Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Satyanarayan Pooja - 2013

Satyanarayana Pooja is a ritual performed by the Hindu community. Most people perform it during special occasions like wedding, thread ceremonies, house warming etc but it can be performed anytime during the year.

We have been doing it once every year for over a decade now. The priest starts with Lord Ganesha Pooja followed by Navagraha Pooja consisting of Surya, Chandra, Shukra, Shani, Rahu, Ketu, Budha, Guru, and Angaaraka. Navagraha dhanya (9 kinds of grains) are used -- Rice, Toor dal, Wheat, Chana dal (Bengal gram), Urad dal (Black gram), Val, Til (Black sesame seeds), Green Moong Dal (Green gram) and Kulithu (Horsegram).

The priest then starts the Sri Satyanarayana pooja. "Panchamrit" is made with sugar, ghee (clarified butter), milk, yogurt and honey. He narrates the Satyanarayan Katha (story), which we always request in English so that all kids understand the reason behind the pooja.

"Sapaath", which is the prasad,  is traditionally home made early in the morning after shower, before eating or drinking and first offered to the Lord during the Satyanarayan Pooja. Sapaath is made with butter, cream of wheat, sugar, milk and banana's.

The pooja is concluded with Arti. Panchamrit and Sapaath is distributed to all the attendees.

We had about 175 close friends and family members throughout the whole day for pooja and prasad. Although, most of the cooking is traditionally done on the day of the pooja, I cooked most of the food on the previous day with the exception of White rice, Dalitoy, Doodpak,and Sapaath. By the Grace of God, the weather turned out to be great and the day went very smoothly. With the list of invitees increasing every year, we try to invite in groups at different times through out the day. I was hoping to take pictures of the food on the day of the pooja to post on my blog but the day got extremely busy. This year, I had very little left over which was just enough to plate the next afternoon. More details on menu and cooking for a crowd can be found here.

Clockwise: Tendle Batate Upkari, Pickle, Khaman Dhokla, Val-Val, Jalebi, Chana Gashi, Matar Paneer, White Rice with Dalitoy, Lemon Rice (Center). 
Not pictured: Tomato Rasam, Roti, Papad, Phanna Tak and Doodpak.

Food for a crowd

Cooking for a crowd can be challenging. I admit it's a little nerve racking but I like the challenge. How much is enough is the biggest question. I personally think that it all depends on the time of the event and age group of people attending the event. But the most important factor that I personally consider, is the head count as well as the number of dishes to be served for a particular event. A lot of planning and thinking goes into cooking in bulk. My goal is not to have left overs to feed an army!
The recipes mentioned below worked well for this years Satyanarayana Pooja. We had about 175 attendees. With an array of dishes, I cooked some dishes enough for 80-100 people and some upto 150 people, depending on popularity. A rough estimate is half size aluminum disposable tray feeds approximately 25-30 people (again, if you are serving just fried rice/vegetable biryani with one side dish - a half tray will feed 10-15 people only). Matar paneer and Val-Val, were the two dishes that I cooked enough to feed an army since it has always been a favorite. Tomato Saar and Doodpak was almost done before the last 3-4 families arrived and I didn't fret on it! I had enough of Dalitoy and Jalebi.
The menu has been almost the same with slight variation every year. The menu this year was Chana Gashi, Tendle Batate Bibbe Upkari, Val-Val, Matar Paneer, Dalitoy, Tomato Saar, White Rice, Lemon Rice, Doodpak - all home cooked. Khaman Dhokla, Jalebi and Roti were store bought. Pickle, Pappad and Phanna Tak on the side.

Sapaath (Satyanarayana Puja Prasad)

This is a recipe that serves approximately 50-70 people.


4 cups sooji (cream of wheat)
4 sticks butter
5 cups sugar
5 medium ripe bananas, peeled and diced
6 cups milk

How it's made:
To cook this proportion in one go, you will need a fairly large wok. If you don't own one, cook in 2 batches.
In a large deep wok, melt butter. Add sooji and roast 10-15 minutes on medium heat until sooji is well roasted. Stir frequently in between to avoid scorching. Add sugar and bananas. Keep stirring and cook until the mixture comes together and bananas soften. In the meantime, boil milk in a saucepan.
To the sooji-banana mixture, add 1/2 cup of boiled milk at a time. Keep stirring until well combined. Then cook on medium-low flame for 30 mins until butter begins to separate. (Since the last step takes a very long time, I always start with prasad first thing in the morning. By the time, all the cooking is done, prasad will be ready).

Phanna Tak (Seasoned Buttermilk)

While we were discussing the menu for Satyanarayan pooja, my husband came up with this idea of Phanna tak. This drink being more popular during summer, I didn't think people would enjoy with temperatures in the 30's (F). This was the first time that I had tried this and made just one pitcher. Even before lunch was served, this was all gone and everyone was asking for refills! I assured everyone that they would get a pitcher of "Phanna Tak" for every potluck if we were invited!


1quart buttermilk
1 1/2 quart water
8 green chillies
salt to taste
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp hing (asofetodia)

How it's made:

In a pitcher combine buttermilk and water. Blend green chilies, ginger and salt in a blender with 1/4 cup water. Strain and add liquid to buttermilk. Stir with lemon juice and coriander leaves.
In a "Phanna Davlo"or skillet, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add curry leaves and hing. Add seasoning to buttermilk.

Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hrs. Serve cold.

Makes: 8-10 servings

ValVal/Yogirathna (Vegetables in Coconut milk)

Val val is a favorite dish of Konkani community. It is a dish with combination of different vegetables - suran, ridge gourd, sweet potato, carrots, yard long beans, ivy gourd, beans, pumpkin etc. I like the combination of vegetables that I have used in this recipe. Inorder to keep the vegetables equally cooked, each of them is cooked separately. I pressure cook alsando and tendle since they take a little longer to cook than the others. Keep all the vegetables 3/4 cooked , so they remain a little crunchy. Over cooked vegetables will make the dish very mushy. Since this recipe was cooked in bulk, I cooked this dish in 3 batches and it roughly made close to 4 half size aluminum disposable trays.


2 lbs alsando (yard long beans)
2 lbs tendle/tindora (Ivy gourd)
2 lbs green beans
2 lbs potatoes
4 lbs yellow pumpkin
3 zucchini
3 cups Bibbo (tender cashewnut) or whole cashew
30 green chilies, slit in half
6 cans coconut milk
3 heaped tsp maida (all purpose flour)
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
6-8 tsp oil
9 tsp black mustard seeds
9 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
30 curry leaves

How it's made:

Cut alsando (yard long beans) to 1"pieces, tendle (Ivy Gourd) in 2-3 pieces, green beans to 1"pieces, potatoes and pumpkin to 1"cubes and zucchini into chunks.
Cook tender cashewnuts in 1/2 cup water until soft and set aside.
In a large heavy bottom pot add 1/3 of green bean and cook with 2-3 cups of water. Half way through cooking, add potatoes. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Add 1/3 of cooked alsano and tendle, yellow pumpkin, zucchini, tender cashewnut, 10 green chilies and salt to taste. Add 1-2 cups water if needed. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 cans of coconut milk. If coconut milk is too thick add a little water (only if needed). Cover and let it boil for 5 minutes.
Combine flour with 1/4 cup water. Stir well and make sure there are no lumps. Add 1/3 of this to the vegetables. (Make sure the curry is not too thick as it thickens over time).
In the meantime, heat ghee with oil combined together in a deep frying pan. Add 3 tsp of mustard seeds. When it splutters, add jeera and curry leaves. Add seasoning to val val and serve hot with dalitoy and white rice.
Repeat the same process twice.

Serves: approximately 80-100 people (with 2 more side dishes)

Tendle Batate Bibbe Upkari (Ivy Gourd with Potato and Cashewnut Stir Fry)

This is a recipe for bulk cooking and yields about 2 small aluminum foil trays (half size).


5lb tendle/tindora (Ivy gourd)
2 1/2 lbs potatoes
4 cups Bibbo (tender cashewnut)
8-10 tsp oil
6 tsp black mustard seeds
8 red chillies, cut into 2"pieces (I use Byadgi)
salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

How its made:

Soak Bibbo (tender cashewnuts) in warm water overnight and peel the skin off. Cook in 1/2 cup water for 5 mins or until tender.
Cut ends of tendle and slice each tendle into four. Pressure cook for 5 minutes or until it is 3/4th cooked.
Peel potatoes and slice them into 2-3"long strips. Set aside.
To make cooking easy, cook in two batches.
In a wide deep pan, heat 4-5 tsp oil. Add 3 tsp mustard seeds When it splutters, add 4 red chilies cut in pieces. Once it changes color, add half the potatoes and salt to taste. When its 3/4 cooked, add half of cooked tendle and cashewnut. Add salt again. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Garnish with grated coconut.
Repeat process once again.

Serves: approximately 40-50 people

Chana Gashi

This dish is traditionally made with brown chana. With a large number of kids at the event, I decided to substitute with chick peas which is more kid friendly.
I initially thought 4 cans of jack-fruit would be a little too much. But by the end of the evening, all the jack-fruit pieces were fished out and I had about 2 cups of curry left with just chick peas!


3 lbs whole chana (chick peas/garbanzo)
4 cans kadgi (raw jack-fruit)
1 1/2 packet frozen grated coconut (I used daily delight 1lb pack)
24-30 roasted red chilies (I use Byadgi)
marble size tamarind
salt to taste
9 tsp black mustard seeds
9 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
30 curry leaves

How its made:

Soak chana overnight. Pressure cook in 3 batches.
In a blender, blend 1/2 packet of grated coconut with 8-10 red chilies (adjust chilies as per spice level) along with a piece of tamarind. Grind with warm water until smooth.
In the meantime, drain and discard liquid from jack-fruit. Cut into smaller pieces. Cook jack-fruit for 8-10 minutes or until soft.
In a large heavy bottom pot, combine first batch of cooked chana with 1/3 of cooked jack-fruit and ground masala. Add salt and cook together for 10-15 minutes.
In a "phanna davlo" or iron skillet, heat oil. Add 3 tsp mustard seeds. When it splutters, add 3 tsp jeera and 10 curry leaves. Season to chana with jack-fruit. Cover and set aside.
Repeat the same process twice. Each batch fills one small aluminum disposable tray and this recipe yields 3 trays.

Serves: 60-80 people

Matar Paneer (Indian Cheese with Green Peas)

This is a recipe for bulk cooking and yields about 3 half size aluminum foil trays.


56 oz paneer
4 lb frozen green peas
5 cups tomato puree
6 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
3/4 cup dry kasoori methi
1 1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)
3 tsp heaped red chili powder
1 1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
4 1/2 tsp coriander powder
3 tsp garam masala powder
3-4 tsp sugar
salt to taste
3/4 cup half and half

How it's made:

Cut paneer into cubes and saute them in a skillet with a few tsp of oil until light brown. Set aside.
Cook frozen green peas with a few tsp of salt. Set aside.
Divide all the ingredients in 3 parts and cook in 3 batches.
In a heavy bottom pan, add oil. When hot but not smoking, add 2 tsp cumin seeds. When it changes color, add 1/4 cup kasoori methi and 1/2 tsp hing. Fry for 30 seconds, then add chili powder and turmeric. Add approximately 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree. Stir well, cover and cook for 2-3 mins. To it, add 1/3 of green peas and paneer. Stir gently together making sure paneer cubes do not break. Add sugar and salt to taste.
Add garam masala and 1/4 cup half and half. Boil for a minute. Serve hot with roti/jeera rice/white rice.

Serves: approximately 60-70 people

Lemon Rice

This is a recipe for bulk cooking and yields approximately 4-5 half size aluminum foil trays. For smaller portion, you can find the recipe here.


10 cups uncooked basmati rice
10 tsp black mustard seeds
5 tsp hing (asafoetida)
15 green chilies
30-50 curry leaves
10 tsp grated ginger
10 tsp urad dal (split black gram)
15 tbsp chana dal (yellow split peas)
15 tbsp cashewnut bits
10-15 dried red chilies (I use Byadgi)
5 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
5 lemons
salt to taste
2 cups coriander leaves, chopped fine

How it's made:

Cook rice with salt. (I cooked 2 cups at a time to make sure rice is evenly cooked. Rice cooker can be used to cook rice. I like to boil rice and drain out excess water - similar to cooking pasta). Cool and refrigerate overnight.
In a wok, heat oil. Add 2 tsp mustard seeds. When it splutters, add a tsp of hing, 3 green chilies, 6-10 curry leaves and about 2 tsp of grated ginger. Saute for a minute. Add 2 tsp of urad dal, 3 tbsp of chana dal, 3 tbsp of cashewnuts, 2-3 dried red chilies, a tsp of haldi and salt if needed. Fry until chana dal and cashewnut turn light golden. Add 1/5th of rice, juice of 1/2 a lemon and coriander leaves. Stir well. Cover and let it heat through. Adjust seasoning.
Repeat the same process 4 more times.

Serves: approximately 50 people

Sabudana Kheer/Doodpak (Tapioca Pudding)

This is a recipe for bulk cooking.


2 1/2 cups sabudana (pearl tapioca)
1 gallon whole milk
1 gallon 2% milk
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
3 cups water
a generous pinch of saffron
1/2 -1 tsp caradmom powder
1/2 -1 cup raisins, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water

How it's made:

Wash and soak sabudana for 2 hrs.
Wash and rinse basmati rice.
In a heavy bottom pot, combine rice and sabudana. Add 3 cups water and cook until sabudana is transparent and rice is half cooked. (More water can be added if required). Add milk, sugar and saffron. Boil and stir frequently making sure it doesn't get burnt at the bottom. Cook on medium low flame for 20-25 minutes. It will gradually thicken. Add cardamom powder and raisin.

Serves: 60-70 people

Tomato Saar

This is a recipe for bulk cooking.


20 tomatoes
3 lbs of canned tomato puree
10 green chilies, slit in half
6 tbsp heaped MTR Rasam powder
1/4 cup oil
4 tbsp mustard seeds
20 curry leaves
salt to taste
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped

How its made:

Cut tomatoes in half and cook in 4 cups of water until soft. Cool and blend leaving a few chunks. Transfer to large pot and add tomato puree. Add 4-5 cups water, green chilies, salt and sugar. Boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
In a deep frying pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add rasam powder and curry leaves. Add seasoning to tomatoes and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves: approximately 50 people


This is a recipe for bulk cooking.


4 cups toor dal
12-15 green chilies, slit in half
salt to taste
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3 tsp canola oil
3 tbsp black mustard seeds
8 dried red chilies
1 1/2 tsp hing (asafotedia)
20 curry leaves
coriander leaves (optional)

How it's made:

Wash toor dal under running water. Divide into 3 batches and pressure cook until dal is soft. Transfer dal into one large pot and add 4-6 cups water (approximately). Add green chilies, salt to taste and boil for 10-12 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid scorching.
In a deep frying pan, heat ghee and oil together. Add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add red chilies, hing and curry leaves. Keep a lid handy to avoid oil and mustard seeds splattering everywhere! Add seasoning to dal. Adjust salt and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serves: approximately 60-80 people

White Rice

This is a recipe for bulk cooking and serves approximately 50-60 people.


10 cups uncooked white rice

How it's made:

Wash 2 cups of rice under running water. Boil 2 quarts of water in a large pot. When water boils, add rice. Boil, turn heat off, cover with lid and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Check to see if rice is done. Drain and set aside.
Repeat process once again 4 more times.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paneer Chili (Dry)


14 oz raw paneer, cut into 1/2"cubes
3 tbsp all purpose flour (maida)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
6-8 green chillies, chopped fine
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 bunch spring onions, chopped roughly
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 medium onion , cut to cubes
1 medium green pepper, cut into cubes

How it's made:

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper powder. Add water to make a paste. Combine paneer and mix well so that paneer is well coated. Deep fry in hot oil until light brown. Set aside.
In a wok or non stick pan, heat oil. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Fry for a minute. Add chilli powder.(You can add more than a tsp if you can take the heat). Add spring onions. Saute for a minute. Add soy sauce, onion and green pepper. Give it a quick stir for a minute. Add fried paneer and combine together. Adjust seasoning. (Go easy on salt since soy sauce is high in sodium). Serve immediately.

Serves: 4-6

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Diwali/Deepavali 2013

Happy Diwali/Deepavali! May the festival of lights bring peace, happiness and prosperity to you and your family.


Growing up, Phenori was an Indian sweet that I loved and especially the one that my Bapama (Grandmother in Konkani) made. The crunchy layers coated with sugar was one delicious dessert! I had planned on trying this for last Diwali but when my mother explained the process, I thought it was a little too complicated. With the help of Konkani food bible written by Narayani Nayak, the step-by-step instructions made it pretty easy. To make it easier for readers, I tried to add pictorial for this recipe but the images didn't turn out great since I made these late at night.


For the dough:
1 1 /2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
5 tsp clarified butter (ghee)
a pinch of salt

1 tsp heaped rice flour
2 tsp clarified butter (ghee)

For the sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

How it's made:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, ghee. Add little water at a time to make a soft dough.  Divide dough into 10 portions and roll them about 4-5" circles. ( I have struggled using rolling pin and still struggle to roll out dough into circles. My family always jokes around when I roll out roti/chapati - they try to figure out the country or continent that it might resemble!)

Mix rice flour and ghee in a small mixing bowl. Rub flour/ghee paste on one side of rolled out dough. Place five dough circles over lapping each other. From one end, roll dough and cut into 10 equal parts. (I first used a serrated knife which ruined the layers. Use a sharp edged knife to cut dough).
Repeat the same process with the other five dough circles.

Roll out the cut pieces into 3" circles. Leave them medium thick without ruining the layers.

 Deep fry 2-3 at a time in medium hot oil until light brown. Cooking on high heat will not make the Phenoris crispy. Let them drain and set aside for 15 mins to cool.

In the meantime, boil sugar and water for the syrup. As the sugar water syrup boils, you will see the syrup thickening. It has to be a little stringy. Remove from heat. With the help of tongs, dip each Phenori in sugar syrup and set aside on wax paper for an hour (or until sugar hardens) without over crowding.

Store in air tight containers.

Ubbati/Puran Poli


For the dough:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp sugar
5-6 tsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
a pinch of salt

For the filling (Puran):
3/4 cup bengal gram dal (Channa dal)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used jaggery)
1 tsp cardamom powder

How it's made:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, oil, turmeric powder and enough water to make a very soft dough. Cover and set aside for 3-4 hours.
Cook Bengal gram dal with 1 1/2 cup water. I pressure cooked for 10-12 minutes. (Remove excess water--it can be used to make Dal/ Rasam). Use a hand blender and mix until dal is smooth. Add brown sugar and transfer to a heavy bottom pan.

Cook until mixture turn to almost a soft dough. This might take about 15-20 minutes on low heat.

To assemble:
 Divide dough and Puran into 20 equal portions. (A little oil can be used to make work easier).

With fingers, spread each  dough ball into 2"circle. Place the Puran in the center and cover up the Puran, stretching the dough.

Dust the roll with flour and roll into 7-8" circle.

On a iron skillet, roast the Puran Poli over medium heat. They will puff like Phulkas. Turn them occasionally.

Place on a sheet without over stacking or over lapping. Once cool, they can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for 2-3 days. 

Makes 20 puran polis.

Chivda (with Poha)


6 cups thin poha (flattened rice)
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
4 green chillies, slit
2-3 sprig curry leaves
4 tbsp daliya
4 tbsp cashewnut/peanuts
2 tsp sesame seeds (til)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/4 cup dry grated coconut
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar

How it's made:

Roast poha in over at 200deg F for 10-15 mins, turning once half way through baking. (Back in India, my mother used to leave it outside in the mid morning sun). Mix salt and sugar. Set aside.
In a wide non stick pan, heat oil. When it comes to smoking point, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add hing, green chillies, curry leaves (cut into pieces), daliya, cashewnut/peanuts, sesame seeds and turmeric powder. Roast everything together until color changes. Add grated coconut. Fry for a minute. Add poha and keep stirring until well combined. Check for salt and sugar. Store in air tight container once it is cool.