Sunday, April 24, 2011

#100 Celebrating my One Hundredth Post with a Vishu Sadya!!!

I am on my one hundredth post today!! Yay...I must pat myself on the back because it gives me so much satisfaction in sharing my kitchen experiences with the world.  I just did not get to post my Vishu Sadya until now since procrastination has got the better of me these days:(
Let me remind you that I am celebrating my one hundredth recipe post on a pretty big scale....  with a belated Vishu Sadya.... A very Happy Vishu(belated) to all those who celebrated it!!   Vishu is one of the Grandest celebrations in Kerala .  I will be posting about 3 recipes from the Sadya due to limited space and time.
You're probably wondering what all the excitement is about? Well, here's why......
Vishu is the New Year and is celebrated as the harvest festival of Kerala. Kolla Varsham is the calendar followed by Malayalees and Vishu falls on the first day of Kolla Varsham. In 2011 Vishu was on April 14th.
Vishu kani has great significance on this day. In each household family members prepare a large bronze pot called the “uruli” and fill it with Konna(yellow flowers), betel nut, raw rice, lemon, cucumber, bananas and coconut. This signifies the Vishukani and is placed in the pooja room for darshan early in the morning. I still remember my Grandma walking my cousins and I at the break of dawn, with our eyes shut.. to the pooja room so that the first thing we see when we open our eyes is the Vishukani, the lit brass nilavilakku or metal lamp in front of Lord Krishna.  For many years, when my daughters were young I continued  this ritual so that they get to experience Vishu in the US and the first thing they saw when they open their eyes was the sight of the Vishukani. I am glad I instilled this in them because around the first week of April, I usually get requests from both V and N about the menu for Vishu!LOL!. Of course, this year we had a wonderful time chopping vegetables together and setting up the table and enjoying the meal. Thanks girls!!

The Hindus of Kerala also celebrate Vishu by wearing Kodi Vastram(New Clothes) and visiting the temple.  The elders in the family distribute tokens of money to their children, family, and anyone employed by them so this is an eagerly awaited festival!! Reading verses from the Ramayanam is also considered very auspicious on Vishu and is said to bring good luck and blessings for the New Year.
The characteristic feature of Vishu is the feast. This my Vishu feast but on a much smaller scale(16 dishes- tand the chips were store bought :))  than the traditional feast .....
Now, talking about 'feasts'....... A vegetarian feast is served on fresh plantain leaves. The main attraction on  festivals, marriages, birthdays and special ocassions is the long lasting feast or “Sadya”. The Sadya includes many courses of vegetarian dishes served with rice. Traditionally the pink colored parboiled rice is served  along with about 13 to 25 dishes the number can get higher sometimes. The most common Sadya dishes are
Rice, Sambhar, Parippu, Rasam, Pulissery, Aviyal, Thoran, Inji Curry, Erissery, Kaalan, Olan, Pachadi, Kichadi, Pappadam, Lemon pickle, cut mango pickle, Upperi, Sharkara Varatti, Pazham, Buttermilk, Payasam and Prathaman. As you can see I have made a much smaller version since I had to do it on my own with a little help from R, V and N.  All curries are made of different flavors, sweet mango, jaggery, tamarind, a variety of vegetables and fruits and coconut milk to include equal portions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter tastes for a party in your mouth . In addition to crispy crunchies like pappadam, Upperi and Sharkara Varatti, there is the Payasam, Banana and Prathaman that fall under the “dessert” category.
It is very interesting to note that there is a specific place to serve each dish on the plantain leaf. The pickles are served on the top left corner of the narrow part of the leaf and banana on its lower half. Always the right-most dish is Aviyal or Erisseri.
The mound of rice to the left is the second course when Sambhar is served. the third and fourth courses may be Kalan, rasam, Buttermilk and sometimes Pulisseri
There is so much more to Kerala than spice and food---Kathakali –the temple dance, the elephant parade and boat festival are all feasts for the eyes.  I can find more than one reason for anybody to be enamoured by the  lush greenery and abundance of waterways in this little southern state of India-- The Periyar National Park, the Tiger reserve and the royal residences of the Maharajas of Travancore are just a few of the well preserved works of art from ancient history.

In her book Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts Ammini Ramachandran talks about ancient spice trade in Kerala and how it influences the culture and cuisine.  Just a few excerpts from her book and I was astonished at the depth of information she has covered to portray real life in Kerala. Born in a Nair family from Kerala, she moved to the US in the 1970s and is a freelance food writer, a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Association for the Study of Food and Society and Culinary Historians of New York. In her book she talks about how the abundance of black pepper and spices attracted the Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch and British from the west and the Southeast Asians and Chinese from the east to Kerala.  It was fascinating for me to know that trade between these countries resulted in the settlement of Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in this little state, which in turn is the reason for the integration of the different fruits, nuts, spices and vegetables into Kerala cuisine. We see how food is once again reflective of the many culture combinations of settlers.  What astonished me is that I found one of my Grandmother's recipes at Indira's wonderful website where she talks about my favorite recipe from Grains, Greens and Grated Coconuts.........
The Pacha Sambar used to  make a visit quite often to my Grandmothers' dining table and I loved the beautiful aroma when she simmered it slowly over the fire.  All this time I believed that this recipe originated  from her creative mind, although she always joked about it saying that this recipe was from her old Royal family roots in Palghat. Now I know she was serious about what she said. Recently I read about it's origins on Ammini's website where she talks about the Royal Family recipe of Pacha Sambar. Keep reading for  the Pacha Sambar entry that I hope to re-create in my kitchen soon!

Anyway, here are a few of my Sadya recipes from the feast and photos above..

Pumpkin- 1/2 lb
Green Chillies- 4 slit lengthwise
Coconut Milk- 1/2 cup
Curry Leaves- 1 sprig
Coconut Oil-1 tspn
Fresh Indian Long beans or black eyed-peas- 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

1. Cut the Pumpkin into small cubes that are about 1/4 inch thick.
2. If you are using Black-eyed peas, pressure cook them until about done.
3. If you are using fresh long beans cut then lengthwise about 1 inch long and cook.
4. Place the pumpkin in a pan with 1/2 cup water, salt and green chillies and cook until soft.
5. Add the cooked beans and let simmer until it boils. There should be barely any liquid left.
6. Turn the fire off and add the coconut milk, curry leaves and coconut oil and mix well.


Aviyal is the star of the feast and stands out from everything else on the leaf. It has a typical Kerala style thick and creamy mixture of a lot of vegetables(mostly drumsticks, eggplant, plaintain, snake gourds, elephant yam and others) This mixture is then seasoned with coconut, curd and curry leaves and is an essential part of the feast.  I find it easier to make aviyal with whatever vegetables I can find in the market right here.
I have not found fresh elephant yams in the stores so I eliminate that vegetable from my aviyal. I do substitute with vegetables like frozen drumsticks and snake gourd and combine fresh vegetables like
eggplant, carrots, cucumber, raw plantain, long runner beans, raw mangoes but I refuse to use potatoes or onion just because it does not give it the traditional taste. 

Eggplant- 1 Indian style
Raw Plantain-1
Long runner beans- 7
Raw mango-1
Green chillies- 5
Red Chilli powder- 1/4 tspn
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tspn
Freshly grated coconut- 1 cup
Yogurt- 1 cup
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tspn
Curry leaves- 3 sprigs
Salt and coconut oil to taste

1. Cut up all the washed vegetables after scraping the skins off of all the vegetables except the mango.
2. Keep aside the shallots and green chillies and make long sticks of the rest of the vegetables about 1-2 inches long and about 1/4 inch thick.
3. Keep them in spearate batches since each has a different cooking time.
4. In a food processor or blender make a course paste from the coconut, green chillies, cumin and shallots and keep aside.
5. Place a pan on the stove add about 1/4 cup of water and start cooking the raw plantain and long runner beans.
6. Add just enough salt and turmeric powder to start.
7. When half cooked, add the rest of the vegetables and the chilli powder and cook adding no water on a very low flame. The cucumber and eggplant will  give out its juices and create enough liquid to cook the vegetables.
8. Make sure you do not stir or disturb the vegetables(at the same time make sure not to burn them) since we do not want a mushy vegetable aviyal at the end.
9. On a low fire, cook the vegetables carefully for a few minutes and add the coarse coconut paste. Now, toss or mix gently to spread the paste.
10. At this time make sure the vegetables are just about cooked and keeping a lid on the pan allow the flavors to blend well.
11. Turn off the fire, add torn up curry leaves, coconut oil and gently fold in the yogurt at the end.
12. The aviyal is  now mixed really well to make sure the vegetables are not mushy but there is not any extra liquid at the bottom.

INJI CURRY- Hot, sweet and sour Ginger Chutney

Ginger Root- 2 cups(washed, skins scraped and cut into very thin slices)
Tamarind paste- 1 Tblspn
Water- 1 cup
Brown sugar or Jaggery- 1 tspn
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tspn
Asafoetida- 1 pinch
Methi Seeds- 1/8 tspn powdered
Mustard seeds- 1 Tblspn
Green chillies-3 cut up
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Red Chillies whole- 2
Oil and Salt to taste

1. Take a table spoon of Oil and toss the Ginger root slices in it and spread evenly in a baking pan
2. Broil on Low until the slices are almost golden brown in color.
3. In a blender blend the ginger discs along with the tamarind paste, brown sugar and 1/2 cup water until grainy but smooth.
4. Keep a deep pan on the fire, add 1 Tblspn oil and seasoning of mustard, red chillies split up and curry leaves.
5. When the seeds splutter, add green chillies and then the ginger mix very carefully and the rest of the water and more if needed to cook down the ginger.
6. Add turmeric powder, methi seed powder, asafoetida and salt to taste.
7. cook well until it is thick and cooked down. Taste to make sure the seasonings are perfect and remove from fire.
8. Cool and store in jars it will stay in the refrigerator for a week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

#99 Irish Shepherd's Pie with Sausage

It is long past St.Patricks day and we are not celebrating an Irish tradition today.  Since the girls are adults now we do not paint eggs or go egg hunting anymore for Easter either.  Oh by the way.. let me wish a very Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!!
I baked this pie especially for V to take back with her since her exams are next week and it would help her if she had an extra pie in her fridge. It is a twist on a traditional favorite using hot sausage instead of ground lamb or beef with  a touch of Tex-Mex!!

We're not talking too much about festivals today. Since this is an all-time favorite dish for both my girls, I couldn't help but look into the origins of a rustic dish such as this.. so here goes...........
The origin of Shepherd's pie dates back to the 1870's when mincing machines made the shredding of meat easier. Frugal peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families, made this and topped it with potatoes to subsitute for the shortage of meat. Shepherd's Pie has always been and still is a staple of traditional Irish cooking but, there is a general agreement that it originated in the north of England and Scotland where there are a large number of sheep and hence traditionally made from ground lamb. If I had used beef instead, then this pie would be called "Cottage Pie". Naming conventions aside, the Shepherd's Pie is essentially a casserole lined with cooked meat and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes and then baked. The saucy meat and vegetables were 'kicked up a notch" with the addition of one chipotle pepper.

Ground Sausage meat- 1 lb
Onions- 1 chopped fine
Garlic chopped- 1.2 tspn
Frozen Mixed vegetables with corn- 1/2 cup
All purpose flour- 1 Tblspn
Red Wine Vinegar- 2 Tblspn
Chipotle pepper- 1 cut fine
Tomato Paste- 2 Tblspn
Worcestershire Sauce- 2 Tblspn
Butter-1 Tblspn
Chicken Broth- 1 cup
Dried Thyme leaves- 1 tspn
For Potato Crust:
Russet Potatoes-2 boiled with skin
Mascarpone Cheese- 2 Tblspn
Pepper Jack Cheese grated- 1 cup
Cream- 4 Tblspns
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
2. Saute chopped onions in butter until they are soft, add frozen vegetables  season with thyme and pepper.Keep aside.
3. Place a saucepan over the fire and add the crumbled sausage and saute until brown. Drain the fat off and then add flour.
4. Saute for 1 minute to cook the flour and then add the tomato paste and chipotle, saute for another minute or two.
5. Add the Chicken Broth and vegetables mix well and let cook with red wine vinegar until the mixture is thick and saucy.
6. Take a pie dish or foil dish good for baking the pie and fill it with the mixture spread well.
7. Take the skin off of the potatoes, cut into cubes & toss into a pot. Add egg, cream, salt, pepper and the cheeses and mash well. You can see in the last picture above, how the addition of one egg adds so much crunchiness to the crust.
8. I gave this a whisk with the hand blender to make it a bit more fluffy and then spread it(if you prefer you may pipe it with an icing bag) over the Meat mixture in the pie dish.
9. Smooth the top and place in the middle rack of the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until the top crust is browned.
10. Remove and sprinkle with extra cheese or paprika and serve.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

#98 Rawa Laddoo for the Sweet Tooth

Although it is Vishu today, I realized I am not ready to make my own Sadya yet since I have been busy with cooking for a pot luck Vishu Sadya at a friends's home. I had to go out of town last weekend to visit a sick person, leaving me no time to decide on a menu or groceries for our big festival Vishu. Besides, I am not organized enough to plan my meals as you may have noticed....LOL.  Inevitably, I do plan on cooking up my own feast in my kitchen when my girls come home next week(since N is an ardent lover of Sadya feast).  I will keep everyone posted on what finally pops up on the menu.

Well, anyway I decided I to make laddoos today. Laddoo is a sweet treat with a wide variety of flavors and textures and very popular not only in India, but also in Guyana, Trinidad and Tabago, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. For Hindus, this is served as an offering at Poojas and distributed as prasadam afterwards. Normally made from some form of roasted flour like gram flour or wheat flour and mixed with sugar and formed into balls laddoos can be eaten anytime of the day preferably with a cup of coffee. Rawa Laddoo is one such variant and by keeping the key ingredients(ghee, semolina or rawa and sugar) the same, you can bring in a number of variations to this recipe too. For instance I have replaced raisins with Prunes but you can use any type of dried fruits and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, macadamia or dried cranberries.

Rawa/Sooji or Cream of Wheat- 1 cup
Sugar- 1 cup
Ghee- 1/4 cup
Cashews- 2 Tblspns
Prunes chopped- 3
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tspn
Dessicated Coconut- 2 Tblspn
Milk as needed for mixing

By the way, I just heard that Shirley from Luxury Haven is having a beautiful giveaway of the most amazing handmade gifts for Mother's day. What is even more special about this event is that her 82-yr young Mother has made these herself... well worth the effort and love that went into making please check it out @

1. Dry roast the rawa in a skillet for a few minutes in a little ghee until the aroma is beautiful.
2. Add coconut to the rawa and stir for a minute. remove the mix from fire. Powder the mix -if desired.
3. Roast the cashews in ghee and then the prunes and mix with the rawa.
4. Add cardamom powder and cool for a few minutes.
5. While still warm, sprinkle a little milk and mix well to moisten it well enough to form cherry sized balls.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#97 Kerala Potato Stew and Egg Roast for Appams or Lacy Crepes

My mother makes the best Appams in the world(in my perspective)--they are lacy, white, soft and sweet to taste. I can never make Appams that come as good as hers... so this is for you Amma!! She always served them with Stew or Egg curry in a brown stew version. When I was married into R's family they served Appam with Egg roast. So here's to family......................and our Sunday brunch:)

Potato Stew
Potato- 1 large or 2 small
Onions- 1 large or 2 small
Shallots- 3
Green Chillies- 4
Coconut- 1 medium size scraped out
Ginger- 1-2 inch piece slivered
whole spices like 1 cinnamon, 1 clove, 1 cardamom(optional)
Curry leaves and coconut oil- 1 Tblspn each
Salt to taste

1. Peel and cut potatoes and carrot into cubes.
2. Cut onions and shallots also into about the same size cubes.
3. Slice the green chillies lengthwise.
4. Take the grated coconut in a blender and add 1 cup water and coarsely pulse for 2 mins.
5. Extract the coconut milk and keep aside the 1 1/2 cups thick milk.
6. Add 1 cup of hot water to the remaining coconut slush and extract another 11/2 cups of thin milk.
7. Pour the thin milk into a sauce pan, add more water ONLY if needed and toss all the vegetables into this add salt, green chillies, ginger
and whole spices.
8. Cook over a medium flame until the vegetables are soft. Mash a few potato cubes with the back of the spoon.
9. Note how there is very little liquid in the bottom of the curry at this point.
10. Turn off the fire, add the thick coconut milk and stir. add curry leaves and coconut oil, mix well.

Egg Roast

Whole eggs-2
Thinly sliced onions- 1 large
ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tspn
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Red Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 Tblspn
Curry Masala-1/2 tspn
Vinegar- 1/2 tspn
Oil, Water and salt as needed


1. Hard boil the eggs, peel, and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a deep pan and saute onions until they are translucent.
3. Add curry leaves, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and salt and a little water(2 Tblsns).
4. Cook down until all the masala is dry and then add the vinegar.
5. Add the eggs and fry for at least 4 minutes until the eggs are roasted a bit.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

#96 Sticky Toffee Date Cake

A few weeks back I was watching the Barefoot Contessa on  Food Channel. She had invited a guest to cook on this particular episode and the guest baker was Laura Donnelly. Here is the original recipe...

Laura set out to bake this simple cake that was just too moist and sticky for me to sit back and watch it without an immense need to eat a slice. Immediately my taste buds got so tickled, I had to get all the ingredients at the earliest and try it out in my kitchen. My sweet tooth  got the better of me and I baked a cake from Laura's recipe of cooked dates and topped it with a gooey sweet toffee syrup. The recipe can be downloaded from Food Network. Although the recipe gave measurements for two 9 inch cakes, I baked just one using half the ingredients and it turned out so luscious and delectable that there was not much leftover that I could save for the next day.

1 lb dates, pitted and chopped
2 tspns baking soda
8 ounces butter softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tspn salt
3 1/4 tablespoons baking powder

For the sauce/topping:
1/2 pound butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tspn vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream(optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
Place the dates in a large saucepan with 3 cups cold water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minutes before removing from heat. Stir in the baking sode causing the mixture to bubble up. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, occasionally scraping down the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough.
Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery but don't worry! Finally add the baking powder.
Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Test if they are cooked with a small toothpick which should come out clean when done.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce combine the butter, brown sugar , heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and blended well. Cool a bit to thick and pour over the cakes spread to the edge of the cake.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#95 Multi Grain Methi Parathas

Methi Parathas are a healing flat bread and the healing properties come from the Methi leaves that are mixed in with the dough. In this dish I have combined the Methi leaves with four wholesome grains for added nourishment. The outcome was absolutely full of flavor, crunchy and moist and it was almost impossible for R to believe that it was actually a healthy paratha with the ghee on it. A really awesome way to start a breakfast on Saturday morning with any type of Raita or chutney!!

Methi - 1 bunch
Ragi Flour-1/4 cup
Corn Meal-1/4 cup
Besan/Kadala Mavu-1/4 cup
Flaxseed Meal-1/4 cup
Ginger paste- 1/2 tspn
Chopped onions- 1/4 cup
Ajwain- 1/4 tspn
Salt, water and Oil for mixing dough
Ghee for cooking.

1. Wash the Methi in water and make sure all the soil is washed away.
2. Remove the thick stems from the leaves leaving soft part of stems intact.
3. Mix together all the grain flours in a large glass bowl.
4.Add salt, ginger paste, chopped onions, ajwain and the methi leaves in the bowl.
5. Slowly pour in 2 Tblspns water at a time mixing the ingredients in the bowl well.
6. Knead together adding enough water and oil until the mixture becomes a soft but
pliable dough that is not too sticky or tough.
7. Make small lemon sized balls from the dough and using some flour roll out
into chapathi-like circles as thin as possible.
8. Place a griddle on the fire and when it is hot, place each chapathi on the griddle to cook.
9. Add about 1/2 tspn of ghee on each chapathi and cook well on both sides, serve warm.

Monday, April 4, 2011

#94 Wholesome Buckwheat Pasta with Herb Omelette

Sunday was one of those days when I had no plans for lunch or dinner and I found myself wanting to eat at home. I did not find anything interesting in my fridge to cook up a special meal.  I was caught up in social gatherings and planning summer activities this weekend and was planning to get  a sandwich for lunch. But since I can be spontaneous I change my mind often and decided to come up with a combination meal that just popped up in my head. I'm sure you've had this expereince sometime or other when you want to create something innovative and simple that satisfies your appetite but at the same time is not too bad for you?
At times, I may open the refrigerator and ideas pop up in  my head just glancing at my leftover vegetables. Other days I can stare at the fridge, have no idea what to make, and then resolve to ordering takeout!! Fortunately, the red peppers gave me an idea and the roasted peppers and tomato sauce turned out so lip-smacking good that R and I enjoyed the immensely flavorful pasta that drowned in it ... and it was a quick fix meal!! I had leftover sauce so I tossed it in whole wheat fusilli for weekday lunches.

Vine ripe Cherry tomatoes- 1/2 lb bag
Sweet Red Bell Pepper-1 large
Olive oil
Garlic- 1 whole
Red Onion- 1/2 small sliced
Crushed red pepper-1/4 tspn
Red wine vinegar- 1 Tblspn
Basil leaves- 6 julienned into strips.
Salt and pepper to taste
Buckwheat Noodles or Whole wheat pasta
1. Roast in a 375 degree oven the Red Pepper, sliced cherry tomatoes, red onions and all the cloves of garlic.
2. When the tomato, onion and garlic are roasted remove them from the baking pan. Roast until the red pepper is a bit charred.
3. Remove the skin of Red Pepper and in a blender blend the red onions, garlic, Red pepper with Red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water and blend until smooth sauce. add roasted tomatoes, julienned basil and keep aside.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salt water until al dente about 8 mins.
5. Drain, then transfer to a warm bowl, Add sauce, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and toss.
6. Serve immediately topped with grated Parmesan Cheese with a Leek and Herb Omelette.

Leek and Herb Omelette

4 large leeks, washed and sliced into 1/4 inch circles
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. basil
1/8 tspn thyme
1/8 tspn flat leaf parsley
Herbed butter -1 Tblspn(Take a stick of butter and add the same amount of chopped herbs as given in this recipe and mix it all together)
oil, for frying
1. In a saute pan add the herbed butter (it is absolutely "out of this world" in flavor, as you can see in one of my pics) and the chopped leeks and saute well until the leeks are bright green and just tender.
2. Place leeks in a mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs and all the rest of the ingredients. Add flour or matzah meal. Season with salt, and pepper. Mix well.
4. On medium-high heat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, pour the egg batter into the pan(the heavenly aroma of the herbed butter hits you at this time and I can assure you it will take you to a higher place:)) and rotate the pan to spread the egg around and cook for a minute. Slowly turn and fold the omelette. Fry
approximately 3 minutes on each side, until cooked on both sides and soft in the middle. Slide from the frying pan onto plates

Saturday, April 2, 2011

#93 Jewish Style Potato Vegetable Kugel

Kugel is a simple baked egg dish with subtle flavors that I usually made when the girls had friends over in elementary school. On days when Spring break projects or activities had to be a group activity, one of the parents took the responsibility of riding all kids over to their home until the respective parents could pick them up after work. This meant that little school going kids needed something substantial and fairly simple for the little tummies. I always insist on feeding children some form of carbohydrates for energy with a glass of milk, and so it was either pasta or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Often, when they got tired of eating the same thing, that's when I came up with something like a Kugel with applesauce, or pancakes and syrup. Kugels have loads of potato and egg which are perfect as an "after school snack" with applesauce.

I have been reading about Jewish festivals lately. Passover is the eight day festival celebrated by the Jews in early spring beginning on 15th day of the month of Nissan(around the month of April). So lets begin April with the commemoration of the emancipation of Israelites from slavery. It is said that Israel served many years of slavery to the Egyptian Pharoahs during which time they were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, so Moses was sent with a message from God which they ignored. But after a long struggle, the Israelites were chased out of the land and it is said that they fled in such a hurry that the bread they baked did not even have time to rise. Almost 600,000 people left Egypt on that day and began the journey to freedom. 

This day is celebrated in two parts--the first two days and last two days identify with the splitting of the Red sea and holiday candles are lit and sumptous meals are enjoyed on both days. The middle four days are semi-festive holidays--- to commemorate the unleaved bread that Israelites ate when they left Egypt and in respect they do not eat bread or leavened grain- or drink anything that contained a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats spelt or any derivates.  On the two Seder nights matzah can be eaten.  This recipe is from Giora Shimoni's collection It piqued my interest since it is a much more healthier version than the Potato Latke. You will notice that this recipe calls for a large part vegetables to a very small part matzoh meal.  I also took a shot at cooking up fresh applesauce for the Kugel....

•Vegetable oil spray
•2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 large onion, chopped
•1 pound yellow squash, coarsely grated
•2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
•2 large baking potatoes
•3 large eggs
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
•1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
•1 teaspoon paprika
•1/4 cup matzoh meal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray an 8-inch square pan or 7-cup baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
Gently saute the onion in the oil over medium-low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Place grated squash and carrots in a large mixing bowl and add the onions.
Peel the potatoes and coarsely grate. Place in a strainer and squeeze out any excess moisture. Transfer the grated potatoes to the vegetables in the bowl. Mix in eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, paprika, and matzoh meal.
Heat the baking dish for 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Scrape the vegetable mixture into the hot pan. Lightly spray with vegetable oil and sprinkle with additional paprika for color.
Bake potato vegetable kugel about 1 hour until set and browned on top. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting shapes or just into squares to serve hot with applesauce.

1 Apple
1/2 tspn Cinnamon powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1. Cut the apple into small cubes and add to a small pan with water.
2. Cook well with brown sugar and cinnamon until soft and most of the water has evaporated.
3. Mash well with the back of a spoon and serve at room temperature.

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