Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kovakka Thoran (Ivy Gourd Stir Fry)

Ivy gourd (or kovakka as it is known in Malayalam) is one of my favorite vegetables to make a thoran with. Very rarely do I find fresh kovakka at my local Indian grocery store. I usually settle for the frozen ones without complaining since it’s far easier to cook with, and also since there’s hardly any difference in the nutritional value between the fresh and frozen ones. Frozen veggies make life so much simpler!

Here is a simple Kerala-style preparation that I make very often.

300 grams kovakka/tindora/ivy gourd, cut into thin strips (I used the pre-cut frozen ones.)
4-5 shallots, finely chopped
Salt to taste

To be ground coarsely:
1/3 cup coconut
2-3 red chillies
1-2 garlic cloves
½ tsp cumin seeds

For seasoning:
1 Tbsp oil
½ tsp urad dal
½ tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves

In a pan, heat the oil & add the ingredients for the seasoning (urad dal, mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves).

Sauté the shallots, add the frozen ivy gourd and cook on medium to high heat till all the water evaporates and the strips are done, 5-7 minutes.

Add the ground paste (coconut, red chillies, garlic and cumin seeds) and mix well. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with rice and rasam.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mango Burfi

This was something that I'd bookmarked from Indira's Mahanandi almost 2 years back. I finally made it for for Vaishali's Sweet Vegan event earlier last week. However, I never got around to actually posting it before the deadline!

(For 16 squares)
1 ½ cups mango pulp (I used this)
½ cup roasted semolina/rava
¼ cup sugar (adjust according to sweetness desired)
¼ tsp powdered cardamom
A handful of sliced almonds
Coconut flakes for garnishing

Roast the rava in a pan till it changes color slightly and turns fragrant.
Line the inside of a tray/pan (I used an 8 x 8 inch baking dish) with some foil and set aside.

Take a large saucepan, add the mango pulp and cook on medium heat.

Add the sugar and mix well.

Add the sliced almonds and cardamom powder and stir in the roasted rava. Cook the semolina/rava in the sweetened mango pulp. Mix well and keep stirring till the mixture thickens and comes together.

Turn off the heat. Transfer the mixture to a tray/pan and spread as evenly as possible. Top with coconut flakes.

Allow it to cool. Chill for 6-8 hours. (I refrigerated it overnight because it was very soft and sticky even after chilling for a while.) Cut into squares. Serve.

The burfis were a little too sweet and soft for me. I'll add a little less sugar and a little more semolina/rava the next time around.
This is my entry for Zlamushka’s Tried and Tasted which features Mahanandi this month.
I am also sending this across to Aparna for
Sweet Celebrations.
This also goes to Susan who is hosting the
November edition of Sugar High Fridays.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Double Chocolate Brownies

I’d been scouring the internet (food bogs in particular) for a good brownie recipe ever since I volunteered to be in charge of dessert for a recent potluck at work. This recipe caught my eye and I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did because it turned out to undoubtedly be the best brownies I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten several! I love a rich, fudgy and moist brownie, and this one certainly fits the bill.

(Recipe adapted from
(For 16 small brownies)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus some more for greasing the baking dish
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar (adjust according to the kind of chocolate used and the amount of sweetness desired)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup all- purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup chopped walnuts (reserve about 2 Tbsp of this for sprinkling on the top)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil and grease well with butter.

Melt the chocolate and butter on medium heat checking to make sure that the chocolate does not burn. I use a microwave for this, but you could also use a double boiler. Mix well to combine.

Whisk together eggs and sugar until foamy and pale, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add salt, vanilla, and cocoa powder and mix well to combine.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix well until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and whisk to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Smooth the top out with a spatula. Sprinkle the reserved walnuts on top.

Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.

Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

To make it a little fancy, I also drizzled some chocolate sauce (prepared by mixing melted butter, sweet chocolate, milk and some vanilla extract) over the top of the brownies once they had cooled.
The brownies were a HUGE hit at work and I got a lot of compliments.
Thank you so much,