Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Carrot payasam / carrot kheer

No feast in India is complete without a dessert. In a typical Kerala sadya (feast), dessert takes on the form of payasam/kheer. Palada pradhaman, arguably, is the best dessert from my home state.
This year, for Onam, I wanted to try something different and that is how this carrot payasam took shape in my kitchen. Having tasted it a few times before, I relied on my taste buds and memory to recreate it.

What you need :
Carrot - 3, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
Milk - 3 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup *
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp (or 3 pods of cardamom)
Almonds - 8-10

Take 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of water in a pressure cooker. Add the carrots and almonds to it and cook until one whistle. Then reduce the flame to low and cook for another five minutes. Once the pressure settles, let it cool and then grind to a smooth paste. Set aside. Boil the remaining milk in a saucepan. Add sugar and cardamom. Once it boils, switch of heat and let it cool slightly. Add the carrot mixture to the slightly cooled milk and heat for a few minutes on low. Garnish with some slivered almonds.
This tastes great both warm and chilled. It is a quick and simple recipe to have on hand when a craving for something sweet strikes or when unexpected guests make an appearance.

Note : Do not add the carrot mixture to boiling hot milk as the milk may curdle. Also, do not boil the milk after adding the carrot puree to it.
* If you like your desserts  super sweet, you may need to add more than half a cup of sugar. I would suggest starting with half a cup and then, adding more if you feel it is required.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Olan - a Kerala sadya staple

A few months back, the blog turned eight, and as has been usual for a while now, this particular milestone went unnoticed. Around the same time, I also moved (AGAIN) back to the US of A and so, for the past few months, have been going through an almost endless cycle of packing, shipping, unpacking, and setting up house. I have cooked a lot of unconventional interesting food, but for some reason , I find that  though my drafts folder is crowded with pictures of my experiments, the task of sitting down and typing is something that I keep postponing until I forget how I made a particular dish.
Recently, I was asked for Onam sadya recipes and that is when I realized that there are a lot of simple must-haves in a traditional  Kerala feast that I have not posted here. Olan is one such dish. Easy to make, with a simple yet profound taste, this dish features on almost all sadyas (feasts). Peeled ash gourd is diced into thin squares and then cooked with black eyed beans, green chillies, salt and a dash of coconut milk to create this much loved dish.

What you need :
Ash gourd - peeled and cut into medium sized thin squares - 2 cups
Black eyed beans - 1/4 cup (either the red variety or the white can be used)
Green chilli - 2 or 3, slit lengthwise
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Coconut milk - 3 tbsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

Soak the beans in water for at least an hour. Cook until one whistle. The beans should be cooked through but not mushy. Take the sliced ash gourd in a sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover the slices. Add the slit green chillies and salt. Cover and cook over a medium flame until just cooked. Add the cooked beans and boil for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk, if using. Stir well and switch off the heat. Add curry leaves and coconut oil. Do not stir at this time. Cover and keep aside for at least 10-15 minutes so that the aroma of the oil and the curry leaves blends into the dish. 

Mix well before serving.