hard and didn’t soak up any water. Soaking beans in very hot water, eliminated this problem. I do not know the science behind it but it really works. This is an important tip to sprout mung beans. If you are not facing the problem of hard beans, you can use normal room temperature water to soak beans.

Step 2:

After soaking them overnight, beans will absorb water and  almost double in size. Beans will look swollen and plump. You will see the green skin on the beans split open. Drain the water and place them in a steamer basket that fits in instant pot. Rinse the soaked beans with fresh tap water and let the water drain.

Step 3:

Add 1 cup water in the instant pot insert. Place the steamer basket with mung beans in the instant pot. Remove the sealing ring and close the lid. Turn the steam releasing valve in venting position. Press the ‘Yogurt’ button on instant pot. The default time is 8 hours. Press the ‘+’ button and adjust it to 10 hours.

After 10 hours, Turn off the instant pot and unplug it. I opened the lid and was surprised to see tiny sprouts. Usually it takes 24 hours for the sprouts to appear. Close the lid and leave them in the instant pot for another 12-14 hours, to get longer sprouts.

Sprouted mung beans are ready to use in your favorite recipes.

Note: You can store them in an air tight glass container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Line a glass bowl with paper towels and add the sprouted mung beans. Place another paper towel on top and close the lid. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for later use.

Mung bean sprouts stay fresh when stored properly. You can use them in salads,  curries, sandwiches and many more dishes.

 

Cranberry Ginger Chutney/Cranberry Ginger Thokku/Cranberry Allam Thokku – Instant Pot Method

Fall is cranberry harvesting season. This is the time of the year we can find bags of fresh cranberry in the grocery store aisles. Fresh cranberries have a sour-tart flavor. They work as an excellent substitute for raw mangoes, tomatoes and tamarind in many Indian recipes. Last year, I posted the recipes for Instant Cranberry Pickle and Cranberry Tomato Rasam. I wanted to share few more interesting cranberry (Indian) recipes this year. I tried preparing popular Andhra Allam Pachadi/Ginger chutney by substituting tamarind with cranberries. It tasted delicious. The combination of cranberry and ginger was so tasty. Since it was my first trial, I had not taken any step by step pictures.  I bought another bag of cranberries to prepare it again and post it with step by step pictures. Meanwhile, I was browsing through the Facebook posts and I stumbled upon Cranberry Ginger Thokku/ Cranberry Ginger Chutney recipe shared by Shubha Iyengar. It looked so good and what interested me is,  chutney was made in Instant Pot. As I already knew that cranberry ginger combo tastes amazing , I immediately started making Shubha Iyengar’s Cranberry Ginger Chutney recipe in my Instant Pot. The result was amazing. It was so easy to prepare using instant Pot. I followed the procedure exactly but I reduced the quantity of spices and jaggery to suit my tastes. This sweet, spicy and tangy chutney makes a great accompaniment to Idlis, Dosas, Savory Pongal,  Medu Vadas and especially Pesarattu/Moong dal Dosa/Moong sprouts Dosa

This is the time of the year enjoy this lip smacking Cranberry Ginger Pickle. Winter  is (almost) here. It’s almost the end of Fall/Autumn. We will not find cranberries until next fall season. Stock up during the fall harvest so you will have plenty for your favorite cranberry recipes. This Cranberry Ginger Pickle is a must try, especially if you are a Chutney lover. The tartness of the fall harvest fruit is combined with the warmth of the wonderful winter spice and blended with roasted aromatic spices and jaggery. It is a delicious blend of flavors and ingredients!!!

Lets begin the process of making this spicy, sweet and tangy pickle.

Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 cup = 250ml

Fresh Cranberries – 340 g(3&1/2 cups)

Grated jaggery – 150 g(3/4 cup)

Grated fresh ginger – 1/4 cup

Red chilli powder – 1 Tbsp.

Paprika – 1 Tbsp.

Salt –  4&1/2 Tsp.

Turmeric powder – 1 Tsp.

Asafoetida powder- 1/2 Tsp.

Water – 3 Tbsp.

Ingredients for (Fenugreek & Mustard) powder

Fenugreek seeds – 3/4 Tsp.

Mustard seeds – 3/4 Tsp.

Ingredients for tempering/tadka

Oil – 3 Tbsp.

Urad dal split – 2 Tsp.

Mustard seeds – 1 Tsp.

Procedure:

Step 1:

Prepare Fenugreek and Mustard powder.

In a small pan, dry roast 3/4 Tsp.  fenugreek seeds and 3/4 tsp. mustard seeds. Let them cool and powder them. Keep aside.

Step 2:

Have all the other ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. Cranberries should be red, plump and firm to the touch. Do not use cranberies that are shriveled and too soft to the touch. Rinse the cranberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. Grate the jaggery and fresh ginger.

Step 3:

Turn on the instant pot in ‘Saute’ mode. Just press the ‘Saute’ button.  Add oil in the instant pot insert. Once the oil is hot(after few seconds), add mustard seeds and urad dal. After you hear the crackling sound of the mustard seeds, add asafoetida powder. Turn off the instant pot. Press’ Cancel’ button. Add water(3 Tbsp). Add cranberries. Make sure they cover the entire bottom layer of the Instant Pot insert.

Layer the rest of the ingredients one by one.

Grated ginger, grated jaggery, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder & paprika.  Do not mix. (We do this to make sure that the spices do not touch the bottom of the Instant Pot insert and burn).

Step 4:

Close the lid. Make sure that the sealing ring in placed under the lid and the anti block shield under the lid is placed and pressed in its position correctly. Turn the steam releasing valve on top of the lid to the ‘Sealing’ position. Pressure cook in manual high pressure setting for 7 minutes. To do this, Hit ‘Manual’ button. The default pressure setting will be high. Do not change this.  Press on minus ‘-‘  button and set it to 7 minutes. Once the 7 minutes have elapsed, the instant pot will beep and go into keep warm mode. The display will show “L0:00”.

Step 5:

After two minutes, release the pressure using controlled QPR/QR/Quick Pressure Release method. Release the steam manually by turning the steam releasing valve from sealing to the venting position. Do it slowly using a fork, spoon or tongs.

Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Open the lid when the pin drops down. Add the roasted fenugreek and mustard powder. Mash with a potato masher. Cook on ‘Saute’ mode for few seconds. Turn off the instant pot.

Step 6:

Transfer the prepared chutney into a dry, glass container. Let it cool completely. Store in an air tight glass container in the refrigerator. It will last for 2 months in the refrigerator.

 

This sweet, spicy and tart chutney is a great addition to your holiday breakfast table and perfect for holiday gifting.

Rajgira Chikki/Amaranth Brittle

Chikki is a traditional Indian sweet.  Rajgira/Amaranth  is the seed of the Amaranth plant. Rajgira Chikki is a sweet bar made with popped Rajgira/Amaranth seeds and Jaggery. Though, the label on the bag of Amaranth says that it is a grain, it isn’t a grain like oats, wheat or rice. It is a seed like Quinoa. It is a seed used like a grain. It has many vitamins and minerals and it is gluten free.  Rajgira/Amaranth is mostly eaten during Navratri festival/vrat/fasting period when grains are not consumed.

I love home made traditional sweets. Since many years, I have been making different varieties of chikki/brittle like peanut chikki, sesame chikki and dry fruit chikki.  Sesame Ladoo and Peanut chikki are must have items at our home, for the Pongal festival every year (in the month of Janauary). You can find the recipe for Sesame Ladoo and Peanut chikki here.

Rajgira chikki was on my to-do list since very long time but I attempted to make it for the first time, just few days ago. Rajgira seeds need to be popped(like popcorn) and used in the recipe. I was able to pop Rajgira/amaranth seeds after many trials and errors.  I couldn’t figure out the right technique on the day, I started experimenting. I gave up after a few trials. Next day, I called my mom, asked her few questions. I watched few you tube videos and attempted again. Finally I understood the technique after few attempts. Once you understand the technique, it is a very simple process.  I am sharing the recipe of Rajgira Chikki along with the tips and techniques to pop the Amaranth/Rajgira seeds. 

Let’s begin the process of making this nutritious sweet treat.

Measuring cup used: 1 cup = 250ml

Ingredients:

Rajgira/Amaranth seeds – 1/2 cup (this will yield more than 2 cups of popped seeds)(We use 1 heaped cup(approximately) of popped seeds in this recipe.  The remaining popped amaranth can be eaten just like that or it can be added in a sweet or savory trail mix.)

Vegetable oil – 1/2 Tsp.

Grated Jaggery – 1/2 cup

Water – 1/4 cup

Vegetable oil – 1 Tsp.(To grease the parchment paper)

Procedure:

Step 1:

We need to pop Rajgira/Amaranth seeds.

Heat a heavy bottomed wide pan on medium/high heat until it is very hot(about 3-4 minutes). When the pan is hot, add 1 Tsp. Rajgira seeds at a time and keep stirring them. The seeds will start popping.  You can hear the popping sound of the seeds and they also look puffed up.  It will take less than 40 seconds to pop 1 tsp. seeds. Not all seeds are going to pop. There will few unpopped seeds in each batch. Transfer them to a mesh sieve and shake it to separate the unpopped seeds. Repeat the process.

 

Here is the picture of Rajgira/Amaranth seeds before popping(left) and after popping(right).

I have added the picture of unpopped seeds(bottom) in this picture. Unpopped seeds can be used whole to make porridge/kheer. They can be ground into flour and used to make Poori, Chapathi or many other recipes.

Tips: If the pan is well heated, the seeds will start popping within 5 seconds.(If the seeds doesn’t start popping within 10 seconds, it means that the pan is not hot enough. The seeds will roast and turn into brown color, but they will not pop. Remove the seeds and heat the pan for few more seconds or minutes. Add a fresh batch of seeds.

Once the seeds start popping, do not reduce the heat or close the lid. We need to stir the seeds continuously so that they do not burn.. If you think that the pan is too hot, you can lift the pan off the flame for just few seconds and shake the pan. Place it again on heat.

I tried to  pop more than 1 tsp. seeds at a time, but the quantity of  unpopped seeds was more.

I am sharing a small video to help you understand the process better.

Step 2:

Add the grated jaggery and 1/4 cup water in a suace pan. Heat the pan on medium heat and keep stirring until the jaggery is melted. Turn off the heat and strain the melted jaggery liquid into a thick wide bottomed pan. This step is done to remove dirt from the jaggery, if any.

Step 3:

Add 1/2 Tsp. of oil to the filtered jaggery syrup in the wide pan.

Place the pan on low heat and keep stirring it continuosly. The mixture will start to bubble and thicken gradually.

Step 4:

We need to cook the jaggery syrup until the desired consistency is reached.

Tip: To check if the jaggery has reached the required consistency, put a small amount of the syrup in a small bowl filled with water. The syrup should come together to form a ball. If you drop it on the kitchen counter top, it should sound like a stone.

After this stage, the jaggery syrup needs to be cooked for few more seconds on heat until it turns a little darker in color and thicker in consistency. Add the popped Rajgira/Amaranth seeds(approximately 1 cup(heaped) popped seeds)  and mix. Transfer the mixture on to a parchment paper greased with oil. Roll it into a thin layer(desired thickness) with a rolling pin greased with oil. While the mixture is hot, make marks on it with a greased knife. Separate the into pieces when it cools down completely.

Try this age-old recipe at home. Enjoy this traditional and nutritious snack!!!

Bellam Paramannam/Rice Kheer/Rice Pudding – Instant Pot Method

Hello Readers, Wishing you all a very happy Vijaya Dasami. It has been a long time since my last post.  I had mentioned in my last post that I will be taking a break from blogging.  I haven’t actively started blogging yet, but today is a special day. I am celebrating the first anniversary of my blog( I started my blogging journey on Vijaya Dasami/Dussehra, 2016. Dussehra in 2016 was on October 11th. ) and I wanted to thank all my readers on this special day.

I am sharing the recipe of an age old traditonal Indian dessert ‘Bellam Paramannam’. It is a delicious sweet rice pudding that is usually prepared as an offering to god on festive occasions in south India. Rice is cooked with milk and sweetened with jaggery syrup. It is flavored with cardamom powder, saffron and garnished with fried cashews and raisins. It is also known as Ksheerannam, Rice Kheer, Bellam Payasam or Annam Payasam. I prepared this dessert for Navratri. I made it in my Instant Pot pressure cooker.

I prepared a different variety of Indian dessert on each day of Navratri, 2017. I also prepared different varieties of Sundal.

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I haven’t posted all the recipes in my blog yet. I have earlier shared few recipes.

Puran Poli/Oliga/Holige/Poornam Bobbattu – You can find the recipe here.

Medu Vada/Gaarelu –  You can find the recipe here.

Besan Ladoo – You can find the recipe here.

Kaju Burfi – You can find the recipe here.

Seven Cup Burfi – You can find the recipe here. I substituted desiccated coconut with equal quantity of Almond Powder(Grind whole almonds with skin).

Let’s start the process of making ‘Bellam Paramannam’.

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Ingredients:

Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 250ml

Whole Milk – 3 cups

Water – 1 cup

Rice(Sona Masoori) – 1/2 cup

Freshly Ground Cardamom powder – 1/4 Tsp.

Raw Cashews – 10(split/ chopped in half)

Golden raisins – 1 Tbsp.

Salt – 1/16th Tsp. (a pinch)(optional)

Ghee – 1 Tbsp.

Saffron – a pinch

Ingredients to make Jaggery Syrup:

Grated Jaggery – 1/2 cup

Water – 1/2 cup

Procedure:

Step 1:

Boil Milk.

Add 1 cup of water and 3 cups of milk in the instant pot insert. Close the lid. Turn the steam releasing valve to sealing position. Press ‘Yogurt’ button. Hit ‘Adjust’ button to select ‘Boil’. Mean while you can move away from instant pot and work on other things. You will hear a beep sound when the  milk is boiled. Turn off the instant pot. Open the lid.

Step 2:

Cook rice in the boiled milk.

Turn on the ‘Saute’ mode. Keep stirring the milk and let it come to a rolling boil. Rinse and drain the  rice and add it to the instant pot insert. Mix it well. Now you need to switch to low saute mode. To do this, turn off the instant pot. Press ‘Saute’ button and hit adjust button twice. Continue to cook on low saute mode until rice is cooked. Keep stirring the milk every 4-5 minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and getting burned. Make sure it doesn’t become mushy. This will take around 15-20 minutes. Turn off the instant pot. Remove the insert from the instant pot. Let it cool at room temperature.

Step 3:

Prepare jaggery syrup.

Add 1/2 cup jaggery and 1/2 cup water in a small sauce pan. Heat the pan on low/medium heat until the jaggery is melted. Strain the melted jaggery into a seperate pan to remove dirt, if any.

Place the pan with strained jaggery mixture on heat. Cook the mixture for 7-8 minutes on medium heat(The consistency doesn’t matter). Let it cool at room temperature.

Step 4:

Fry the Cashewnuts and Raisins in ghee

In a separate pan, add ghee and place the pan on low heat. Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Add raisins and saute for few seconds. Turn off the heat.

Step 5:

Add cooled jaggery syrup to the cooked rice+milk mixture. Mix it well. Add the fried cashews and raisins. Mix it well. Add cardamom powder, saffron and salt. Mix it well.

Notes: Do not add hot Jaggery syrup to the cooked rice+milk mixture. This can cause the milk to curdle.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.

We enjoyed the Rice Pudding/Bellam Paramannam after making an offering to god.

 

Thanks to all the visitors, readers and followers of my blog for your encouragement and support.

Wish you all a very Happy Vijaya Dasami!!!!!