Annavaram Sri Satyanarayana Swami prasadam

1 cup Godhumarava (Broken wheat sooji), rava
1 1/2 cups Sugar
¼ tsp Elachi Powder
1/2 cup Ghee
3/4 cup milk
Cashew nuts, Almonds and Raisins

Depending on the size of the rava, grind in a mixer jar to a rough course.

Take 2 tsp of ghee in a non stick pan and when it is hot, add almonds and cashew nuts and fry them, then add raisins. Remove the nuts and raisins, leaving ghee in the pan. Add godhuma rava and fry till it turns golden yellow stirring frequently without burning. Empty the rava into a plate or onto a paper.

Take 1: 2 ratio of water to the rava. Pour water into the pan and bring to boil, then simmer the stove and add rava in small quantity, stirring continuously. Be careful not drop the whole thing at once or lumps of rava will form and it will not be cooked evenly. Now add milk and mix well.

Once bubbles appear on the pan top, add sugar, gently stirring in. Add ¼ cup ghee, elachi powder and mix thoroughly. Keep stirring frequently till ghee bubbles appear on the top of the pan. This is a sign that rava has been cooked well. Garnish with nuts and raisins. The secret to this recipe is lots of fresh ghee and cooking on low flame till nicely done.

This prasadam can also be prepared with Bombay rava or sooji, this is how it is prepared in Annavaram, the abode of Rama sahita Sri Satyanarayana Swami.  The prasadam offered to the devotees at the temple has a wonderful taste that cannot be replicated.

Pelalu vadiyalu

My friends from other parts of Andhra also never heard of this item, so let me explain a little about them. These are sun dried items, mainly used as a side dish with rice and dal. They belong to the category of papads and varthans (vadilayu). I guess it is a regional delicacy; even my husband had not tried it before marriage and now is a big fan himself!

My aunt back home in India is a specialist in making pelalu vadiyalu. She would send us every year when we were small. But, with age she stopped doing personally, but passed on her recipe to the mahila society, a small scale industry run by the women of the village. That was one returning gift we brought from home with us always. Every time I would fry them, I would ration at the dinner table, saving for a special craving time. These are the pelalu vadiyam that I am talking about, but, not anymore.

I spoke to my aunt, she assured me that's it's all about mixing to a right consistency and binding the ingredients together. So, a prized family recipe I am sharing with you all today.

This is my maiden in trying out the pelalu vadiyalu. I am very happy with what I was able to make. It all started when recently I was strolling by the aisles in Apna Bazar in Edison, I found a big bag of pelalu, by the puffed rice and rice flakes (poha-atukulu).

Pelalu (Juwar Dhani) are already-popped sorghum. They are exactly like popcorn - flavor-wise, only with teeny tiny kernels.

1 bag Pelalu
1 tsp Red chili powder
1 tsp Vammu
½ cup Sesame seeds – Til

Add salt, vammu, red chili powder and roasted sesame seeds on pelalu and mix well, sprinkle water (in small amounts) till you are able to make a solid round ball. Squeeze hard so that it binds well. Place the ball on the knob of a pickle or jam jar and level it using your fingers, pressing hard and leveling at the same time. Then turn it around and gently tap the knob so that it falls freely on the cover.

Sundry the vadiyams on a polythene cover for 2 – 3 days or till they are dry and light. Store in an air tight container to be used throughout the year.

Heat oil in a kadai and fry the vadiyams on medium/low flame till nicely done. Drain and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil. Serve with lunch or dinner as a side dish for pappu or sambar. My son loves it with his curd rice!

Nimakaye karam (Lime karam)

This is an instant side dish, quick and easy to prepare.

6 Limes/ Lemons
2 tsp Urad dal – Minnapappu
2 tsp Chenna dal – Senagapappu
1 tsp Jeera
1 tsp Mustard seeds
4- 5 Red Chilies
Few curry leaves
1 tsp Red chili powder

Squeeze lime/lemon juice, add salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Avoid using instant lemon juice.

Take 6 tsp of oil in a small skillet and when oil is hot add urad and channa dal. Then add jeera, mustard seeds, hing, red chilies, and curry leaves. Fry till nicely done, remove from flame, add red chili powder for extra spice and let cool.

Let cool. Transfer the tadka into a blender jar, leaving oil in the skillet. Dry grind tadka to a smooth powder.

Mix the ground tadka, lemon juice and the oil in the skillet and mix well.

Serve as a side dish with rice or upma. The taste leaves a tingling taste craving you for more.

Pessara pachadi

Pessara pachadi is an age old pachadi that has been coming down from generations. This is a rescue item, for those days when we run out of vegetables in the fridge. Sliced onions with lemon juice and salt and hot tomato charu/rasam by the side, is, all it requires.
1 cup Moong dal – Pessara pappu
10 – 12 Red chilies
1 tsp Jeera
Small lemon sized Tamarind
Lemon juice

Soak moong dal in luke warm water for 2 - 3 hours. Drain and keep ready.

In a mixer jar add 1 tsp raw jeera, raw red chilies (about 10 – 12) and dry grind them first. Then add the soaked moong dal, salt and grind to a smooth paste (add very less water).

Transfer into a serving bowl and mix with 2 tsp of lemon juice. This pachadi needs no seasoning; it is good to be eaten. Simple plain tomato rasam will be a great accompaniment with this pachadi.

Enjoy the pachadi with hot rice, a tsp of ghee or oil with warm rasam and onions sprinkled with lemon juice and raw green chilies dipped in salt.
There is a bonus with this pachadi. With left over pachadi a crunchy chakki or attu can be made.

Add a chopped onions, green chilies and coriander, red chili powder, salt and ½ tsp jeera and 2 tsp rice flour. Mix well with the pachadi.

Heat a dosa griddle and add a tps of oil and spread the mix well and cook on medium flame till it is roasted well. This chakki has a wonderful and unique taste. Serve with warm rice and enjoy!

Carrot hawla

Gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa is a  very nutritious and tasty Indian sweet dish. It is a very simple process; nothing can actually go wrong here. By using evaporated or half-half, cooking time will be drastically reduced.

1 lb Carrots
1 can Evaporated Milk or 1 cup Half-half
1½ cups Sugar
4 tsp Ghee
½ tsp Elachi powder
2 tsp Raisins
2 tsp Almonds
2 tsp Pistachios
2 tsp Cashew nuts
Few strands of saffron
1 tsp Rice flour

Wash and peel carrots. Finely grate them, keep aside.

In a large non stick pan take 3 tsp of ghee, when warm add all nuts and then raisins, fry them till golden yellow. Remove the nuts and raisins from the ghee to a bowl. Keep aside. To the remaining ghee add another tsp of ghee and add the grated carrots, fry till the raw color changes. Then add a can of evaporated milk or cup of half-half and cook for a few minutes.
Now add sugar, elachi powder and 1” butter or ghee. Cook on medium heat and keep stirring regularly. When it all comes close together add a tsp of rice flour. Rice flour acts as a binding agent and brings all the ingredients together. Add all the friend nuts and mix well or arrange on the top. And garnish with saffron.

Grease the serving bowl and transfer the contents into it.

Carrot halwa can be served warm or cold, it’s a personal choice. Enjoy it with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for variation. I have see people enjoying hot jelabi with carrot hawla and if you are like someone I know, warm halwa with roti for dinner!

White vatana sundal

2 cups White vatana (Whole yellow peas, the peas look quite similar to garbanzo beans ( chick peas), except that they are smaller in size and white in colour.
2 Onions
3 Tomatoes
2 - 3 Green chilies
1 tsp Ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp Amchur/Dry mango powder
½ tsp Cumin-coriander Powder
½ tsp Garam masala
¼ tsp Red chili powder

Soak white vatna over night. Cook in a pressure cooker with salt with a pinch of turmeric till they are soft. Do not overcook; just about right otherwise they become very mushy. Drain and keep aside.

Take 3 tsp of oil in a non-stick pan and make tadka with mustard seeds and jeera. When it starts to sizzle, add very finely chopped onions and chilies. Keep stirring at medium heat till the onions are translucent. Add ginger- garlic paste and fry for a few minutes. Then add cut tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add amchur powder, cumin- coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder and salt.

Mix in cooked vatna, taste for salt and adjust the seasonings. Add some lemon juice and garnish with coriander, serve hot.

This is a very filling dish, a pot dish that can be eaten as is or can be served with roti. The same base can be made like a gravy dish by adding water and can be served over potato patties. This is the famous ragda patties on Mumbai streets!

Cashewnut chikki

Srirama Navami Subhakanshalu (03/24/2010)

Chikki is a traditional Indian sweet prepared with any edible nuts or with mixed nuts and sugar/jaggery. The preparation is quite simple. These are finger deserts that are hassle free and easy to eat!

Cashew nuts, like all nuts, are an excellent source of protein and fiber. They are rich in mono-unsaturated fat which may help protect the heart. Cashew nuts are also a good source of potassium, B vitamins and folate. They contain useful amounts of magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and copper. (source: Wiki)

I have to mention here the chikki made in Lonavala, Pune. They are simply mouth watering and will leave us craving for more! One piece is never quite satisfying. I love their pistachio, mixed nuts chikki.

Traditional chikki are made with peanuts but, I am a cashew person, so..

1 cup - Roasted cashewnuts (sliced or whole)
1 ¼ cup - Jaggery
2 tsp Ghee

Roast the nuts on low flame in ghee and in the case of peanuts remove the skin.

Take grated jaggery in a kadai and add ¼ cup water and on medium flame bring to a boil till it thickens. Perform the ball test, drop some syrup drops in cold water and try to roll it to form a ball if it is like a string, it needs to be cooked a bit more.

Filter the jaggery syrup to remove any impurities. (Avoid if you trust the jaggery). I buy mine at the same store always!

Once the syrup is ready, add a tsp of ghee to the syrup switch off the flame and immediately add the roasted cashew nuts. Stir and mix well.

Grease a parchment paper and pour the hot mixture on it. Roll it with a rolling pin and let the temperature of the mixture come down. Lumps of mixture can be rolled into a ball in the palm of your hand or cut into any desired shape.

Store in an air tight box, they have a good shelf life.