Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Belated Happy Ganesh Puja Chaturthi! With Kala Chana Sundal...

Ram Mandir Chowk Pandal shared by Discover Bhubaneswar FB Page
Belated Happy Ganesh Puja Chaturthi, everyone!

This is a post I wanted to make last Wednesday but due to certain factors, I could not. As usual, using the principle of "better late than never", I am here!

Ganeshji has been my favorite God since childhood. I remember when we were in Keonjhar, a beautiful scenic place in Odisha, I was about 4-5 years old and me and my dad were out shopping. I was enchanted by a picture stall where they had colorful pictures of different Gods. Amazingly, I still remember that clearly even after all these years - human brain is interesting, right? Here I can remember certain instances years and years later while sometimes I cannot what I had for lunch yesterday or what I did on the weekend when someone asks me on Monday! So, yes, I do remember that clearly - I insisted with my dad to purchase two framed pictures - one with Lord Ganesha and the other with Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Laxmi (think there was one more God or Goddess in this pic). Once we got them installed in the house, I used to religiously worship them.

When we moved to Bhubaneswar, I think those pictures got misplaced. Ganesh Puja and Saraswati Puja are huge in Odisha (Orissa in those days) - different clubs and associations will set up temporary structures (called "pandals") by taking donations (read "forced" donations from the neighborhood and anyone they can lay their hands on!). They are brightly lit podiums with the idol of the God - this is done by the guys only - maybe things are different these days, don't hold me on this statement.

Puja days meant new dress, no studies since you are not "supposed" to touch books on these two puja days (which kid will protest against this? well, I did a little coz this meant you can't even read story-books!) and visit the different pandals across the city in the evening. Back then, Bhubaneswar was so small that we could cover all the pandals if we wanted to. The city has grown to four times the size it was when I was a kid...

Ganesh is the God of learning and wisdom. Students pray to him more diligently than the rest to get good marks in their upcoming examinations. And any prayer to any other God will always begin with a prayer to Lord Ganesh. Wedding invitations have his picture - before you start anything good, it will be successful if you begin with a prayer to Him.

Over this Ganesh Puja, I made an early morning visit to our temple closeby. In the past years, I used to visit in evening which would be quite crowded. Liked the morning visit this time more due to ease of parking and less crowd. I wanted to make Rice-based Modaks this time but had to give up the idea.Next year, maybe. In the temple, I received the prasad of Laddoo and Kala Chana Sundal. Temple food is always different - atleast I feel so. I liked them both. Here is the recipe trying to replicate the Kala Chana Sundal.While in IIT Madras, there was a temple inside the campus and I had this prasad there for the first time.

Makes about 4-5 servings

Kala Chana - 1 cup, soaked overnight and pressure cooked with Salt as per taste and a pinch of Baking Soda for about two whistles and five minutes in Medium heat. Leave it covered till the pressure cooker opens by itself - that is, don't force it open.I love having some of this fresh out of the pressure cooker with a little bit of salt, chilli powder and chat masala - quick instant chat - try it out! :)

Canola Oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chillu - 5-6, break into halves
Hing powder (Asafoetida) - a pinch
Salt - 1/2 tsp (or as per taste)

Fresh Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp (for garnish)
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp (I used frozen grated coconut after reducing it to room temperature)


Cook the Kala Chana as mentioned above. Keep it aside. Use immediately or keep it in the refrigerator till you are ready to use. Will stay good for 2-3 days but rather use it immediately. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Heat Canola Oil.
Add Cumin seeds, Hing and dry Red Chilli and let it sizzle.
Add the cooked Kala Chana and mix it well. I cook it in High heat for about 5 mins.
Reduce the heat to Medium and cook covered for another 5 mins.
Add chopped fresh Coriander leaves as well as the grated Coconut and mix it well.
Serve hot.

I will sometimes pack it and bring to work. Makes a great morning snack just warm. As well as a workday lunch - very nutritious and filling.

Some nice pics of Ganeshji that I came across in the Ganpati festival season that friends shared on Facebook are below - enjoy! Thanks, friends, for sharing these with me.

This is by my darling niece Pihu! How creative...loved this!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Small Fish Fry


Medium sized Fish - 3

Garlic - 4-5, crushed finely
Salt - 1/2 tsp, or as per taste
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder - 1/4 tsp, or as per taste
Fish Seasoning - 1 tsp (Shan brand)

Canola oil - 1 tsp in the marinade + 2-3 tbsp for shallow frying


We got the fish shown in the pic in pack of three and frozen from Indian store in New Jersey. New Jersey Indian stores carry frozen fish now. We bought from the one near East Brunswick (sorry, don't remember the name!)

Unpack the fish and wash in water to wash away the ice and defrost the fish.

Mainade the fish with the rest of the ingredients mentioned above.

Let it sit aside for about 15-20 mins.

Heat a flat skillet. Add the oil for shallow frying using Medium heat and let it warm up so that as you add the marinated fish, the fish should sizzle.

Let it cook one side in Medium heat - takes about 5-10 mins. Turn it and let the other side cook.

Once both the sides are cooked, you may decide to cook either side in High heat for a few mins to make the fish crispy in the exterior. Keep a close watch - as long as you don't like "burnt" fish! :)

Serve with a slice of lime and thinly chopped Onions. Serve hot.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Uttapam (Baghara Pitha in Odiya)


Prepare ahead
Urad Dal - 1 cup, cleaned and soaked overnight in water and a pinch of fenugreek (I use coarsely-ground ones), grind with as little water as you can, keep it aside for 4-5 hrs outside in a warm place to ferment.
End of Prepare ahead

Rice Flour - 1/2 cup, increase if you need to make the batter thicker

Tomato - 2 Medium
Onion - 1 Large
Green Chillies - 2-3

Curry Leaves - a few sprigs
Ginger - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder - a pinch
Hing - a pinch
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil - a few tbsp
Salt - as per taste


Heat Canola Oil.
Add Mustard Seeds and let it splutter. Add Hing, Curry leaves and chopped Green Chilli.
Add chopped Onion and let it cook. Add grated Ginger as the Onion turns translucent.
As it turns translucent, add chopped Tomatoes.
Add Salt and Turmeric.

Add Rice Flour to the Urad Dal and fold it well.
When the above Onion-Tomato mixture is cooked, add to the Ural Dal - Rice Flour mix.
Mix it well.

Heat a flat skillet using Medium heat.
Add a drop of oil and spread it. You can use a piece of Eggplant or Potato to spread the Oil in the skillet.
Drop a big ladle of the batter and let it spread by itself.

You can cover it for faster uniform cooking.
Turn it over to cook the other side. It takes a good 3-4 minutes to make each Pitha.
Enjoy with hot Indian Garlic pickle or Coconut Chutney.

This is a good use of the leftover Dosa\Idli batter as well.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Around the World event for September - Sri Lanka

Hi All -

Reshmi has kindly provided me the opportunity to host this unique event "Around the World". Being a food blogger, trying out different types of food is a passion. Each cuisine has it's speciality and unique-ness that defines it. When I started thinking of potential choices for this event, I realized I may know more about Italian, Mexican and Thai than the neighboring countries of my birth-country India. The least familiar was Sri Lankan cuisine. And thus, I decided to use this hosting as a challenge and learning opportunity to know more about the cuisine of this island.

As I started reading up about the Sri Lankan cuisine, some names that repeatedly came my way was Hopper, Sambol, Mallun, Lumprais, Mul - all new words, ain't it? Well, let's learn more about this as we prepare to post for this event. Good luck, everyone! I will try to get my Sri Lankan friends and other friends who are familiar with this cuisine to do certain guest posts - do look out for these posts in my space here.

Here is the rule for the event:

1) Prepare any dish from the Sri Lankan cuisine, post them on your blog and link here. The linky tool will be open till Oct 15th, 2012 (Please note the end-date is different. Due to a family tragedy, I did not realize that I have missed the posting till Reshmi reminded. She also kindly agreed on the new date to give everyone enough time to post. Thanks, Reshmi!). Non-Bloggers can send their recipes with the details to the my email id .
2) Please link back your recipes to this event announcement and to Reshmi's event page. Do include the logo in your post (mandatory requirement).
3) You can link as many links as you want.
4) Archived posts are accepted. Repost them and you are good to go.

Entry submission link:

Some Sri Lankan cuisine links that may be useful for you to prepare for this event:
  • Wikipedia - Sri Lankan Cuisine Link 
  • Sri Lankan recipes Link 
  •  Sri Lanka Asian Vegetarian recipes Link
  •  Sri Lanka Asian Non-Vegetarian recipes Link
  •  Sri Lanka Asian Sauce recipes Link
  • Sri Lanka Asian Dessert recipes Link
  • Sarogini's