Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Seaside Break and a Stack of Sweets

Spring has Sprung! Finally, winter seems to have left for good, and so with the kids off on their Spring Break, we took to the beach for some R&R with our crazy zingbang extended family. Here are some scenes from surfside and the rented beach house.

Morning Ablution
The kitchen was swarming with my uber-talented aunts, so I stayed far away, and the only offering I made was this measly fruit salad. Biut I did get points for cutting the strawberries into pretty shapes!
Under Construction =)A cuppa tea by the sea (inspired by Archana's Cup of Chai)Gone Fishin'
The Rental. No Jersey Shore "Situations" here....


I came home to realize I was hours away from the deadline for the Indian Cooking Challenge - hosted by Srivalli. This month's challenge was the traditional Andhra Pradesh sweet snack called Ariselu or Aathirasallu, usually prepared for weddings or religious festivals.
Photobucket
These ICC challenges are proving quite interesting to me, because I'm pretty sure 90% of the items are going to be things I have never tasted before. So I may need to hire some ICC pros to taste test my renditions of them, just to see if I'm even on the right page!

Ariselu is a thin fried bread made out of rice flour and jaggery. Jaggery is unrefined sugar commonly used in Asia and Africa, and much lauded for its health benefits over refined, processed white sugar. I would define jaggery as lumpy, brown sugar before it got powdered and made into the neatly labelled bags we see in the grocery store.

I was a little intimidated with its use because I thought it would be way too sweet, but surprisingly it was not. The little breads just had a tinge of sweetness to them and the refreshing crunch of coconut comes through too.
Thank you to Srivalli for hosting ICC and for introducing newbies like me to these little Indian treats!
Cook's note: The only change I made to the recipe was to toast the rice flour a little, because I don't like the raw taste of white rice flour.

Recipe (from Srivalli's
Cooking For All Seasons)
Toasted Rice Flour - 1 glass (standard measurement)
Jaggery - 1/2 glass
Coconut grated - 2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1/2 glass
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp

Oil for deep frying.

Method to prepare:

1. Cook jaggery and water on high. Then add the cardamom powder. Once it starts boiling, add the grated coconut. You will see lot of bubbles coming out.
2. At this stage, add the rice flour slowly and stir it together well.
The beauty of this dough is, you can store and use it whenever you want. If it becomes too hard, just add about 2 tsp of water along with 2 tsp of sugar. Get it to boil, while you keep stirring it. The mixture should become soft again. When you handle it, it should come together as a soft dough. Divide it to equal balls.
3. Heat a pan with oil to deep fry the arisellu. In a greased plastic sheet, pat them down to equal sized discs. Press down the sesame seeds over the top. Once the oil is hot, gently drop these into them. Fry on both sides. Since the sesame seeds are just pressed over the top, they will get into the oil. If you want to avoid this, try adding to the dough.
4. Once they are golden brown, remove and drain them on a kitchen towel.They will be soft when you remove them, will become crunchy once they are cooled.
Makes about 8.

26 comments:

s said...

it looks great..U are doing GREAT!! I missed this months ICC...just didnt feel up to it...but of course i regret it like crazy now!

Umm Razeen said...

Your arisalu looks perfect

Joanne said...

It looks like you had an awesome vacation! I wish I were by the beach...

The ICC challenge dish looks excellent. It's so cool that it's forcing you to try things you'd never done before. That, to me, is the whole point of these blog events...to make you think outside your comfort zone.

Smitha said...

Looks like u had fun. Athirasam was my grandma's fav sweet. she used to adore it. This post reminded me of her. Thanx for that :)

tasteofbeirut said...

Ann
I love those pictures! Where are you? Is this the Gulf coast?
I admire your adventurous spirit, diving right into these recipes and figuring out the meaning of each ingredient!

Ann said...

@Joumana - This is Freeport, just south of Houston on the Gulf Coast.

PJ said...

Lovely holiday pics...Ann u sure are so adventurous try out a traditional recipe .Looks great!!!Glad u liked them...

Deeba PAB said...

Love the seaside pictures. What could be better than taking the crazy extended family to the beach! Yay you ... and of course the salad is good. Refreshing too!!

Jessica {The Novice Chef} said...

I just came across your blog and I am so glad I did! This looks fabulous!

Arch at Rang said...

Ann~ Glad to see you got inspired by 'A Cup of Chai..'

Great pics:-)

Arch

Kajal - Aapplemint said...

Such lovely beach pics. Makes me want to go there too .

Arlette said...

What a beautiful Vacation and Nice place to be... Spring is approaching to our area, but we still are away to be beside the lakes, they are still frozen, and the water is freezing cold even in our tap
I love these cookies, and talking about the jaggery sugar, I am using that too, its rock sugar , In Lebanon we have something similar but white, we use it to sweeten our tea, or hot drinks.

Arlette said...

I forgot to say, I bookmarked the recipe i like to try it...

Gulmohar said...

Oh, yes..Sping is here (at last, phew !!)Loved the beach pics..we are so far away from any beach :(
Guess you enjoyed the challenge and ariselu looks perfect :-)

Ann said...

@ALL - thanks everyone for stopping by - y'all are as sweet as the stack of ariselu! =)
@Gulmohar - my mom and husband had to dissent, they thought I had made Kerala "neyappam" without the banana, so they were scratching their heads quizzically when I made these...

kothiyavunu said...

Looks great Ann and I am sure tastes as good...Lovely beach pics!!

notyet100 said...

lovely clciks dear

lata raja said...

Wow!!!!Wow!!! to the beautiful pictures and the nicely done arisellus

Bong Mom said...

It wasn't cold ? jersey shores would be cold, brrrrrrrrr

I have never tasted this either, should be good :)

Silence Sings said...

new to ur blog..very interesting and nice snaps..folloing you..:)

WizzyTheStick said...

Oh how I wish I were on holiday right about now with some of your cookies and a pot of tea.

sabah said...

Lovely pictures !
Thanks for your visit.

Teanna said...

Not fair! I want to be at the beach!! Your cookies look great!

Ria Mathew said...

I have had a chance to taste this sweet from Jobin's house( they are settled in Hyd). I really liked it, felt it tasted similar to 'Neyyappam'.

Btw, yes! I made our wedding cake! :)

Lena Rashmin Raj said...

lovely clicks Ann..i loved that plate of strawberries.. :)

Srivalli said...

Lovely account of your vacation..Great to see your Ariselu stacked up like that..:)..hope you are ready with this months