Ellu Pa

Today’s recipe is a traditional sweet from Jaffna called the “Ellu Pa.” This is a spiced sweet made of sesame seeds and it is one of my mother’s favourite.

The recipe I am sharing today is that of my great-grandmother, as remembered and occasionally made by my mother.

Ellu Pa

Time taken: 15 mins

Makes 4

Ellu PaIngredients:

  • Sesame seeds/ Ellu – ½ cup
  • Urad dhal/ black gram flour – ¼ cup, roasted
  • Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Pepper powder – ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp

Method:

  1. First, grind the sugar and sesame seeds together in a blender.
  2. Then, add the urad dhal flour and continue grinding the mixture.
  3. Transfer the blended flour mix to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the pepper and cumin powder to the bowl. Mix well.
  5. Add a little hot water and make the ‘ellu pa’ dough. Divide the dough into 4 balls.
  6. Serve with tea.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

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Raisins and Walnut cookies

Since there were still some fresh walnuts left at home, my mother decided to bake some of her heart healthy cookies. So, here’s the recipe for her raisins and walnut cookies.

Raisins and Walnuts cookies

Time taken: 35 mins

Makes 22

Walnut cookiesIngredients:

  • Multi-purpose flour – 1 ¼ cups
  • Oats – ½ cup
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Walnuts – 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Vegetable margarine – ¾ cup
  • Sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Milk or Water – ¼ cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Heat the margarine and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and melt the margarine.
  2. Add ¼ cup of milk or water to the sauce pan and stir well.
  3. Remove from stove and cool.
  4. Add 1 tsp baking powder to the flour and oats. Mix.
  5. Add the flour and oats mix, vanilla essence, raisins and chopped walnuts to the slightly cooled melted margarine sauce. Mix well to ensure that the mixture comes together as cookie dough. Add a little more flour, if the batter is still slightly watery.
  6. Divide the dough into 22 balls and flatten slightly before placing on baking tray.
  7. Bake at 220⁰C/428⁰F for 20 mins.
  8. Cool before serving.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Pomegranate cake

As an amateur cook, I tend to use recipes and follow them precisely. My mother, on the other hand, simply mixes ingredients at hand and whips up delectable stuff. I doubt that she has ever used a written recipe. So, this week, while I have been trying to perfect the baking of challah bread, my mother has been baking different kinds of delicious fruit cakes.

Today’s recipe is for the pomegranate cake she made this week. My mother has labelled it the heart healthy cake.

Pomegranate cake

Time taken: 1 hour

Serves 8

Pomegranate cakeIngredients:

  • Pomegranate juice – ¾ cup (made from 1 cup of pomegranate fruit blended with water; the seeds can be reused by heart patients)
  • Lime juice – 1 tsp
  • Lime rind – 1 tsp
  • Raisins – ½ cup
  • Oats – ½ cup
  • Walnuts – ¼ cup, roasted and chopped
  • Vegetable oil margarine – ½ cup
  • Sugar – ½ cup
  • Multi-purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – ½ tsp
  • Rose essence – few drops
  • Red food colouring – drop or two

Method:

  1. Sift the flour with baking powder and soda and keep aside.
  2. Whisk the margarine and sugar together with 1 tsp lime juice and the lime rind, in a bowl, till creamy and smooth.
  3. Add the pomegranate juice to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Fold in the oats, raisins and walnuts.
  5. Add few drops of rose essence and a drop or two of red colouring. Mix well.
  6. Stir in the flour mix to the bowl and beat till smooth batter is obtained.
  7. Transfer the batter to baking tray and bake for 35 – 45 mins at 170⁰C/ 340⁰F.
  8. Let the cake cool before sprinkling with castor sugar. Serve warm.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Radish curry

I have never really liked radish as I do not like its smell. However, occasionally, it is cooked at home and this is a recipe of my mother’s that makes eating radish tolerable for even those who dislike it. Radish is supposedly good for lowering cholesterol and fighting cancer.

Radish curry

Time taken: 15 – 20 mins

Serves 4

Radish curryIngredients:

  • Radish/ Mullangi – 1
  • Onion – ¼, chopped
  • Green chilli – 1, chopped
  • Urad dhal – 1 tsp, roasted and ground
  • Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder (optional)
  • Low fat oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Wash and peel the radish before chopping it into smaller pieces.
  2. Heat a tbsp. oil in a pan and sauté lightly the chopped onion and chilli.
  3. Then, add the chopped radish to the pan and mix well.
  4. Add 1 ½ cups of water to the pan and cook the radish for about 10 mins.
  5. If the water dries up, add another ½ cup of water.
  6. Add 1 tsp roasted and ground urad dhal and stir.
  7. Add pepper and optional turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes before removing from stove.
  8. Serve with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

The wonders of pomegranate

During my visits to my grandmother’s house as a kid, my favourite reading corner was under the pomegranate, guava and gooseberry trees. My grandmother used to loosely tie some of the fruits with a cloth or bag, so that she could save a few for us, before the squirrels and birds had eaten them all. So, until recently, pomegranates were something that we occasionally bought because it reminded us of my grandmother and her home.

Ever since my mother read an article on the benefits of pomegranate for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as reducing heart blocks (atherosclerosis plaque), she has been encouraging everyone at home to have pomegranate, either as a fruit or juice.

Pomegranate juice

My parents, who both have had heart surgeries and have had cholesterol issues for many years, seem to feel the difference and their cholesterol tests in recent months have drastically reduced to healthy levels.

While my father prefers drinking pomegranate juice by blending the fruit and straining out the juice, my mother prefers consuming pomegranate seeds.

She wanted me to share her way of consuming pomegranate seeds, as was indicated in the article that she read, so that it might be of benefit to others. It is said that pomegranate not only helps lower unhealthy cholesterol levels but also inhibits cancer. So, do try pomegranate on a regular basis and see if it does help you.

Ingredients:

  • Pomegranate seeds – 1 tbsp (either reserved after making the juice or possibly available in an Indian, Pakistani or Persian store)
  • Water – 1 cup

Method:

  1. Boil a cup of water with 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds, till it reduces to ½ cup.
  2. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Drink the lukewarm mixture each morning, on an empty stomach.