Avalakki Chooda

Crunchy seasoned flattened rice speckled with fried peanuts

Chooda chai

Spring and Fall. My favorite seasons of the year.

There is something magical in the change of seasons. And, a zillion ways to soak in the beauty of it. I find it particularly enchanting to experience spring in small ways. Like say, seated in a reclining chair with feet up in careless abandon, in a balcony facing a thick patch of blooming trees, chirping birds in the background, a golden sunset punctuated by gentle breeze, chatting my heart away with my soul mate and kids giggling by our side, sipping piping-hot ginger chai with a side of something crunchy.

Like this Avalakki chooda.

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No-Bake Oats and Seeds energy bites

Oats and seeds bar

Hello.. Hello! Hope y’all are doing well, keeping warm and the year has been going great so far.

I am doing well too. It has been over a year since I have been away from the blog. And, for good reason. I got promoted to being a mom of two – a girl and a baby boy who is now ten months (can’t believe!). Last year has just flown by making space in our lives for our new little man, bending and mending schedules, making peace with the ever demanding sleep cycles (the hardest part!) and growing together as a family of four and parents of two. Yet, when he smiles his toothless smile and tugs at my pant trying to walk his first few steps, every bit of the rollercoaster ride seems worthwhile. Slowly and steadily as his napping schedule seems more predictable, I have the privilege of stealing some much needed time for myself to be back at this cozy space here.

And hence, THIS first post of 2015.

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Benne Murukku


[Update: Benne Murukku was featured on the kitchn on Oct 14 2011]

Back in the olden days, making Murukku traditionally was quite an elaborate affair. Short grain rice would be washed and allowed to dry spread out on a clean white cloth. When dried, it would then be stone ground in small handful batches to a fine powdery flour and the same repeated for roasted Urad dal/split Black gram as well. And the whole process would easily take couple of days before the actual making begins!
I know it verbatim because that was exactly how it was made in my grand dad’s house every year for the festival of Gokulashtami up until a decade ago. No wonder those murukkus were heavenly!

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Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes

 

Right from the time I first saw them on Discovery or some such channel  I was quite fascinated with them. Years later, very recently I was thrilled when I got to buy them at whole foods. That was the first time ever that I held a purple potato in my life. You must be surprised at the way I talk about this rare (at least to me) vegetable as if it is worth its weight in gold.

So incredible is the feeling of discovering/exploring a new food ingredient!

Ever since I started blogging, everyday is a discovery of something new to me, blogging has left the doors of learning wide open. Now I always have my eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary when I stroll around the food market.

Nature displays her sense of color in fascinating ways. There is something magical about food in unusual colors, a pure delight.

Contrary to popular skepticism, purple potatoes even as they appear outlandish, are not genetically modified. Thank God!
Purple potatoes it seems were among the first to be cultivated in the Peruvian Andes by the Incas, reserved as a special treat for the kings.
Potatoes are off-late the most frowned upon food for their high starch content and for being just what they are, ‘carbs’. Purple potato with its vivid deep navy blue mixed purple color is both bold and beautiful, bold in hue and beautiful in looks and just like blueberries, it is supposedly rich in antioxidants.
Now that I have revealed the good news, aren’t there more reasons to pick up this purple tater than its whiter namesake?

I know exactly what’s on your mind now. What about its texture and taste? I am coming to it right away.
Some say they taste just like potatoes. I felt they taste quite purple, in a nice way, really. I don’t know if it was just me or the potatoes themselves.
The texture is creamy with a velvety feel to the bite, a tad bit sweet with a skin thinner. Some even say it is subtly nutty with a grassy note, may be it just depends on the produce or the season.
They are smaller, cook fast and turn almost an elephant grey on cooking.

I guess you can cook them in all the same ways as you would the regular spud but I wanted a recipe as flamboyant as their looks.
My least favorite way to eat them is all mushy in mashed potatoes. I feel slices and chunks flatter them better and thus roasting came as the natural choice.
Next time around, I’d love to explore them in a mixed bag along with their gold and rose counterparts as the contrasting colors sound rather interesting.

They are a bit pricey compared to the regular ones, but hey! I feel they are worth the premium. They are more nutritious and I love to eat them.


Rosemary being intensely aromatic perfectly accentuates this purple tuber united with the characteristic pungency of garlic.
Intensely flavorful and deeply satisfying, these healthy roasted purple potatoes are the perfect recipe to replace french fries. Neither the calories nor the guilt!
Purple potatoes are not something you see often served in a restaurant or in someone’s house. Hope you got a new recipe to share some good-eat moments with friends and family.
Do have your eyes out when you hit the farmer’s market this spring/summer.
May be I should grow them in my balcony garden…

 My next exploration would be purple potatoes with lavendar and fleur de sel in place of sea salt for a whimsical taste with perfect saltiness, another time. A pinch of food for thought, eh?
 Have you ever had a rendezvous with purple potatoes? How would you describe its taste?

Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes Recipe

recipe adapted from epicurious.com
Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 lb purple potatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves (about 1 sprig), minced
  • 2 garlic cloves or per taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
Others
  • baking tray
  • aluminium foil to line the tray
How it’s done:
Preheat oven to 400°F
Line baking tray with aluminium foil and either brush or spray some olive oil.
Wash, dry and quarter the potatoes into wedges. To easily release rosemary leaves, hold the end of the sprig in one hand and pull the leaves backwards in a swift motion. Hold them all together to chop.
To easily mince garlic, let’s use the “smash the garlic clove with the knife” trick. Place the chef’s knife sideways on the garlic clove with one hand and smash it against the cutting board with the other palm as the hammer. Then peel and run your knife back and forth like a saw to chop/mince it.
In a large mixing bowl, quickly combine all the ingredients, salt being the last (to avoid sogginess) making sure that all the potato wedges are well coated with olive oil, herb and spices.
Arrange the wedges facing up on the baking tray and bake for 20 mins or until edges are brown and crisp and fork tender.
Do not over bake or leave the potatoes in the oven longer than the baking time or they’ll shrink.

Note

Dried rosemary should be fine too, though fresh works best. If it is your first time with this highly aromatic herb, here’s a handy video on how to chop Rosemary.
Thyme can also be used along with or instead of rosemary.
Fingerlings and gourmet potatoes work equally well with this recipe and result in crisp on the outside and buttery on the inside wedges.
White and red skinned potatoes work fine as well but not the russet potatoes.

Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes is my favorite post in April and hence sending it off to Your Best Recipe Roundup for April held by Nancy of Spicie Foodie

Also sending it as my entry to Hearth and Soul Hop volume 46 at the hub

Hearth and Soul Hop at the Hearth and Soul Hop Hub

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Thyme Garlic roasted Sweet Potatoes

Did you know the other uses of the conventional oven?
As extended storage space for heavy-duty cookware like the cast iron griddle, cast iron skillet, cast iron wok (kadai) and any other hard-to-lift cookware that are too big or hefty to fit inside the kitchen cabinets of a cozy apartment? That’s how it was for me until…I discovered the joy of baking, very lately. And since then, I cannot stop thinking about what I can cook in the oven next.
Even though conventional ovens were not a common sight in India back in my childhood years (even now it isn’t as much as the microwave), roasting sweet potatoes was not an unfamiliar concept. When we were kids, sweet potatoes belonged to the category of ‘fun eats’. Especially in my grand dad’s 100 ft long house in Mysore, at the fag-end of which was the old time bathroom with a pretty quarter of it occupied by a huge ancestral brass cauldron (hande, pronounced ‘hun day’ in kannada) for heating water. What has a boiling cauldron got to do with roasting sweet potatoes? Nothing. Except, the fireplace that heats it up from underneath while being mainly accessible from the outside of the bathroom, to place the firewood or light up the fire. On the hot flammable charcoal remnants in that fireplace was the perfect spot for roasting sweet potatoes covered in ashes and fiery red charcoal. I guess it wasn’t just the roasted sweet potatoes, but the whole process of roasting in itself that got the excitement written all over us. Those roasted sweet potatoes were uber simple with no special recipe to die for. But I guess I couldn’t help thinking about them ‘cos that’s how sweet potatoes were meant to be eaten, roasted not boiled nor steamed. Roasting really brings out the wild sweetness and the underground nuttiness of sweet potatoes like no other cooking method does. Along similar lines went the roasting of Jackfruit seeds (nuts) as well. Let me not drift off to another story lane now.
I have already posted in “Indian-American: A Fusion Thanksgiving Feast” how over the top I was in ‘the mood’ to celebrate Thanksgiving the American way, sans the turkey of course. After hogging on Food network for weeks before Thanksgiving, I was familiar with the festive menu to say the least. But when it was time to draw up my own fusion menu for the special day,  the recipe courtesy was by mr.google who brought me to this site where I found it and liked it.
I should admit that I approached the recipe with a lot of scepticism. How can something as sweet as this tuber taste scrumptious when seasoned with garlic, herb and red chilli flakes? But I left the better part of my judgement behind and now, I am thankful that I did.
The result? Luscious sweet potatoes, velvety on the inside with blistering brown outsides and delicious garlic herb flavors. Sweet potato and thyme in perfect harmony, the sweetness of it balanced by a hint of the red pepper flakes at the back of the tongue. Very satisfying as much as it is filling, absolutely easy as much as it is delicious.
As an amateur baker myself, I feel this is the easiest recipe there is to make in a conventional oven. So those of you who have avoided the ‘oven’ like the plague or have dressed it up for another job like I did for so long, let me tell you ~  if I could do it, you surely can too. Go dust your oven, so your kitchen can smell of warm aromas you have only read about…

recipe source: epicurious.com | November 2005| by Kathryn Matthews
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 large Sweet potato washed and cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 2 big Garlic cloves, minced
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes / 1 sachet crushed red pepper (pizza accompaniment)
  • ground black pepper (per taste)
  • sea salt
How it’s done:


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium-size mixing bowl, add all the ingredients sprinkling salt and ground black pepper as per your taste and toss well to coat the spices and herb onto the sweet potato rounds.
  • On a large baking tray lined with quick-release aluminium foil, arrange the sweet potato rounds individually in a single layer. Oven roast the sweet potatoes placed on the top rack until tender and browned on top or about 40 mins. Check in between and more towards the end for otherwise burnt edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note:
I have roasted at 350°F and 400°F. If you want the sweet potatoes to be soft and tender and lightly browned, bake at 350°F. Or, if you want it to be crisp on the outside and softer on the inside, go for 400°F. Just be sure to check often with 400°F as the sweet potatoes tend to get burnt on the outside and the same goes to the garlic and herb as well.
Tips:
  • Place the sweet potatoes in the oven soon after adding salt.
  • Those little unused sachets of crushed red pepper from pizza home deliveries that you kept aside, this is the time to make use of it. That’s what I did. Though I had shelved them, I was pleasantly surprised that they came handy here indeed.
  • To release the tiny thyme leaves from the sprig easily, pull the leaves back rather than forward.