Sunday, September 7, 2014

Broken Wheat Kheer | Wishing All A Prosperous & Healthy Onam

Today all Keralites across the world celebrate Onam, the ancient yet modern harvest festival. The festival brings to mind the colourful flowers, clothes and the prosperous or rich lunch or OnaSadya along with the myths associated with the festival. Not to mention the pookkalam or flower carpets.More details you can find with Google Guru.

My first memories of Onam starts with the lights decoration in Thriuvanathapuram. The four days of Onam were (still are) state holidays and my parents used to take me for long walks to see the light decorations near Rajbhavan or is it secretariat. We would start from home in a taxi or auto, go some distance and then walk. It was like a procession or peaceful march where people would walk or strut along watching the decorations. Then after the seventh day of Onam would come the float procession. Each and every district (and sometimes government agencies) in Kerala would make a presentation called float to show what they stand for or what is their USP. There was fierce competition here also and each would try to outdo the others and better themselves. This I used to watch on tv and for me it marks the end of the Onam celebrations of that year and back to the reality of routine school and life.

It was only later that Onam became associated with exam days or the First term exam or 'Ona pareeksha'. Nail biting days usually when I used to go to school in taxi and looking outside the streets dotted with pookkalams or flower carpets.These were done to invite the old just King Mahabali who will visit his people on Onam days.

While I never used to enjoy a sadya /traditional lunch at that time, these days I have started enjoying it. This happens when you are living with a person who loves and demands Kerala dishes for lunch and dinner if possible.Jokes apart, I tried a simple payasam or kheer and thought I would post it here today. Its simple and easy and cooks with 30-40 minutes. So if you can multitask you can get it done and ready along with your other dishes. The quantity is guestimates and feel free to change it as per your taste.


Broken wheat / dalia/ Sooji gothumbu : 1.5 cup
Water: 1 -2 cups needed to cook the broken wheat.

Jaggery syrup:1 -1.5 cup +/-

Medium thick Coconut milk  : 1-2 cups
Thick Coconut milk : 1 cup

Ghee: 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts & Raisins: handful each

Cardamom Powder: 1/4-1/2 tsp as per taste.

Cook the broken wheat in enough water and keep it aside. The water should be completely absorbed and if added more drain it away.

In a deep pan, add the jaggery syrup and bring it boil. add in the cooked broken wheat and stir it and let it cook in the jaggery for few minutes till it starts thickening absorbing the jaggery. Make sure you stir it periodically to prevent it sticking from the bottom of the pan. You can also add table spoon of ghee at this stage.

Add in the medium thick coconut milk or second extract of coconut milk and continue cooking on low heat. When this also starts thickening add in the thick or first extract of coconut milk and heat through but donot boil. Remove from heat and add it cashewnuts and raisins sauteed in ghee and cardamom powder.

Serve in bowls as a wonderful healthy dessert. Normally the colour of the payasam or kheer should be dark brown thanks to the jaggery available in Kerala. Mine is light in colour as I used different jaggery.

You can actually enhance the recipe by adding ingredients like nendrapazham or kerala banana sauteed in ghee and jaggery or whatever fruits u like and feel will enhance this. This can be made completely vegan by avoiding the ghee or using vegan substitutes for sauteeing the nuts and raisins. Otherwise also this is a healthy and perfect payasam in itself and hope you enjoy this payasam for Onam.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pane Bianco | We Knead to Bake August '14

I love baking breads and love it especially when I have to make it savoury.All the savoury ingredients kneaded into the dough or topped onto it makes it heavenly. Its ok when you roll it out fill it and bake it as a normal rectangle or round loaf / buns. I have tried crescent rolls as well.Thats the max I could go I used to think. Shaping a filled bread always gave me goosebumps.

 But when this month Aparna gave us a theme - savoury filled and differently shaped bread - instead of a recipe I decided to conquer this fear and tried out a bookmarked bread which I used to sigh at. In the end the bread turns out nice and a perfect snack and my confidence several notches up.

I had sourced the recipe for Pane Bianco from the usual source King Arthur Flour. This is an Italian bread where Pane means bread and Bianco stands for white. Apart from this I could not source out more details about this. And as usual I halved the recipe and tried it out. Also I went for roasted tomatoes and Italian seasoning instead of the sundried ones and granulated garlic used in the recipe. You can ofcourse follow the exact recipe.

All Purpose Flour: 3 cups
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp

Warm Water: 4 tbsp
Warm Milk: 1/2 cup + optional 1-2 tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 8 tsp
Egg: 1 or EnerG Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp + 3 tbsp water

Filling/ Stuffing:
Roasted Tomatoes: 2 -3 medium ones.
Italian Mixed cheeses: few tbsp -1/2 cup. I used a mix of mozzarella &parmesan
Fresh Basil: roughly 4 tbsp chiffonaded or torn
Italian seasoning: as per taste

Combine all ingredients - dry ones first and then add the wet ones. Mix and knead to form a smooth soft dough. 

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat and let it rise until doubled covered with a plastic wrap.

Meanwhile line the baking sheet with parchment/foil and optionally grease it.Keep the filling ready in separate bowls. 

Finely chop the tomatoes and keep aside. The recipe went for sundried tomatoes. I went for quick roasted tomatoes. I simply roasted quartered and deseeded tomatoes at 220C after sprikling them with salt, pepper and little sugar and  a drizzle of olive oil. This took around 20 minutes where they caramelized and the juices concetrated.

Gently deflate the dough and divide into half. Roll one piece into rectangle.I went for a thin rectangle so that there could be many layers. Spread the cheese onto the rectangle followed by seasoning, tomatoes and finally basil.

Starting with the longer side, roll the dough into a long log, pinch edges to seal.Place the log seam side down onto the lined sheet. Using shears, start 1/2" from one end and cut lengthwise down to the center about 1" deep to within 1/2" of the other end.Make sure you don't cut the bread fully.

Shape the log into an 's' shape or tuck in both the ends under/ at the sides of  the centre to form an '8'. Pinch the ends together to seal. Cover and let it rise until doubled for another 1 hour. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/ 175C for about 35-40 minutes , covering the bread with foil  -else the filling will burn- after 10-15 minutes.

Take out let it cool and serve sliced as a snack. You can go for mini sized versions for individual servings. 

It looks good when you bake a bread shaped with you initials , doesn't it? Enjoy the bread. Its quick and easy to make and texture similar to the loaf bread that we get her. You can play around with the flours if too much experimental and obviously the filling which you can make savoury or sweet. 

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