Pongal

Today (or rather, tomorrow) is Thai Pongal festival celebrated by Tamils around the world. It is a harvest festival celebrated at the end of the harvest season in the tenth month (தை, Thai) of the Tamil calendar and is a festival offering thanks for a bountiful harvest (pongal, which also refers to the sweet rice dish made on that day) and for a prosperous year to come. In Sri Lanka, it is usually celebrated for a day whereas in India, it is a 3 or 4 day festival with a day celebrating the hard work of the cattle in the fields the previous year.

I am re-sharing the pongal recipe that I posted last year.
Pongal

One of my close friends and her family visited me last week which brought back pleasant memories from over a decade ago when I had first met her. So, for today’s music, I would like to feature the songs of a musician from her country that she introduced me to.

The first song is one of Dulce Pontes’ famous songs – Canção do Mar from her album (Lagrimas or Tears, 1993). This song was covered a decade later by Sarah Brightman.

Dulce Pontes contributed to the popular revival of Portuguese folk, Fado, in the 90s. The second song is one such song.

Hope you enjoyed the Portuguese music shared today and that you do try out the Pongal recipe! Happy Pongal!
Pongal

Pongal

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Roasted split gram (without skin) – ¼ cup
  • Jaggery – 1 cup (grated)
  • Coconut – ½
  • Cardamom – 4 or 5, crushed
  • Cashew nuts – few, chopped
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Water

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and gram and cook them in a pot with 2 ½ cups of water. Cook for around 15 to 20 mins, till the water dries up.
  2. Grind and extract coconut milk by blending the freshly scraped half of a coconut with 1 cup of water.
  3. Once the rice and gram is cooked, add the grated jaggery and mix.
  4. Then, add the coconut milk and crushed cardamoms. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook for a few more minutes before reducing the heat.
  5. Add the chopped cashew nuts. Cook until the pongal mixture starts coming together and starts to thicken.
  6. Just before removing from heat, add the raisins and mix.
  7. Remove from heat and cover.
  8. Serve pongal with bananas.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Breuder

During Christmas season, the popular cake/ bread that is ordered from bakeries in Sri Lanka is the breuder. This is a speciality of the Burgher cuisine of Sri Lanka. I had been trying for some time to find someone to contribute a home-made recipe of this delicious bread. I was delighted to finally come across another blogger and invited him to share his family recipe on this blog as well. Here is the guest post of Paul van Reyk, from My Buth Kuddeh food site, with his introduction to his family tradition of baking breuder and his recipe. Wishing you all a merry Christmas!

No Christmas at our house in Sri Lanka was complete without my grandmother’s breuder. It’s basically a cakey bread, based on a yeasted dough but with the sweetness of a sponge cake, related to Italian pannetone. It’s a direct entry into Sri Lanka cuisine via the Dutch Broodtulband named for the fluted ‘turban’ shaped mould used to make it. Further embedding the Dutch connection, brueder is traditionally eaten in Sri Lankan Burgher households in slices covered in butter and topped with a thick slice of Edam cheese. There is something very festive about that red waxy ball which sliced open reveals a pale European sun yellow cheese. Making the breuder, I am transported back to the kitchen of my childhood, watching my grandmother knead the dough, having the thrill of buttering the mould and pressing sultanas against the sides anxious that they stay in place, full of expectation as it was taken to my uncles house across the road as we didn’t have an oven, and then the excitement of un-moulding this magical transformation of so few ingredients hoping desperately that it comes away cleanly. The smile on grannie’s face when it does was more rewarding almost than the first bite into its soft, crumby heart.

breuder

Breuder

  • Time: 3 hours + overnight dough-proofing
  • Difficulty: difficult
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Ingredients:

  • 500gms plain flour
  • 50 gms butter
  • baker’s yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 250 gms caster sugar
  • 125 gms currants or sultanas or raisins or a mixture of them

Method:

  1. Make the dough the night before. Take as much yeast as is recommended for your particular yeast for making bread with 500 gms of flour (it can vary so read the packet or ask when you buy it), add the yeast and the sugar to a little hot water to get the yeast started. It will froth slightly. When it’s bubbling happily, add this to the flour and mix in well. Now slowly add water and keep mixing until you have a lump of dough that lifts easily out of the bowl or off the board. Knead it for 10 minutes or so. Put it in a bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel and leave it in a warm place to rise overnight.
  1. The next day, take the dough and add to it the butter, egg yolks and sugar. Add the first three yolks separately and mix in well each time. Then add the others also one at a time alternating with dollops of the caster sugar till it is all used up. What you will have now is a very thick wet doughy batter.
  1. Butter a turban mould. Put a good sprinkle of whatever dried fruit you are using on the bottom. Squish some dried fruit against the sides of the mould, too. Pour in the batter. Sprinkle more of the dried fruit on top of the batter. If you like, and I do, you can mix some dried fruits into the batter, too.
  1. Leave this in a warm place, the mould covered with a damp cloth, for 1 or 2 hours until it rises again (it won’t rise as much as the dough did overnight).
  1. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to very hot – around 220C.
  1. When the dough has risen the second time, put the mould in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Check at that stage that the breuder is cooked by poking a bamboo skewer or similar into the dough. If it comes out clean, your breuder is ready. If it doesn’t, give the breuder 10 – 15 minutes more.

Tip: Putting some baking/greaseproof/brown paper on the top will reduce the likelihood of the dried fruit burning.

  1. When it’s cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool in the mould. You should then be able to give the mould a good thump and have the brooder come cleanly out of it.

Resist all temptation to ice or otherwise muck around with the breuder! Just slice it up and have some butter and Edam or cheddar cheese to have it with. But you are allowed to make summer pudding with the left over breuder if you like, or indeed any of those bread pudding dishes.

Recipe source: Paul van Reyk

Semolina and Coconut Sweets

I wanted to make some Sri Lankan sweets this month. As I was browsing through some Sri Lankan food sites, I came across one that I wanted to try out. Coconut rocks are quite popular in Sri Lanka and are sold in most shops as well as occasionally made in homes. I decided to slightly adapt this recipe of Dhanish @My Sri Lankan Recipe, which merges semolina with the traditional sweet. I am bringing these scrumptious sweets to Angie’s Fiesta Friday.

DSC01346Today’s music features some Grammy award-winning musicians from Mali. I have a couple of friends who are huge fans of music from Mali, which is how I was introduced to some of the music I am sharing here.

The first music clip features Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure.

The second clip is a music video by the group Tinariwen. They performed at the recent London jazz festival.

The last clip for today is a music video from Amadou and Mariam.

Enjoy the music while trying out a piece of the semolina and coconut sweet!

DSC01347

Semolina and Coconut Sweet

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Semolina – 150g
  • Coconut – 50g, grated
  • Coconut water – 4 tbsp
  • Sugar – 4 tbsp
  • Cardamom – 1 tsp
  • Kesari powder – pinch
  • Almonds – 1 tsp, chopped
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
  • Cream or condensed milk (vegans can substitute with non-dairy cream) – 4 tbsp

Method:

  1. Heat the coconut water and sugar together over low heat until it thickens.
  2. Then add the semolina, while continuously stirring.
  3. Once all the semolina has been added and the mixture starts to thicken, add the fresh, grated coconut.
  4. Mix well and add the cardamom, kesari, chopped almonds and vanilla essence to the mix.
  5. Finally stir in the cream or condensed milk before removing the pan from the heat.
  6. Transfer mixture to well-greased tray and let the sweet cool before slicing and serving.

Recipe adapted from My Sri Lankan Recipe

Mung Kavum

Mung Kavum is another New Year delicacy. I find it similar to payatham paniyaram, a north Sri Lankan festival snack that is usually prepared at my home. The difference is that in the north, it is made a little more spicy by the addition of cumin and pepper.

Mung KavumAs I am writing this, I am listening to a new song of Bathiya & Santhush, a popular Sri Lankan band. Sharing it with you as well.


Mung Kavum

Time taken: 1 hour

Makes 25 – 30

Mung KavumIngredients:

  • Rice flour – 500g + 250g
  • Green gram flour – 1 Kg
  • Pol pani/ Coconut treacle – 3 cups (~700ml)
  • Margarine – 3 tsp
  • Cardamom powder – 1 or 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Method:

  1. Warm up the pol pani. Remove from heat.
  2. Add 500g rice flour, green gram flour, cardamom powder and margarine to the warmed up pol pani.
  3. Mix together to form a dough and roll it out. Cut into diamond shapes and keep aside.
  4. Prepare the batter by gradually adding water to 250g rice flour mixed with ½ tsp of turmeric powder and a pinch of salt.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan.
  6. Dip the diamond shapes in the batter to coat it on all sides and then deep-fry.

Recipe source: Lalitha Senadheera.

Konda Kavum

It’s been two weeks since the New Year celebrations. I asked a friend of my mother to share a few recipes of the traditional dishes she made during this time. She shared three of her recipes which I will be sharing this week.

The first is Konda Kavum, a snack my mother is particularly fond of since her childhood.

Konda Kavum

Time taken:  1 ½ hours

Makes 25 to 30 kavum

Konda KavumIngredients

  • Rice flour – 4 cups
  • Brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil margarine – ½ cup (100 g)
  • Coconut milk – 1 1/3 to 1 ½ cups (300 ml)
  • Cardamom – 2 or 3
  • Kithul pani/ palm jaggery treacle – ½ cup
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to make the batter. Set aside for 30 mins so that the ingredients can mix well.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.
  3. Scoop two tablespoon of the batter into the pan.
  4. Plunge a long stick skewer in the middle of the batter holding it in place.
  5. Turn the batter with the spoon as it gets cooked while rotating the skewer rapidly, like a spinning top but keeping it in one place.
  6. The batter soon puffs out and a tiny mound forms at the center. Continue the rotation until the kavum is fully cooked.
  7. Remove the kavum and place in a tray lined with grease absorbing paper. Repeat the process until the batter is finished.
  8. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe source: Lalitha Senadheera.

Hathmalu

Today’s guest blogger is renowned independent film-maker Asoka Handagama. His movies have garnered much critical acclaim and have been screened at numerous major international film festivals (Toronto, Edinburgh, Tokyo etc.) around the world. His most recent movie ‘Ini, Avan’ had its world premiere at the ACID programme in the Cannes festival in 2012. Asoka is currently working on his newest film project which he plans to partially fund through crowd-funding. If you would like to participate in Sri Lanka’s first partially crowd-funded movie production, do check out the film’s Crimso page

Today, Asoka shares his favourite dish, Hathmalu – a specialty dish made during the Sri Lankan New Year/ Avurudhu/ Puthaandu.

Hath Malu ( A curry made of Seven vegetable/ingredients )

This traditional curry dish is prepared for an auspicious AVURUDU meal; popular in Sabaragamuva province in Sri Lanka. Uniqueness in this dish is that it is not prepared for any other occasion than AVURUDU.  It is so yummy that you can swallow a whole load of milk-rice in a few seconds!

Hathmalu

Hathmalu Recipe

Ingredients

  • Cashew Nuts (raw un roasted)

And any six (or seven) of the following:

  • Egg plant/ aubergines
  • Jackfruit Seeds
  • Snake beans
  • Sweet potato
  • Sweet potato baby leaves or pumpkin leaves
  • Desha-ala (indigenous potato)
  • Desha-ala leaf stems
  • ‘Ambul’ banana (unripe bananas)

For the curry: 

  • Turmeric
  • Chili powder (un roasted)
  • ‘Thuna paha’ local spice mix such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves (un roasted)
  • Salt
  • Red onions
  • Green chili
  • Curry leaves
  • Coconut milk: thick cream (first squeeze) and diluted (second squeeze)

Method:
Chop aubergines and other vegetables and potatoes into 1cm x 1cm x 1cm cubes. Add the seven main ingredients along with salt, spice mix, curry leaves, chili powder, red onions, green chili, turmeric and diluted coconut milk to a (preferably) clay pot. Place on stove and allow to cook slowly on low heat until all ingredients have cooked and softened (15-20 minutes). Then add thick coconut milk and (on medium heat) allow to simmer until the curry thickens and take it off the heat.

Serve curry with milk rice.

hathmalu2Recipe source: Asoka Handagama.

 

Murukku

Today’s guest blogger is Krishanthy Kamalraj. An agriculture graduate and a former staff member of UNDP Sri Lanka’s Transition Recovery Programme, Krishanthy sent me a couple of recipes this week. As one of the recipes is for Pongal, I am happy to share her murukku recipe today. 

Kadalaima Murukku- Channa Dhal flour murukku

This snack has a prominent place in all Tamil celebrations. There are several types of murukku available and they differ based on ingredients. Today I have chosen Channa Dhal flour and Atta flour murukku.

Time taken: 1 hour

Serves 10 to 15 persons

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted channa dhal flour
  • ½ cup steamed wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2-4 dried red chili
  • 1 teaspoon of Omam (Carom seeds/ Ajwain) powder
  • 2 teaspoon margarine or olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt as needed
  • Oil to fry
  • Murukku ural/ mould

Method:

  1. Soak the Omam powder in 1/8 cup of water for 30 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, take 1 cup of roasted Channa Dhal flour and ½ of steamed Atta flour and add together.
  3. Take cumin and dry chili and grind it well until it becomes a fine powder. Add this to the flour mixture in the bowl and mix well.
  4. Filter the Omam water and gradually add to flour mixture.
  5. Then add salt and margarine to the flour mixture.
  6. Gradually add water to the mixture and make very soft, non sticky dough (same as the consistency level for string hopper dough)

murukku dough2

murukku in the mould

7. Insert clove shape disc into bottom of murukku ural and add small portion of dough into the murukku ural and press softly to make coil shaped murukku. Note: If the dough is not soft enough (due to not enough water), it will feel hard to press the ural. Add little bit of water and make the dough soft. This will result in very soft murukku.

squeezing the murukku

murukku dough

8. In a pan take required amount of oil and heat it over medium heat.
9. Once the oil is hot enough, transfer the pressed murukku into the oil.

frying murukku10. Once the murukku is cooked well on both side and has turned light golden brown in colour, take it out from the pan and drain the grease using paper towel.

Murukku

11. Keep them in an air tight container and serve whenever you feel like eating crispy, spicy snack.

Recipe source: Krishanthy Kamalraj.