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Monday, June 18, 2018

Chakka Jam | Chakkapazham Jam | Jackfruit(ripe) Jam (Step by Step Pics)

Chakka season is almost to an end this year and unfortunately couldn't munch much of this fruit except for three or four good ones. Some of the jackfruits are still getting mature and will be ready only in another two months. However,its a known fact that this fruit doesn't taste sweet once rain starts. And so I feel no much chances of getting good ripe ones anymore this year. Last year we had plenty of jackfruit in both homes and so I tried lot of chakka recipes. This is definitely a keeper recipe and this is my trial and error version of my own jams. Came out really good but that jam has predominant flavors of chakka aka jackfruit. The color of the jam is similar to mango jam. And I made a big batch of this jam and I could send a batch to my sis and home too.However, in my next trial I would definitely go about adding a citrus touch to this sweet jam. Oranges may pair well with this jam and I would prefer adding them to this sweet jam to break the sweet flavor slightly. Otherwise this is a perfect jam for all and you need only very less sugar as chakka(jackfruit) itself is very sweet. Do try out if you still get hold of good jackfruit and preserve all the year.

Preparation time~ 20 minutes
Cooking time ~ 45 minutes
Serves ~ 3 jam bottles
chakka/chakkapazham /ripe jackfruit chopped 6 cups or 850 gms
sugar 400 gms
citric acid 1/2 tsp or lemon juice of 2 lemon

  • Clean and deseed the jackfruit seeds. Cut the jackfruit in small pieces and cook the jackfruit in a cooker. Add half cup water and cook for three whistles.
  • Cool the cooked jackfruit and puree the jackfruit in a blender.
  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and add the sugar with 1/4 cup water. Bring this to *one string consistency and then lower the flame. Now, add the pureed jackfruit and mix well. Keep the flame low and keep the pan covered as the liquid splatters all around if you keep the flame on high. In between uncover the lid and give a quick stir as there are chances of the mixture getting struck to the bottom of the pan and get burnt.

  • After about 30 minutes of stir in between, the mixture is reduced considerably and splashes are reduced as the water content is reduced.
  • Now keep stirring continously using a long handle spoon for another 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice at this point or citric acid if using. The jam can be tested by placing a dropful on a plate and wait to cool. When this gets cooled down,tilt the plate to see if the drop of jam rolls down. If it stays there then jam is ready.
  • Switch off flame and leave to cool completely. Store in air tight glass bottles in refrigerator. Remove as much needed each time,bring to room temperature and use.

* Use long handle wooden spoon to mix the jam and stir. There is enough heat transferred to the hands and jam making is a long process so constant stirring needs a lighter spoon or else you may land up with sore hands.
* One string conisistency or oru nool pakam is when the sugar syrup consistency is thick and when you take a drop in between your thumb and index finger,then a string like consistency is formed.
* If you are making a small batch then adjust the ratio of sugar and jackfruit accordingly. I took in the ratio 2: 1(jackfruit : sugar).
* Also depending on the sweetness of jackfruit,add more sugar if needed. The ones I used tasted like honey so had to use less sugar.

Check out more chakkapazham(ripe jackfruit) recipes here-
* Chakka Kumbilappam
* Chakka Ada
* Chakka Varetti
* Chakka Unniyappam 

For more homemade jams,click this link here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Vazhapindi (Vazhakambu) Achar | Banana Stem Pickle

Vazhapindi (vazhakambu) or banana stem has many health benefits.The popular health benefits include ample amount of fiber, increases production of hemoglobin, and acts as a diuretic thereby prevents constipation,treats anemia and prevents urinary tract infections. Today's recipe is a pickle recipe with vazhapindi(banana stem) which may not yield all the benefits of vazhapindi(banana stem). But for a change,you can give this a try. I have already posted a stir fry recipe with vazhapindi(banana stem) thoran which is a much healthier version. This is quite simple to make and the only work is removing of the strings that can be pulled while cutting. This was liked by many of my friends and there was a big demand for this pickle in my lunch pack.The flavor is regular like any other pickle but there is something unique about this pickle. Try and enjoy !

Preparation time~ 20 minutes
Cooking time ~20 minutes
Serves ~ a small bottle
Author ~ Julie
banana stem / vazhapindi 2 cups cut in 1" or 3/4"
ginger 1 tbsp chopped
garlic 1 tbsp chopped
asafoetida / kayam podi 1/2 tsp
uluva podi/ fenugreek powder 1/2 tsp
chilli powder 4 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
gingelly oil 3 tbsp
mustard seeds 1 tsp
curry leaves 2 sprig
vinegar 2 tsp (optional)

How did I prepare ?

  • Wash the banana stem (vazhapindi) and use only the core of the banana stem (vazhapindi).The other flaps around can be discarded(see pic below). Cut the banana stem(vazhapindi) roundels in 2" length. Remove the strings using fingers and then slice or chop the banana stem in medium thick vertical strips(it shrinks on frying so its better to keep slightly bigger pieces). Keep aside.

  • Heat oil in a pan and add gingelly oil. Add the chopped banana stem(vazhapindi) and saute for 5 minutes until the banana stem leaves out water and shrinks. Keep stirring until the water content is completely dried up and the banana stem(vazhapindi)  looks slightly fried (read notes).
  • Drain the banana stems in a plate and keep aside.
  • Splutter mustard seeds, curry leaves. Add in ginger and garlic chopped. Saute until raw smell disappears.
  • Add in the spice powders and salt on low flame, saute. Add in the banana stems(vazhapindi)  and mix well.
  • Switch off flame and when it's warm,add the vinegar. Give a quick stir and leave to cool completely. Store in clean dry glass bottles.
For more homemade pickle recipes, check this link here

* Don't over do the step of frying or else the banana stem becomes soft once its mixed as pickle but if you are making a big batch this should be done to increase the shelf life of the pickle (if you are making a small batch then you can fry the banana stem very lightly and leave it slightly crunchy.There will be oozing from the banana stem and make it slightly watery but that's fine).
* Adding vinegar is optional for smaller batches,I generally don't add or add 2 tsp of lemon juice. If making a larger batch you should definitely use vinegar. But at home I generally making small baches that empties within two weeks and so go by the natural way of adding lemon juice. Also refrigerate the bottle, only scoop out as much needed each time and keep the bottle back in fridge.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kappa Stew (Step By Step Pics) | Tapioca Curry

Tapioca aka Kappa was a staple food of Kerala and dates back to British era when tapioca was a substitute to rice. Nowadays, restaurants have come up with serving tapioca in the old fashioned style and back home its a rare vanishing entity. Diabetes has taken its toll on Keralites and the major culprit to blame first is tapioca(kappa). The local people of Kerala still use tapioca and enjoy with meen curry. Anyways not boring you guys with the known facts and figures.
Coming back to today's recipe-This is not a popular item with kappa that Iam posting. Tapioca stew is introduced recently In Kerala menu by some restaurants and has gained popularity. I was introduced to this dish by my good chechi at home. She first made this stew and I was like 'wow'! The very thought that came to me was something new to try on and blog of course,he he. Whenever I make kappa puzhukku and have few left overs, what do you do? I know what's going on your mind. I don't like wasting food by any chance, and so recreated the boiled tapioca in another delicious form. This tastes similar to the potato stew or any vegetable stew for that matter and pairswell with idiyappams and appms.I have made this a few times now and everyone loved the fiber packed stew. For a morning breakfast,kappa definitely is good to eat unlike dinner time. Try and enjoy making this at home for a change from the regular stew.

Preparation time~ 20 mins
Cooking time ~ 30 mins
Serves ~ 4-5 adults
tapioca / kappa cooked 2 cups
onion 1 medium sliced
ginger garlic crushed 1 tbsp
green chillies 2-3 vertical sliced
green peas 1/2 cup
whole garam masala - cloves 2-3,cinnamon 1' piece,whole pepper corn 1 tsp,bay leaf 1
garam masala 1/2 tsp
pepper powder 1/2 tsp
coconut milk (thin) 1.5 cups
coconut milk (thick) 1/2 cup
coconut oil 2 tbsp
curry leaves a sprig


  • Peel the hard flesh of tapioca(brown and the pink) with a knife. Cut the tapioca(kappa) in bite size pieces and wash under running water twice or thrice to remove soil or impurities.
  • Boil the tapioca in enough water. After the first boil,drain out the water and add enough water,boil again.Add salt as needed and cook the tapioca till tender. Drain the water completely and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the whole garam masala. Add in the crushed ginger garlic and saute till the raw smell disappears. Add in the sliced onions, green chillies and curry leaves, saute until golden brown.
  • Add in the green peas and cooked tapioca.Add in the spice powders listed on low flame. Pour in the thin coconut milk and let the mixture come to a boil. Let the mixture thicken,simmer for 5-7 mins. Mash a few to thicken the stew slightly and leave few others just like that.

  • Lower the flame and add in the thick coconut milk. When one or two boil appears at the sides of the pan, switch off flame.
  • Serve warm with idiyappam/ vellayappm/ kallappam. Enjoy !

* I have used frozen green peas. You can use dry green peas too, in that case soak a day before and cook separately in the cooker and then add.
* You can omit adding green peas too or add more vegetables like carrot or beans.

Check out more tapioca recipes-
* Kappa Vevichatha (Cooked Tapioca)
* Kappa Puzhukku (Puzhungiyathu)
* Kappa Chips (Tapioca Fries)
* Upperi Kappa Varuthathu (Kappa Podi)

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Panjipullu Puttu | Ragi (Finger Millet) Puttu | How to make Soft Ragi Puttu Podi from scratch ?

Ragi (panjipullu) as we all know, is a calcium rich non diary food product.Also it is a healthy source of iron which is perfect for growing age groups. Ragi is also a low glycemic food and is perfect for diabetics. Ragi keeps the body system warm and so rainy and winter days are perfect for consuming ragi. I have had bad experiences from the store brought popular brands of ragi flour in the past(once I got a plastic thread cut in several pieces in a pack). Its always better to sieve the store brought flour if you are using. Once I moved back to India,I started making my own batch of ragi puttu podi each time.I hardly store the podi for long as in that case you need to dry roast the flour very well and for making puttu the well roasted flour tends to make hard puttu whether that be using rice(ari) or any other whole grain. Puttu podi is always a mildly roasted podi.These days we get cleaned and washed panjipullu(ragi) seeds packet in super markets,so there is no hard work to clean the seeds from impurities.The only work left is soaking up the ragi and powdering.

(The puttu above is made by  mixing 1/4 cup rice flour to one cup ragi flour,though it came out good I feel 1/2 cup rice to 1 cup ragi flour works good for a more softer version)

Ragi is one such whole grain where all the three parts of the seed (bran,germ and endosperm) are powdered and used.The bran gets powdered at the end and if you are looking for a milder colour ragi flour,discard the bran(outer cover) whenever you feel the colour is deep brown during processing(powdering).  Ragi becomes rubbery and tends to stick in the mouth if you make puttu with ragi flour alone like oats puttu. And so ragi was a big 'no' when it comes to making puttu. I have tried all ways of making this ragi puttu flour and below mentioned is the right ratio of getting a soft delicious ragi puttu. I find making puttu is a rather easier way to sneak in ragi for kids.So I usually end up mixing one portion of homemade rice flour(puttu podi) which makes the texture right and tastes really good. Do check out mulayari puttu , barley puttu made from scratch too. I have also posted a few other puttu recipes like ethakka puttu, ari puttu and tricolor puttu, check these out if interested. Please go through the notes section for tips and tricks while making ragi puttu podi.

For Making Ragi Puttu podi
ragi(panjipullu) 1.5 cups

For making ragi puttu
Ragi puttu podi 1 cup
rice puttu podi 1/2 cup

  • Wash and soak panjipullu(ragi) for 4-5 hours in clear fresh water. Remove any impurities if you are buying loose pack.
  • Drain all water in a sieve and spread the ragi on a clean towel or layers of paper towel. The excess water is absorbed.Leave for 10 minutes.

  • Transfer half of the ragi to a mixer and grind to a smooth powder. Transfer the mix in a sieve(for getting puttu podi,the podi shouldn't be very smooth so use a sieve with slightly larger holes than the smooth ) and get the powder ready.
left side sieve used for idiyappam podi(softer podi), right side sieve used for puttu podi (coarse flour)
  • Transfer the remaining half powdered along with remaining ragi seeds left over to powder. Run the mixer until its powdered. Sieve in the similar way until you finish powdering the whole(read notes below).
  • Once you have the whole mix powdered, dry roast in a thick bottomed pan for 3-4 minutes on medium flame or until you see steam seeping through the flour upwards. Remember to stir using a long handle spoon so that the flour close to the flame is not burnt. Switch off flame and transfer the flour immediately to layers of paper towel and leave to cool completely. If you wish to store the puttu podi longer then deep roasting the flour (till there is no moisture present) is required. In that case the flour is more drier and needs more water to make puttu mixture. Ragi Puttu podi is ready to use(read notes).

  • Measure ragi flour 1 cup and rice flour 1/2 cup in a bowl.Add pinch of salt to taste.Start drizzling water in the flour as to get a crumbled flour texture. Keep adding water as required till you get the correct consistency. The right consistency is when you try making a small bowl of the flour by pressing in hand,it should form a ball. Leave covered for another 10 mins.

  • In the mean time,grate the coconut and keep ready. Fill the cooker with enough water,cover with lid without weight. Place on flame to boil.
  • Fill the puttu maker with coconut and then prepared podi. Alternate with layers of grated coconut and flour till you reach the top.Cover the lid and place this on the cooker and let it steam. Wait for 5 mins once the steam seeps out from the top.Remove on a plate by pushing through the base.Repeat the same step with remaining prepared puttu podi. Enjoy with bananas or kadala curry.

* One cup of ragi seeds powdered yields 3/4 cup of ragi flour.
 * For making ragi puttu podi, I have tried another tip which makes the ragi flour even better i.e. when you sieve the ragi the first time after powdering, I usually sieve it in a sieve where you get smooth powder. Then change the sieve to the one with bigger holes for puttu podi thereafter. That means the first time sieving use the smooth powder sieve and thereafter switch to the regular puttu podi sieve.
* If you don't wish to have the bran part of the seed, then discard the remaining left over half powdered ragi after first two sieves. The bran tends to get powdered towards the end. In that case the ragi flour will be lighter in colour and more softer flour.
* The flour usually is light in colour once powdered but once you start roasting, the colour tends to become deep brown like cocoa powder.
* Also,it is best to prepare the puttu podi the previous day before making puttu so that mild steaming is good and this also helps to get a softer puttu. If you wish to store the puttu podi longer then deep roasting the flour (till there is no moisture present) is required. In that case the flour is more drier and needs more water to make puttu mixture.
* The cheratta puttu is made with the proportion mentioned in the recipe and so you find a lighter colour of puttu compared to the other puttu. In the other puttu I used one cup of ragi flour to 1/4 cup of rice flour and so the colour is deeper. I found 1 cup of ragi flour to 1/2 cup of rice flour makes softer delicious puttu.

Check out more ragi (finger millet/ panjipullu) recipes-
Ragi Peechappam
Ragi Ela Ada
Ragi Idiyappam
Ragi Poori
Ragi Dosa(Instant)
Multi Grain Laddus

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Nithya Vazhuthana (Vazhuthananga) Mezhukuparetti | Clove Bean Stir Fry

How many of you agree to the fact that kitchen work never ends? Its a non stop process of one meal after the other. If you are a working female, then the kitchen is at rest for a while but back to action as soon as you step into the house. If you are at home, then there is no scope to remain idle and one or the other thing goes on. I have seen my mom, my MIL and my personal experience together supports this statement. And at the end of a busy working day in kitchen, if someone asks you what did keep you busy all throughout, I hardly have a few extra things to point out other than the regular cooking, cleaning. Do you also feel the same??

Clove beans are cultivated all throughout the year whether sun or rain.The malayalam name "nithyavazhuthananga" means the same,'every day brinjal'. Mom has a climber at home and I was lucky to pluck a few and bring home. I remember having this veggie once or twice as a kid. But right now, its an easy access as its ready hand at home. This stir fry tastes just like payaru mezhukuparetti or beans mezhukuparetti. Enjoy this yummy stir fry with rice and moru curry,simple and comforting !

Preparation time~ 20 minutes
Cooking time~ 20 minutes
Serves~ 4-5
nithya vazhuthana / clove bean 30-40 tender one or 250gm approx
shallots sliced 4-5
garlic crushed 2 tsp
pacha mulakku/ green chillies 2-3
manjal podi /turmeric powder 1/3tsp
thenga kothu /coconut sliced 1tbsp
curry leaves a sprig
salt to taste
oil(preferably coconut) 4tsp


  • Wash the nithya vazhuthananga under running water and then discard water. Cut them in halves and then quarters if slightly big.
  • Steam cook the cut nithya vazhuthanga with green chillies,salt and turmeric powder with few splashes of water for 5 mins.

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the thenga kothu,saute till slightly browned.Add in the  sliced shallots and garlic. saute until the raw smell disappears. Add in curry leaves,saute.Slide in the cooked nithya vazhuthananga(drain out water if any left).
  • Saute on medium low flame until it turns crisp and slightly browned. Add salt if needed. Serve warm with steamed rice and a curry.

*Use tender clove beans to make this stir fry or else snip off the white portion including the seeds and then use.