Kacha Aam ka Achar – Raw Mango Pickle

Kacha Aam ka Achar7

This is a quick and easy recipe with ingredients that most Indian families have in their pantry. Recently, my local Asian grocery store has been selling raw mangoes. I am sure, like me, many of my Indian readers had mango trees growing in their gardens. As children, we could not wait for the tiny raw mangoes to grow large enough so we could pick them from the tree and eat them with chilli powder and salt. I wonder how many mouths are watering while you reminisce plucking raw mangoes from your mango trees or from your neighbor’s mango trees! I would love to hear your stories.

This is not a traditional mango pickle recipe that uses a lot of oil, salt or preservatives. I usually make this with one or two small raw mangoes and the pickle doesn’t last for more than two or three days. If you make this pickle just for yourself, then refrigerate it after a day.

Kacha Aam ka Achar – Raw Mango Pickle
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Serves: 6-8

2 small raw mangoes, (about 4 cups, cut into small cubes)
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2-3 teaspoons chilli powder, (depending on heat and your preference)
3 teaspoons salt

Place a small non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and when it shimmers and gets hot, add the mustard seeds. It will splutter all over the place, so quickly cover with a lid and turn off the heat. (Clarification – don’t turn the heat back on, but leave the pan on the burner.) When it stops spluttering, remove the lid, and add the garlic slices. Sauté in the oil for three seconds. Add chilli powder, salt, and the mango. Mix well so that all the mango pieces are well coated with the mustard, garlic, chilli, and salt spiced oil. Set aside to cool. In a couple of hours the spices and mango will meld, making this simple pickle a great accompaniment to any rice and curry meal.

Hyderabadi Lagan ka Murgh – Hyderabadi Chicken cooked in a “Lagan”

Lagan ka Murgh1

The wide, heavy-bottomed Indian pot called a lagan ensures evenly cooked meat, lentils and vegetables. It is the perfect utensil to cook the famous Hyderabadi Mughlai dish called, “Lagan ka Murgh.” However, if you don’t own a lagan, cook this dish in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot.

I have used chironji (charoli in Hindi) and dry coconut (copra in Hindi) in this recipe. Chironji are kernels of a fruit that has a nutty, musky flavor. Chironji, dry coconut, and ghee are available at Indian grocery stores. Some of my recipes tend to appear lengthy, because I choose to use freshly ground whole spices instead of store-bought, ready-made, spice mixes. You could use store-bought regular garam masala powder instead of the spice powder in this recipe.

Hyderabadi Lagan ka Murgh
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8

For the ground paste
¼ cup grated dry coconut, copra
5 cashew nuts
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons chironji

In a small pan, over low heat, roast dry coconut, cashew nuts, poppy seeds and chironji. When the dry coconut turns light brown, remove from heat. Cool completely and add just enough water so you can grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste.

For the spice powder
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1 one-inch piece cinnamon
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds, shah jeera
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 teaspoons coriander seeds

In a small pan, over low heat, lightly roast the cloves, cardamom, black cardamoms seeds, cinnamon, caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds until they smell fragrant. Cool, and using a coffee grinder, powder all the ingredients.

To make the Lagan ka Murg
½ cup ghee
2 cups finely sliced onion
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
2 cups tomato puree
3 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 crushed green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves
1½ cups yoghurt, beaten until smooth
2 pounds chicken, cut into small pieces
2 cups water
Salt to taste

Place a heavy bottomed pot or a lagan over medium-high heat. Add ghee and the sliced onions. Fry until they turn golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside two tablespoons to garnish the dish.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for two minutes, make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot, and turn brown. Add the ground paste and fry for three minutes. Crush the fried onions and add it to the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Then add the tomato puree, Kashmiri chilli powder, green chillies, coriander, mint, yoghurt, chicken, water and salt. Mix well, cover with a lid, and let the chicken cook on medium-high heat for five minutes. Sprinkle the spice powder and turn the heat to medium-low.  Let the Lagan ka Murgh simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with fried onions and coriander leaves. Serve with rice, naans or rotis.

MargaretsHome.com Turns One – Celebrating with a GiveAway

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MargaretsHome.com turns one year old today! To celebrate, you, my dear reader, are invited to take part in a giveaway. The giveaway is not sponsored, it’s just my way of saying, “Thank you,” for taking the time to subscribe to my blog and participate with your comments. You keep me motivated and inspired. Giveaway details are at the end of this post.

I must confess that blogging is time-consuming when you do everything by yourself – shop for ingredients, cook, set up a photo-shoot, take a “million” photos, clean up, write, edit, and finally post. Photography is the most challenging part for me, but, its totally worth it when I get comments like, “I don’t like it when I drool on my keyboard,” and, “Wow. . .my mouth is watering. . .I am going to try and make this.” So, please keep your feedback coming.

For those of you that have been part of my blogging journey, I’ve posted my favorite mango and white chocolate cheesecake recipe. A piece of this cheesecake will make you feel like you’re in heaven!

Mango and White Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet Baking

For the Crust
1 1/3 cup almond flour
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set a rack in the middle. Line the bottom of six mini springform cake pans with parchment paper.

Mix all the ingredients for the crust. Put three tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of the mixture into the bottom of each mini pan and press lightly to make the crust. Put the mini pans on a 12×17 inch baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly brown. Cool while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

For the Mango and White Chocolate Cheesecake Batter
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cups white chocolate chips
2/3 cups mango puree, (I used Alfanso mango puree from the Indian grocery store)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a metal bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate chips, stirring occasionally until smooth.

In a large bowl, of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in the melted white chocolate, mango puree, and vanilla.

Divide the cheesecake batter into six equal portions and pour the batter over the cooled crust in mini pans. Bake in a water bath at 300 degrees F for 50-60 minutes. Or, until the edges are set but the center is still slightly jiggly. Cool and refrigerate overnight.

For the Mango Jelly
1½ cups mango puree
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water

Add mango puree and sugar to a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Add a tablespoon of water to the gelatin and microwave for 10 seconds. Stir into the mango puree. Remove from heat and cool in an ice bath to room temperature. Once cool divide the amount of jelly into six equal portions. Pour over the mini cheesecakes. Refrigerate overnight.

For the Garnish
1 small bunch champagne grapes
½ cup strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup raspberries
a few mint leaves

For the Glaze
½ cup sugar
1 cup passion fruit juice
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons corn syrup

In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring sugar and half cup passion fruit juice to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in the other half cup of passion fruit juice and add it to the saucepan. Cook, stirring until mixture thickens and looks clear. Stir in corn syrup. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Cool completely.

To Finish
Remove the cheesecake from the pans and set them on small cardboard cake rounds. It helps to use a hair dryer on low heat to remove the cheesecake easily.

Decorate each cheese cake with a few grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mint leaves. Add a touch of glaze over the fruits. There you have it! My favorite mango and white chocolate cheesecake.

THE ANNIVERSARY GIVEAWAY – this giveaway closed on September 30, 2013.
How to Enter:
1. Visit http://www.margaretshome.com and subscribe by e-mail to MargaretsHome.com (use the subscribe button at the top right). One lucky winner will be randomly chosen from my e-mail subscriber’s list. If you’ve already subscribed, you don’t have to subscribe again.
2. Leave a comment on the giveaway post (today’s post dated, September 10, 2013). Only one comment per person, multiple comments are welcome but only count as one entry.

Official Giveaway Rules:
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2. Minimum age for entry: You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
3. How to enter: Subscribe to margaretshome.com. and leave a comment on this blog post. (If you have already subscribed, you don’t have to subscribe again. Just make sure you enter a comment on this blog post.)
4. Entry limit: A limit of one entry is allowed per e-mail address. You may not enter more than once, whether or not you use a different e-mail address. No e-mail address equals no valid entry.
5. Entry Deadline Date: All entries for this giveaway through this site must be received on or before September 30, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. (EST).
6. Winner selection: Winner will be chosen randomly.
7. Winner notification: Winner will be notified within five (5) days after the closing deadline date.
8. Claiming Your Prize: Winner must respond within five days of notification and provide me with a mailing address (No P.O. Box) or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.
9. Publicity: Acceptance of prize constitutes the winner giving the owner of Margaretshome.com permission to announce your name and prize on a blog post.
10. Prize: The prize is a Multifunctional Digital Kitchen Scale worth approximately $40.00. Winner may not substitute the prize for any other prize or for cash.
11. Privacy: Your privacy is important to me. I will not disclose your address or phone number when required to ship your prize, to anyone except if I use a company to ship your prize. Your e-mail will not be shared or sold.
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14. Disclaimer. The owner of Margaretshome.com will not be responsible for a) any late or lost entries; b) telephone, electronic, hardware, software, network, Internet, or other computer or communications-related malfunctions or failures; any giveaway disruptions, injuries, losses or damages caused by events beyond the control of the owner of Margaretshome.com blog or by unauthorized human intervention; or c) any printing or typographical errors in any materials associated with the giveaway.

Good luck!

Avial – Mixed Vegetables in a Lightly Spiced Creamy Sauce


Avial, sometimes spelled Aviyal, is a curry made with several different types of vegetables, yoghurt, and coconut. It is seasoned with coconut oil, curry leaves, and dry whole red chillies. Feasts in Kerala are incomplete with this wholesome, creamy, lightly-spiced dish.

The beauty of this dish lies in the uniformly cut, colorful, medley of vegetables cooked to al dente. There are different methods that can be used in cooking the vegetables. You could steam them, adding tougher vegetables that take longer to cook, first, and then adding the rest according the the time it will take to cook them. Or you could microwave the vegetables that take the longest to cook for a few minutes, to give them a head start, and then add them to the rest of the vegetables and cook them on the stove top, like I did in this recipe.

Vegetables that are most commonly used for avial are elephant yam, raw plantain, different types of pumpkin, French beans, cucumber, drumstick, bottle gourd, carrots, eggplant, and peas. It is difficult to find fresh drumstick where I live, so I’ve used frozen drumstick that I found at the Indian grocery store. You can substitute green raw mango or tamarind pulp for the yoghurt.

The secret of adding flavor and aroma to avial is the final step of seasoning the dish. So follow the steps carefully and I am sure will enjoy this simple but unusual vegetarian dish from Kerala.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6-8

1 raw banana
6-8 pieces of drumsticks, (frozen)
¼ cup water + 3 tablespoons
2 small red potatoes
2 small carrots
10-12 French beans
1 small bottle gourd
½ cup shelled green peas, (fresh or frozen)
1 cup grated coconut
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon crushed red chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
3 green chillies, roughly chopped (depending on heat and your preference)
Salt to taste
1 cup yoghurt
3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon coconut oil
1 sprig curry leaves
2 whole dry red chillies

Cut the ends of the raw banana and cut it in half. If you have fresh drumstick, peel and cut into 2 inch pieces or use frozen drumstick. Put these two vegetables in a microwave safe bowl with quarter cup of water and cook for eight minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cut the rest of the vegetables uniformly, lengthwise, into two-inch long pieces. Peel and cut the banana into two inch long pieces.

In a blender or food processor coarsely grind grated coconut, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, crushed red chillies, and green chillies.

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, add half a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add all the vegetables and sauté for five minutes. Add three tablespoons of water, salt to taste and turn the heat to low, cover with a lid, and let the vegetables cook for another five minutes.

Add the coarsely ground coconut and cover the vegetables with it. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the vegetables and coconut cook until you see steam coming through the ground coconut. About three minutes. Do not over cook the vegetables. Remove from heat.

Beat yoghurt with a fork until smooth. Add it to the vegetables and coconut mix. Stir gently with the handle of a wooden spoon.

In a small pan, over medium-high heat, add three tablespoons of coconut oil. When the oil is hot, add curry leaves and whole dry red chillis. Turn off the heat.  Pour this seasoning over the avial. Cover the dish with a lid and let it rest until time to serve. This dish goes well with steaming hot rice or as a side dish to any grand feast!