Archive for May, 2006

Sailu’s Sesame Rice ~ Nuvullu Annam

I keep a mental list of dishes I want to try. When I saw curry leaves by the bagful at a new little grocery near work, this sesame rice (nuvullu annam ~ learning languages, too!) from Sailu’s Food came straight to mind.

I followed the excellent recipe there word-for-word. I did remove the seeds from the chilies, and to my surprise, found myself craving just a little more heat in the finished dish. Maybe next time I’ll leave some seeds in…

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Curry Leaves Galore for Sesame Rice

Ingredients for sesame rice, clockwise from bottom: mustard seed, chana dal, and fresh chilies, red chili-coriander powder, sesame seeds toasted and coarsely ground, and curry leaves galore. All those curry leaves cost just $1.99!

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Proctor Silex Coffee Grinder

I cleaned out my old coffee grinder to make the powders. I have been using a food processor with only fair results, so I was thrilled with the way the little Proctor Silex worked. This will make it easier to grind fresh spices. What a difference in the taste.
fruit in ‘frances’ by central glass works, circa late 1920s

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Sailu's Sesame Rice

Sailu’s Delicious Sesame Rice on a bed of wilted spinach. Lovely, delicate aroma from all the fresh curry leaves and sesame, and the taste was even better. Thanks, Sailu, for the great recipe!

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Weekend Holiday

Off to Michigan, again ~ lucky me!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Looking forward to reading what everyone cooked up!

Some photos from past journeys (thanks to Priya, who showed me how to make them larger here).

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Traverse Bay Blues

Grand Traverse Bay ~ East Arm

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Sunrise Over Glen Lake

Sunrise over Glen Lake at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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Dunes at Lake Michigan

Dunes from the south

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Sumac at Sleeping Bear

Sumac at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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Long Way Down

It’s a long way down!

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Stuffed Brinjals

I am so proud of this one! I needed a couple of tries to get the tiny eggplants stuffed without breaking but oh, was it worth the effort.

Actually, this was one of the first dishes I tried after I discovered all the wonderful blogs out there. I forgot I had the photos until I was clearing my camera last night, so thought I’d put them up. Back then, I was very excited to find the small green eggplants in a local store, along with many other new veggies.

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Fresh Veggies

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Recipe I followed was from Indira’s Mahanandi . As Indira mentioned in that post, I had to throw away more than half the brinjals due to age; the remaining fruit cooked up beautifully tender. I think the peanut-sesame stuffing would have had a better texture had I used a small spice grinder rather than the food processor – but it still tasted delicious!

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stuffed brinjals

Stuffed Brinjals

Fairly obvious from the photo that I slipped a couple of times with the knife, cutting the eggplant. Ones that were not cut too deep spread open a little more as the stuffing was placed — definitely a job to do over a bowl to catch the extra that falls away.

stuffed brinjals cooking

Stuffed Brinjals Cooking

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Yum!

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Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Last summer I was fortunate enough to spend a week traveling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One of my favorite places was Seney National Wildlife Refuge, a fabulous spot for bird watching. Here I saw a loon for the first time.

Loon closeup

Loon at Seney NWR

Loon stretching at Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Loon stretching

Plant Life at Seney NWR

Plant life at Seney NWR

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Sweet Fried Upma ~ “Hasty Pudding”

“Last night, I didn’t get to sleep at all… ”

(from the song by the 5th Dimension)

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I couldn’t get that song out of my head early this morning. I had been up through the night. Finally came downstairs, fired up the machine, and read through every recipe link on my hotlist and then some. I wanted to follow Indira’s suggestion and make sweet pongal — all those raisins and cashews… jaggery… ghee… yum. But at 3 am I could not get inspired to work.

At daybreak the chorus of birds began to sing, calling the cats for breakfast. Kitties were happy with tuna treats, mixed with a little warm water to make tuna mush. Tuna mush does not appeal to me, but how about some nice warm cereal? MMmm…

New Englanders called it “hasty pudding” — cornmeal and water cooked into a pudding (or “mush”) over the fire. The leftovers could be chilled, sliced, and fried up the next day for breakfast. This is what I had in mind, but I wanted to try it with suji, and all those goodies in the sweet pongal. I did not really measure carefully, but tossed things in as I went along.

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3/4 c suji (cream of wheat)
1 c water
1/2 c milk, warmed
2 TB yogurt (at room temperature)

1 tsp ghee, plus more for frying

2 TB cashews, broken
2 TB golden raisins
4 cardamom pods, cracked and soaked in the warm milk
small lump jaggery
pinch salt

Warm milk in microwave or in dish of hot water. Let yogurt come to room temperature.

Crack cardamom and add to warm milk to soak.

Toast the suji slowly in a dry pan until the color changes and set aside.

Heat ghee, add cashews and raisins and cook a few minutes until warm and starting to turn golden. In the same pan, raise the heat, add water, milk, jaggery, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, whisk in yogurt, and return pan to burner over medium heat. Add the toasted suji in a thin, steady stream, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.

Stir until upma forms a ball around the spoon. Remove from the heat and continue to stir vigorously until well thickened — this will be thicker than for usual upma.

Remove thickened upma to a plate. Using the back of a spoon, shape into a log (it helps to wet the spoon). Allow to cool thoroughly.

When ready for breakfast, cut upma log into slices about 1/4″ thick. Heat ghee in frying pan and add upma slices. Cook slowly, about 5 minutes a side, until nicely browned.

Serve hot with fresh strawberries and a bit of yogurt, or with maple syrup a la “hasty pudding”.

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Sweet Upma with Strawberries and Yogurt

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More Lake Superior

Rainy night summertime dreaming…

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Agate Beach

Lake Superior Agates

Lake Superior Solitude

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Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach

Portions of New England are under water for the first time in many years. Coming on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, it somehow doesn’t seem so terribly bad here, but the dreary skies and rain did seem endless. After a time it dampened my spirits a little.

This evening, the sun finally showed its face, and I feel like cooking again. So while the ground takes a breather and tries to soak up some of the wet, I am cooking dal the slow, simmering way. I don’t know if anyone else would agree, but to me some of the dals ~ notably washed moong and the split val dal ~ have the fragrance of spring.

The pot bubbles cheerily on the stove. The fresh, delicious scent seems to bring the sunshine in. It fills the house and draws my senses eagerly back from the dull days of storm.

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Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach

2/3 c washed moong dal, rinsed and soaked at least 1 hour

1 tsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves

1 healthy TB garlic paste
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 green chiles, slit

1/4 tsp methi powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch asafoetida
pinch salt

3 c spinach

2 c water

1/4 tsp tamarind extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the ghee and toast the cumin, mustard and curry leaves. Add the garlic paste, onion, and green chile. Saute over medium heat until onion begins to wilt.

Add the methi powder, turmeric, asafoetida, and salt. Cook a few minutes longer, stirring, then add the rinsed and drained dal. Stir this about for a few minutes until the dal is well coated with the spices, then add the spinach and allow it to wilt in the hot dal mixture.

Add 2 cups water, stir well, and cover tightly. Simmer 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, the dal should be tender but still holding its shape. Remove the cover and add the tamarind extract. Stir well, and allow to cook down to desired consistency.

Correct the seasoning (add salt and/or chile powder if desired). I was pleasantly surprised with the result ~ tasted great with fresh, hot rice!

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Slow-Cooked Moong Dal with Spinach
slow-cooked moong dal with spinach in a ‘colonial’, aka ‘knife-and-fork’ bowl by hocking glass, circa 1934

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I found the blog world this winter through my search for authentic dal recipes. Since then I have read and learned so much about dal, and Indian home-cooking in general, that I felt confident enough to once more try something without peeking at a cookbook or blog. Thanks to all of you who inspire by giving so freely of your talent and creativity!

There are many great recipes out there ~ for dals I am particularly inspired by Priya’s lovely collection at Sugar and Spice.

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Comments (5)

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