May 23, 2013

Iyengari Puliyogre Gojju

Raise your hand if you DONT love puliyogre. Raise if your hand if you DO. There I see more participation now!
Sometimes I feel the hubby married me only to be assured of constant access to this delectable dish which is so near to any Iyengari's heart. My mother has had a dream run because all she had to say was "Puliyogre" to have him at her beck and call. He also coaxed her to send some of her gojju with us to the US. But the only thing I do not understand in all this hullabulloo is why the hubby heats it before eating it. Ever heard of eating hot puliyogre but thats the only way he likes it! Pulioygre is the rice dish of choice on any festival day or special occasion in an Iyengari house. An Iyengari wedding caterer is judged solely on his Puliyogre making calibre to get repeat contracts. The judgement is even passed as a whisper throughout the wedding hall so people who come in later batches to eat are already equipped with the knowledge of whether to skip all else to conserve space for the Puliyogre or to avoid it entirely.

Puliyogre can easily be the only dish for a meal or one of the main course dishes in a bigger meal. If the gojju is on hand, it is a breeze to make.

The Puliyogre gojju can be stored in air tight containers for upto a month. I keep it in the fridge sometimes but my mom never does and it does not grow mold or go bad.

Iyengari Puliyogre Gojju

Servings: Fills 1 Mason Jar/ Kissam Jam bottle
Prep Time: 2 - 4 hrs Cook Time: 1 hr


200 gms Tamarind (should yield 1.5 cups of juice)
3-4 cups of water
3/4 cup Sambhar powder or Rasam powder
3/4 cup Jaggery shavings

For Seasoning

3/4 cup Oil
1 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Turmeric
4 Red Chillies
3-4 tsp Channa Dal
2 tsp Hing/Asafoetida
10-15 Curry leaves


  1. Wash and soak tamarind in the water for 4 hours till it softens enough to squeeze to get the pulp. 
  2. Alternately wash and soak in water and microwave for 30 min bursts 2-3 times till it softens. Continue to soak for around 2 hours and then squeeze to get the pulp.
  3. Do NOT add too much water in the soaking process, else it takes a longer time to get the gojju consistency later. 
  4. Squeeze to get the pulp and then filter it using a tea filter (I found this easier) or cloth to get 1.5 cups of tamarind juice. It is a process which requires patience so have your favourite music on if that helps. 
  5. Once you have the filtered juice from all the pulp and if it is not yet 1.5 cups, add half a cup of water to the pulp, squueze some more, filter and get more juice. 
  6. If you have gotten this far, the tough part of the recipe is over so relax. 
  7. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and mustard seeds to  it.
  8. Once the mustard seeds splutters add all the seasoning ingredients one by one in the same order listed above.
  9. Fry for a minute making sure that the channa dal does not over brown. 
  10. Reduce the flame to low.
  11. Now add the tamarind juice to it slowly. It is best to slide it down the side of the vessel to avoid oil spurts.
  12. Stir the mixture and allow to boil. 
  13. Once it boils add the Sambhar/Rasam powder.
  14. Mix thoroughly.
  15. Add the jaggery and mix thoroughly.
  16. The mixture would have thickened by now but continue to boil while stirring occasionally. 
  17. It is done when it reaches the consistency of a thick gojju or idli batter. It takes approximately 40 minutes to get to this state
  18. Allow it to cool completely on the counter top before storing it in an air tight container.

Dill Semolina Upma (Rava Porridge with Sopsige soppu)

Dill is, I think, the queen of herbs and the gender bias is because not only does it look dainty and beautiful, it also smells extremely good! It not only lends a unique taste to whatever dish it adorns but also imparts a fragrance while cooking that lights up the kitchen. It is easy enough to use whether cooked (a quick saute) or raw and adds a flavourful dimension to the spread.
Upma is the quintessential quick one pot meal in many households across South India. It is the meal of choice for the lunch box and dinner atleast once a week in my house. There is an interesting equation in our house with respect to this dish. My brother loves it like he loves nothing else and my hubby's brother hates it like he hates nothing else! So when the twain meet, the cooks are left wondering whom to please! Each time my brother visited my house in the US, there would be uppit on the table for atleast one meal everyday.

Upma comes in many varieties. It can be made with semolina, vermiciilli, coarse rice flour (akki thari) or even leftover bread. Any vegetables that can be cooked can get into this dish. Raw vegetables are somethign I have never tried in an upma and I am not likely to. It can even be spiced up to one's palate with garam masala powder or freshly roasted and ground spices. Onion is a common fixture in upma, although leaving it out does not dampen the taste in any way.

This recipe is to make combine the aromatic dill and the tasty upma. Its easy to make and you need one pot to make it.

Dill Semolina Upma

Servings: 3
Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 15 mins


2 cups Rava/Semolina (coarse not fine)
4 cups Water
1 bunch Dill leaves
1 medium Onion

For the seasoning

5 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
3 Green chillies
1 tsp Jeera
1 tsp Channa Dal
1 tsp Urad Dal
2 tbsp Groundnuts / Cashewnuts


Wash the dill leaves, remove thicker stems and cut it into fine shreds.
Heat a heavy bottomed vessel and roast the Rava in it till it reddens. This may take around 10 minutes on Medium heat. Make sure to not over brown them. It is time to stop when you start getting the smell from the roasted semolina. Keep aside on a plate.
In the same heavy bottomed vessel, heat the oil and add mustard seeds to it.
When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the rest of the seasoning ingredients.
Saute for half a minute.
Now add onions and saute till transluscent.
Add the dill and saute for a few minutes till the leaves become tender.
Pour in the water, add salt and allow it to come to a boil. This is the time for a quick taste check to see if the salt is enough or more. If more, squeeze 2 tsp of lemon juice.
Pour the roasted semolina little at a time into the vessel while constantly stirring. Stir to avoid lumps.
The rava coagulates with the water to form a porridge consistency, mix well and cover and continue to heat on a very low heat for another 5 minutes.
Serve upma hot plain or accompanied by chutney or yoghurt.

May 20, 2013

Eggless Doughnuts dipped in Cinnamon Sugar or Chocolate glaze

Doughnuts are my father-in-law's absolute favourite junk food of the West. When we came to the US a few years back on a holiday, he used to steer his gang of friends many times towards the Dunkin Donuts close to our apartment and enjoy the donuts there. My mother-in-law always refused even a single bite for the reason that she doesn't enjoy eating sweets. In hindsight I am glad that she did not eat them. What we did not know back then was they contain eggs which is a strict no for her.

Cinnamon sugar dipped doughnuts were what we ate at the fall festival last year with my parents and they are what saved the day at the Fisherman's Wharf during our visit to SFO a month back. V was starving and I was all out of snacks and we did not find anything there that looked "less fishy". We bought a bag of fresh mini doughnuts and the darling wolfed it down as if they were her favourite savoury snack.
With all the memories gushing, I decide to try my hand at making them at home and without eggs. They turned out amazingly tasty. Making it at home also meant that I could control the amount of sugar that goes into it. This confectionery is deep fried and packs some sugar so even though it is easy to make, it may not be something to eat while on a diet. But for those cravings, give it a try!

Eggless Donuts dipped in Cinnamon Sugar or Chocolate glaze

Servings: 10 regular sized donuts (I made 6 regular donuts and 6 doughnut holes)
Prep Time: 2 hrs (including 1.5 hrs rise time) Cook Time: 20 mins


1 1/4 cups of All Purpose Flour
3 tbsp Fine powdered sugar
1/4 cup Milk
1 tbsp Butter
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the Cinnamon Sugar topping

2 tbsp of Fine powdered sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder

For the Chocolate Glaze

4 tbsp Fine powdered Sugar
2 tbsp Cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla essence


  1. Proof* the yeast in a container. (Heat the water till warm, 20 secs in microwave, to it add a tsp of sugar and the yeast. Stir well and let it sit for 10 mins till it froths up)
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt in another container.
  3. To that add milk, melted (room temperature) butter and the yeast mix and mix well
  4. Knead with hand till dough consistency. At this point if it is too sticky use a couple of tbsp of flour but putting in a little at a time.
  5. Place the dough in a container, cover it with a cling wrap and let it rest in a wam place (above the fridge) for an hour.  Allow it to double in size.
  6. Now knead the dough softly on a lightly floured surface and flatten it with hands to form a disc of 1/4 inch thickness
  7. Use a cutter to cut out the round shape of a doughnut. I used a steel cup which was 2.5 inches wide.
  8. Use a bottle cap to cut out and remove the center forming a hole.
  9. Place the ring doughnut onto a lightly floured plate/tray.
  10. Continue with the rest of the dough till complete.
  11. To make doughnut holes - simply pull off a small amount of dough and shape delicately into a ball. Place on floured tray.
  12. Cover the tray with cling wrap and let it rest in a warm place.
  13. In the meantime, heat the oil till it is hot enough to fry.
  14. Also prepare the dips as outlined below.
  15. Fry the doughnuts till golden brown. Remove from oil after excess oil drips off.
  16. Place on a try lined with paper tissue to soak in excess oil.
  17. Doughnuts are best eaten warm. Serve them with coffee or hot chocolate to make it a delicious snack.

For Cinnamon Sugar Dip

  1. Mix the sugar and cinammon powder in a vessel.
  2. Roll the doughnut in the mixture till it is nicely coated with the mixture
  3. Remove and place on a wire rack to set

For Chocolate Glaze

  1. Mix the milk, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla essence and stir till there are no lumps.
  2. Place the doughnut in the mixture, flat side down and get the glaze on one side.
  3. Remove and place on a wire rack to set with the non glaze side down. (Place some paper under the wire rack to soak up any drippings to help ease cleanup)
*I have been using Red Star Active Dry Yeast and it proofs up like a dream.
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