Unni Appam-Sweet rice dumplings

I can bet that almost all the south Indians would swear by the sweet unniappams or kuzhipaniyarams. It is flavorful dish made from rice and jaggery. Its made in almost all the important functions and a sadya is never complete without it. On Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami unniappam along with other sweets are made to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. My DH and son love it very much and sometimes crave for it. Interestingly, once when we were shopping at the cooperative store, they were selling mini banana cup cakes! I bought them as a eat-in-the-car snack while going back home... within minutes the box of 12 cupcakes was empty, all the while my son telling me "Amma that tastes like the brown round thing you make"... well who would have thought banana cupcakes could substitute for unniappams!!!!!
Yummy all the way!
The traditional method calls for soaking raw rice in water, drying it and then powdering it to make these sweet dumplings. My mom taught me an easy way to make these unniappams. You will also need a Kuzhipaniyaram pan to make these and that is easily available in the Indian shops.

Raw rice flour - 1 cup
Wheat Flour  - 2 tbsp
Banana (very ripe medium size) - 3 nos mashed
Jaggery (molasses) - 1.5 cup
Cardamom - 5-7 pods (remove skin and powder the pod)
Water - Just enough to make a paste not too thick or not too thin.
Oil/ ghee for deep frying

1. Place the jaggery in a pan and add 2-3 tbsp water. Let the jaggery melt. Once melted, switch off the stove and let it cool. Strain the jaggery liquid for any impurities. Set aside. 
2. Take a deep bowl and add rice flour, wheat flour, mashed banana, jaggery water, cardamom powder and mix well for consistency. Add water as required to get to the right consistency. Alternatively you can put all the ingredients into a mixer and add little by little water and bring it up to that consistency.

3. Place the kuzhipaniyaram bowl on the stove top and add oil up to 3/4ths to cover the cups. You can also use half and half of oil and ghee. Ghee will give an unique flavour to the dish.

4. Once the oil heats up fill the cups with the batter. Let it cook on medium heat until the appams cook through and get a brown colour.

5. Pick the cooked appams using a spoon or a long sharp needle (similar to a knitting needle, you can get this too in any Indian shop) and strain the oil. 
Savor these appams hot or cold. They will stay good for upto 2-3 days if you can resist the temptation!! 

Back again!

Its been 2 years since I posted any recipe, and in the mean time many things have happened. The most important of which has been the move from Canada to India. It was a tough decision to leave the place that had been home for over 7 years. A place that was comfortable and most of all the huge circle of friends we miss everyday. The decision was made mainly for our parents who were at an age where they needed help in regular activities and with my kiddo ready for grade school we had to make the decision soon so as to make the transition easier for him too.

The past 1.5 years has been tough, negotiating the difference in attitude and approach to solving issues and having to travel frequently, overcrowding, making new friends and just being surrounded by people all the time.

Now that I have sort of settled, I decided it was time to revive my blog. My love for cooking has not waned but being in India i now crave for the variety of cheeses, and foods i would get in Canada. Not just that, to have local, regional and Indian restaurants at every nook and corner of the city makes it easier to order in or eat from outside at the drop of a hat. I hope to try various regional cuisines from different parts of India. I have also started to bake a lot as there is not much variety in bakery food.

So you will see all these in my future blog posts! 

Tomato Rice

In tambram households kalanda sadam or pre-mixed rice is a regular affair. Of the various kalanda sadams such as puliogara, ven pongal, lemon rice, curd rice, tomato rice is a very tasty way to start off lunch. At my home its usually a lunch box recipe which my husband enjoys very much.

Rice - cooked and fluffed - 2 cups
Tomato  - 2 large
Green chillis - 2 nos diced
Turmeric - 0.25 tsp
Sugar - 0.5 tsp
Salt to taste

Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp

Curry Leaves - 6-7 shredded
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp (finely chopped)

  1. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Cool. Peel the skin and puree.
  2. In a pan add oil and the tempering ingredients and when the chana dal turns golden brown, add the pureed tomato.
  3. Add chopped chillis, coriander leaves. Cook the tomato puree until oil floats on top.
  4. Add sugar, salt and turmeric mix well.
  5. Remove from flame. Add the cooked rice. Mix until well coated.
Garnish and serve warm.

Arachu kalakki

Arachu Kalakki is a type of kadi that can be made in a jiffy. The name itself means arachu - grind kalakki -mix. So its just grind and mix to make this dish which gets done within 10 minutes.  My mom in law used to make this quickie whenever we had very little time to make dinner. In Tambram households one can always find baby mango (whole) pickles (vadu-mangai), usually home made when in season. My mom used to make mango pickle during summer when women carrying big baskets of baby mangoes used to sell them door to door. These will be washed, measured and salt added proportionately, and placed in big "Bharanis" and left to marinade. It will be a week or more before you can taste the pickle. Chillis and other spices are added to make chilli mango pickle.

The glory of mango pickle is exalted in this saying which i have heard my amma say "matha ootatha sadam mangai ootum" meaning even if your mother does not feed with her own hands, if you have mango pickle you will eat the rice.

So why did I say so much about the mango pickle in a blog post for arachu kalakki? Well pickle is the important ingredient in this dish. If you do not have baby mango pickle, you can use amla(gooseberry) pickle too. On our recent trip to India I picked up a couple of bottles of vadu mangai pickles. But they were so very spicy that we could not even take a bite without downing a couple of glasses of water, so I set them aside for the arachu kalakki.

Vadu Mangai -- 3-4 baby mangoes with some gravy
Coconut flakes - 5 tbsp
Asafeteida(hing) - 1/4 tsp
Cumin (Jeeragam) - 1/2 tsp
Red chillis - 1-2 (optional- depends on the spicyness of the pickle)
Salt (optional again depends on the pickle)
Yogurt (preferably sour) - 4 tbsp
Water as needed

Cooking oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 0.5 tsp

Curry leaves - 5-6 leaves shredded

  1. Grind together all the items under ingredients to a smooth paste by adding required quantity of water. Taste test and add salt or chillis as needed and grind again.
  2. In a saucepan pour the grind and add water to bring it up to desired consistency. Put on medium flame.
  3. Once the liquid starts to froth, remove from heat. Do not boil as the yogurt and water will separate. Add the garnish.
  4. Prepare the tempering and pour over the grind.
Arachu kalakki is ready and is best eaten with rice and idiyappams.

Hara- Bhara Kebab

The first time I ate this kebab was at a restaurant in the middle east. My husband ordered this and said its very tasty, lets try it. We wait for 15 min and the appetisers are in front of us. I take a look and say, its looks like a normal cutlet and take a bite. "Ummm..." thats all i was saying for the next 10 minutes between bites. The next thing my husband knew was i was polishing off the shared platter..:))
Well now a days I make it quite frequently as my kiddo too loves to snack on something in the late afternoons after school. To its credit this kebab is very healthy needing very little oil and having as much green veggies as you can find.

I am submitting this to Priya's December roundup of Cooking With Seeds - Peas. This is the first time I am participating in a cooking event and I am very excited about it.

Potatoes - 2 nos cubed and boiled until tender
Green peas (fresh/ frozen) - 1 cup (boiled in salted water)
Spinach (chopped) - 1 cup packed
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 tsp (grated)
Green chilly paste - 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Chaat masala- 2 tsp
Cooking oil - for shallow frying
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

  1. In a kadai add 1 tbsp oil. Add the chopped spinach leaves. Saute for a few minutes until wilted.
  2. In a mixer, add the spinach, 2 tbsp boiled green peas, coriander leaves, chilly paste and ginger and grind to a thick paste.
  3. In a bowl, add the potatoes and partly mash them. Add the grind green mixture and mix well.
  4. Add the rest of the peas, salt and chaat masala, mix well cover and set aside in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. In a pan add some oil for shallow frying. In a separate bowl mix the cornflour in some water to from a thin paste.
  6. Make patties out of the peas- potato mixture, dip in cornflour and shallow fry until golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with tomato chutney for a that yummy taste.

Couscous Upma

Couscous is a Moroccan pasta made from semolina, watered and rolled into small pellets, dried and seived to an acceptable size. The boxed couscous that we get here cooks very quickly and has high nutrition value with high vitamin and low fat content.

I made a quickie upma out of it and it turned out to be delicious and light, a perfect way to start the day.

Couscous - 2 cups
Water - as per the instructions in the box (usually 1.5 times that of couscous)
Mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes) - 1 cup (chopped finely)
Salt to taste
Hing (asofeteida/peringayam) - a pinch

Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Red chillis (dry) - 1-2 nos crushed

Green onions - 2 nos sliced
Curry leaves - 6-7 leaves shredded

The Method
  1. In a pan add oil and prepare the tempering. Once the mustard crackles, add the vegetables, and saute for a few minutes in medium heat until partly cooked. 
  2. Add water and let it come to a boil. Add salt and asofeteida.  
  3. Add the couscous and cook as per the instructions in the couscous box.
  4. Fluff with fork and garnish with green onions and curry leaves. 
Mix and serve warm either as such or with lime pickle or tomato chutney for kiddies.