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Channa Dal of Puri Jagannath Temple (Orissa)

Channa dal, 2 Cups
Coconut, grated, 1/4 Cup
Cinammon sticks, 2
Cardamom, black, 4
Cloves, whole, 4
Black pepper, 1 Teaspoon
Cumin seeds, 1 Teaspoon
Coriander seeds, fresh ground, 1 Teaspoon
Turmeric, 1 Pinch
Sugar, 1 Teaspoon
Panchporan, 1 Teaspoon
Salt, To taste

Boil the clean channa dal with the turmeric, salt and sugar. Cook until dal boils to proper thickness. Blend together the coconut, cinammon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cumin and coriander, and add to dal when cooking is nearly complete. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Make a chaunce, heating ghee and adding panchporan until it sputters, then add to dal.

Idli (Kanchipuram)

Basmasti rice, parboiled (converted), 1-1/2 Cups
Urad dal (black gram), 1 Cup
Asofoetida, 1/2 Teaspoon
Black pepper, 1 Teaspoon
Ginger, ground, 1-1/2 Teaspoon
Cumin seeds, 1 Teaspoon
Salt, To taste
Sesame oil, 1/4 Cup
Ghee, 1/4 Cup
Curry Leaves, 6 or so

Soak the rice and urad dal in 5 cups water for about 2 hours, then drain off water completely. Put rice and dal in a blender or food processor and blend into a coarse batter, adding as scant little water as necessary. Batter should be a thick pouring consistency. Put batter in a mixing bowl, add asofoetida, pepper, gigner, cumin seeds and salt. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, at ‘warm' room temperature. If left too cool, the batter won't sour properly. When ready to make Idli, chaunce the curry leaves in a mixture of ghee and half of the sesame oil for a few minutes until crisp and browned, and toss into batter. Smear remaining sesame oil on the inside of a cake pan, and fit the pan in a pressure cooker or steamer. If using a steamer, be sure the idli pan sits high enough so boiling water won't splash in and ruin the dough. Pressure cook without weight for 15 minutes, or steam for 20 minutes. When done, remove the Idli, let cool to room temperature, cut into triangles and offer with Coconut Chutney aside. (Fermented Idli batter freezes very well for later finishing and steaming.)

Coconut Chutney (Karnataka)

Coconut, grated, 1 Cup
Channa dal, 2 Tablespoons
Jalapenos, 3 or 4
Ginger, fresh, 1/2 Inch
Coriander leaves, fresh, Handful
Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon
Lemon juice, 1 Teaspoon
Yoghurt, whole cream, 2 Tablespoons

Fry the channa dal on medium heat until moderately toasted. Mix all the ingredients together in a blender and grind to a smooth paste. Add scant water, as needed for grinding, the less the better. Finished!

Tamarind Pulihora Spiced Rice (Andhra Pradesh)

Basmati Rice, 1-1/2 Cups
Tamarind paste, 5 Teaspoons
Jalapenos, 6 to 8
Ginger, fresh, 1 Inch
Red chilis, flaked, 1 Teaspoon
Peanuts, 2 Tablespoons
Cashews, 1 Tablespoon
Channa dal, 2-1/2 Tablespoons
Mustard seeds, 1 Tablespoon
Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
Urad dal, 2-1/2 Tablespoons
Asofoetida, 1/4 Teaspoon
Curry Leaves, 8 to 12
Sesame seeds, powdered, 1-1/2 Tablespoon

Cook the rice, and let cool a bit so moisture evaporates and the grains separate loosely. Make a chaunce of red chilis, channa and urad dals, peanuts and cashews, and mustard seed. When the seeds are popping, add the asofoetida, curry leaves, green chilis and ginger. Last, add the tamarind paste and turmeric. When the tamarind paste lets off oil, take pan off the heat. Add salt to taste. Roast and grind sesame seeds to a powder. Add sesame and chaunce mixture to the cooked rice. Finished rice can be served warm or at room temperature (this rice is particularly nice at room temp), but don't put in the refrigerator as it will lose taste.

Kadhai Paneer Chenna Sabji (Orissa)

Green Bell Peppers, 2 Medium
Tomatoes, ripe, 4 Medium
Paneer, cubed medium-firm, 1-1/5 Pound
Milk for paneer, 1 Gallon
Lemon juice for paneer, 1/4 Cup
Yoghurt, 1 Cup
Tandoor Masala, 2 Teaspoons
Ginger Paste, 1 Tablespoon
Asofoetida, 1 Teaspoon
Coriander leaves, fresh, Handful
Salt, To taste
Ghee for frying

Be sure to use a Tandoori masala containing no garlic (many mixed blends do), or make your own with ginger, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, turmeric, coriander, amchoor, cayenne, and mint. Marinate the paneer cubes in a mixture of yoghurt, ginger and masala for at least 4 to 6 hours. When ready to prepare, heat the ghee and fry the paneer for about 10 minutes. Once during frying, replenish with a little extra marinade, then fry till paneer is nicely crisp on sides. Remove and set aside. Add tomatoes and peppers and fry for 10 minutes or until soft. Add paneer and salt to taste, and sauté with lid on, on low heat, for another 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves and offer.

Sak Charcari (Jharkhanda)

Spinach, 4 heads
Parsley, fresh (preferably leafy), 1 bunch
Tender greens (see recipe), 3 handfulls
Ghee, 2 Tablespoons
Mustard seeds, 1 Teaspoon
Nigella seeds, 1 Teaspoon
Coriander powder, 1 Teaspoon
Black pepper, To taste
Nutmeg, A few grates

Collect the nicest possible blend of wild greens to mix with the spinach. Greens that might have been enjoyed in Jharkhanda include tender mustard leaves, dandelion, taro leaves, or sorrel. Mix the spinach and tender greens together and put in a steamer basket. Steam until just soft, but still retaining the shape (not too mushy). Remove and drain as much liquid without crushing the greens. At the same time, start a chaunce with the mustard, nigella and coriander. Once mustard seeds have popped, toss the greens in and coat thoroughly. Put the lid on quickly, turn the heat down low, and let cook for 10 minutes. Keep a close eye after this time, and watch as the very last of the liquid heat to a skin. Just before burning on the bottom, collect up the last of the wetness in bottom of pan, and mix into the green. Offer immediately with a sprinkle of black pepper and a few grates of nutmeg.

Ammaan Kozhukattai (Tamil Nadu)

Rice flour, 1-1/2 Cups
Coconut, grated, 2 Tablespoons
Red chilis, flaked, 2 Teaspoons
Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon
Mustard Seeds, 1/4 Teaspoon
Urad dal, 1/4 Teaspoon
Asofoetida, 1/8 Teaspoon
Curry leaves, fresh, 4 to 6
Ghee, For frying

Boil 1/2 cup water in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the salt and rice flour to 1 Tablespoon of ghee. Stir to mix evenly then remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes. As needed, sprinkle a little water so mixture can be kneaded to a soft dough. When pliant and smooth, form marble-sized balls of the dough. Heat another 2 cups waters in a pot and bring to a boil. Carefully add the balls to the water. As they cook, they'll float to the surface. When all balls have come to the top, carefully remove with a slotted spoon (something that keeps dough from sticking to utensil) and set aside so balls don't stick together. Heat another Tablespoon of ghee and chaunce the mustard seeds, urad dal and chilis. Add the curry leaves and asofoetida and fry for a few seconds more. Carefully add the cooked balls and grated coconut to the chaunce and stir fry over a low flame for a couple of minutes until balls are a little crispy. Offer hot.

Cauliflower Pakora

Cauliflower, 2 medium heads
Besan (chickpea) flour, 1 Cup
Whole wheat or white flour, 2 Cups
Tamarind paste, 2 Tablespoon
Cayenne, 1 Teaspoon
Yoghurt or Buttermilk, 1 Cup
Water, 2 Cups
Methi leaves, dried and crushed, Small handful
Turmeric, 1/2 Tablespoon
Coriander, 1 Tablespoon
Kalongi seeds, 1 Tablespoon
Salt, to taste

Break the cauliflower down into medium-sized florets and lightly steam. Cook until they're about ½ cooked - soft enough to penetrate a stem with fork, but only half the usual doneness of regular steamed cauliflower. Mix together the flours and all the wet and dry ingredients and blend together. Heat an adequate amount of ghee in a wok or deep pan. Thoroughly coat enough of the steamed cauliflower florets to make a first fry batch. Turning often and carefully, fry at medium high heat until they're golden-brown on the outside. Keep ghee temperature low enough so you can fry properly on the outside, but keep them in the oil long enough so they batter inside cooks well. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a screen or other draining apparatus. Lightly salt, and offer warm with chutney on the side.

Bengali Tomato Chutney

Tomatoes, ripe, 6 large
Tomato paste, 1 sm. Can
Fennel seeds, 2 Tablespoons
Cumin seeds, 2 Tablespoons
Cayenne, powdered, To taste
Black pepper, To taste
Salt, To taste
Olive oil, 1 to 2 Tablespoons
Parsley and/or Mint, fresh, Handful

This recipe from the “Yamuna's Table” cookbook is a wonderful, fast preparation you can make in the microwave (a rarity in prasadam preparations). Wash and core 6 ripe tomatoes and put in a microwave safe glass bowl. Add a can of tomato paste. Put the fennel and cumin seeds in a single layer on a paper towel and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until toasted but not burned. (Stop the microwave and re-spread after a minute or two, then re-start.) Add the toasted seeds to the bowl of tomatoes, and stir in the cayenne. Put plastic wrap over the bowl to seal, and microwave for about 6 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down nicely and all is bubbling. Remove and stir in salt and pepper, and olive oil. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top before offering.

Stuffed New Potatoes in Saffron Cream

Baby potates (white or Yukon), 12 to 14
Whey, powdered , 1 Cup
Cream cheese, 6 ozs.
Ginger, minced, 1-1/2 inch
Pistachios, toasted and ground, 1/4 Cup
Red bell pepper, 1 medium
Sour cream, 2 Cups
Saffron, Hefty pinch
Honey, 2 to 3 Tablespoons
Black pepper, To taste

Peel the potatoes and boil until just tender all the way through, in a mixture of water and 1 Cup of whey (preferably dry, but liquid is OK). Putting whey in the water helps the potatoes hold their texture after cooking. Remove and set aside until cool. With a small implement like a wooden skewer, core a small center of the potato, about the size of a cashew. Mix together the cream cheese, ginger and toasted ground nuts to a fine paste, and use to stuff all the potatoes. Roast or grill the red pepper strips, remove the skin, and cut into small pieces to ‘cork' the potato holes. Blend the sour cream and honey completely, add a liberal pinch of saffron for taste and color, and put the potatoes into the mixture. Potatoes should be completely covered by the sauce. Sprinkle top with black pepper and put in the refrigerator needed. Can be offered cool or at room temperature.

Khajur Khatta (Orissa)

Dates (Khajurs), 15 to 20
Tomato, ripe, 3 Medium
Jalapenos, 2
Panchpuran, 1 Teaspoon
Jaggery, 1/4 Cup
Turmeric, 1/4 Teaspoon
Salt, To taste
Coriander leaves, fresh, Handful
Ghee, for frying

Make of a chaunce with the panchpuran. When it splutters, add the chilis. Once they're fried, add the tomato, turmeric, salt, chopped dates (quartered) and jaggery, and mix. Add a little water and let simmer until you get a thick, gravy consistency. Top with coriander leaves and offer.

Coconut Dill Raita

Cucumbers, 2 Medium
Yoghurt, 1 Cup
Sour Cream, 1 Cup
Coconut, shredded, 1/2 C
Jalapenos, 1
Parsley, 1 Tablespoon
Dill, fresh, 2 Tablespoons
Walnuts, toasted, 2 Tablespoons
Sesame Oil, 2 Tablespoons
Mustard seeds, black, 1 Teaspoon

Slice the cucumbers length-wise and with a spoon, scrape out the seeds in the center. Slice the remaining firm cucumber horizontally, into the thinnest possible pieces. Put into a steamer basket and blanch for only a few minutes (3 to 4). Immediately put under cold running water to stop the cooking, and re-crisp the pieces. Dice the chilis, chop the walnuts into small pieces. Mix all but the last two ingredients together in a bowl. Fry the mustard seeds in sesame oil until they splutter, then throw the chaunce into the raita. Serve chilled with a little of the parsley sprinkled on top.

Kaju Kathali Cashew Sweet (Andhra Pradesh)

Cashews, 2-1/4 Cups
Sugar, 1-1/3 Cups
Ghee, 1 Tablespoon
Cardamom, powdered, 1/2 Teaspoon

Soak the cashews in water for four hours. Drain and grind the cashews to a fine paste, using as little water as possible. In a heavy frying pan, cook the cashew paste and sugar on slow to medium heat. Stir continuously until a soft lump forms. Add the ghee and cardamom and mix well. Spread on a clean, greased work surface and roll out lightly with a rolling pin, to about 1/8” thickness. Cut into diamond or other shapes, or garnish with diced fruit or nuts.

Pedas (Mathura)

Powdered Whole Milk, 14 Ounces
Condensed Milk, 14 Ounces
Butter, unsalted, 1/2 C
Cardamom seeds, crushed, 1/2 Teaspoon

This quick version of Mathura Pedas makes them easy to do during the last stages of a feast. Rolling and pressing the sweets is a great task for the children. Melt the butter, then add the milk powder and condensed milk. Microwave the mixture for about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on the bowl. Each time it comes to a boil, stop and take it out, stir well and put it back in. Keep doing this until the mixture becomes a little reddish in color. When it reaches a carmel-like consistency (should be oozing the butter fat a bit), take it out and let it cool a bit. Whenever cool enough to handle, coat your hands in ghee and make small balls from the mix, flattening them between your palms. You can press a little design into the top with a cardamom seeds or other object. Put on a plate or tray to cool, and offer.

Damayanti's Sweetmeats (Bengal)

Anise, ground, 1-1/2 Teaspoons
Coriander, ground, 2 Teaspoons
Jaggery, 1/4 Cup
Khas Khas (tiny white poppy seed), 1 Teaspoon
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon

Heat the ghee at medium heat, add the jaggery and stir till it's mostly melted down. Add the anise and coriander, and stir constantly as the mixture cooks. When the jaggery just starts to thicken, add the khas khas. Continue cooking till the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside till the mixture cools enough to handle (but don't let it cool too much!). As soon as you can work it, roll the mixture into small balls. Set on a plate, not touching one another, till all the sweets are rolled. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When cold, these are like hard candies. When allowed to come to room temperature, they're soft and chewy. I like to offer them at the mid-way point. Nice to put on the sweets plate as an end-of-meal digestive treat.

Buttermilk Mango Nectar

Buttermilk, 1 Quart
Mango juice, 1 Quart
Mint leaves, fresh, Handful

Simply pour equal parts of buttermilk and mango juice into a pitcher, stir well, top with sprigs of fresh mint, and offer in a beverage cup.