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Thursday, July 07, 2022

From mothers to daughters – five traditional recipes from across the country

A dessert from Kerala, a relish from Andhra, a spicy side-dish from Mangalore and more to celebrate Mother's Day.

By: Team Express FoodIE | Mumbai |
May 7, 2016 7:07:34 pm

It’s turned into a brand name, a punchline for an ad and is the last word in cooking traditions across the world. We’re talking about the mother’s recipe. Ahead of Mother’s Day, we asked five of our contributors for a favourite recipe that has been handed down to them by their mother. We have two desserts, a relish, a flavoured rice and a hot, side dish for you.

Subhashini Venkatesh – Bhojana Recipes
As soon as I was born, my family settled in Vijayawada, in Andhra Pradesh. We lived there for few years. My mom, Lakshmi Sundaram learnt this recipe there and it became the favorite recipe of all our relatives. My mom once took part in a cookery contest conducted by the Mahila Samaj of our village and she won first prize for this recipe. So I can never forget the day when I saw my mom getting on stage to receive her prize from the Panchayat President. Hence it’s my most favorite pickle that takes me back to my school days. I learnt this recipe from her during my summer vacation when I was just 15 years old. Now this Allam pachadi has become a signature recipe of mine too…

Subhashini Venkatesh and her mother. Subhashini Venkatesh and her mother.

Allam Pachadi is the all time favorite side dish for anything on your plate. This is an authentic , traditional pickle/chutney/thokku of Andhra Pradesh. It can be even used as a dip or spread. It can be spread on rotis and rolled. It tastes great with idli, dosa and pesarratu. It can be mixed in hot rice and had with any raithas. This flavourful and spicy pickle stays fresh for as long as two months.

Allam Pachadi

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500g- Ginger
1- Big lemon-sized ball of tamarind
5 tbsp- Red chilli powder
6 tbsp- Jaggery powder
4 tbsp- Crystal salt
150 ml- Gingely oil

For seasoning
1 tsp- Mustard seeds
1 tsp- Channa dal
2- Red chillies

Allam pachadi - Bhojana recipes Allam Pachadi.

* Wash the ginger well without any dirt and wipe them dry.

* Peel the skin and cut them to small pieces.

* Boil 50 ml of water and soak the tamarind in the hot water.

* Wait till the hot water gets cooled.

* Now take a bigger size mixer jar and add the ginger pieces, jaggery powder, salt, red chilli powder and the soaked tamarind (without water) into it and grind to a fine smooth paste.

* Then add the water in which the tamarind was soaked and grind further.

* Transfer the paste to a broad bowl.

* Heat a wok with 150 ml of gingely / sesame oil.

* Add the seasoning ingredients.

* When the channa dal becomes roasted red , pour the oil on the ginger paste in the bowl and mix well with a ladle.

* Once the pickle gets cooled store it in a glass bottle.

* It can be stored for months in refrigerator and used.

Maria Jose Martin – Maria’s Menu
Cooking isn’t my amma’s strong suit. That being said, I don’t think it ever bothered me that she wasn’t interested in cooking. Even as a child when my friends used to bring their homemade treats, I never for once wished or wondered what if my amma could make it.

However, there are somethings I like best when Amma makes them, her Parippu Payasam, Orotti, Bombay Toast, Erachi Thoran, Chapathi are some of my favs (yes, that’s about her total menu)…

Maria Jose Martin with her mother. Maria Jose Martin with her mother.

I chose this recipe as Mother’s day special, because it was handed down from my grandmother. I remember eating bowl full of this Unda payasam many a times during my childhood days. It’s something that amma and Tesschechy (my mother’s sister/ my aunt) make even now when we visit.

You can call it a traditional Kerala style dessert made with rice flour, coconut and banana. The combination of rice flour and coconut never loses its magic with me and addition of banana adds a different flavour to this dish.

Unda Payasam
Serves: 6-8

2- small or medium-sized Ripe Plantain (Ethakka), quartered
1 tbsp- Ghee
½ cup, heaped- Rice flour (refer notes)
½ cup, heaped- Coconut
½ cup- Boiling water
2.5 cups- Water
4 to 5 tbsp- Sugar
1- Cardamom, crushed
¼ cup- Thick coconut milk

* Melt 1 tbsp ghee in a small frying pan.

* Add quartered banana and sugar (1/2 – 1 tbsp).

* Fry till the banana turns golden brown. Keep it aside.

* Combine flour, coconut and salt in a deep and wide mixing bowl. Add boiling water gradually to make a soft and smooth dough.

* Reserve 1-2 tbsp of dough and make tiny dumplings from the rest of the dough.

* You can make bigger ones too, but keep in mind the dumplings tend to expand while cooking.

* Cover this with a wet cloth to prevent it from drying out.

* Add ¼ – ½ cup hot water to the kept aside dough and make a thick paste.

* Boil 2.5 cups of water in a medium size sauce pan.

* Add dumplings to it and bring it to boil. Reduce the flame to lowest and cook for 6-8 mins.

Add 4 tbsp sugar and mix gently.

* Continue to cook for 5 more mins and add the dough paste. Mix well.

* Once it begins to thicken, add coconut milk and stir well.

* Add fried banana and crushed cardamom and mix well. Remove from fire after 4-5 mins.

Unda Payasam. (Photo: Mariasmenu) Unda Payasam. (Photo: Mariasmenu)

* Banana is cooked along with the dumplings in the original recipe. It imparts a strong banana flavour to the dish. You can follow that method, if you prefer a stronger banana flavour. If you don’t prefer the banana taste at all, you can skip it and just make rice dumplings.

* Also, in the original recipe, coconut milk is not used. I used it to make it creamier and also for the flavour. You can add hot water instead of coconut milk.

* The quantity of sugar can be adjusted to suit your requirements. Start with 1-2 tbsp of sugar and add more, if required.

* The dish tends to thicken a lot as it rests. You can add some hot water and reheat it to adjust the consistency.

Shobana P Rao – Cooking with Shobana
A few days ago on April 30, I remembered my amma on her 97th birth anniversary. My mother, Smt Ammembal Vimala Pai, was a typical mother of her times. Ours was a large family (we were six children). She managed a household efficiently with no wastage of any kind, yet cheerfully cooked up hot and delicious food for us and a steady flow of visiting kith and kin.

Shobana P Rao with her mother Ammembal Vimala Pai. Shobana P Rao with her mother Ammembal Vimala Pai.

Being the youngest in the family, I learnt a lot about cooking from her only through observation and being the helper. There were no formal talks on how to make this or that. It was my job to assist by keeping the necessary ingredients ready, grinding the batter (in those pre-mixer days) and generally being of use to her as she then laid the final touches to the dish, mostly traditional Konkani food, as only she could.

Facebook likes, blog page views and other such indices of cooking blogs would have been alien to her, coming much after her time. Since I learnt so much from her I like to think she would have been pleased to see my cooking blog. As a small tribute to my Amma on Mother’s Day, I share the recipe for a dish we used to have often. One of my favourites called, “Vaingana Puddi Saggle” which is a curry of baby brinjals cooked with fenugreek and coriander in a coconut-based masala.

While you can use brinjals of any type, today I have chosen to make this dish with small brinjals. I would recommend you use the Red Byadgi Chillies in this preparation. This dish is a perfect side dish to our meal of rice and dal.

Vaingana Puddi Sagle

8-10- Baby brinjals
3/4 cup – Fresh Coconut, grated
8 or as per taste- Red Chillies (Byadgi)
A small marble-sized ball of tamarind
1 ½ tsp- Coriander seeds
¼ tsp- Fenugreek ( Methi) seeds
1-2 tbsp- Oil
½ tsp- Mustard seeds
1 sprig- Curry leaves
Salt, to taste

Vaingana Puddi Saggle. (Photo: Cooking with Shobana) Vaingana Puddi Saggle. (Photo: Cooking with Shobana)

* Wash the brinjals without cutting their stalks.

* Without breaking off the quarters, slit each of the brinjals at the base into four keeping the stalk intact. You may trim the stalk if it is too long. Keep aside.

* In a little oil, roast separately the red chillies, coriander seeds and methi seeds.

* Grind together grated coconut alongwith the roasted red chillies, coriander seeds, methi seeds, tamarind and salt to a coarse paste, adding just the required amount of water.

* Stuff this ground masala into the slit brinjals.

* Heat oil in a kadhai and when it gets hot, add mustard seeds.

* When they splutter, add curry leaves and saute.

* Next, add the stuffed brinjals and the remaining masala.

* Sprinkle a little water, cover and cook the brinjals over medium flame, stirring from time to time.

* Take care that the brinjals are not broken and that they are well coated with the masala.

* Cook till the brinjals get done and the excess water from the masala evaporates giving the dish a dry and roasted finish.

* Serve hot.

Bridget White-Kumar – Anglo-Indian Food
I was born and brought up in an Anglo-Indian family in Kolar Gold Fields, a small mining town in the erstwhile Mysore State now known as Karnataka in South India. Kolar Gold Fields or K.GF, ‘the Little England’, had a large and predominant British and Anglo-Indian population, so our lives too were influenced to a great extent by British colonial culture.

My mum was an exceptional cook and even the most ordinary dishes cooked by her tasted delicious. She was very versatile and imaginative when it came to cooking. She would improvise and turn out the most delicious curries and side dishes with whatever ingredients were on hand. Every dish she prepared was delicious even if it was just basic rice and meat curry that was cooked every day. Mummy had a procedure for everything. The onions had to be sliced ever so thin, and the green chillies and coriander leaves chopped finely. Even the tomatoes for the curry were scalded first and the skin removed, then chopped into bits and strained through a sieve so that only the pulp was used and the seeds and skin thrown away!

Bridget White-Kumar (extreme right) with her mother. Bridget White-Kumar (extreme right) with her mother.

While everyday lunch was considered simple, lunch on Saturdays and Sundays was special. Saturday lunch was invariably Saffron Coconut Rice, Mince ball curry or ‘Bad Word Curry’ (the word ‘Ball’ was considered rude or a slang word in the olden days, hence the name Bad Word Curry) and was served with the red ‘Devil Chutney’. My mind still recalls and relishes the taste of the Mince Ball Curry and Coconut Rice that my mum prepared on Saturdays for us when we were kids.

On Saturdays we had only half-day school so we were home by 12.30 pm, ravenously hungry and assailed by the delicious aroma of coconut rice and the tasty mince ball curry even before we reached our gate.

Since my mum was very particular about everything, the meat mince for the Ball Curry, had to be just right. The meat – either beef or mutton – was brought home fresh from the butcher shop. It was cut into pieces, washed and then minced at home in the meat mincer that was attached to the kitchen table. It was then mixed with the chopped ingredients and formed into even-sized balls. It was then dropped into the boiling curry that was already cooking on the stove and simmered till the mince balls were cooked to perfection and the gravy reached the right consistency.

The yellow coconut rice was always prepared with freshly squeezed coconut milk and butter. The raw rice and coconut milk would be simmered with ghee or butter, saffron and a few whole spices of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves till the rice was cooked perfectly. This coconut rice formed the fragrant yet light base of our Saturday Special Anglo-Indian Meal.

As a child, I would always try and help my mum to chop vegetables and onions, mince the meat or help her stir the delicious curries that she cooked for us. I would be the first person to help my mum churn the batter and cut the fruit for the Christmas cakes and puddings.

In a way, my mum greatly influenced my passion for cooking and encouraged me to do things myself. My favourite past time was to cut out recipes from old magazines and paste them in my scrap book which I still have till this day. My hobby was to try out the old recipes from my mum’s handwritten recipe books. Some of the old Colonial dishes with quaint names such as the Railway Meat Curry, Meat Glassey, Devil Curry and the Dak Bungalow Roast had a special fascination for me and I was keen to keep these dishes alive. Here is my mum’s recipe on Mother’s Day.

Saffron Rice. (Photo: M Jithendra) Saffron Rice. (Photo: M Jithendra)

Saffron Coconut Rice
Serves: 6

1 pack- Coconut milk diluted with water to get 4 cups of milk or 1 fresh coconut grated and milk extracted to get 4 cups of diluted milk
2 cups- Raw Rice or Basmati Rice
½ tsp- Turmeric powder or a few strands of saffron
Salt to taste
4 tbsp- Butter or ghee
3- Cloves
3- Cardamoms
3- Small sticks of cinnamon

* Heat ghee in a large vessel or rice cooker and fry the spices for a few minutes.

* Add the washed rice, salt, turmeric and four cups of coconut milk and cook till the rice is done.

Indrani Dhar – Recipe Junction
My mom is a beautiful person from inside and out. She is a great cook and has a great enthusiasm for learning new cuisines and my sister and me were introduced to many Indian regional cuisines in my childhood by her. From her, I got the knack of cooking and became a foodie during my college days. On some days, I used to cook for our family of four, which used to be a test of sorts of my cooking skills. Now, I teach her how to prepare dishes from new cuisines. Of course, I still call her whenever I need guidance in cooking or I need life advice.

Indrani Dhar (extreme left) with her family. Indrani Dhar (extreme left) with her family.

Today I’m sharing this traditional Bengali sweet recipe, “Doodh Puli Pitha”, which I learned from her after marriage. I clicked this picture during my early blogging days, when she visited me and made this dessert. Doodh puli has a outer shell made of rice flour and an inner filling made of Coconut and sugar/date palm jaggery. The shell, commonly made into half-moon shape, is called puli. After these pulis are prepared, they are boiled in thickened milk/doodh, sweetened with jaggery.

Doodh Puli Pitha

1 litre- Milk
250- Palm Jaggery or 1 cup- Sugar

For outer shell
500g- Rice flour
A pinch of salt
Lukewarm water to make the dough

For Inner filling
2 cups- Grated coconut
1 cup- Sugar
1 tbsp- Cardamom powder

For filling

* Take coconut in a wide pan.

* Add sugar little by little and keep stirring in low flame.

* Cook this mixture until the mixture comes together and sticks together. Remove from heat when the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Flavour it with cardamom powder. Let it cool.

Doodh Puli pithe. (Photo: Recipe Junction) Doodh Puli pithe. (Photo: Recipe Junction)

For the outer shell
* Take rice flour, add salt and mix.

* Add enough lukewarm water to make a soft dough.

* Cover the dough with a cloth.

For the puli
* Make small lemon-sized balls from the dough.

* Flatten each ball with your fingers in the shape of a bowl.

* The shell should be neither too thick nor too thin.

* Stuff a small amount of filling into each puli.

* Bring together both the edges and it will get the shape of half-moon, press and seal with your finger. Your puli is done. Make other pulis the same way.

For the thickened milk, heat milk in a wide pan.
* Let it boil for 10-12 more minutes.

* Then lower the heat to low, add jaggery according to your taste (you should always add jaggery on low heat, as it can curdle the milk when added on high heat).

* Add all the prepared pulis once the jaggery is well mixed in the milk.

* Cook for another 15 minutes or until pulis are soft and the milk has thickened. Take care not to break the pulis. The milk should be neither too thick nor too thin.

* Place the dish in the fridge for a couple of hours.

* Serve cold.

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