Grilled bananas laced with ghee
For JFI-Ghee

Plantains/Cooking bananas (medium ripe) - As many as you wish
Ghee - 1 tbsp for up to 5 plantains

Split bananas into half and cut each piece into two. Heat a grill pan, brush with ghee. When the grill is medium hot, keep the bananas over the grill, flat side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Brush the top with some ghee and turn it over to the other side. Grill till the pieces are cooked through (color changes to a deeper shade of yellow). Serve hot. Optional topping – honey
Simple fried dough

Fall colors are creeping into the greenbelt to which our apartment opens through a deck, and to give a preview of a proper Oregon fall awaiting us, it is raining. I love rain; I am from a place where it rains cats and dogs for at least a month every year. The euphony of raindrops falling on rooftops and wind gliding over leaves, make me feel right at home no matter where in the world I am. A hot cup of tea, a comfy book to read, and an occasional piece of fried dough to bite on, create my kind of celebration to light up a dim rainy day.

This recipe is for the fried dough locally known as “Vettu (cut) Cake” in the central coastal region of Kerala, I am sure there are other regional names for this good stuff.

All purpose flour - 2 cups
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Sugar - ½ cup
Water - 1 cup
Cardamom seeds crushed - from 2 pods
Nutmeg powder (Optional) - a pinch
Egg ( Optional) - 1
Vegetable oil - for deep frying

Mix baking powder and flour (sifting together is recommended). Add sugar, cardamom,mix well and add one beaten egg ( if using). Add enough water and make a tight dough. Divide the dough into 8-12 portions of equal size. Shape the dough roughly like a square with your hands. Finish shaping all the pieces. Run a sharp knife over the formed piece to make two medium deep cuts resembling a cross. Fry in vegetable oil, till golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stores well at room temperature in tightly closed containers for up to 3-4 days.
* Egg is recommended if you prefer a more cake like texture.
Grape tomatoes for GBP-Summer
Malai tomato rice

A rice dish is perhaps not the best way to show off a grape tomato harvest. I somehow blindly believe that these tiny tomatoes belong in salads, savory pies and tarts or in recipes preserving its shape or color. Yet I made a rice dish with our GBP summer harvest, reason one being the truth that we postponed picking these tomatoes long enough to make it overripe. By the time we finished reveling on the red goodness; many tomatoes lost the crunch, so the decision to make a flavored rice was a natural choice. Malai grape tomato rice is a spin off from Sudha’s real comfort tomato baath recipe. My version has subdued spices, and added fresh cream to go along with the mild flavor of grape tomatoes reaped right from our deck. The tomatoes sure vanish without a trace into the rice, but the subtle and sweet flavor lingers.

Basmati rice -2 cups
Ginger paste -1 tsp
Garlic paste -1 tsp
Green chilies cut into rounds -1

Fennel seeds -a pinch
Cinnamon -½ inch stick
Onion finely chopped -½ cup
Cloves -2
Cardamom -2 pods
Turmeric -¼ tsp
Mint -1 leaf
Grape tomatoes,halved -3 cups
Fresh cream -3 tbsp
Chopped cilantro -1 tbsp
Cashew nuts -10
Vegetable oil -2 tsp
Butter or ghee(optional) -½ tsp

Salt -1/4 tsp ( or to taste)
Water -3 cups ( for pressure cooking) ,3 ½ cups otherwise

Wash and drain rice. In a pressure cooker with lid off, heat 1 ½ tsp oil, fry one mint leaf, add onions,a pinch of salt and sauté till onions are translucent. Add spices; continue sautéing for 2 more minutes. Once the spices are fried, add chopped chilies, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Sauté till the onions are golden. Add tomatoes and mix well, cook for a minute. Add the washed rice and gently mix. Gently stir in fresh cream.Add salt to taste. Add water, close the lid, cook till one whistle, and remove from stove. Release pressure after 5 minutes. Fry cashew nuts in ½ tsp oil, drain on paper towels. Remove pressure cooker lid, add nuts, chopped cilantro and butter. Gently mix with the rice. Serve hot with raita and pickle.

Pal Payasam
(rice-milk pudding)

Onam is over, we are getting out of a bout of nostalgia, which periodically surfaces every year during the season. We will be sitting down with our good friends for a proper Onam sadya sans Melamine this weekend. There will be “true” banana leaves, and probably a repeat of the curries we made last weekend. Payasam, which is an essential dessert topping the sadya grandeur is going to be my all time favorite, rice -pal ( milk) payasam. You could make payasams in a jiffy, or devote half a day from your life for the preparation. In the Sri Krishna temple situated in Ambalappuzha ( Kerala) where the far-famed Ambalppuzha pal payasam is made, the process of making this offering reportedly starts in the wee hours of the morning, and ends closer to noon. Onam is the only time of the year when I make pal payasam in the right way, forbearingly lingering around the stove, stirring away my impatience. There are only a couple of ingredients, but please do not forget to stock up some perseverance, you might require it in this recipe!

Long method

Milk – 8 cups
Water – 6 cups
Rice – 1 1/4 cups
Sugar – 2 cups
Cardamom, crushed – 2 pods

Mix water and milk, cook in medium heat with occasional stirring till the volume reduces to half. Wash and drain rice, add it to the cooked milk, cook under medium heat till rice is done. Add sugar, cook for 20 more minutes with frequent stirring. Add crushed cardamom. Remove from stove. Optionally, cashew nuts toasted in ghee can be added.

* I use the red rice from south India which imparts a shade of pink to the dessert, but any other not so sticky rice will do fine.

Quick method

Cook rice in 2 1/2 cups water + 1 cup evaporated milk + 1 cup milk , till rice is done ( Pressure cook if you are in a hurry) Add sugar cook for 5-10 more minutes with constant stirring. Add ½ cup evaporated milk, mix well, cook for 5 more minutes. Add cardamom. You are done!!!

Here is another meme, thank you Sudha for tagging me. While you discover my dark secrets, have a peek at these photos taken during the Labor Day weekend.

Caldera crater lake -Oregon

Klamath lake-Oregon

Oregon coast
I am thinking about: buying a gift for someone.

I said : Stand tall, speak up !!

I want to : buy a cottage up on the mountains where snow falls on Christmas day.

I wish : I could skydive or at least think about it without shivering.

I regret : about spoiling a tart pan by keeping it in soap water for one full day.
I hear : a fan buzzing.

I am : into old Hollywood movies.
I dance : when?
I sing : all the time.
I cry : when I am angry, not when I am sad.

I am not : a big fan of string beans.

I am : with my hands: turning the pages of a book

I write : mails and forget to post.

I confuse : my brother whenever possible.

I need : an air brush for food colors.
I tag : Ashwini, RP, Annita, Gattina, Nabeela.
ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !
Wish you a happy Onam


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