This month I am focusing on a traditional dessert that is a central part of the Indian culture.  Payasam is traditionally made with boiled milk, a starch like rice or wheat, and sugar then flavored in a variety of different ways. 

Semiya Payasam, Vermicelli Payasam

Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Payasam), is made with boiled milk, vermicelli noodles, cardamom, cashews and saffron.

It is given as an offering to the gods in south Indian Hindu temples as well as served at all important south Indian celebrations and important occasions, including birthdays and weddings, and feasts.  Serving Payasam is considered a sign of hospitality and welcome in Indian households.  Kachi served it to me when I first visited her home in Madras after my wedding.  It meant that her family welcomed me into their family. It can also be served at tea time as a special treat.  I have been told that the rice pudding made in England today derived from Payasam a thousand years ago when traders took rice to Europe.


There are many different varieties of Payasam that are made with different ingredients.  It is typically made by:

  • boiling milk with sugar,

  • adding rice, wheat (vermicelli) or lentils , and

  • flavoring it with cardamom, raisins, saffron, and/or nuts.

Two delicious recipes are featured for July.


Pal Payasam Recipe

A very simple and easy to make Payasam, called Pal Payasam, is made with mike, rice and sugar. I am including both the traditional method of making it as well as one that has been adapted to use the microwave oven and is really easy to make. 

Semiya Payasam Recipe

Another, Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Payasam), is made with boiled milk, vermicelli noodles, cardamom, cashews and saffron.  This recipe is my favorite and is served for our family birthdays.


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I found some wonderful spice mixtures in my local grocery store that I use on grilled chicken for my daughter.  After tasting them and reading the labels, I was very surprised to learn that these products are made up of the same spices that comprise garam masala.  They are not advertised as Indian spice mixtures or garam masala but taste the same.  I’m impressed that Indian spices have become a part of the everyday American cooking experience.
 

Garam masala is an aromatic mixture that is usually used in non-vegetarian dishes, and in some vegetarian dishes, to give them a rich flavor. It literally translates from Hindi as ‘hot spice’ even though this mixture is not spicy hot. Some of the recipes in Kachi’s Kitchen that use it include:

 

Vegetable

Pachacurry (Vegetable) Puffs and Cutlets
Beet Cutlets

Kovakka Upperi

Vazhuthinanga (Aubergine) Cutlets

 

Lentils

Paruppu (Dal)
Paruppu (Toor Dal) Vada 

Vella Kadala (Kabuli Chenna) Masala

Cheera (Spinach) with Vella Kadala (Chickpeas)


Chicken/Egg

Mutta (Egg) Chapati
Malabar Mutta (Egg) Curry
Kozhi (Chicken) Biryani

Kozhi (Chicken) Cutlets

Kozhi (Chicken) Fry

Madras Chicken Curry


Fish

Madras Meen (Fish) Curry
Meen (Fish) Tikka

Stir-Fried Meen (Fish)


Lamb

Erechi (Lamb) Curry
Kheema Curry

Unda (Kofta) Curry


Rice

Pachacurry (Vegetable) Pulav


Other

Thakkali (Tomato) Chutney

Garam masala is usually made from cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom which are roasted and ground.  The ingredients and their amounts used vary regionally across the country. In addition, it is often made with dried red chilies, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves and star anise.  By varying the recipe, the flavor is customized to complement the recipe for which it is used.  It is best when made fresh as the flavors and aroma are at their peak.  If you make it ahead, store it in an airtight container and use it as quickly as possible.

Below is Kachi’s recipe for garam masala.  It is a simple recipe that has a wonderful flavor.


Kachi’s Garam Masala Spice Mix Kerala Style

 

Garam masala spice mix

Garam masala spice mix

¼ cup  dried red chilies, ends trimmed and seeds removed
½ cup  coriander seeds
2½ Tbs  fennel seeds
2½ tsp  cumin seeds
1 tsp  cardamom pods, smashed with shells
¼ tsp  cloves
2½  tsp  black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves    

 

In a skillet over medium heat without any oil, roast the spices dry for 5 minutes stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  Cool and powder the spices coarsely in a blender.  Store in an airtight jar.
 

 

Enjoy!


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Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

This month I decided to focus on a popular recipe that is not originally from South India and its standard accompaniments.  Biryani is one of the most popular traditional dishes in India because of its rich flavor.  It was created in Persia and brought to India when the Mughals invaded India in the sixteenth century.  It is popular because it is a complete, delicious meal in one dish that includes rice, meat and vegetables.  Each state in India and each household makes it slightly differently by varying the meat, vegetables and spices.  To make a good biryani, it must be rich in flavor (not spicy hot), a wonderful aroma and the grains of rice should not stick together.  This month’s recipe features Chicken Biryani, also called Kozhi Biryani.  To complete the meal, all that is needed is pappadams and a simple raita.  I chose Onion Raita, or Ulli Raita, because I think its subtle flavor blends very well with biryani.

Kachi’s Kitchen also includes another delicious chicken biryani recipe that is carefully layered. 

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This month I decided to focus on some of Achan’s favorite snacks since he is an avid fan.  (Achan is the Malayalam word for father so this is what I call my father-in-law.)  Ever since I met him, I could count on him having cookies (look out Cookie Monster) and some sort of Indian snack with his afternoon tea.  The recipes for May are Bonda, Cauliflower Bhajia and Vada since they are some of his favorites.

Hot, fresh Bondas make a tasty appetizer or snack.

Hot, fresh Bondas make a tasty appetizer or snack.

Bonda Recipe

A few months ago, my mother-in-law, made some Bonda (potato balls) so I could take a picture of them for my upcoming cookbook, Kachi’s Kitchen.  She wouldn’t let him touch them until I arrived to take the pictures.  He was so relived once the photographs were finished so he could enjoy the treats.


Bhajia Recipe

Bhajia are pieces of vegetables (cauliflower, potato, onion, spinach or any vegetable of your choosing) that are dipped into a lentil flour batter and then deep fried.  Because of the lentils and the spices, these have a lot of flavor.

 

Vada Recipe

Vada are deep fried snacks made from spiced lentil flour.  My husband believes these are a great accompaniment for beer.


Good fresh snacks like these are a great treat in the afternoon.  The recipes for May are truly delicious.  Enjoy!

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The Indian recipes included in this month’s spotlight are some of my favorites: Kadala Masala Curry with Puttu made with brown rice and Iddichakka (Small Unripe Jackfruit) Upperi.  I tend to like simple foods that are healthy and not difficult to prepare on a week night. Even though they are all vegetarian, they are high in protein, fiber and nutrients.

Kadala Masala, Puttu and Jackfruit Upperi

Kadala Masala, Puttu and Jackfruit Upperi


The curry is easy to make once the chickpeas are soaked overnight.  The chickpeas take about 30 minutes to cook through; during this time you prepare the curry into which you will add the chickpeas.  While the curry cooks, you can focus on making the puttus.  They are a lot of fun to make especially if you have help from young assistant chefs in your home.  Layering the rice flour and grated coconut is a task that you can delegate.  Once the puttus are created, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for a stack of them to steam through.  My recipe will make 2 stacks or enough to feed a family of 4.  I paired the Iddichakka Upperi with this because its light texture balances the rich curry.

The great thing about these dishes is that they keep and are just as tasty the next day.  I hope you enjoy these recipes.  My family and I will be enjoying them tonight for dinner.

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.


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Baby Shrimp Fry

Baby Shrimp Fry

I just finished posting the Indian recipes for March.  I picked them because they are a great introduction to Indian food.  I simplified them from the traditional recipes so they would be quick and easy to make and would not be too spicy.  I modified the vegetarian recipe for  Vegetable Rice by changing the ratio of vegetables to rice.  I love a lot of vegetables in my food.  With all of the delicious vegetables, I feel that I am eating a meal.  This recipe has substantially less oil so it is not as rich or caloric as the original.  The Baby Shrimp Fry recipe was created by my husband during his time in graduate school at Ohio University.  He reduced the number of steps and reduced the cost by using baby shrimp.  It makes a wonderful presentation with any dinner.  The Raita recipe is very simple and is a refreshing compliment to the shrimp and rice dishes.  Feel free to experiment with the ingredients you use in this recipe and make it your own. 

 

Just click on the Recipes link to find these delicious recipes….

 

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