Monday, November 29, 2010

Kasay / Kasaya / Konkani Tea

We had been on a yoga retreat during thanksgiving and were discussing about kasaya being an alternative for tea or coffee. Kasaya(pronounced as Kah-sha-yah) was a regular feature at my grand parents home when I was growing up. Konkanis have this as a substitute to tea or coffee during breakfast or evening snacks. Both I and my sister loved kasaya always had it for morning breakfast and evening snacks. As we grew up we indulged in Boost, Complan, Bournvita and other powders but never got addicted to tea or coffee.
Coriander gives a boost to the digestive system and helps to cure indigestion, flatulence and gas. It is cooling by nature and cools down the acidity caused by overeating rich foods. It helps to stimulate lost hunger and helps to cure ulcers and stomach sores. Cumin seeds are rich in iron and help to cure digestive disorders. Fennel seeds are good to cure any digestive disorders and it is common tradition in India to have a pinch of fennel seeds after every meal. Kasaya is great to keep cough and cold away during the cold winters. Kasaya can be prepared with 1 part milk or 1/2 part milk and part 1/2 water. If you are a vegan it can be prepared just with water. 

Ingredients for Kasaya powder:
1 cup coriander seeds
1/2 cup fennel seeds
1/2 cup cumin seeds

Roast the seeds in a pan on low heat till they are crisp. Take care not to burn them. They can also be toasted in the oven. Completely cool the roasted seeds and grind them into a fine powder. I use a coffee grinder to grind my spices. Store in an air tight container. This powder stays good for 1-2 months but refrigeration can extend its life by another 2-3 months. But it is always good to prepare it on monthly basis to retain the original flavor of the spices. 

To prepare 1 cup Kasaya: 

1 tablespoon of kasaya powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar or any other sweetener

Put the water in a vessel and add the kasaya powder to it. Get it to a boil and add milk. Give it a stir or two and remove from heat. Keep the vessel covered for 3-4 minutes to let the flavor of the spices steep  into the kasaya. Strain the kasaya with a tea strainer. Add sugar as per taste and serve hot.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Humming bird sucking nectar from Zenias

I had a very successful experience growing flowers in my patio garden this year. I first started planting flowering shrubs last year and was quite successful having chrysanthemums and marigold last year. This year I planted marigolds, zinnia, asters and bachelor's buttons. With daily watering and proper care I had quite a bit of foliage growing in my patio this year. It has been exciting to see many humming birds, American robins and house sparrows paying daily trips to my garden. I did have on or two incidents of powdered mildew, white ants and flies which I took care of at the right time. I am posting a few photos from my summer garden.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Celebrating Regional Cuisine Event

Sujana of Sujana's World is organizing the event Celebrating Regional Cuisine. Here are some of the regional recipes I am reposting for this event. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Raw Mango Sabzi

Vegetable Pulao, Masoor Dal and Mango Sabzi

I found great quality raw mangoes at my Indian grocery store this year. The mangoes were very sour like their Indian counterparts, so I made pickles, mango rice and this sabzi many times during this summer season. This khatti chutney or sabzi if you call it makes a great combination with bland dal or varan.

1 raw mango
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4-5 methi seeds
1 teaspoon kalonji seeds or onion seeds
1/2 -1 cup cup jaggery or as desired
1 teaspoon red chili powder or as per taste
1/2 teaspoon haldi power
1 teaspoon oil
salt for taste

Cut the raw mango into 2cm cubes. Remove the mango seed and discard it. Heat oil in a pan and add methi seeds. Fry for a minute and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop add kalonji seeds, haldi and red chili powder. Stir for a minute and add the cut raw mango. Cover and cook till the raw mango is soft. Add jaggery and salt and cook till the jaggery is mixed well with the mango. Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Mom's Usal

We have always had a tradition of having a festive ("gad-da" in Konkani language) breakfast and lunch on Sundays. The breakfast menu would always be idli-sambar-chutney and lunch would start with fish or prawn fry and crab or any seafood curry or chicken biryani or chicken curry with rice. My mom also prepared a curry called "Usal" which goes very well with idlis. I have always preferred this curry to sambar. It is also very healthy as it is made with fresh peas.
But with all the health tips and health articles floating around on the internet advising on eating more of fat free food, we have simplified our food preparation living in US. Also with my hubby being a vegetarian we mostly prepare vegetables freshly bought from our local farmer's market. This weekend I decided to prepare my mom's rich curry which she specially prepares as a side dish to have with idli's. It also goes great with hot rice. This curry is more liquid-ish in nature and has very few vegetables, so it makes a great sauce to dunk hot idlis. It is a great alternative to the humble sambar and its spicy garlic flavor makes a great treat for any Sunday morning. So here is my mom's spicy Usal recipe.

2 cups green peas (frozen or fresh)
2 medium potatoes or 1 large one
2 medium onions
2 1/2 cups grated coconut
10-12 red chilies or as per taste
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
coin sized ball of tamarind
1 whole garlic (10-12 cloves)
salt for taste
2 tablespoon coconut oil or any other oil

Fry the red chilies for 8-10 minutes on low flame till crisp. Then fry the grated coconut for 5-10 minutes till it is slightly roasted and light brown in color. Roast the coriander seeds till light brown. Fry on low flame taking care not to burn the ingredients. Let the ingredients cool down.
Peel the onion and chop it into medium pieces. Peel the potato and chop it into 1 cm cubes. Microwave the peas if they are frozen. Boil the potato, onion and 1 1/4 cup peas in 2 cups of water. Boil till the potato is soft. Keep aside.
Now grind the roasted coconut, coriander, red chilies, tamarind, garam masala and 3/4 cup of peas into a very smooth paste adding 1 cup wate or more if required. Mix this paste with the boiled vegetables. Get the curry to a boil with more water if required. Salt the curry as per taste.

Peel the garlic cloves and crush them very slightly. Heat oil in a pan and fry the garlic on low flame till it is light brown. Add this seasoning to the curry and cover the curry for 10-15 minutes so that the flavor of the seasoning is absorbed by the curry. Serve hot with idlis or with rice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

German Mashed Potato

This post is dedicated to German Bakery in Pune. When I was working in Pune, we would hang out at this Bakery on weekends. One would see people of all origins around here. There were many Osho Ashramites who would visit here for lunch or dinner.The fragrance of their hot garlic bread was just out of the world. They also had an assorted range of pastries and desserts. I particularly loved their dish of mashed potatoes with mushroom. I have tried to make my own version of it. It is a very simple dish to prepare and makes a great brunch on lazy weekends.
2 large potatoes
1 big red onion
10-12 medium sized button mushrooms
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon cream 
4 tablespoon milk
salt and pepper for taste
Thinly slice the onion and fry it in olive oil till light brown. Keep aside. Remove the woody stems of the mushrooms and wipe them clean with kitchen paper. Slice them thinly and add them to the same pan in which the onions were sauteed. Saute them for 3-5 minutes and then cover and cook them for 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper as per taste and remove them from heat and set aside. Boil the potatoes. The potatoes will be done when they fall apart when they are forked. De-skin the potatoes and mash them well adding milk, cream, pepper and salt. 
To serve, make a layer of the mashed potatoes and then add the mushrooms and fried onions on top. Serve hot with garlic bread. I added a sliced apple and "onions in vinegar" on top of the dish.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweet Chana Dal Khichdi

Hope everyone had a wonderful Diwali festival week. During the Diwali pooja this year I made chana khichdi as offering for the Gods. Chana khichdi is another sweet dish prepared at Konkani homes. I have heard of broken wheat and dal khichdi, but in my house we make it with rice. Moong or moong dal khichdi is also prepared in a similar manner and is a very healthy dessert. We also add sliced banana slices as topping on this khichidi.

1 cup chana dal
2 cups basmati rice
2 teaspoon cardamom powder or elaichi powder
2 cups grated coconut
2 cups powdered jaggery (or use 50% jaggery 50% sugar)
cashew nuts and raisins for garnishing
3 tablespoon ghee for garnishing

Roast the chana dal till light brown and keep aside. Wash the basmati rice well. Cook both the chana dal and basmati rice with 2 1/2 cups water till rice is half done. Keep aside till it cools down completely. Mix jaggery or jaggery+sugar, which ever combination is used, grated coconut in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook it on very low flame till till the jaggery melts and mixes with the coconut. Mix in cardamom powder. Mix the cooked rice and dal into the coconut mixture and heat on low flame for 5-10 minutes till   sweetness of the jaggery is absorbed by the rice. Heat ghee in a pan and fry cashew nuts and raisins. Top the khichdi with the dry fruits. Sliced banana slices can be placed on top as topping. Serve hot.