Saturday, August 30, 2014

Naralachi Vadi for Baal Ganesh

My most favorite time of the year is here - Ganpati Bappa arrived in our house yesterday on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, and will stay with us the next 4 days. Oh, so much joy and good eats this festival brings!

I celebrate Ganesh chaturthi with much enthusiasm and glee, while trying to stay as eco-friendly as possible. See this hand-made clay idol and decor with used cardboard boxes from last year? The celebration this year is low-key, as I hardly have time to do anything with a baby and work. But my baby's first big festival needed something to make it memorable. Keeping the tradition, I made the idol at home. As a quick and simple alternative to clay, I thought of using play dough - the perfect medium to make idol for my baby's first Ganpati! Thanks to Pinterest, I knew I could make play dough at home. I used the no-cook play dough recipe on this site, with only half the measurements. I skipped cream of tartar (used for elasticity) and glycerin (used for shine). The preparation of making the dough with all purpose flour, salt, oil, and water took  10 mins all together. The key to getting good play dough is kneading it really well. Making the idol was equally quick as I skipped adding too many details. Our Bappa looks like Baal Ganesha (Baby Ganesha), and I was quite happy with it.

Husband asked for Modak for Naivedya. But it was too elaborate a process. I went for simple Naralachi Vadi (Coconut Barfi) instead, using one of the main ingredients from Modak. I was never a big fan of Naralachi Vadi until I tried it at one of my dad's friends' place. His wife had made the best vadi I had tried, and her secret ingredient was - potato! Who would've though?! Mashed potato gave the vadi a nice bite and chewiness. I don't like too hard, sugary and crumbly vadi, and potato added just the right texture to it. When I told the husband I was adding potato to the vadi, he thought I was joking! But he ended up loving the product, and I think Ganpati Bappa liked it too :).

Olya Naralachi Vadi/ Coconut Barfi

1 Packed cup fresh/frozen grated coconut
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup milk
1 Small potato (~ golf ball sized) - boiled and mashed
1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder
1 Tablespoon ghee
Dry fruits for decoration - I used Charoli. Almonds or cashews would be great.

  • Heat a pan on low flame, add ghee and grated coconut and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add sugar, milk, and mashed potato. Cook this mixture while stirring every so often. Make sure you take out all the lumps from the potato so that it's smooth. 
  • Cook the mixture down until all the sugar has dissolved and the moisture has evaporated. It should stop sticking to the pan and come together in a ball. 
  • Add cardamom powder and mix well. 
  • Grease a flat surface (plate/tray etc.) and spread the coconut mixture with a spatula into a 1/4'' cake. Sprinkle chopped dry fruits and pat gently on the cake. 
  • Once cooled slightly, cut the cake into desired sized diamonds. Let them cool completely before separating the barfi. 
Hope those of you who celebrate this festival are having a wonderful, modak-filled, celebration!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shravan Special - Puran Kadabu

I loved the auspicious month of Shravan as a kid for various reasons. Apart from all the holidays we got, food was certainly one of the highlights. Many women in Maharashtra observe the Jivati Vrata on Shravan Fridays by worshiping Goddess Jiviti for the health and longevity of their children. I didn't know of this vrata by its particular name, but I looked forward to eating Puran-Poli on the first Friday of the month. My mom performed 'ovalane' or 'aarati utarana', for which there is no translation in English! It's a ritual performed by offerning oil lamps to a deity/person as means of worshiping or offering respect. Details apart, mom made diyas out of Puran, the sweet split chickpea/chana daal stuffing that goes into Puran-Poli, to perform the ritual. Then we got to feast on delicious polis.

This year I got to pay it forward by praying for my daughter's well-being and long life. Of course, there was puran involved. Instead of making poli though, I prepared Kadabu - Indian style whole wheat empanadas stuffed with sweet Puran. Kadabu/Kadubu are better known in South India, although the preparation is different. While puran kadabu are made with wheat flour, other versions are either made with all purpose flour or rice flour, and the stuffing is often made of grated coconut instead of chana daal. Puran Kadabu are not very well known; for that matter my husband had never eaten them. But I am quite a fan. The good thing is you don't have to strain puran through food mill to make it smooth. In fact, coarse puran with a bite tastes really good in kadabu.

I saved the chana daal broth and some daal itself to make Katachi Amati which was served with rice, ghee, sweet lime pickle, and yogurt - yes, all home made! I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to be making fresh yogurt at home every day since last week. Our nanny got us the starter and I couldn't have been more pleased with the results. Anyway, that may warrant its own post.

Puran Kadabu/Indian Sweet Split Chickpea-filled Empanada

1 Cup split chickpea/chana daal
3/4 Cup grated jaggery
1 Teaspoon cardamom powder
Couple of pinches salt

2 Cups whole wheat flour
1 Teaspoon oil
1/4 Teaspoon salt
Water as needed

Oil for frying
  • Knead the dough by combining whole wheat flour, oil, salt, and enough water to form a stiff, firm dough. Cover and keep aside.
  • One the side, pressure cook chana daal until cooked well (4-5 whistles).
  • Once the daal is cooked, remove excess water (you can save the broth to make katachi amati). Add jaggery to the daal and start cooking until most of the water evaporates, and the mixture stops sticking to the pot. Add salt and cardamom powder and mix well. Puran or the stuffing is done.
To make kadabu:
  • Make large marble sized dough ball and roll it out thinly just like you would a puri. 
  • Take a decent amount of puran, approximately a golf ball size, so that you have a handsomely stuffed kadabu. Place it one one side of the round puri and press to form a half moon. 
  • Fold the other side of puri over and press two sides gently to seal. Make sure the kadabu is sealed properly otherwise frying oil will get inside and burn puran. 
  • To make the kadabu look pretty, gently press the tip of a fork into the sealed edges, and cut any uneven ends with a knife. Alternatively, you can use a Karanji Cutter if you have one. 
  • Fry on medium heat until golden brown. Kadabu will puff up when fried. It will soften once cooled. 
Pour some warn ghee on kadabu while serving, and enjoy!


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