A very refreshing drink made out of milk and almonds, Badam or Almond Milk. Flavoured with cardamoms, saffron and rose water, this exotic, but simple and easy-to-make drink is the perfect drink when you have a sweet craving. Almond milk is rich in vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant which can help lower the risk of serious health conditions like stroke, heart disease, and even cancer. You can also make this for neividhyam or as an offering to God, which is what I made it for. Tasting great hot and cold, my family prefers this cold as that is when the flavours have had time to meld together, giving you a yummy almondy drink.
Badam Doodh or Almond Milk
litre full cream milk
4- 6 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder
2 generous pinches saffron
½ tsp rose water
Soak the almonds in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and remove the skin
Blend the almonds with some of the milk until the almonds become a fine paste. Keep aside.
Heat the milk in a deep-bottomed pan on medium-high and let the milk come to a boil.
Once the milk starts to warm up, take a couple of teaspoons of the milk and add it to the small cup in which the saffron strands are lightly crushed. Mix this a bit and keep aside for later.
Once the milk in the pan has come to a boil, add the sugar and stir well until the sugar completely dissolves.
Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the blended almond paste and stir and mix well.
Reduce the flame to a low and stir constantly for about 10 minutes so that the milk and almond paste do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the raw smell of the almonds disappears, add in the crushed saffron and the cardamom powder and mix well.
Once the saffron and cardamom have mixed well, switch off the gas and add in the rose water. Mix well one last time and keep aside until it is completely cool.
Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until it is cold. Enjoy your almond or badam milk
On the occasion of the Tamil New Year, we usually make the raw mango pachadi. This traditional dish is made on the occasion is packed with 6 flavour of tastes like sweet, salt, spicy, bitter, sour and astringent. It is believed that eating this on the new year will ensure that the year ahead will be perfectly balanced with all flavours infused in your life. The dish signifies that life is a combination of different emotions like good, bad, happy, sorrow, victory and defeat and we have to face them equally. Jaggery is used for sweet, salt for salty, dried red chilli for spicy, neem flower or fenureek seeds for bitter, raw mango for sour and turmeric for astringent.
I made this recipe for the first time earlier this year during the Tamil New Year. Actually what triggered this recipe was my mother moaning that she had not been able to get hold of raw mangoes because of the situation in Mumbai and so since I had some mangoes, I decided to make them. It was a huge hit in my house and since then, I have made it a few more times, and each time, it has been gobbled up soon. It’s a very easy recipe and from start to end, should not take more than 30 minutes.
Raw Mango Pachadi
2 medium sized raw mangoes
½ cup grated jaggery, (more or less depending on the sourness of the mangoes)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds or 1 tbsp fresh or dried neem flowers
2 dried red chillies, broken into half each
Peel and chop the mangoes into largish pieces and then in a pan, add a bit of water, just enough to cover the mangoes, and the turmeric and cook till the mangoes are cooked, but still retain some of their shape.
While the mangoes are cooking, in a separate pan, add the jaggery and 1-2 tbsps of water and let the jaggery dissolve into a syrup. Let the syrup cool down.
When the mangoes are cooked, strain the jaggery syrup into the mangoes using a strainer. This is so that none of the impurities found in the jaggery make their way to the dish.
Let the mangoes and jaggery come to a nice rolling boil. Add the salt, stir well and switch off the gas.
Using a smaller skillet, heat the oil and when the oil becomes warm, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds or neem flowers, dried red chillies and stir for a few seconds each before you add the next ingredient. Stir for about 10 seconds in total and pour this over the mango pachadi.
Serve hot with any south Indian meal and enjoy a beautiful blend of flavours.
Served cold, this can also be served as a cold salad or starter or even a dip with your starter.
You can also cook the mangoes in a pressure cooker. If using a pressure cooker, cook the mango with a bit of water and turmeric and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
I’m actually surprised at myself that even though I’ve been cooking for so long, I’ve never made sweet corn soup. The other day, as I was planning our Sunday menu, my dad asked for this soup. I then realised I’ve yet to make this so looked around some sites and came up with my version of sweet corn soup. This recipe has minimal ingredients and I omitted corn paste which is traditionally used to thicken the soup, instead used nuts to thicken the soup. The verdict was very encouraging, everyone loved the soup and went for seconds and thirds and there was none left in the pot at the end of the meal!
Sweet Corn Soup
2 cups, frozen sweet corn, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
1 handful each of almonds and cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes.
1 bunch spring onions
2 cups milk
2 tsp pepper powder
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Remove the skin of the almonds and keep the nuts aside.
Blend 1 cup sweet corn into a smooth paste with 1 cup milk, the soaked almonds and cashew nuts and some water.
Finely chop the spring onions and keep the white and green parts separate.
Heat a pan and put in the butter and oil.
When the butter melts, add the white part of the spring onions and fry till it becomes translucent. Then add salt and pepper and fry for a couple of seconds.
Next add in the remaining whole corn kernels and stir for a minute or two.
Now pour the blended corn and nut paste into the pan and stir well till it starts bubbling.
Add equal quantities of water and milk to thin it and season accordingly.
Serve hot garnished with the green portion of the spring onion.
After the function, we had some extra mangoes. These were not the Alphonso mangoes which are super sweet, and so I was not very keen on making a milkshake out of them. We tried eating them, but since they were not very sweet, nobody was really interested in that. So instead of wasting them, I thought I’ll quickly whip up a salsa with the mangoes. The mangoes were sweet enough for the salsa, and the combination of the different vegetables was superb! Even S and BB, whom I thought would say spicy, loved it!
2 mangoes, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
2 onions, chopped finely into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely into bite-sized pieces
2 green chillies, sliced finely
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin seed powder
2 tsp lime/lemon juice
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves to garnish
Chop the mangoes, onions and red bell pepper into bite sized pieces and keep in a large bowl
Add the ginger and chopped chillies as well as the cumin seed powder, lemon juice and toss well
Add salt to taste, toss well and garnish with coriander leaves
Chill for a few hours if you want for a better infusion of taste
Most Thursdays we cook without onions and garlic as this is S does not eat these as part of his religious belief. Most Thursdays, lunch is not a problem, but dinner takes some thinking. We usually make idlis or dosas for dinner, but chutneys without coconut which do not have onions or garlic is a bit tricky.
This week, I also ran out of some coconut, and found I had just a few tablespoons of peanuts, so I came up with this chutney which incorporates ingredients I found in my pantry.
Peanut, Ginger and Sesame Chutney
3 tbsps raw peanuts
1 tbsp chana dal
2 tbsps white sesame seeds
2 tbsps ginger, peeled and chopped
5-6 dried red chillies
1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
5-6 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Water to blend the chutney
In a dry pan, dry roast the sesame seeds and keep aside.
Put ½ tsp oil in the same pan and when the oil heats, fry the chana dal and the peanuts until the chana dal becomes slightly brown and the peanuts crisp. Remove and keep aside.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, dried red chillies and the tamarind and fry until the curry leaves becomes crisp.
Let everything cool down completely and blend until smooth in a blender or mixer. Add water to help you blend.
Salt the chutney according to taste and serve with idlis, dosas or even as a dip.