Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Diwali

~Happy Diwali~ 

Diwali, the festival of lights is certainly the biggest and 
brightest of all Indian festivals. This ancient  five day festival,
spiritually signifies the triumph of good over evil. As per 
the Hindu mythology ,it is believed that Lord Rama returned
to his native city Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years ,to welcome 
him the entire city was lit by clay lamps and beautifully  decorated 
with colorful flowers and buntings. 

There is a festive atmosphere everywhere, the houses are cleaned 
days in advance and  decorated with colorful lights and tiny clay 
lamps called Diyas. Diyas also called a Deepam, deep or deepak 
are the most integral part of Indian celebrations. These tiny 
terracota/clay lamps are filled with oil or ghee (clarified butter) n 
lighted in temples and homes alike. It is believed that the  flame of 
these diyas is divine and illuminates not only the surroundings but 
also cleanses our  mind, soul and spirit. 

People worship the idols of Ganesha & Laxmi and pray for peace, 
prosperity and happiness .Huge colorful patterns called rangolis
 alpanas or pookalams  are made on the floor while  the threshold is 
decorated with the most vibrant yellow marigolds and betel leaves. 
Tiny clay lamps are placed all over the house. 

Over couple of  days , I have been juggling time between work and 
festival preparations. While daughter has been happily helping me 
with all the festive decorations and traditional sweet preparations 
it was my turn to add fun to the snacktime yesterday. Thus made 
some diya on stick pops to adore our table and a few cheesy diya 
topped crackers for a light evening snack . 

Diya on Sticks 

Halved cucumber slices and carrot topped on a satay
stick. Use a tiny piece of spaghetti to attach the carrot
 flame to the diya. 

Easy peasy  Diya appetizers 

These Diwali appetizers are super easy to make, perfect for 
a quickie kiddo party too !!

Smear crackers ( I have used Britannia cream crackers) with some 
flavored cheese spread , sprinkle some oregano/zatar or  chilly flakes 
top it up with a veggie diya of halved cucumber and carrot.
Bunting- Red & yellow pepper triangles. 

May these little diyas light up your life with peace, prosperity and 
happiness !! Have a wonderful and  pollution free Diwali !! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014


~ Healthy Halloween -1~

The festival season is right around the corner!! Shorter 
daylight accompanied with cool wind and rustling fall leaves 
makes us realize that its time to gear up for the upcoming 
festivities. While the left hemisphere of my brain has been
 meticulously planning for the Diwali bash at home, the creative 
right brain is continuously thinking about some spooky crafts 
and finger foods for kiddos halloween fun. 

The Fruity Owl 

The Halloween magic with all its boolicious food and creepy
 fun is steadily making waves in the Indian culture too....half a 
decade back the almost unheard Halloween is one of the most
 popular theme of the October parties today .

The dearth of readymade creepy decor serves as a great excuse
 for making DIY crafts and these Halloween crafts images 
that I clicked at a school fair beautifully highlight their talent. 

Trick or Treat or Eggs and Fruits  ???
 Even if you are short of time or special festive ingredients these
super easy to make Halloween eggs will surely add some spooky fun
 to meals, do pop one into the kiddos tiffin I bet he will love it !!

Just use some food grade / edible markers or sharpies to draw 
some zombie features on the shell of a hard boiled egg. 
  Pair the boolicious eggs with a nice fruity owl salad for
 a perfect energy boost. 

Owl- Watermelon slice ( trimmed with the edge of a bowl), oranges, 

black grapes, banana and sliced  olives . Branch- steamed bean,
 kiwi and grape. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Taro spirals

~ Flavors of India ~
 Traditional Taro leaf Spirals
(Healthy, steamed and can be frozen too !!)

Taro root tuber is one of the most popular and widely used 
root vegetable throughout the indian subcontinent. Often called
 yam, colocasia or arvi it  is cultivated not only for  root but also 
for its tender leaves ands stems that are edible. It is believed 
that the cultivation of this versatile plant dates back to several 
hundred centuries. From root to stems and leaves , its an integral 
part of several regional and traditional cuisines . 

Traditional Taro leaf spirals 

The root tubers are usually boiled and eaten like potatoes as 
mash, curries or stir fried while the tender stems are slightly 
boiled to remove the acrid taste and used for making stews and
 curries .The green  leaves are chopped or used whole. Its 
always advisable to pick tender leaves as as jumbo sized
 ones cause itchy discomfort . Adding some acidic ingredient
 while cooking the leaves like lemon, tamarind or sour yogurt
 neutralises the itchy compounds . 

At the local veggie market during this season , I never forget to 
pick up a few taro greens for making my family's  favorite 
Maharastrian Taro spirals  called Aluvadi (also called Pathod , patra  
 or aluchya vadya in  regional dialects ). Being gluten free, steamed 
and  pan fried adds an extra  bonus to this healthy leafy munchy .

With a few ingredients and spices from the pantry this yummy 
delight gets ready in just a few minutes. Ginger, garlic and lemon juice
perfectly pep the  recipe while reducing its the itchy ingredient present 
in the leaves. Chilies are purely optional , you can omit them 
while preparing it for kids. The recipe once cooked can be frozen
 in Ziplocl bags or freezer boxes upto three months. 

A thick paste of gram flour, spices and water is smeared on the back 
side of a leaf, repeating the process with a few more and tightly rolling n
sealing the ends . The tighter the roll the better are the steamed spirals. 
Gram flour can be replaced with corn meal or buckwheat flour too.

The rolls are then steamed , cut into thick slices and pan fried. 
If you are freezing the spirals just omit pan frying, once cooled place the 
spirals on a large tray/ plate in a single layer and keep in the freezer for
 sometime, once they are hard and frozen transfer to Ziplock bags and
 freeze.Thaw and shallow fry the frozen spirals before serving. 

The spirals taste best  with some green chutney , fried chilies 

and a wedge of lemon.Just make sure to pick the  tender green
 leaves, free from pesticides.  

Taro Spirals

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins (+cooling time)

Ingredients (16-18 pieces)
    For Taro roll spirals
    • 12 -15 organic tender Taro leaves (Arvi ke patte)
    • 2 cups gram flour ( besan)
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds ( kalonji )
    • 1/2 tsp carom seeds ( ajwain)
    • 2 tsp lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp dry mango powder / tamarind pulp )
    • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste (pref fresh)
    • Chopped green chillies (to taste)
    • Salt to taste
    • Water as required
    Wash and pat dry the taro leaves and keep aside.
    In a large bowl mix together gram flour, spices, lemon juice and water to make a thick paste.
    Place a leaf(vein side up) on the kitchen counter or chopping board and smear the chickpea paste generously.
    Place another taro leaf (with end pointing in the opposite direction that the previous one) over it and spread the paste.
    Repeat the process to form a stack of 6-7 leaves. Roll tightly .
    Make a similar roll with rest of the leaves.
    Steam cook for 20 mins in a steamer or pressure cooker.
    Remove from heat and cool completely. Cut into thick roundels.
    Heat a few drops of oil in a pan ,add sesame seeds and shallow fry the spirals from both the sides till crisp.
    Serve hot with lemon wedges and green chutney.
    ( To freeze the spirals - line the steamed spirals in a single layer on a large tray and place in the freezer for an hour, once hard remove from tray and pack in ziplock bags .Thaw and shallow fry the frozen spirals before serving)
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    Pack a healthy tiffin for little ones with some carrot and cucumber 
    sticks n lemon wedges and add a new level to  snacking !!!


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