Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Point Pedro Vadai - ParuthithuraiVadai | Sri Lankan Festive Fritters

January, the first month of the year also brings in the harvesting season. Almost entire India celebrates the beginning of harvesting season which falls in the middle of the month as Lohri, Sankranthi, and Pongal. This is actually a celebration of the Sun God- which provides the energy needed for agriculture -as it starts its journey northwards.  Pongal which is a Tamil harvest festival is celebrated not just in Tamil Nadu, India but also in our neighbouring country Sri Lanka. It is Sri Lanks'a national festival celebrated with the offerings of Pongal and variety of snacks one of them being PointPedro Vadai or Paruthithurai Vadai. 

A little googling on Lankan Cuisine gave me this name and led me to a few sites that had the recipe. I was under the impression that it is same as our 'Vada /Vadai'- savoury ground & deep fried  lentil dumplings that are very common here. But I  was surprised by the recipe from Ahila's site which involved no grinding and used wheat flour for the dough. 

The vadais are  a speciality from the town of Paruthithurai or Point Pedro  - anglicised name for the same.or Peduru Thuduwa in Sanhala - in Jaffna. They are also known as Jaffna Vadai. 

Ingredients:
 Skinless Split Urad Dal : 1 cup
Steamed Wheat flour: 1 cup 
Regular Wheat Flour: 1 cup + as needed 

Salt: as per taste
Onion: 1/2- 1 cup minced
Green Chillies: 1-2 minced  (as per taste)
Fennel Seeds: 1 tbsp
Curry Leaves: few chopped finely

Water: just little as needed to form a dough
Oil: for deep frying

Preparation:
Soak the dal in enough water for 6 hours or overnight. 

Mix together drained dal and all the other ingredients except oil with just enough water to form a little tight dough. You can take regular wheat flour and steam it or use wheat puttu flour available in market.Steaming regular wheat flour may involve extra steps and time and I went for the wheat puttu flour which is already steamed, sifted and ready to use.

Divide the dough into small balls - it comes around 60 or more. And flatten each piece into a thin circle. This is the traditional way of making them. 

Else divide the dough into half or quarter. And roll out each piece into a rectangle as thin as possible.The dough is little drier compared to the Indian medu vadai. Use cookie cutters and cut the dough into circles. This was the technique I followed as it gave same shape and thinness to most of the pieces. Thinner the vadas crunchier they are.

While the vadas are getting ready, heat the oil for deep frying. Once the vadais are ready make sure they don't sit out a long time before frying. 

Deep fry the vadai few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with your choice of dip/chutney.



The texture is very crunchy ie the thinner you roll out/flatten crunchier they will be. The texture is similar to thattai vadai  for those who are familiar with the Tamil cuisine. 

If slightly thick in width then they turn softer after sometime. Both ways they tasted perfect with a cuppa.

Friday, January 16, 2015

NeujahrsPretzel - New Years Pretzel | Baking Partners Jan 2015

New Year is celebrated across the world in different ways. Each country has its own traditions or otherwise People even add their own twist which inturn becomes a new ritual/tradition. The idea of celebration is bring together people or family and friends. Celebrating with family and friends definitely enhances our moods and then makes us positive as the the new year dawns. This definitely brings good luck and happiness throughout the year. 

Different traditions are associated with New Year and each one is supposed to bring good luck to our lives. This includes even in some food items consumed during the beginning of the new year or rather even as the clock strikes 12. One of them is New Year Pretzels.These are a speciality in Germany and are supposed to bring goodluck and prosperity if consumed at midnight or before breakfast on New Years' Day. 

In Germany or other German speaking and even other pretzel baking areas, on Jan 1st lightly sweetened yeasted pretzel is gifted among friends and family for good fortune. Sometimes young kids visits grandparents to get their share of pretzels. In fact pretzel is supposed to have got the shape from the German monks who used to pray for peace and prosperity. Whatever the story behind the bread, the New Years pretzels are the perfect option to snack on when you come tired after the celebrations and even during the celebrations

This time around for Baking Partners yours truly got the chance to choose the recipe thanks to Swathy. And yup the breads came wonderful and perfect. I went for one fourth (quarter) of the recipe adapted from  Pittsburgh Magazine given below. 

Ingredients:

Warm Milk: 1 ½ cups

Sugar: ½ cup

Butter: ½ cup


Warm Water: ½ cup

Yeast: 1 tbsp yeast (along with 1 tsp of sugar)


Bread Flour/ Apf: 6-7 cups

(You can make your own bread flour by adding 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of all purpose flour.)


Salt: 1 tbsp


Egg: 2 OR Ener G Egg = 1 tbsp EnerG + 6-8  tbsp of water


Icing:

Confectioners Sugar: 2.5 cups

Almond/Vanilla extract: 1 tsp

Water : as much as needed


Garnishing:

Toasted Sliced Almonds

Candied cherrries


Confectioners/Powdered Sugar


Preparation:

In a bowl mix together warm milk, sugar and butter and stir until the butter and sugar are dissolved.


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In another bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with few sugar grains. and let it sit until foamy.



I didn’t have bread flour and added vital wheat gluten to my all purpose flour. In the small steel plate in the pic is vital wheat gluten ready to be mixed in.



To the milk bowl, add in the 5 cups of flour, salt, yeast mix and egg .


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Mix until you get a soft batter. Add in more flour ½ cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Continue knead until the  dough leaves the sides of the bowl.


Take the dough onto a floured counter and knead it to form a smooth ball.

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Put it into a greased bowl and let it rise until doubled in size.


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Turn onto the counter, divide into half.


Roll each half into a long rope and shape into a pretzel.



You can refer this video for shaping the pretzel.


Lay the pretzel into a parchment lined baking sheet and let it rise for another hour,


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I made one big pretzel with one half of the dough. Other half I divided into smaller pieces and made smaller pretzels.


Bake in a preheated oven at 375F/175C for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

The bigger pretzel came out like this


The smaller one ..

Garnish with powdered sugar.



Else mix together the confectioners sugar with vanilla/almond extract with as much water as needed to get a spreadable icing. Pour the icing over the bread and decorate with toasted almonds and candied cherries.



The bread is soft and light right out of the oven. It is similar to any soft sandwich bread that we make or buy. But once you decorate then it looks regal.. Its all the love and hope and positive that makes the simple pretzel superb centre piece in the New Year menu and gives a p
erfect start for the New Year .

Lets hop across to Swathi's and check what other partners baked for New Year.



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