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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rama Navami Neivedhyam - Paanagam, Neer Mor & Vada Paruppu

"श्री राम राम रामेति रमे रामे मनोरमे
सहस्र नाम ततुल्लयं राम नाम वरानने"

During one of our summer trips to India, we happened to be in Bombay (in my head it is still Bombay, not Mumbai!) for Janmashtami. We have a tradition of fasting till evening and offering neivedhyam to baby Krishna after reciting the Vishnu Sahasranamam. That year, my father - in - law explained the meaning of  a few lines from the shloka. Goddess Parvati asked the Lord if there is any easier/shorter way of gaining the benefits of chanting the Sahasranama as it may be difficult to recite the whole thing everyday. To this, the Lord replies with the aforementioned lines. The essence of this shloka is that chanting "Rama" just thrice  is equivalent to reciting the thousand names of Vishnu. Such is the power of Rama.



This has been a week of celebrations and festivities on consecutive days - first was hubby's birthday - so I baked cupcakes, the next day was Tamil New Year followed by Vishu Kani, so pigged out on vadai & paayasam! Yesterday was Rama Navami, but guess what, the neivedhyam for this occassion is pretty tummy friendly!

I made paanagam - which is a cool and refreshing thirst quenching drink - sweet and sour - perfect for the rise in temperature, neer mor - which is seasoned buttermilk, again chilled but a tad spicy and finally vadaparuppu - which I guess can be called a protein rich salad ;)

Usually, neivedhyams are rich in ghee and oil - sweets and fried stuff! This is one of those rare occasions when the neivedhyam has health benefits!

Paanagam is as good as an ORS solution - move over Gatorade and electrolyte, we have our own home made version!! In fact, when consumed along with vada paruppu, it supposedly aids in digestion. For that matter, so does neer moru - it is a South Indian version of the salty lassi and is often prepared on a regular basis and served at the end of dinner. It also helps with acidity. And hey guys - its yogurt (read PROBIOTICS) - need I say more?

So, without further ado, here are the three recipes.

Soaking Time: 30 minutes            Preparation: 15 minutes          Serves:4

Ingredients:

For Paanagam:

Jaggery (Gur/vellam) - 1/4th cup, grated
Chilled water - 4 cups
Dry Ginger Powder (Saunth/Sukku podi) - 1/4th teaspoon
Cardamom pods  (Elaichi/Elakai) - 4
Holy Basil Leaves (Thulsi/Tulasi) - 4
Lemon - 1, juiced

For Vada Paruppu:

Moong Dal (Split Green Gram)  - 1 cup
Green Chillie - 1, small, chopped fine
Raw Mango - 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
Cucumber - 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
Ginger - 1/4thinch, chopped fine
Coconut - 1 tablespoon, grated
Cilantro - for garnish, finely chopped
Lemon - ½, juiced
Asafoetida (Heeng/Perunkayam) - a pinch
Salt - to taste


For Neer Mor:

Yogurt  - 1 cup
Chilled Water - 2 cups
Green Chillies - 1, small
Ginger - 1/4thinch
Roasted Cumin Powder (Jeera Powder) - ½ teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Cilantro - for garnish, finely chopped
For Tempering:
Oil - ½ teaspoon 
Mustard Seeds - ½ teaspoon
Curry Leaves - a few
Asafoetida (Heeng/Perunkayam) - a pinch


Method:

For Paanagam:

  1. Take the jaggery in a bowl and add the chilled water to it. Stir till all the jaggery dissolves and then filter out the impurities from the jaggery.
  2. Add in the dry ginger powder, cardamom pods and lemon juice, mix well and refrigerate.
For Vada Paruppu:
  1. Rinse and soak the moong dal for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add in all the other ingredients (raw mango, cucumber, chillies, ginger, coconut, cilantro, asafoetida, salt and lemon juice) and mix well.
For Neer Mor:
  1. Take yogurt, green chillies and ginger in a blender and give it a good swirl till the yogurt is well beaten.The chillies and ginger will also be coarsely ground by then.
  2. Add in water, roasted cumin powder, salt and cilantro leaves and give a quick whisk once more.
  3. Heat a little oil and add in the mustard seeds.
  4. Once the muster seeds crackle, add in the curry leaves and asafoetida and pour this tempering into the yogurt mixture.
  5. Mix well and refrigerate.

Offer neivedhyam and enjoy the prasadam...

Tips:

You can add a bit of pachai karpooram to the paanagam if you desire.
For the neer mor, you can just blend in the  yogurt and water with a hand whisk, slit a green chillie and skip the roasted cumin powder if you wish.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Rice Crispie Treats

Spring break is over, kids are back at school and moms everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief at finally having their homes back to themselves!! Now, if only the weather Gods show some mercy – looks like they did not get the memo that officially, it is spring!! April showers bring May flowers they say – but what does snow in April bring??

In the meantime, life in routine goes on… 

My son is a part of his school’s newspaper club and today was a publishing party, to celebrate the end of the newspaper club for the current school year, and parents were invited. I went of course – but the word “publishing” brought a thought to my mind – oh yes – I used to write a blog that has been sitting waiting too long. Once the thought came, I just had to act on it, so here I am putting up a post after a really loooooooooooong time!
Well this one here is a recipe for rice crispie treats – nothing too fancy, a recipe right off the back of the cereal box!


You could ask me why? Why bother making these treats when you could just as easily pick it off the shelf of your grocery store? And I could say, I am a big fan of DIYs, no really, I am! But the reason for my preferring to make these is because, the store bought ones have regular marshmallows in them, which contains gelatin. We are vegetarians. So, no gelatin for us.

Kiddo loves rice crispie treats and marshmallows, and I have used store bought one’s in a pinch, how fussy can one be! But I do avoid it if possible. So, I buy multiple packs of vegan marshmallows wherever I find them - was difficult once, just one organic store in Hoboken carries them to my knowledge, but now we have Amazon Prime! Yay!! Don’t you just love the ease of online ordering??

Once you have vegan marshmallows, making these treats is a quick fun project for the little ones :)

BTW, these can be made in the microwave but we used the stove top and by “we” I mean me and the junior – yep, this was one of the things we did during the spring break.
And for those out there raising your eyebrows over letting my kid cook over a stove top – relax!  I was right next to him the whole time and the flame was at the lowest setting. But if you are frowning over this, use the microwave by all means. It would probably be quicker too, but my microwave is fixed on top of the cooking range and I use a stool to reach it! How on earth is my son supposed to reach it? And if I am the one putting it in and out of the microwave all the time, how is he going to boast about making those yummy rice crispie treats ALL BY HIMSELF? Come on, how could I take that away from him?

Psssst… I did pour the contents of the hot pan into a baking tray before letting him smoothen it all out with a spatula – but that’s just between you and me ;)

Preparation, cooking & cooling time: 20 minutes         Makes: 12-15 pieces        

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter – 3 tablespoons
Vegan mini marshmallows – 4 cups
Rice Crispies Cereal – 6 cups

Method:

  1.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
  2.   Add the marshmallows and keep stirring over a low flame till all the marshmallows melt into the butter.
  3. Now add in the rice crispies and give your arms a good workout – go ahead and mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Remove the gooey mixture from the stove top and pour into a greased pan. Smoothen with a spatula.
  5.  Let it set – takes about 10 minutes or so.
  6.  Cut into desired size using a butter knife.
  7. Dig right in!!