Friday, November 29, 2013

Popcorn in the pressure pan

Today was the last working day in my daughter’s school for this calendar year.  In addition to dressing up the little ones in Christmas colours, the parents were also asked to provide a small quantity of vegetarian snacks for children to share among themselves for their Christmas party.  One part of my brain was listing down the various ways of productively engaging a curious active kindergartener for one full month. Another part of it was trying to answer the question at hand - what snack to send for the Christmas party! I was looking for a mess-free simple home-made snack which children would readily dig into and enjoy.  And the first image that came to my mind was that of cute little hands reaching out for popcorn.  I set about making just this.

So, with this recipe in hand, I set about making a batch of beautiful popped corn.  Needless to say, the simple stove-top version (made in my pressure pan) tasted way better than the packaged versions of the thing I had been so used to.  This left me wondering, why I had never tried this earlier!! All that was needed was just a wide pan, dried corn, oil and some salt!  This recipe makes enough popcorn to fill a container that can hold 2L or water.  


  • Dried corn: ½ cup
  • Sunflower oil or butter: 2  tbsp (or 3 tbsp if you want it buttery)
  • Salt: to taste (I used about ½ tsp in all)
  • Wide pressure pan or a cooking pot or any flat-bottomed vessel (with a lid)


  • Clean a wide bottomed vessel (I used my aluminium large pressure cooker).  Wipe dry.
  • Do not switch on the flame.
  • Now introduce the half a cup of corn into the pan.
  • Next add the oil/butter.
  • Next sprinkle some of the salt. The remaining salt can be sprinkled after the corn has popped. 
  • Ensure the corn is not in a pile and is evenly spread out on the surface in one layer.  This is to ensure that all the corn kernels would get the same exposure to heat, resulting in better popcorn.
  • Now switch on the flame to medium heat. 
  • Once in 30 seconds, shake the pan and toss the contents slightly. 
  • After about 1.5 – 2 minutes, the butter would melt and the contents would slightly start sizzling. 
  • In another minute or so, the sizzle would get really strong. 
  • This is the time for the first corn kernel to pop.  This also means that you should be ready with the lid.
  • As the corn starts to pop, immediately fix the lid on the pan providing for a small vent (away from you).
  • The popping would intensify and an amazingly irresistible aroma would attack you..
  • In a while, the sound of corn popping would come down. 
  • When the popping reaches to 1 – 2 pops per 5 seconds, switch off the flame and take the pan off the hot burner.
  • Leave the pan closed for just another ten seconds.
  • Open and add salt and shake vigorously so that the salt gets evenly spread.
  • Tadaa!!
  • Absolutely yummy popcorn is ready.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kaju Apples

Diwali is really such a wonderful time of the year.  There is a certain feverish enthusiasm in the air.  Everyone is busy, easily 2-3 weeks before the actual festival.  Shopping for the latest dresses, shopping to make Diwali goodies, fireworks, most importantly, comparing notes about the sweets and savouries the others have prepared, besides other such wonderful things.

You must be wondering why I am talking about Diwali now.  I just wanted to record, on this blog, a sweet I had made and carried with me this year to India for Diwali – Kaju apples. This is nothing but a minor final variation to the usual kaju katlis.  The same dough is shaped differently and coloured to look like apples.  I had used about two cups of broken cashew nuts.  This measurement yielded 18 medium-sized kaju apples.  I had also used two colours, a small pinch of sunset yellow, which was added to the overall kaju mixture, and a small pinch of red colour which was coated on the apples with a new kids’ painting brush.


Proceed exactly as per the original kaju katli recipe, which ever you choose to follow.  I followed this recipe, something I had posted earlier, as it has worked for me unfailingly, each time.
Just as the contents in the kadai are beginning to come together, add colour no. 1, a pinch of yellow to the kaju mixture.  Now mix vigorously so that the colour would spread out evenly.  This would give a mild yellow/peach colour to the kaju dough. 

Now, keep stirring as it is easy for the kaju mixture to get burnt. 
Once the mixture reached a soft-ball consistency, switch off the flame. 

Wait for about 3-4 minutes.  When the heat became bearable, pinch a small quantity of the dough and roll it into a ball.  Now create a small dent using the index finger and stick a clove in it. 

Repeat the same procedure with the remaining dough. 

Now, the basic apple shape is obtained.  The next job is to colour them. 

For this, mix 2 tsps of water with a small pinch of red colour. Dip just once and paint one apple with it.  Repeat till all apples are painted. 
Cute-looking kaju apples would be ready. 

This is the Marathi video I had followed to make these kaju apples.  Though the video was in a language I do not understand word for word, the explanation was very clear.  
Now, for the kaju apples to get firmer, I stored them in an air-tight container with the lid open for half an hour (for the whole thing to dry up neatly), and then stored them in an air-tight box (with lid tightly closed) at room temperature.  I did not store them in the fridge as they tend to become gooey once removed from the fridge.

Next time I attempt this one, I might choose to make kaju lotuses.  They also seem like a lot of fun!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Peanut laddoos (Kadalai urundai)

It has been a real long time since I posted anything in this space.  In the past three years, I had few other things to attend to and now it is blog-time again.  I will persevere to be reasonably regular.  Attempting to pen down a recipe in this space after three years was not easy.  What used to be a routine activity, has been taking forever.  Also I had struggled to capture tolerable snaps of food.  I’m sure I would improve with more posts. Now, over to today’s recipe.

These laddoos were made for Karthikai Deepam (Karthik Purnima).  I am not quoting any specific reference for this recipe since it is borrowed from so many sources.  But the below is the recipe I would go to the next time I would be making this.

Ingredients (makes 12 laddoos)

Peanuts (roasted, skinned and measured): 1 and ¼ cup
Jaggery (paagu vellam): ½ cup (heaped)
Dry ginger powder: ¼ tsp (optional)
Elaichi powder: ¼ tsp (optional)
Water: 1/4 cup
Ghee or rice flour (for dusting)


  • Heat a kadai.  Dry roast the peanuts till they turn brown for about 7-8 minutes.  Once cool, peel and then measure them.
  • Powder the jaggery.  Now start making the jaggery syrup.  Add the jaggery and water.  Once all the jaggery melts, filter the syrup if you have to. Let the syrup reach a hard ball consistency.  I had to wait quite some time for it.  There is enough tutorial on google talking how to identify if this consistency has been attained. 
  • Once this is reached, quickly add the peanuts to it and mix vigorously.
  • Start making small-sized balls.  Do not strive to make perfectly round balls at this stage.  Rough ones will do.  Fine-tuning can be done later.
  • If the syrup thickens, mildly heat up the kadai, for about 20-30 seconds.  The jaggery will loosen and would facilitate making the balls.
  • Finish with the remaining peanut-jaggery mixture.
  • Now go back to the balls and fine-tune them. 
  • Kadalai urundai is ready to be devoured!



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