Happy Ganesh Chathurthi! Pulihora

Wish you all a very Happy Ganesh/Vinayaka Chathurthi.It is probably different time that each of us celebrate the Chavithi given that our time zones are different. Regardless, I hope you all get to make the Modakams/Undrallu.

As a kid, I loved going to temples.It is for the most part the Pulihora or the Dadhojanam that attracted me. So much for Spirituality!!The temple Pulihora has a unique flavor and I think it is almost impossible to achieve the same flavor when made at home.This is the closest I have gotten to the temple version.

Pulihora (పులిహోర)/புளியோடரை is a popular South Indian rice dish which is mostly served as Prasadam or Naivedyam in temples. The dish has distinct flavors of Sesame seeds, Peanuts and a tangy flavor from the Tamarind Pulp.
I have adapted this recipe from Cooking with Pedatha.

2 cups Uncooked Rice; I prefer Sona Masoori
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
4 tbsps Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts
Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida Powder
1 cup Thick Tamarind Pulp; I like to microwave a small ball of Tamarind with water for about 3 mins. Then set it aside for 10 min.Squeeze the ball which should be softer to make thick pulp.
1 tbsp Ghee
2 tbsps Oil

1st Tempering

1 tbsp Bengal Gram/Channa Dal
1 tbsp Urad Dal
1 tbsps Mustard Seeds
5 Red Chillies, halved or quartered
4 green chillies, vertically slit
8-10 curry leaves

2nd Tempering
1 tsp Chana dal
1 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

  • Boil the rice with turmeric powder until soft. Set aside to col down
  • Dry roast the Fenugreek seeds and Sesame seeds separately
  • Grind each of them into a fine powder, separately
  • Heat a tbsp of oil and add the chana dal.
  • Let the chana dal turn golden brown;Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop
  • Add the red chillies, green chillies and curry leaves
  • Fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the tamarind pulp, hing, fenugreek powder, sesame powder and simmer for about 6 min
  • Add the rice and salt.Combine them well.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the chana dal, urad Dal and Mustard seeds
  • Add the roasted peanuts
  • Stir in the ghee
  • Pour this over the tamarind rice.

Creme Brulee

I hope all those that were in the path of Irene are safe. There are newspapers reporting that Irene has caused much less damage than anticipated but to me Saturday night felt like an eternity. Perhaps, because hurricanes dont hit the NY-NJ-PA tristate area as much and my experience with hurricanes almost nil.
Power outages to flooding, of course, ruined the entire weekend...during Summer...Arrgghhh!

Recipe:Aida Mollenkamp

Creme Brulee

1 Vanilla Bean
2 cups Heavy Cream
2 Cups Half and Half
8 Large egg yolks
1/2 cup + 8 tsps Superfine sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Preheat the oven to 325F
  • Split the Vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the seeds with a paring knife.
  • Combine the cream, half and half, Vanilla seeds along with the pod in a saucepan.
  • Bring them to a simmer over medium heat
  • Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer to infuse the cream,about 10 min
  • Discard the Vanilla pod.
  • Remove the cream mixture and let it cool down
  • Whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and salt ina bowl until the sugar is well combined and completely dissolved; The mixture should be pale yellow and thick.
  • Whisk the Cream mixture into the egg mixture slowly.
  • Remove any bubbles on the surface with a spoon or a ladle
  • Pour the mixture into 8 ramekins evenly among them
  • Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and pour boiling water such that it comes half way through
  • Bake until the custards are set, about 40 to 45 min
  • Remove the ramekins and refrigerate them uncovered for about 2 hours.
  • Before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over the custard.Tilt and turn around the ramekins so that the sugar is evenly distributed
  • Turn on the broiler
  • Place the ramekins for a few minutes until it begins to turn into Amber color and a few black spots begin to form.
  • Refrigerate it until the crust is hard about half hr
  • Serve cold
Lessons learnt-

After sprinkling sugar and before caramelising the sugar, wipe the excess sugar on the rim of the ramekins. If not, the sugar crystals that are on the ridges also caramelize. There is nothing wrong with it but it does not give a clean look to the dish.


As the Summer is winding down, the urge to squeeze in 'just one more beach trip' or 'just one more Theme park visit' is rather high. It makes me sick to my stomach that Winter is fast approaching..The lazy evenings on the Patios, Beach hangouts, walks at dusk and outdoor food shops - I will miss them all.
I am not a frequent visitor to Farmer's market but my visit to Marche Jean Talon in Montreal, one of the city's open air food markets, made me fall in love with the Farmers Market and the local produce. Whether or not you make a purchase, it is just incredible to take a walk and immerse yourself in the smells of the fresh produce and cheeses.The market is lined with a wide array of chocolatiers, fromageries,bakeries and wine shops.We had a well crafted and a very tasty piece of Baklava from one of the shops.
Baklava is a middle eastern/Mediterranean layered sweet pastry. I have skimmed through the internet and could not find the origin of this sticky dessert. All along my impression was this was a Greek dessert but I could not find evidence on that.
It is made from Phyllo dough layered with nuts and spices soaked in honey syrup - The result is a crisp and a decadent diamond shaped pastry.

Recipe: Emeril Lagasse


1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 (1-inch) strip lemon zest
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground cardamom
Phyllo Dough:

1 pound walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 pound phyllo, thawed according to package instructions


  • Cook sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, cloves and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Stir occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved
  • Continue cooking until sugar forms a thick syrup
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks. Cool the syrup
  • Pulse the nuts in a food processor
  • Combine the nuts mixture, cinnamon and salt well
  • Melt the butter over low heat in a pan.
  • Butter a 13X9 inch baking dish Measure the thawed phyllo sheets. If the size is more than the baking dish, cut the dough to match the baking dish dimensions.
  • Cover the sheets with a damp cloth while working otherwise the sheets tend to dry out if left uncovered
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Working one sheet at a time, place a sheet on the bottom of the dish.
  • Brush with melted butter. Pastry brush works best while brushing the butter Repeat the procedure with 6 more sheets of phyllo for about 7 layers Then spread 3/4 cup of nut mixture evenly over the buttered phyllo sheets Repeat with 7 more sheets buttering each layer like before and spread the 3/4 nut mixture on top. Continue this process until all the sheets and the nut mixture have been used
  • Use a sharp knife, cut the prepared layers lengthwise such that there will be 5 equal strips.
  • Then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
  • Bake the Baklava until golden brown for about 40 min
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes
  • Using a cup, slowly pour the honey syrup over the warm baklava such that the entire baklava gets covered completely with the syrup
  • Let it stand for a few hours. Typically I would make this in the morning for serving in the night. I would say a good 8 - 9 hours will allow the baklava to absorb the flavors making it juicy.

Methi Baingan

Growing up, eggplant was the most cooked vegetable in my house. I can safely say that I have tasted most of the dishes that can possibly be made with Baingan, be it Eggplant chutney, Bagara Baingan or Baingan Bhartha or Vankaya karam (Eggplant with Redchillies) One of my favorites from my mom's kitchen is the Vankaya kothimeerakaram (Chinese eggplants simmered in Coriander gravy).
The combination of Methi and Eggplant sure is unusual but you have to trust me on this. The bitter methi leaves simmered in tangy tomato gravy with the crisp brinjals makes a perfect combination with rotis or rice.

Recipe:Sanjeev Kapoor

2 bunches Methi leaves, leaves separated and washed
12 small eggplants
2 Big Onions, chopped
4 green chillies, chopped
1/2 tsp Amchur powder or Chat masala
1 cup Gram Flour/Besan
Pinch of Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
2 tbsps Ginger garlic paste
3/4 cup Tomato Puree
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Garam Masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
oil to deep fry
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder(optional)
Coriander leaves to garnish
  • Slit the eggplants vertically by keeping the stem intact
  • Place them in a bowl of salt water and set aside.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan.
  • Add mustard seeds,chillies, onions, curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the methi leaves and stir fry for 5-8 min
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a few more min
  • Stir in the Cumin-coriander powder, red chilli powder and then add the tomato puree.Cook for a few minutes
  • Add salt, garam masala, turmeric powder and 1/3 cup water and cook for about 10 min until the gravy thickens.
  • In the mean time, make the besan batter by mixing the gram flour, baking soda, salt, redchilli powder, and amchur powder.Make sure that the batter is not very watery. 1 cup besan can take about 3/4 cup water give or take.
  • Heat the oil about 1 cup oil in a wok to deep fry
  • Dip the eggplants one by one in the besan batter and carefully immerse them in to the oil
  • Deep fry them and place them on a plate lined with a paper tissue to drain off any excess oil
  • Arrange them in a bowl and pour the gravy over the eggplants
  • Garnish with Coriander leaves
  • I loved it with roti.

Double Chocolate Brownies

Bertha Palmer, an American Socialite requested a chef in the Palmer house Hotel in Chicago to create a dessert that is less cakey and can be eaten straight from a lunch box (Source:Wikipedia).That is how brownies were created and the first brownies had Walnuts and Apricot Glaze in them.These are still being served in the Hotel based on the original recipe.
Chocolate Brownies are simple to make. One can always have variations tot he chocolate brownie by mixing things up. My favorite has to be the simple and the basic brownie.

Recipe:Joy of Baking

5oz semisweet chocolate chopped
1 stick(1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 cup fine sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Butter an 8 inch square pan and line with a parchment paper
  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl placed over a bowl of simmering water
  • Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat.
  • Mix in Sugar and the Cocoa Powder
  • Stir in the Vanilla extract.
  • Whisk in the eggs, one egg at a time, making sure they are well combined
  • Stir in the flour, Salt and the chocolate chips
  • Pour into the pan and bake for about 25- 30 min until a toothpick comes out with a few moist clumps
  • Do not over bake as it can become dry
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool down
  • Cut them into about 2 inch squares

Bobbatlu/Puran Poli

Bobbatu/Puran Poli is a sweet bread that is popular across India. The fillings could be made of chana dal, moong dal or toor dal. The most popular filling in Andhra is chana dal mixed with Jaggery. I did not have jaggery and so I substituted Sugar which is equally tasty.

1 cup Chana Dal/Bengal Gram
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 /1 4 tsp Cardamom powder
1/2 tsp Nutmeg Powder

1 1/2 cups Maida (All Purpose flour)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Ghee
1/2 cup water
  • Mix the flour with the water and ghee as needed to form a smooth dough.Cover it and set aside for 2 hours
  • In the meantime, cook chana dal with 2 cups of water. If you are not pressure cooking, use more water as needed until the dal should is soft but not mushy.
  • Mix the sugar,cardamom and nutmeg into the cooked Dal.
  • Transfer into a pan and cook until it starts leaving the edges of the pan and becomes a paste
  • Let it cool down
  • Divide the Chana Dal mixture into 8-10 balls.
  • Divide the dough into 8-10 balls as well.
  • Flatten a dough ball into a small circle; Place Chana Dal ball on the circle. Cover the ball with the dough edges and seal it covering the chana dal ball completely.
  • Roll into a 6 inch diameter circle.
  • Heat a tawa/nonstick pan
  • Cook the bobbattu on both sides using a tsp of ghee.
  • Cook till brown spots appear like a chapathi
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Mumbai Pulao

When I saw post on Supriya's blog, I knew I was going to make it.I am huge fan of tomatoes. There can never be enough of tomatoes in my kitchen and every dish has to have it. Of course exceptions always apply!!
Simple, can be made in a jiffy and delicious! and Oh..did I mention that can be made with left over rice!I used left over brown rice and white rice. I tweaked the recipe to match the ingredients in my kitchen.I like the nutty texture of the brown rice in the dish.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 big onion
  • 2 big tomatoes
  • ½ cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 Medium potato, peeled, cubed and boiled
  • 2 tsp pav bhaji masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ cup boiled peas
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Oil
  • Salt
Heat a tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds, ginger garlic paste,onions and cook till the onions become translucent.
Add the tomatoes and peas. Stir for a minute and cook until tomatoes become soft.
Add the potato and stir for a minute or so.
Add the Ketchup,Pav bhaji masala, turmeric, and chilli powder.
Add the rice and salt and combine it such that there are no lumps.The tomato mixture/gravy should be evenly distributed.
Garnish with coriander leaves


Also known as Piece Montee, Croquembouche is a delectable tower of pastry puffs filled with Pastry cream. The pastry cream could be of any flavor. I chose half Vanilla and half chocolate.Croquembouche (Kroh-Kuhm-BOOSH)means 'Crunch in the Mouth'.

The 70 Profiteroles are dipped in caramel that acts as glue and piled up high in the form of a Pyramid.The Caramel is then swirled around the pyramid so as to form a web.
Break the web with the back of a fork, and you can pull a pastry puff off from the "tree"!!Link
It would look like a Christmas tree, done right! It is not as hard as one might think but a little patience goes a long way in making this divine and ornamental masterpiece.

I have to give credit to my SIL, Siri who wrote 3/4s of the recipe as I was making the tower.!!

Courtesy:Food Network
For the cream fillings:

1/4-ounce packet unflavored gelatin (2.5 teaspoons)
4 cups whole milk
2 vanilla beans
12 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar (fine white variety)
6 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 1.5 bars of Ghiradelli chocolate)
1 tbsp powdered espresso
1.5 cups of heavy cream

For the pastry puffs:

10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1.5 tsp of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs

Note: Unfilled cups can be frozen for up to a week. To re-crisp, thaw, then brush with a beaten egg. Bake 5 minutes at 350 F.


3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup


1. Prepare the cream fillings: Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a bowl and set aside to bloom.
2. Place the milk in a pan. Halve the vanilla beans lengthwise; scrape out the seeds with a paring knife, then add the seeds and pods to the milk. Bring to simmer, then cover and remove from the heat.
3. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
4. Remove the vanilla pods from the milk. Gradually whisk one-third of the warm milk into the egg mixture.
5. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining milk in the pan. Cook cover medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, for about 6 minutes. Continue boiling until the mixture is custard-like, for about 3 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat. Slice the butter into pieces, and whisk into the custard, then stir in the gelatin mixture.
7. Microwave the chocolate until melted, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Mix 2 tbsps hot water with the espresso. Transfer half of the cream filling to a bowl, then stir in the chocolate and espresso.
8. Transfer the remaining cream filling to another bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate and vanilla creams and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours.
9. When ready to fill the puffs, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks with a mixer. Fold half into the vanilla cream filling and half into the chocolate filling.
10. Transfer each filling to a large pastry bag with a 1/4-inch tip and set aside. (To do this cleanly, cuff the open end of the pastry bag over your hand).
11. While the fillings chill, make the pastry puffs: Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bring 1.5 cups water, the butter, sugar and salt to a simmer in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring to melt the butter.
12. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste is shiny and pulls away from the pan, 6 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly.
13. Transfer the paste to a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed to cool, 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
14. Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch tip. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, dabbing a bit of dough under the corners to keep the paper in place. Pipe 1.5 inch balls of dough onto the paper. (about 48 total).
15. Smooth the dough peaks with a wet finger. Bake until puffed about 20 minutes and lower the temperature of the oven to 350F and bake until golden.
16.Turn off the oven and keep the puffs inside for 10 min.
17.Pierce each puff with a with a piping tip.And then transfer to a rack to cool down
18.Fill 2 pastry bags, one with Vanilla Cream and one with Chocolate cream.Insert the tip into the hole that was pierced and squeeze the cream until full. Fill half the puffs with Vanilla cream and the other half with chocolate cream. Fill all the puffs and refrigerate the puffs until well chilled.

Making the caramel-

-Combine sugar,corn syrup and 1 cup water and bring it to a boil over high heat.Do not stir.
-Then continue boiling until the syrup turns amber in color about 20 min
-Dip the bottom in ice cold water to stop the cooking
-Transfer the caramel into a measuring cup and cool down.Make sure it is still in a liquid state while it is cooled down
-Draw a 7 inch circle on a parchment paper with a pencil.Turn around the paper so that you can still see the circle but the pencil does not impart marks on the puffs
-Quickly dip each puff in the caramel and place them on the circle. Place more puffs on the circle as it builds a stable base.
-When the caramel hardens, melt it in the microwave
-Continue building the conical tower and top the tower with a single puff
- Place more parchment paper on the sides. The final step will be messy. Once the last step is done, you can take out the parchment paper
-Dip the tip of the fork in the caramel and quickly turn it around the Croquembouche in circles.It should be thready as you are doing it. But once it cools down, it hardens.
-Once you get the hang of it, you don't want to stop this. Atleast I did not want to.
-Do this to your heart's content:-)
- Once you are ready to eat, crack the tower with the back of a fork.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...