During my recent visit to my eldest sister’s house, I remembered to take photos of a couple of tasty curries she had made for lunch with my phone camera. I am bringing one of her curries, chickpea curry, to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #10.
Over the last few months, I have enjoyed sharing some Sri Lankan and Indian music together with the recipes. I have decided to continue with a musical journey around the globe with the food recipes. Therefore, as today’s music selection, I am sharing a couple of clips from the two I consider the best Sufi singers of this half-century : Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948 – 1997), also referred to as the Shahenshah (meaning King of Kings) of Qawwali and Abida Parveen, who is also known as the Queen of Sufi music.
During my teen years in the U.A.E, I once accompanied my parents to a concert. When the guest singer, who was introduced as Pakistan’s finest musicians starting singing, I immediately recognized the song as the favourite of my Pakistani friends at my new school and which they kept playing repeatedly during lunch breaks. The song was Dam Mast Qalandar Mast Mast and it was Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s concert. I admit back then I was not fond of qawwali music and it took a while to grow on me. I think I learnt to appreciate it after hearing them sung at Sufi shrines. The atmosphere creates an enhanced listening experience. It is only fitting that I share here the first qawwali song that I was introduced to.
A few years ago, during a brief trip to Delhi, I took a Sufi heritage tour with India Offtrack. Nirad Grover, part of the company’s core team, travel writer and my guide during the tour, recommended that I listen to Abida Parveen. I did that soon after and I have been impressed with her powerful voice since. This clip has been uploaded on youTube by Epic flo films and includes a summary translation of the lyrics at intervals.
Do share your memory of your first introduction to qawwali, if you enjoy listening to Sufi music. And, do let me know if you try out this chickpea curry!
- Chickpeas – 2 cups, boiled
- Cashew nuts – 4 or 5
- Cinnamon – 1” piece
- Garlic – 3 or 4 cloves
- Onion – 1
- Curry leaves – 1 sprig
- Salt – 2 tsp or adjust to taste
- Turmeric – ¼ tsp
- Curry powder – 3 tsp or adjust to taste
- Tamarind juice – ½ cup
- Potato – 1, boiled and mashed
- Tomato – 1, chopped
- Coconut milk – 1 cup
- Lightly fry the cashew nuts with crumbled cinnamon and transfer to grinder.
- Add the garlic cloves to the grinder and blend the mix to a coarse paste.
- Chop the onion and lightly fry the onion together with curry leaves.
- Add the coarse cashew nut paste, salt and turmeric to the pan and mix well.
- Add the boiled chickpeas and curry powder to the pan. Mix well.
- Then, add the tamarind juice and let the curry cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the boiled and mashed potato to the pan and mix.
- Add the chopped tomato together with ½ cup of water and cook for a min or two.
- Then, add the coconut milk and cook till the curry consistency is right.
- Serve warm with rice or roti.
Ever since I baked my first batch of muffins last month, I have been in a muffin phase. Some of the favourites at home so far has been Joanne’s strawberry buttermilk (I used buttermilk instead of yoghurt) and Rhonda’s apricot almond muffins. It is rambuttan and mangosteen season here in Sri Lanka now and there were a few of the fruits leftover at home when I decided to try baking some muffins with them. As I had used up the entire pack of muffin cups and did not want to wait till I bought a fresh set, I simply decided to use a regular pan and make a muffin loaf. So, today, I am sharing at the Fiesta Friday my adaptation of Rhonda’s strawberry oatmeal muffins with some exotic (at least where muffins are concerned) ingredients. I am also taking this over to Saucy Saturdays #51, hosted by The Flavor Bender, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant, Take Two Tapas.
Today’s featured musician is Shankar Mahadevan. A musician that I admire, Shankar Mahadevan was midway in his software engineering career before deciding to change careers and focus on his passion for music. Trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music, he released his first solo album Breathless (1998). The album includes a song called Breathless, sung without a break in the lyrics from start to finish, which was very popular on Sri Lankan television. The hugely popular album opened up many opportunities for Shankar Mahadevan. Eventually, he started the online Indian classical music academy – Shankar Mahadevan Academy in 2010.
Shankar Mahadevan is the vocalist of ‘Remember Shakti.’ For those who haven’t heard of this group, they are a five member lovely fusion group initially started as ‘Shakti’ by John McLaughlin and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain in the 70s. The group was revived in the late 90s with some new members – U.Srinivas (one of my favourite musicians), V.Selvaganesh (son of Grammy award-winning musician V.Vinayakram – one of the original members of Shakti) and Shankar Mahadevan, replacing three of the original members. My first clip for today is therefore an excerpt from a Remember Shakti concert: a beautiful fusion performance of the classical piece ‘Giriraja Sudha,’ composed by 18th century musician – Tyagarajar – considered one of the most influential Carnatic composers.
Shankar Mahadevan is also part of the successful trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who became popular in the Hindi movie music composing field in the late 90s. The second music clip for today is from Aamir Khan’s beautiful directorial debut movie Taare Zameen Par (translation: Like stars on earth, 2007) with music composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and sung by Shankar Mahadevan. This touching song won Shankar Mahadevan a national award.
He was introduced to the Tamil cinema playback singing platform by A.R.Rahman in 1997. The last clip is a lovely, upbeat folk tune composed by A.R.Rahman for the movie Mudhalvan (1999), starring Arjun and Manisha Koirala, and sung by Shankar Mahadevan and Kavita Krishnamurthy.
Hope you enjoyed Shankar Mahadevan’s music as much as I did! Happy July 4th to all my American blogging friends!
- Flour – ½ cup
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/3 tsp
- Oats – ½ to 2/3 cup
- Brown sugar – 4 tbsp
- Cinnamon powder – pinch
- Milk – ½ cup
- Vegetable oil – 1/3 cup
- Vanilla essence – ½ tsp
- Rambuttan – 4, chopped (can add more, I just used what I had in hand)
- Mangosteen – 1 or 2, chopped (can add more)
- Cashew nuts – a handful, chopped
- Raisins – a little for sprinkling
- Kesari powder – pinch (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 190⁰C.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the instant oats and sugar to the flour bowl and keep aside.
- Chop up the rambuttan and mangosteen. Add a pinch of kesari powder to the fruits in a separate bowl. Add the chopped cashewnuts and raisins to the fruit bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil and vanilla essence.
- Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix it just enough to ensure that none of the flour mix is left dry. Almost all the muffin recipes that I have seen stress the point that one should be swift over this mixing and not be concerned over lumps in the batter.
- Fold in the fruit and nut mixture.
- Transfer the muffin batter to the muffin tray or a normal baking pan. Bake for around 20 mins – the time will vary depending on your oven.
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!
- 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:
- Chili powder (un roasted)
- ‘Thuna paha’ local spice mix such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves (un roasted)
- Red onions
- Green chili
- Curry leaves
- Coconut milk: thick cream (first squeeze) and diluted (second squeeze)
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.
Recipe source: Asoka Handagama.
Given that lots of people in my family have diabetes, my mother has taken to making her own sugar-free cookies or cookies with minimum sugar. Today’s recipe is her recipe for chocolate chip and cashew nut cookies.
Chocolate chip and cashew nut cookies
Time taken: 35 – 40 mins
- Oats – ½ cup
- Wheat flour – 1 cup
- Margarine – ½ cup
- Milk – ½ cup (dairy or coconut milk)
- Cashew nuts – ¼ cup, roasted and chopped
- Chocolate chips – ¼ cup
- Brown sugar – ¼ cup
- Baking powder – ½ tsp
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Whisk the brown sugar and margarine till it is creamy and smooth.
- Add the oats to the creamed sugar and margarine and mix.
- Sift the wheat flour together with the baking powder and soda and add to the cookie mix.
- Add the milk gradually, kneading the cookie mix into a slightly batter-like dough, not too firm and easy to mold into little balls.
- Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped cashew nuts.
- Divide the dough into little balls and leave them on the baking tray, for about 5 – 10 mins, before putting them in the oven.
- Bake the cookies for about 15 – 20 mins at 220⁰C/ 428⁰F.
- Remove the baking tray from oven when the cookies are golden brown and let them cool before serving.
Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.