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Patty Pan Yellow

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The vibrant yellow squashes with scalloped edges that resemble toy tops, miniature flying saucers are Patty Pan Yellows.

patty pan yellow

Patty Pan Yellow

They are native to S.America and are related to cucumber family. These squashes grow in summer and are also available in green and white varieties besides yellow.

patty pan green

Patty Pan Green seen along with Patty Pan Yellow

Patty Pans are tender when immature but become hard and tasteless as they mature and grow large. They are good sources of magnesium, niacin, vitamins A and C. They can be eaten raw or subjected to any form of cooking right from steaming to baking. At times, the inner flesh is scooped out and the outer rind used as serving bowl. Baby patty pans are also used in bouquets.

Patty pan squashes are known by a myriad of other names such as Scallop squash, Sunburst squash, Granny squash, Custard squash, Custard marrow, Button squash and Scallopini.

Related Topic:

A Toy Top, Miniature Flying Saucer or Veggie?

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2013 in Review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Kosambari

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Kosambari is a cucumber-carrot-moong dhal salad that is popular in South India, especially in Karnataka. It is an integral part of wedding menus and is also offered as ‘Prasadham’ or Holy food in some temples. It is known by the same name in Telugu and as Kosumalli in Tamil. The salad does not involve cooking but demands prepreparation ahead of time. The moong dhal (greengram dhal) used is not cooked but soaked in water for atleast a couple of hours to soften it. So prior planning is important for the success of the final dish. Glance through the directions to prepare Kosambari and give it a try.

Directions to prepare Kosambari:

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cucumbers (medium-size)
  • ½ Carrot
  • 2-3 tbsp Moong dhal soaked in water for atleast 2 hrs
  • 1-2 tbsp Lime juice
  • Few Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

For the Tempering:

  • 1 tsp Mustard seed
  • 1 Slit Green Chili
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
  • Few Curry leaves
  • 2 tsp Cooking oil

Method: 

  1. Peel skin and grate cucumbers using grater mould with bigger holes.
  2. Repeat the same with the carrot.
  3. Gently squeeze cucumber gratings to remove the juice.
  4. Thoroughly drain water from the moong dhal and spread it in a salad bowl.
  5. Add cucumber gratings over it, then the carrot and finely chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Drizzle lime juice over the contents of the bowl.
  7. Now add the tempering.

Procedure for tempering:

  1. Heat oil.
  2. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  3. Add asafoetida and green chili.
  4. Turn off the flame and then add curry leaves.
  5. Transfer the tempering to the salad bowl.

Do not mix or add salt until service time. Do these just before serving to prevent the salad from becoming runny.

Servings: 3

Kosambari

Kosambari

Suggestions: 

  • Soak the moong dhal in hot water to accelerate the softening process.
  • Always keep the quantity of carrots lesser than cucumbers because they contribute to a larger volume and their taste may be overpowering.
  • Crunchy varieties of cucumber that do not exude much water on grating are preferable (like the ones available in Salem, Tamil Nadu).
  • Gratings of all vegetables are recommended to obtain harmony of shape, size and texture. However, if you loathe the idea of losing cucumber juice by squeezing the gratings, just dice the cucumbers and use.
  • If using diced cucumber instead of gratings, try this trick to soften the moong dhal. Do not soak the dhal in water. But spread them in the salad bowl, place the cucumber dices on them and set aside for a couple of hours. Allow the cucumber juice to soften the dhal.

Kosambari uses a beautiful interplay of colours, textures and flavours to produce a tasty salad. It is a healthy dish that not only offers micronutrients but also contributes protein from the dhal. It can be served as a snack or as a side dish to any of the three courses of South Indian meal. Though the recipe here uses a cucumber-carrot-dhal combo, pairing the dhal either with only cucumber or only carrot or only shredded cabbage are other possibilities. Unripe mango gratings (with the skin) can also complement this salad. But an ultimate way to take this salad to the next level is to add mango ginger (a rhizome that looks like ginger but tastes like unripe mango) gratings to it. It bursts with flavour in the mouth and enhances the taste. So, quick! Make this salad a part of your routine menu.

Links to Other Salads:

Free Drinking Water For Public

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Free Drinking Water For Public

With the temperature surging in summer, what could be more pleasing to the eyes of a passer-by, than a roadside water cooler? There is not just one but many on the streets of Kuwait … one within meters of another in a few places! They are usually installed in areas frequented by people like the roads, parks, near mosques and shops. While some have been set up by the Ministry, others are purely the initiative of kind-hearted samaritans. In the latter case, the coolers are usually installed in front of the individuals’ houses. Provision of free drinking water for public in a desert country is such a thoughtful act. It undeniably deserves appreciation and the philanthropy, emulation. But many people carry their own water bottles or purchase mineral water from shops and only some use these coolers. Those in the parks especially near the beach are comparatively better utilised – parks are the major chill out zones for people other than shopping malls and they draw a crowd of health freaks. Those on the roads are occasionally used by walkers to fill their bottles and a few stray pedestrians drink from tumblers chained to the coolers. And one thing about the water coolers that never ceases to amuse the onlookers is their design. They come in various shapes … like lanterns, water bottles, water tanks, pitchers and so on. I have uploaded the pics of some of them that I managed to capture.

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A parallel situation exists in India. Well, water coolers on roads are out of question there. May be, coolers are donated to institutions like schools and orphanages by patrons, but to install them on roads is not very feasible there. In summer, what humanitarians there do is build ‘thaneer pandals(water booths) in front of bungalows, houses, on the streets, near bus stands or temples – small shamianas or thatched roofs are erected and under their shade are placed earthen pots filled with clean drinking water or sometimes even buttermilk. Care is taken to keep the pots covered with lids, place tumblers on the lids and to replenish the supply from time to time. The pots are usually arranged atop small heaps of sand. The clay pot and the sand moistened by water from the pot facilitate efficient evaporative cooling and thereby provide icy cold water. These thaneer pandals serve as cool stopovers that quench the thirst of weary travelers. Same thoughtfulness, but expressed in a modest way. 

Thaneer pandal for blog

Thaneer pandal(water booth) in a street in India.

Have you been touched by similar practices elsewhere? Grab this opportunity to appreciate them.

Coconut Chutney With A Twist

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Could there be any South Indian who has not tasted coconut chutney? NO WAY…NO CHANCE. It is the most common side dish prepared in every South Indian household and is a perfect combination for pongal, vada, idli or dosa. The simplicity of its preparation also accounts for part of its popularity – just grind a mix of grated coconut, roasted Bengal gram dhal, green chilies, salt and then add tempering to it. But at some point it becomes boring to repeat the same recipe time and again. So, why not try a slight twist to the common coconut chutney to pep up things a little? Continue reading if you are eager to know what is the alteration in the usual recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • Here comes the twist – roasted Bengal gram dhal few pieces of raw, unripe mango (adjust quantity according to sourness/acidity)
  • 1-2 green chilies (balance acidity of mango with spiciness of chilies)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to facilitate grinding

For Tempering:

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black gram dhal
  • Few curry leaves
  • 2 tsp of refined oil
Ingredients required for making coconut chutney

Ingredients required for making coconut chutney

Preparation: 

  1. Grind coconut gratings, unripe mango pieces, green chilies and salt into a smooth paste using a small quantity of water in a blender.
  2. Heat oil in a tadka pan/tempering pan.
  3. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  4. Follow with the addition of black gram dhal.
  5. Turn off the flame and then add curry leaves to the tadka.
  6. Transfer tadka to the ground paste and mix.
Coconut chutney with a twist

Coconut chutney with a twist

That’s ‘Thengai Mangai Chutney’ (Coconut and Unripe Mango Chutney). Bask in the freshness of taste brought in by the element of twist.

Any other desirable twists to the common coconut chutney on mind? Add suggestions in the comments.

Also See:

Avocado Guacamole

The Pricey Potato Look Alike

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TThe pricey potato look alike.

The pricey potato look alike.

I was waiting for something like this for the series, “Guess what’s this” –  something that I was seeing for the first time, so that I could share my sense of marvel and wonderment with you all. Ever since spring began this year, numerous shops selling this particular commodity had mushroomed in Kuwait – it was everywhere – in a separate stall in the Military Cooperative Society in Al Rai and in several road side shops that lined the route to Friday Market; some were sold from stocks in vans and a vast stretch near Friday Market with stalls in bright orange tarpaulin sheets, was allocated almost entirely for its sale! From far, the commodity looked just like potato. But at close quarters, the shape was somewhat different;  unlike potato it was spongy or soft to touch – soft in the sense, it depressed a little when pressed, just like a ripe plum or kiwi would. It had a creamy white interior. But what startled me most was its price. A kilo ranged somewhere between 5-12 KD i.e., Rs.1000-2400 – now, this definitely cannot be some kind of potato. Though it was selling like hot cakes among natives, expats restricted themselves to curious glances at it. 

Can you decipher what it is from the pic? Any guesses? Feed them in the comments. 

 

On noticing the quizzical look on my face, one of the shop keepers asked me if I wanted to know what it was. When I replied in the affirmative, he was kind enough to brief me about it. If the picture did not help you decide what it is, may be the info he gave might. Here is what he said:

  • The food stuff usually thrives in desert regions. Those in the shops were predominantly from Algeria and Syria;
  • It flourishes in spring, when preceded by winter with frequent thundershowers accompanied by lightning (My addition here – lightning is believed to increase the nitrogen content of the atmosphere, that the rain brings down to the soil and promotes its growth);
  • Foraging for it in the desert requires experience as it is shrouded by the sand. Bumpy spots in the sand are inspected to find it hidden beneath;
  • It is one of the most expensive foods in the world (you already had your moment of shock on hearing its price, didn’t you?);
  • Thorough cleaning is required to get rid of the sand clinging to its skin and that embedded in the cracks on its surface;
  • It is cooked by boiling. The skin is peeled off and it is added to spicy rice preparations or curries;
  • Canned versions of it are also available (Incidentally, I spotted canned versions of this product in just one or two shops. The label on the can showed a product that was in stark contrast to those I had seen till then. It had a dark skin. I think it was another variety with a dark exterior and pink interior).

Now there is this one last clue that is wholly mine – two words constitute its name – though it might have nothing to do with sweets, both parts of the name (first one, kind of, if we ignore the spelling and the second one, exactly) surprisingly flashed images of sweets in my mind ;-).

Try your luck at the guessing game. Well if you did not succeed at it, click here to navigate to an infographic about the mystery food.

Others In Guess What’s This Series:

Desert Truffle

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The answer to “Guess what’s this – The Pricey Potato Look Alike” is Desert Truffle. Find more about it from the infographic presented below:

Desert Truffle Infographic

An infographic on Desert Truffle

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