Thursday, December 27, 2012

Drumstick leaves fry - A spicy version from my mom

  Drumstick leaves are rare here in Irving.So whenever I see them.will not forget to put it in my cart.Its bit costly too.But its nutritional values makes it to grab irrespective of the price.Usually I will do kootu with it.Today ,I remembered my mom's fry,so prepared it .She will add ground peanut,garlic and red chillies,which will make the fry unique.Miss u mom :) 
1.Drumstick leaves        -           1 cup
2.Onion                          -           1(chopped)
3.Oil                               -           1 tbsp
4.Mustard seeds              -          1/4 tsp
5.Urad  dal                      -          1/4 tsp
6.curry leaves                 -           few
7.Salt                               -          to taste
For grinding:
1.Peanuts        -    1 tbsp
2.Red chillies -    5
3.Garlic cloves - 2
* Dry roast the peanuts in a pan and cool it.
* Grind peanuts,garlic cloves and red chillies to coarse pwdr.
* Wash and clean the drumstick leaves.
* Take a pan,add oil and splutter with mustard seeds,urad dal and curry leaves.
* Now add the chopped onion and saute ,till it turns pink.
* Now add the drumstick leaves and toss it.
* When the drumstick leaves are cooked,add the grinded masala on top of the drumstick leaves.
* Give it a toss and adjust salt to taste.
* When the green leaves are cooked,turn off the stove and serve with rice.
Add red chilllies according to your taste.
Dont over cook the drumstick leaves,as it may taste bitter.
Don't cover the pan ,while cooking drumstick leaves as it may change the colour .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chinese Lantern Festival - History & Facts with complete pictures

     Recently we visited Chinese Lantern festival at Dallas Trade fair Park.It was a fascinating world of lanterns.We cannot take our eyes off each lanterns.We were astonished by  the craftsmanship of the Chinese . The artful pieces that make up the Chinese Lantern Festival are a collection of lanterns made of silky cloth, glass, and porcelain. Construction of this exceptional exhibit originated in China, where a team of more than 100 artisans and technical staff did preliminary work in Sichuan. Small completed pieces and raw materials were shipped by sea to the U.S.,  where a team of more than 40 arrived from China to construct the majority of the exhibits on-site. Working long days in 100-plus degree heat, they succeeded in creating a showcase of the world's foremost lantern-makers.

Majestic Arch!
 Facts about Lantern festival:
The Lantern Festival began in Han dynasty(A.D. 25 - A.D.220 )
  • The Lantern Fstival is held every 15th on first lunar month.
  • The four important festivals in China are the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Drgon-boat Festival and the Mid-autumn Festival.
  • Chinese Lantern Festival and the Tanabata Festival is the Ancient Chinese Valentine’s Day.
  • In the morning of Japanese Lantern Festival, there is a habit of eating small beans congee, Japanese believed that beans can avoid evil things.
  • China is known for silk in ancient time, rats often eaten silkworms that time, so that people cook a pot of gruel for the rats specifically in the Lantern Festival to avoid their silkworms being eaten.
  • Taiwan, South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore is the areas that most frequent celebrated the Lantern Festival

  • Lantern Riddles: 
    Lantern riddles are riddles that were written on the lanterns that are displayed during the Chinese Lantern Festival. People in the festival must guess the answer from a word , a poem or a phrase, guessing the riddles are as hard as fighting with a tiger, so that lantern riddles have another name - ‘lantern tigers’ .
    Some example of Lantern Riddles
    Riddles: What’s full of holes but still holds water?
    Answer: a sponge
    Riddles: What building has the most stories?
    Answer: A Library
                                                                 Peach Orchard Lanterns

                                                                Lanterns made like peach orchard
       At the earlier period of Western Han, Emperor Hanwendi stated the Jan. 15th of lunar calendar as the Lantern Festival, when he subjugated successfully the insurgency of Zhulu. Since the first Lantern Festival in Hanwudi (156B.C—87B.C.), every year at this time, emperor would offer sacrifice to the Heaven, Buddhist would light lamps to elucidate Buddhism, Taoist would sacrifice the deities Taiyi and Sanguan, common people would hold lamps and candles to chase rat, look at the silkworms and pray for big harvest and no disaster. Therefore, lamp, candle and fire gradually became scenery on the day of Lantern Festival.So we can say Han Dynasty is one of the most important Dynasty for the Formation of the Lantern Festival.

  • Lantern Festival customs 1 : Making lanterns are hung outside each house to help the dead to find their way. (or keep off evil spirits)
  • Lantern Festival customs 2: Eating Tang-yuan, it means the family reunion, people eat Tang-yuan, and hope it can help their family reunion.
  • Lantern Festival customs 3: Watching fancy lanterns, Lantern Festival is the Chinese Valentine’s Day in the ancient China, the lovers go to the street which decorate with lanterns and coloured ribbons together, and watching the fancy lanterns.
  • Lantern Festival customs 4: Sending Lanterns, some blessing text were wrote on the lanterns to give the people who received the lanterns a good blessing.
  • Lantern Festival customs 5: Greeting the immortal of toilet, Chinese women use a red Shau Kei as a sedan chair, and greet the immortal of toilet (This immortal died under torture when she is alive).
  • Lantern Festival customs 6: Crossing the bridge for no illnesses, Chinese women go across the bridge with each other women, they believe this can help them no illnesses in the next year.
  • Lantern Festival customs 7: Stealing crops, Young women who steal men’s crops believe it would help them to keep the health of the their silkworm, improving the production of silk.
  • Lantern Festival customs 8: Hunting festival, 36 young women will pose as 36 different prey and dance beside the bonfire, the men arm with hunting weapons and dancing around the prey. 

  • Courtesy:
                                                                   Panda Paradise
                                When we came into the festival,our eyes were caught by these small creatures.Pandas were lit with colourful lights.They were created like infants playing together.It was a wonderful sight to see.                 
                                                      Porcelin Dragon (Made up of upto 15,000 dishes)

       Among the 22 giant exhibits,this porcelin dragon is the one which portrays the hard work.A porcelain dragon stretching 330 feet, made from 15,000 bowls, spoons, and wine cups...all tied together by hand. It was lit with colourfull lights.A closer look of the porcelin plates,cups and dishes.
                                                                               Blessings of Qilin
    Qilin are mythical creature of good kind.They are composite,beings often taking the head of a dragon and the body of tiger or deer.These creatures appear only,when wise King rules the Country.Among the four spirits(Dragon,Turtle and Phoenix) this ranks first..We can see these Qilin were  built out of 1000 medicine bottles filled with coloured liquids.They have been arranged beautifully and lit.
                                                                         Blooming Lotus     
      After crossing these lions,we were captured by the pond of beautifull flower lanterns.Among those flowers,this lotus lantern is unique.It was blossoming and closing every other minute. 

                 Lanterns showing the habitat of birds and insects.Cranes were beautifully.lighted and placed in middle of the pond.

    Mushroom Garden has small and big mushrooms.These garden were decorated with colourful lights.
    Ants on vacation
                   These lanterns comically shows ,what happens when ants are on their vacation.In the first picture,ants were playing see saw.Second picture ,they were carrying the bride ,hand to hand for the wedding.Actually we cant see her.She is in the parcel..Third pictures,shows how they dance for a wedding party.Fourth picture showh how these ants play violin.

                                                                            Charm of Magpies
       Twittering on a branch full of plum blossoms,these birds foretell good things.Traditional Chinese believe these birds bring love,marriage,luck and good things.Plum blossom ,symbolizes for preserverance and hope,as it blooms amid the winter snow.A traditional fan is in the back drop

                                                                               Glorious peacock
    While the eagle is considered as the king of birds for N.America,peacock is for China,It is seen as the symbol of beauty and talent.Acccording to budhist monks.its a symbol of luck.This particular lantern has more than 10,000 welded points and required 40 days to complete.

                                                                      Chamber of Fairies
      Lanterns portraying the structural aspects of chinese.This particular building is amazing ,with its beautful lightings.This picture is taken across the lagoon.

                                                                              Temple of heaven
              This has 600 years old history.The original was built as a complex structure.and this particular icon of China,is where the Emperor will pray for a very good harvest that year.The temple was burnt completely in 1889 and rebuilt out of wood .And one unique feature about this is,it is built without any nails.The blue roof indicates heaven .This particular lantern uses 900 lights to illuminate.

                                                                           Faces of Peking opera
    These lanterns show the faces of peking opera.Its a style of arising theatre/These are masks used for theatre performance in China.These masks are not worn,in ancient theatres.They were painted diretly on the performer's face.

                                                                           Tunnel of Lights
    These lanterns are arranged as a tunnel of lights.The combination of red and pink lanterns are used.


                                Shops portraying Chinese's craftmanship and hardwork

    These shops were filled with antique pieces and hand ratfs.People were busily buying things from the shop.Most of these things were made up of wood and leaves.They are hand crafted .


                                      Here are some masks,wooden mugs,posters and toys!!!

         Here is a closer look of hand made baskets,slippers and jades.They were priced from $5 to higher.The picture with snake,is made out of single palm leaf. Every other insects were just made out of  palm leaves in front of us.The last picture shows beautiful jute bags .They are hand made too.

    We had a wonderful day at the Dallas Trade Fair park.Worth watching it .Kids will surely enjoy this.There were food stalls too,which had fried rice,spring rolls,soups and beverages.

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Plum Cake / Fruit Cake / Christmas Cake - Baking Partner's Challenge # 5

       December is a month of hope,celebration and holidays.We used to eagerly wait for the half - yearly holidays ,so that  we can go to our grand parent's home.We used to get plum cake from our neighbour every year for christmas.I will always think,that this cake is prepared only for christmas:) This cake become my favourite ,and always used to buy it from Hot breads or Adyar Bakery.My thirst for finding the recipe of this cake was quenched by this particular recipe.Its full of fruits and nuts with hand full of flour dusted all over.The lemon peel gives extraordinay flavour to the cake.Adding rum or brandy to the cake will make it flavourfull.But I have omitted this step.
      I would like to thank Swathi of "Zesty south Indian Kitchen" for giving this extraordinary recipe.For this month "Baking partner's " challenge,I selected plum cake out of 3 cakes.
    Recipe Source: Archana of Tangy Minds

    1.Raisins  or Tutty fruity                            – 1 cup
    2.Dates                                                       – 1 cup, chopped
    3.Candied Orange/Lemon Peel                  – 1/4 cup, sliced thin
    4.Brandy or Rum                                        – 1/4 cup
    5.Unsalted Cashew Pieces                          – 1 cup
    6.Lemon Juice                                             – few drops
    7.Boiling Water                                           – 1/2 cup
    8.Unsalted Butter                                         – 2 sticks (8 oz) at room temperature
    9.Powdered Sugar                                        – 2 1/2 cups
    10.Eggs                                                        – 3 large or 4 medium (separated)
    11.Vanilla Extract                                        – 1 tsp

    12.All-Purpose Flour                                      – 2 cups
    13.Baking Powder                                           – 1 tsp
    14.Cinnamon Powder                                      – 1/2 tsp
    15.Ginger Powder                                            – 1/4 tsp
    16.Clove Powder                                              – 1/4 tsp
    17.Nutmeg Powder                                           – 1/4 tsp
    18.Brandy                                                         – optional for soaking cake
    19.Cashews & pistas                                         -  2 tbsp (chopped) for garnishing
    20.Butter                                                           -    1 tbsp (for brushing)
    For Caramelised sugar:
    1.Sugar – 6 Tbsp
    2.Water – 3 Tbsp

    * In a medium pan, add Brandy/Rum(or water), Dates and lemon Peel. Cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Add Cashews and continue to cook for 1 minutes until heated through. Keep aside..( I didn't use brandy or rum.Just used water to infuse the flavor of lemon peel with the dates & cashews)
    * In a small pot, add 6 Tbsp Sugar and 3 Tbsp water and few drops of lemon juice. Swirl pan to mix – do not use spoon.Heat until sugar changes color and becomes caramelized. (approx 7-8 minutes).
    Add 1/2 cup boiling water and swirl pan again to mix well. Keep aside.Make sure the boiling water is mixed with the caramalised sugar very well.


    * Take a tbsp of flour and mix with the tutty fruity.This helps the fruitt mixture to spread evenly,if not it may settle down in the batter.
     * In a large mixing bowl, combine softened butter and powdered sugar and beat with hand blender.
    Add one egg yolk at a time to the mix and blend well.Add Vanilla Extract and blend.Combine all dry spices, baking powder and flour and sift it into the bowl, adding little at a time and blending.
    * Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

    *  Lightly coat baking pans with   Olive oil or regular cooking oil.Add caramelized sugar syrup a little at a time into mixing bowl and blend. Add tutty fruity,dates,cashews, into mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
    * In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they are fluffy and soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into the cake batter.
    * Pour batter into greased baking pans and tap it .so the batter is evenly spread.Garnish with chopped cashews and pistas. Bake for about 55 - 60 mins or untill the toothpick comes out clean. For smaller pans, baking time may vary.Remove cake from oven and brush with some butter.Allow it to cool completely and slice it.Store in air tight container.
    * Adding lemon peel gives a unique flavor to the cake.The amount of dry spices can be altered to our taste.
    * I have not used rum or brandy,so used water to infuse the lemon flavor into the cake.
    *  Brushing some butter on top of the cake. makes it soft.
    * Since I didn't have raisins,so replaced with tutty fruity.
    * When the sugar is caramalised,add 1/2 cup boiling water and mix well.If not the sugar will settle at the bottom,you will not get the original brown colour of the cake.
    * Mixing the fruits with flour before adding it to the batter helps it to spread evenly in the batter.
    * I have halved the recipe,as it is too big for my family.

    Chek my other Partner's recipes here

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    Kodi Kura / Andhra Chicken Curry - Best Chicken curry ever I had

              One sunday morning I was scraching my head for a new chicken recipe.When I  was flipping through my laptop,got this beautiful  recipe from the (Sailu's food ) net.Adding roasted cinnamon,cloves and curry leaves gives this curry a wonderful aroma.I have also added cashew paste to the curry,calorie watchers,can skip this,yet the taste will not be altered.Cumin  pwdr and coriander pwdr adds a magical touch to this curry,so don't try to skip these.But still it depends on your taste to alter the amount of the spices.When I tried it at home,the aroma of the spices filled my apartment completely.H was completely satisfoed with the taste and texture.I bet this curry will be your fav one soon.So why you are waiting? Make this curry ro make your Sunday's a brighter :)

    For Marinating chicken:
    1.Chicken                 -            1 pound
    2.Curd                       -            2 tbsp
    3.Sambar (chilli) pwdr -         2 tsp
    4.Turmeric pwdr         -          a pinch
    5.Salt                           -           1/4 tsp

    For Roasting and grinding:
    1.Cinnamon          -           1 inch
    2.Cloves                -           3
    4.Curry leaves        -          10 leaves

    For grinding:
    1.Cashews     - 6 to 7 (broken)
    2.Warm milk - 3 tbsp

    For the curry:
    1.Onion                     -            2 big
    2.Tomato                   -            1
    3.Ginger garlic paste -             1 tsp
    4.Coriander pwdr      -             1 tbsp
    5.Cumin pwdr            -             1 tsp
    6.Pepper pwdr            -              1 tbsp
    7.Salt                           -               to taste
    8.Cilantro                     -              for garnishing
    9.Oil                             -              3 tbsp
    10.Fennel seeds            -              1 tsp
    11.Curry leaves             -              few
    * Wash the chicken for 4 times and finally rub it with turmeric pwdr and wash it again.This removes the raw smell of the chicken.Marinate  chicken, with the marination ingredients for half an hour.
    * Soak the broken cashews in warm milk for about half an hour and grind it into a fine paste.Dry roast the cinnamon,cloves separately,without burning it and roast the  curry leaves separately.Once they are cooled,grind it into a fine pwdr.
    * Take a pan ,add oil,splutter with fennel seeds and few curry leaves.Add the sliced onions and saute till it becomes pink.Now throw in the chopped tomato and sprinkle some salt.When the tomatoes are mashed,add the ginger garlic paste and saute till it looses the raw smell.
    * Now dump in the marinated chicken, and saute till it is cooked 80%. Now add coriander pwdr,cumin pwdr,pepper pwdr and give it a toss.Add enough water to the curry and bring it to boil.Now add the grinded masala pwdr ( Cinnamon,clove & Curry leaves) .Close the curry with a lid and cook.
    * When the curry is cooked well,add the cashew - milk paste.Turn the stove to low and cover the curry with the lid.Cook for more 10 minutes or untill the chicken is tender.Garnish with cilantro and serve with roti,naan,parotta or rice.
    * While roasting the cinnamon and cloves,take care not to blacken it.It may make the curry bitter.
    * Keeping the curry in dhum for 10 to 15 minutes ,makes the curry flavourfull ,so dont forget to keep in dhum.
    * Chicken will be tender & juicy,since we are marinating it.
    * To make it healthier,we can also skip adding cashews.Other variations are we can also use coconut.

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