Naivedya: Sweet Appe

Nothing shouts coastal cuisine than an abundance of coconut in it. Other than seafood, that is. But we are still in the festive mood and so lets just stick to the coconut part. If I had any doubts regarding the role coconut plays in our life, they are crushed to smitterens every time I ask my mom for a traditional recipe. And it was replayed again when I asked for the recipe of Goud(Sweet) Appe (dumplings?). These appe are the traditional naivedyam offered to Ganpati during the Chavathi festival. They are made of, among other things, coconut and jaggery which seems to be a recurring theme in all the forms of prasad that is offered to this diety. Of course, growing up they were not my favorite things but as is the case with things, once they were no longer present I missed them. I asked my mom for the recipe so that I could recreate it this year. Now we are all familiar with the way moms tend to dispense recipe nuggets. However, with traditional recipes like these which are made once a year, my mom has exact proportions for all the ingredients except they are in coastal cuisine lingo.

Do you all remember basic geometry theorems? You have one-line theorems that you have to prove using other one-line theorems that could be proved using the current theorem you are trying to prove? You do? Good. Because deciphering the recipe is almost the same. Of course, there are some basic assumptions.

First, the ingredient list.

“Ekka Narla-ka, ek Kilo Goud aNi ek Kilo Rawa”

Translation:

For one coconut, one kilo jaggery and one kilo rawa.

Assumptions:

1) One coconut = gratings of one coconut.
2) Size of said Coconut = medium.
3) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know what a medium coconut is. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 1.

Narla Vatooche, goud ghalnu melNu yevve tai vatooche. Kadeke rawa ghalnu ek pati ghundache

Translation:

Grind coconut, add jaggery and grind till everything is mixed. Finally add rawa and blend once to mix.

Assumptions:

1) 1 kilo Jaggery = 1 kilo jaggery grated.
2) Cardamom not mentioned is cardamom included.
3) Grind coconut = grind coconut till just enough.
4) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know how much is just enough. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 2.

Don ghante puNi bareen kaNu dAvarche. Maagiri hoguru Ujjari toLNu kadche.

Translation:

Keep aside for at least two hours and deep-fry on a low flame.

Assumptions:

1) Deepfrying Fat = Ghee.

The last one is the best because she manages to give the most important tips for the recipe in one sentence. One, to let the mixture rest and two, to deep fry on a slow flame. How do you know when it is cooked? Any Cook worth his/her ……

—-Sorry Mom—–

Goud Appe

The biggest challenge after deciphering the recipe was to convert it into cup measures. Even though I have access to a coconut, the necessary implements for grating it and the enthu to grate it, the output from those proportions would still take us weeks to finish off. The second problem was the deepfrying the mixture. There is essentially no binder ingredient (like flour) in this mixture and it depends on the rawa absorbing all the liquid from the coconut and jaggery to help keep it together. The resting period goes a long way in achieving that. I have cribbed about my bender before and I do it again. In my kitchen, it is doing a job it is not engineered to do. Extra liquids go a long way in achieving this. More liquids means more trouble for the mixture to bind together. So, I decided to forgo the deepfrying to actually making them like appe. Which means access an Aebleskiver pan or the japanese takoyaki pan or the appam pan is essential.

Recipe :

Grind in a blender/ mixie, till the gratings seem like an homogenous mixture and not separate grains

2 cups Coconut gratings

using water, only as required. Once done, add

2 1/2 cups of jaggery, grated

and blend till the jaggery disintegrates. Add

1/2 tsp Cardamom/Elaichi powder, fresh always good.
1 cup Rawa/Sooji

and blend once just to mix everything together. Remove to a bowl and set aside to rest for at least 2 hours. I kept it for 4 hours.

Heat the appam pan. Lower flame to medium-low. Pour

1 tsp melted ghee, in each depression

When the ghee heats up, add

2 tbsp of the mixture, in each depression

This needs to be done very gently, be careful of the splattering ghee. Cook uncovered till the mixture on top changes color. Gently turn the appe over. You might have to slightly scrape the sides of each depression to do that. I use a small knife for the scraping and a spoon to turn it over. Cook until the other side browns up. Remove and drain on paper towels.

This recipe yields 32 appe. This post also joins the Festive cooking series: Ganesh Chaturthi at The Yum Blog.

GaNpati Bappa Morya…

Naivedya : Malai Modak

My favorite Deity is celebrating his birthday today.

I am missing Bombay, I am missing Wadala Math and Krida Mandir and more than that I am missing my family. Even with loud music blaring from speakers and all the vargani politics in Bombay, this festival rocks!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Happy Chavathi, Everyone!

On the day before Chavathi, we have Gauri/VaiNa pooja.

Vaina Pooja 2007

A humble coconut goes from a hard nut to a beautiful woman’s face. All of the dried husk from its shell are removed. In fact, I actually take a knife and scrape on the hard shell to make it as smooth as possible. Each family takes pride in how smooth they can make the coconuts surface. The three “eyes” of the coconut become its face. The top two are applied “KaJaL” to signify its eyes while the bottom one is applied “Shindor” to imply the mouth/lips. The “Shindoor” is orange powder and different from the ” KumKum” which is red. ‘Gaandh’, sandalwood paste is applied in between the “eyes” to signify the ‘bindi’ ( and the ‘Savashini’-married not widowed status). Kumkum is applied on top of the “Gaandh’ and a flower on top of the coconut making the transformation to a ‘Savashin’ complete. At the end of the pooja and just before the aarti, a little ‘diva’ is replaces the flower turning the ‘Savashini’ into gauri/vaiNa. After the pooja, each of the VaiNa is distributed to all the ‘savashin’ females of the house.

Till tomorrow people…

The Patholi Pictorial.

This summer I finally did what I had been planning for a long time. I pushed some fresh turmeric root into a pot of soil and prayed. In a classic manifestation of “ask and ye shall receive”, I received. Each of the root turned into a beautiful plant, having at least 10 leaves each. Though the leaves were nowhere near the size that one would get in an Indian market during this season, it didn’t matter because I had the leaves and that means that I could finally make some Paan Patholi.

Patholi is essentially Coconut+Jaggery mixture in rice+coconut paste steamed in turmeric leaves. It is a Konkani specialty and is usually made during Nagpanchami which is when I made these. The magic in this comes from the leaves. It is all about the leaves in fact. They are not just the pot holder here. They impart a very subtle taste to the rice paste during the steaming process that cannot be replicated by any alternative. Well, Banana leaves can be used but it would be a different taste. Good, but not the same. And the aroma, Oh the aroma, to die for. Not before eating a steaming hot patholi, though.

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Turmeric Plants in my patio Garden

For the past four years, I made the patholi in parchment papers in the absence of the turmeric leaves. Shilpa has a great post on that.

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Leaves washed and wiped clean

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Trimmed and lined for the magic

And the magic happens so.

For the rice paste,

Soak

1 cup raw rice

for 1-2 hours. Grind the rice with

1 cup poha/flattened rice
2-3 tbsp of grated fresh coconut
1/2 tsp of Jaggery, grated
salt, a pinch

with as little water as possible,till it forms a smooth paste. With my blender the way it is, I had to add more water and ended up making it more watery than it is upposed to be. It didn’t hurt the end product, but it was messy applying it to the leaf. This paste needs to be not runny at all. You should be able to scoop it up with your fingers and smear it on the leaf, in the leaf’s shape without the paste running over. Once done, keep aside.

For the stuffing,

Mix, slightly crushing it to release the coconut and jaggery juices,

1 cup Fresh coconut gratings
3/4 cup Jaggery gratings
2-3 Cardamom Pods, crushed and powdered

Let the stuffing begin. Line the leaves on a clean table/counter top. Hold the tip of the leaf with your left hand, scoop some of the paste with your right hand and apply the rice paste, starting at the mid vein of the leaf. Start working outwards to follow the shape of the leaves. The hand instructions reverse if you are left-handed, of course. The paste should be applied in as thin a layer as possible without the green of the leaf coming through.Repeat for all leaves.

Wash hands. Have the steamer ready with the water boiling. Scoop the stuffing and put it on the mid-vein of the leaf in a thin line. This is so that when the leaf is folded over, the stuffing is exactly in the middle and the thin line makes sure that the stuffing does not overflow. When the jaggery melts during the steaming, it will start spreading towards a wider surface area.

Fold one side of the leaf over the other length-wise. Press ever so lightly around the periphery of the leaf, so that paste sticks together. Steam for 10-12 minutes till the kitchen smells of all things wonderful. You will know, you will just know.

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Paste applied and stuffing layered on the leaf.

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The leaves folded over the stuffing and ready for steaming

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The patholis steaming away to glory in a traditonal steamer. This is called the ‘peDavaNa’ and was a gift from my mother. A more traditional steamer would have been made of ‘pithili’ (brass, I think).

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A Patholi uncovered and ready to be devoured.

Believe what I say and don’t believe my camera. The photograph does not do justice to the magic that is patholi.

My entry to JFI-Rice, over at Sharmi’s Neivedyam, and RCI-Karnataka at Asha’a Foodies Hope.

Turns out to be a excellent entry to Green Blog project-Summer 2007 over at Deepz, too.

UPDATE Aug 31 :

Just wanted to clarify that you do not eat the actual leaf. You peel the leaf off a steamed patholi, and just eat whats inside. At this point, the leaf has already given all of its magic to the patholi. The actual dish is the steamed rice + coconut paste with the sweet stuffing inside.

The different names for this sweet in various regional cuisines,

Konkani – Patholi
Kannadiga – Genesale
? – Paangi

Rava-Coconut Barfi

Some of the readers of this blog just pointed out to me that I have made the biggest goof-up a food blogger can make. Post a pic and not type out the recipe. Yes, I did that. Not only did I do that, I also did it 6 months ago without realizing that the recipe and the post was never updated. I own up to it because other than deleting the post, I really have no other way to deny it. I cannot delete the post because [sigh], it is part of the Jihva-Diwali round up. I am trapped and only because I have no other excuse or a simpler way to write it off, I admit to the transgression, apologize profusely and type out the recipe. Thanks for the polite requests and defer brickbats, if any, to another post ‘cos Anoushka’s listening. Can you find her?

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Roast

1 cup rawa

on a low flame, stirring constantly, till it changes color to a faint pink. Like everything else,it chooses to go from the light pink to burnt brown in that second that you turn to your kid to tell him for the umpteenth time why he can’t have juice before dinner. As soon as it changes color add

1 tbsp Ghee

and mix. My mom does this when she makes rawa laddoos and it seems to fluff up the rawa. I do it because I am a good girl and I do everything my mom tells me to do and because I like quirky things like that. :D
You need to be quick here. Add the ghee and think about my quirkiness and you will end up with burnt rawa.Add the ghee, mix, raise heat and add

1 cup shredded coconut (fresh is good and recommended, dessicated can be substituted)
1 cup Milk

Let it come to a boil and keep stirring till the rawa absorbs the milk. If you don’t keep stirring, the rawa settles down on the bottom and lumps up. Not good.Add

1/2 to 1 cup Sugar

Equal amounts of rawa:sugar is recommended. Depends on how sweet you want it to be. For me it depends upon how I feel that day. If a pair of pants I really liked at the store didn’t fit that day, I go low. If not, all the way.You know it by now, stir, stir, stir, until the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pot. At this point, it helps to know that this is better done in an non-stick type of pot which prevents things from sticking. It starts leaving the side and forms into one big ball. A more knowledgeable person would tell you that this is the soft ball stage of melting sugar, but since I am not that person, I will refrain. Immediately pour it on to a cookie sheet/ tray or the serving plate that didn’t fall on to your head. Spread it evenly across, top with

chopped pistachios

Why pistachios? Because I like them and it looks pretty, thats why. :)

Cut it into small squares or diamonds or rhombuses. If you use fresh coconut,they tend to be on the softer than the average burfi and taste more juicy.

Enjoy.

Phodis

There is no dearth of deep-fried goodness in konkani food. There is an seemlingly endless variety of bajjo-s, phodi-s and ambado-s , just to name a few.

This is what I understand is the difference between each.

Bajjo : They are different veggies that are dipped in batter and deep fried. They are best hot off the oil and tend to become oily when cool. They are served as part of a meal or as a snack with some hot coffee. Essentially, Bajjo is konkani-speak for pakoda. Eg : piava(Onion) Bajjo, Goola(Green Brinjal) Bajjo etc.

Ambado : is a mixture of vegetables/herbs and spices, with potato/legumes/besan used as binder. They can also be seasoned mashed vegetables/tubers dipped in a batter and deep fried. Ambado is konkani speak for vada/vade Eg: Batate (Potato) ambado, Biscoot (Seasoned Urad Dal) Ambado etc.

Phodi : They are deep-fried veggies, too. However, there is no batter involved. They are marinated with a dryish paste of (red chillies+hing+salt and rice,soaked in water). The veggies used for phodi’s tend to be vegetables which have a low content of water in them. Root Vegetables like Suran (Indian yam), Sweet Potato etc. work best. Heat levels (as in Scoville) are higher in phodis than your average bajjo.They are sliced very thin and fried on medium heat for quite a bit longer than bajjos, making them crisp and chewy. They are great at room temperature, too. eg: see below . But they really come into their own when made with cross sections of fish like mackeral or pomfret. Yummm…..

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Clockwise from top : Karate Phodi, Surana phodi, Kadge Phodi, Ghointa Phodi

This post talks phodi. As explained above, they are marinated with the spicy paste. We call the spicy paste ‘Goolli’ and the whole process of applying the paste to the Vegetables/fish is called “Goolli Lavche” or applying the paste. However, the english translation comes nowhere to describe the importance of its konkani counterpart. Especially, if seafood is involved. It is not that you dunk the paste and the veggies together in a bowl and swish them all around. You take each slice and apply the paste to it and set aside. It takes a lot of time, but such kind of attention to detail results in properly seasoned fish or vegetable that are just amazing. It is all about details.

The phodis are , most often than not, part of the festive meal or a very large meal. Each vegetable that is to be fried has a special shape in which it will cut for the phodi. Traditionally, five types of phodi are made for any festive meal. I could get hold of only four. The one’s I made for Sansar Padwa and their traditional shape are

1. Suran-a Phodi : Indian yam. They are usually cut into 1 mm thick/thin quadrilatrals of about 1″ * 1″. I used the frozen suran availabe in Indian store, and they are available pre-cut into cubes.

2. Kadge Phodi : Raw Jackfruit. 1 1/2 mm thick wedges . The actual width would depend upon the radius of the Jackfruit. Again, my only choice was the canned variety. I cut each piece into two cross-sectionally.

3. Ghoint-a Phodi : Parwal. Each parwal is cut into three or four pieces depending upon its thickness length-wise. My favorite.

4. Karate Phodi : Bitter gourd. They are cut into thin rounds (As thin as you can make them) and fried crisp, almost like chips. It kind of takes the edge away from the bitterness, yet maintaining it’s integrity. Even haters of this vegetable eat thid deep fried version of them.

Certain rules that are followed.

1. Each type of the vegetable should be cut in approximately the same thickness, length and breadth. They all cook at the same time that way.

2. All vegetables except karate (bittergourd, because of the bitterness) can kept in the same bowl once the “goolli” is applied.

3. Irrespective of whether the vegetables have been mixed together or not, when deep-frying fry like vegetables together. Again, different cooking times for different vegetables.

4. Always fry the bittergourd the last as changes the taste of the oil.

5. You know the veggies are crisp enough when the oil around them stops bubbling.

6. All safety rules for deep frying apply. :)

Recipe for “goolli”:

1 cup un-cooked rice, soaked for about an hour or two.
A fistful of dried red chillies (about 10-12)
1 tsp of hing powder
Salt to taste.

Grind together in a blender, using as little water as possible, to a smooth paste. Absolutely no water used when my mom makes it. But then, she has the magic mixer, too. However, my recent acquisition, the cuisinart coffee grinder, with the detachable grinder, works great for this as well for most chutneys. At $29.99 (at Bed, Bath and Beyond), it is not as hard on the pocket as some other ones. :)

Apply to the sliced/cut vegetables and keep aside for about an hour. Deep fry. Best served with Rice and Daalitoy.

Psst,Dear Behena, Pudding recipe coming soon….Dheeraj Rakh…

Update : ‘karate’ to be read as Kaa-raa-tey’. Thanks to the ever-vigilant Coffee’s comment below.