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Monday, August 31, 2020

Thena (Thinai) Pradhaman | Foxtail Payasam (Kheer) ~ Step by Step Pics

Wishing all my dear friends a Happy Onam !!
This year Onam in Kerala is a cautious and caring one in view of Covid -19 just like all other festivals that crossed so far. Anyways let's hope that things return to normalcy soon and we can move around more freely esp children. So we have no guests this year and so its a silent Onam like without much happenings except for the usual sadya.I made a small sadya for uthradam and thena pradhaman was the highlight of yesterday. Thena (foxtail millet) is a nutritious millet highly beneficial for diabetics. The magnesium in this millet helps to increase insulin secretion and thereby reducing sugar levels..An essential amino acid called 'lysine' is found in this millet which otherwise is not produced in the body. The high antioxidant activity flushes out acidity in the body. Thena is also rich in copper, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron mineral which helps boost immunity. It is rich in calcium and is easily digestible.

Let me be honest here, I was tasting thena pradhaman for the first time. I have prepared kanji earlier with this millet which is also healthy. Foxtail millet was introduced to me from the blogosphere. I saw many of my friends using many millets. The only millet I knew was finger millet or ragi until I started adding other millets to our staples. I use barnyard millet to make idlis and dosas. These days millets are easily available in super market aisles and can be bought.

Pradhaman and payasam are the highlight of any sadya. As far as my understanding goes, pradhaman is thick and rich and is double cooked unlike the payasam which is single cooked. Double cooked means cooking the grains or fruits first and then adding to make payasam. Payasams like vermicelli is made directly in the boiled milk. Coming back to today's pradhaman, tastes delicious and is rich in coconut milk flavors. The cooked thena looks and tastes similar to nuruku gothambu or mulayari pradhaman. The only tedious job that I felt when cooking the thena is that you need to remove the husk and then use. But if you get cleaned foxtail millet then this work is easier. If you get a chance to try this out, always go ahead and give this pradhaman a try and enjoy.

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 30 minutes
Author ~ Julie
Serves ~ 7-8 bowls
*thena (thinai/ foxtail) millet 2 cups (refer notes)
cherupayar / whole moong dal 1/4 cup
jaggery 2.5 cups grated
cardamom powder/ elakka podi 3/4 tsp
ghee 2tbsp + 1 tbsp
cashews 2tbsp
raisins 2 tbsp

Look for stones, sticks and other impurities in thena. Then add a tbsp of water to the thena and keep for 5 minutes. Add this thena to a blender jar and pulse 3-4 times till the husk is removed. Now transfer this to a plate or moram and shake to separate the husk and gently blew the husk portion. It may be easy to remove the husk then. If you still feel there are more husk then repeat the procedure by adding few drops of water and pulsing in blender. I referred this video here to remove the husk from thena. Though I took 2 cups of thena before cleaning and got only a cup after cleaning.Rinse the thena completely under running water thrice to remove any husk remaining and other dirt.

In another pan add the whole moong dal and fry roasted for two mins. Then add this to a blender jar and pulse 2-3 times till the dal look separated and outer skin is removed slightly. Rinse this dal under running waterfor 2-3 times till the outer skin is washed off.

Mix both dal and thena together, add to a cooker and add water 2.5 cups (each cup of thena needs 2 cups of water to cook). Pressure cook this for 2 whistles. Switch off flame.
In the meantime, dissolve the jaggery in a cup of water and strain the impurities. Keep aside. Similarly extract the coconut milk from grated coconut or if using canned coconut milk, then dilute the coconut milk accordingly and keep aside.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Now transfer the cooked mix to this and fry the cooked mix for 2 minutes. Then add the jaggery syrup and mix well. Let the jaggery syrup get reduced a bit  and then add the third coconut milk and cook on low flame. Stir in between and then continue too coo  till its reduced completely.At this point add the second coconut milk. Continue stirring at this point and make a point to stir at the bottom of the pan so that it doesnt;t stick to the bottom of the pan.

It may take 15-20 minutes to get the thick consistency. Add the chukku podi, cumin powder and elakka podi. Mix well without any lumps. Finally, add the first coconut milk and mix well. Wait till one or two bubbles appear at the surface and switch off flame.

In another pan, heat the 1tbsp ghee and fry the cashews and raisins. Pour this over the prepared pradhaman. Enjoy warm or cold as preferred. We love it at room temperature.

*If you are using cleaned foxtail millet then use only 1 cup for this measures.
*If you don't know, what's first second and third coconut milk then refer this post here.
* Refer this post here to make your own chukku podi and cumin powder.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Kootu Curry ~ Sadya Dish (Step By Step Pics)

Thiruvonam is on its way but I still don't feel much about Onam this year as mostly people are confined at home and haven't moved out much due to Covid-19 precautions. We too haven't done any shopping this Onam and are not planning to do at this time. This year's Good Friday, Vishu, Easter, Eid all went away the same way. We are just comforting on the thoughts that if the family is healthy and sound we can have a elaborate Onam any day when all meet together. I think many of my friends would also share the same thought, right? So let's celebrate this Onam safely at home with minimizing the outside visits thereby reducing exposure to corona and make innovative, improvised dishes if you don't have a particular veggie and come up with a new dish if it clicks in the family too. Also, try to add in pookalam with whatever flowers you have in your garden and enjoy the simplicity for the betterment of our family.

Many of the sadya dishes are already on the blog space but there is no dearth of recipes when it comes to try newer sadya dishes compared to the traditional recipes may that be varieties of payasam, pachadi or any other sides. Scrolling down my sadya dishes, I found that kootu curry has not been posted here so far. Kootu curry was new to me till I tasted this dish during one of our Onam sadya in US. Kootu curry mainly is made to the north of Kerala and down south its replaced with erissery. Erissery and kootu curry preparations are almost the same except the veggies and lentil combos differ. Erissery is made with pumpkin and vanpayar (cow peas) and kootu curry is made with black chickpeas, yam and raw plantain generally. Also, in erissery we don't add jaggery as such and the sweetness is mostly derived from the pumpkin. Kootu curry can be made with split bengal gram,yam and ash gourd combo. Kootu curry is a dry side dish and the fried coconut tempering gives it its unique flavors. 
The chickpeas is soaked overnight and then cooked in a pressure cooker. The plantain and yam pieces can be added together and cooked separately till done. Then the chickpeas, veggies are mixe together with coconut paste, spices,salt and jaggery Finally the curry is tempered and poured over the curry. Do give this a try and enjoy with your loved ones!!

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 25 minutes
Serves ~ 5-6
Author ~ Julie
chick peas 1 cup
yam / chena 3/4 cup
raw plantain / kaya 3/4 cup
coconut grated 1/2 cup
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp(optional)
chilly powder 3/4 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
*pepper powder(coarsely crushed) 1 tsp
jagerry powder/sharkara 2 tsp
salt to taste

for garnish
coconut grated 3 tbsp
dry red chillies 2 broken
curry leaves a sprig/ thandu
mustard seeds 3/4 tsp
coconut oil 1tbsp + 2 tsp

  • Soak the chick peas overnight, drain water and then cook the chickpeas with turmeric(1/4 tsp) and salt in a cooker upto 4-5 whistles. Reserve the cooked water for cooking veggies.

  • In the meantime, chop the yam and plantain in cube size pieces separately and add to a bowl of water. Also grind the cococnut with cumin seeds(jeerakam) to a fine paste with little water (don't add more water as you may have to dry up all the moisture at the end then).
  • Now add the plantain pieces to a thick bottomed pan and add the cooked chick peas water. Add remaining turmeric powder and cook the plantain pieces until 1/4 th cooked and add yam pieces(you can even add both veggies together and cook). Cook till both veggies are cooked well. Add in the cooked chickpeas to this.

  • Add coconut paste, coarse pepper powder, chilly powder and jaggery(add crushed jaggery piece, it will melt down in the heat and mix). Adjust salt if needed.

  • Mix well and dry up all the moisture well so that the kootu curry looks nicely coated with masala. 

  • Heat oil in another wok/ kadai to temper. Splutter mustard seeds when the oil is hot, then add curry leaves, red dry chillies and finally add grated coconut. Fry the coconut till light brown. Pour this over the kootu curry. Finally, pour 2 tsp of fresh coconut oil on top and keep covered for 20 minutes. Serve warm with steamed rice and other sides.

* Whole peppercorns when crushed and added to many of the traditional recipes gives a unique flavor unlike pepper powder, do try that way for authentic tastes. You can even add the crushed pepper corns while tempering, heat and then add to the curry. But I generally add crushed pepper to the cooking mix.
* Kootu curry can also be made with the combination of split bengal gram,yam and ash gourd. 
* Final addition of coconut oil on top after tempering is optional but that definitely adds a unique flavor to sadya dishes.

Please refer this link here for more sadya recipes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Chocolate Syrup (Homemade)

Homemade Chocolate syrup is a simple recipe that you can make it in a jiffy and hardly takes any expertize. Tastewise, the recipe may not be a exact copy of the store brought one but almost similar. I wouldn't claim a complete replica of Hershey's chocolate syrup but definitely a better choice as it is free of prservatives. Initial lockdown days we hardly got these stuff in stores as people had stocked up homes with all of the baking stuffs. And that's the time I started thinking alternatives and this quite worked good.

We should definitely make these once in a while at home just to know the amount of sugar we feed our kids in the name of jams, squashes, spreads and syrups. Your eyes may pop out seeing the amount of sugar needed to make 3/4 cup syrup is about half cup of this empty calories. The ingredient list says malt extract, corn syrup, liquid glucose, cocoa solids, thickeners. I had made the Hershey's Almond spread and that's surely a keeper, do give that a try if you haven't. Chocolate Syrup is demanded by kids mostly on top of ice creams, pancakes, crepes. And my kids have liked the homemade version and am happy to have tried. 

Preparation time ~ 2 minutes
Cooking time ~ 10 minutes
Author~ Julie
Serves ~ 3/4 cup syrup
*cocoa powder 3 tbsp or 4 tbsp
granulated sugar 1/2 cup
vanilla extract 1 tsp
water 1 cup
salt a pinch


  • Mix the cocoa powder in another 2 tbsp of water without lumps.
  • Heat the remaining water with sugar, let it come a boil on medium flame.
  • Add in the cocoa paste and cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes until its considerably thick like store brought chocolate syrup.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt, mix well just before ending. Switch off flame and cool completely before storing in bottles. (I preserve in refrigerator)
* Adding 3 tbsp yields the exact store brought flavor of chocolate syrup. If you are looking for a bitter sweet chocolate syrup then go ahead and add a tbsp more.
* Use good quality cocoa powder, I used Hershey's cocoa powder.
* Adding salt enhances the sweetness.
* If you love more vanilla flavors then go ahead and add more vanilla extract.
* The ingredients listed in store brought chocolate syrup also has corn syrup in it which adds to the thickening. I tried adding a tsp of corn flour when I made once to get the thickening but the thickening caused by corn syrup but the chocolaty flavor looks reduced a bit and so I felt this way its best to make without corn flour.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Ethakka Kumbilappam | Steamed Plantain Cones

Kumbilappam is a famous treat for Keralites made using vazhana ela or edana ela. The edana or vazhana ela has a special flavour or aroma, and this gets imparted to the appam as it gets steamed. Vazhana ela or Edana Ela is popularly called 'bay leaf' in English. Any regular kumbilappam is made of rice flour, jaggery, grated coconut, but there is always scope for trying this out with different fruits like jackfruit(chakka) or plantain (ethakka). I have already posted the recipe of chakka kumbilappam in my earlier post, please do check.

The making of kumbilappam is not a hard task, but the availability of the leaves to wrap or make cones is a concern. I have these leaves in my home and so get it whenever we go home and freeze them in ziplock covers, stays good more than six months. Thaw and clean the leaves to shape in cones once you take out from freezer. However, the aroma of fresh leaves reduces in the freeze up ones and fresh ones have a unique aroma of its own. These are a guilt free snack that can be made at home, oil free and filling too. This time I tried making these with some nadan ethakka (over ripe plantains) and it really tasted delicious. The dough of kumbilappam should be loose to get soft steamed ones. So don't add more rice flour to make the dough stiff. Also, the ratio of rice flour to plantains should be 1:2 to get the right texture. All loved to snack ethakka kumbilappam with a cup of tea, you can also try these in banana leaves or aluminium foil wraps if there is no scope for fresh leaves. Check the recipe below :) 

Preparation time ~ 15 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Author ~ Julie
Serves ~ 7-8 kumbilappam
ripe plantain / ethakka 3
rice flour / ari podi roasted 1 cup
cumin powder / jeeraka podi 1/2 tsp
cardamom powder / elakka podi 1/2 tsp
jaggery / sharkara 1/3 cup
water 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup
grated coconut 1/2 cup
salt, a good pinch

Watch on YouTube -

  • Wash and cut the plantain in half. Steam cook the plantain pieces nicely or steam for 8–9 minutes and then mash the plantains. If seeds are big, remove seeds by scooping it out and mash.
  • Melt the jaggery with 1/4 cup water, strain and keep aside.

  • In a bowl, add the grated coconut, rice flour, elakka podi (cardamom powder), roasted cumin powder and salt. To this add hot melted strained jaggery syrup. And prepare a dough with mashed plantain. The mix shouldn't be very tight, as the cooked kumbilappam will also turn hard and not soft. Add water (approx. 1/2- 3/4 cup) to make the dough, add as needed. The dough should not be like chapathi dough, much looser than that.
  • Check the sweetness of the dough, it should be sweeter than required, then only it will be perfectly sweet when steamed.Steaming reuces the sweetness.
  • Prepare the edana ela cones using tooth pick or coconut leaves stem (eerkil). Fill each cone with the prepared mixture and place in a steamer. Steam, cook for 8–10 minutes until done.
  • Remove from steamer and serve warm with tea, remove the leaf wrap and enjoy.

* Use fully ripe or over ripe plantain for best results.
* Use room temperature water to prepare dough and add as much as required.
* Always use rice flour to plantain in the ratio of 1:2 that is plantains should be more compared to rice flour. Then only kumbilappam will be soft.
* As we are kneading the rice flour not with hot water, it's recommended to add hot strained jaggery to the rice flour and mix.
* Check the sweetness of the dough, it should be sweeter than required, then only it will be perfectly sweet when steamed.Steaming reuces the sweetness.

* Ethakka Puffs (Sweet Puffs)