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Seven Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Onam

Onam Is A Secular Festival

Onam is a one-of-a-kind festival that’s celebrated by people from all communities irrespective of their religion or wealth. Everybody has the same amount of zest and eagerness across India. So don’t think twice about wishing anyone Happy Onam! Make merry with one and all.

 

The King Mahabali Legend

According to legends, the great Asura King Mahabali, who was beloved by his people and very kind to his subjects, visits his land once every year. That is the day Keralites celebrate with much pomp, not just in India, but across the world.

 

The Onam Sadhya

Everybody who knows Onam knows about the legendary Sadhya. The Onam Sadhya is perhaps the most sought after tradition where an elaborate spread of food is served for lunch in every household. The food is served on a traditional plantain leaf with over 25 varieties of food! Feel free to stuff yourself in celebration. Banana chips, papadam, rasam, buttermilk, kaalan, olan, avial, sambar, rice, dal, erisheri (we need to stop here, else we might just run out of space!).

 

The Traditional Mundu

Perhaps the most misinterpreted tradition is the wearing of the traditional mundu. It is commonly observed that people tend to call this form of dhoti as ‘lungi’ however lungis have a stark difference from mundus. Mundus are always white with a gold border and is worn on special occasions in a very formal fashion. Lungis are informal checked clothing wear mostly at home. A jubba (kurta) is worn on top with the mundu to complete the look.

 

The Onam Games

Traditional games are played in Kerala during the festival of Onam. Kayankali, Attakalam, Ambeyal, Talappanthukali and Kutukutu are some popular traditional games which are extremely physical in nature. This art is slightly lost in today’s urban setup but one can observe them in the interior parts of Kerala that still hold traditions close. Ambeyal is a game of shooting while Kutukutu is Kerala’s version of Kabbadi. You might not want to play that after a heavy sadhya.

 

The Pookalam

Think you know decor? Think again. The traditional pookalam is perhaps one of the most creative decoration methods out there. Schools host pookalam design competitions where people decorate the front of their homes/buildings with creative floral arrangements and patterns.

 

The Traditional Dances

Thiruvathirakali, Kummattikali, Puli kali, Thumbi Thullal and Kathakali are some of the most beautiful spectacles of Onam. While Thiruvathirakali is performed solely by women around lamps, its counterpart Pulikali is performed only by men dressed as tigers. Each of these dances represent styles and techniques unique to Kerala. Keep an eye out, you might spot a street performance.

 

Happy Onam!

Now that you’re a little more Onam savvy, try your hand at fixing an Onam Sadhya setup in your own home. Pigeon has all the appliances you need to make every dish happen. As a goodbye gift to this article, here’s a recipe for a full-fledged sadhya.

Seven Ways A Pigeon Rice Cooker Can Surprise You.

Introduction

Imagine, you just got your first rice cooker as a wedding gift. It takes someone a really low bar of cognition to ask the question “What can you make with it?”

In the odd coincidence that this conversation does happen, you have a chance to answer with “It’s a rice cooker. I make… pancakes with it.”

Wait, what?

Yep, it’s true. There’s a lot more to rice cookers than meets the eye and while the nomenclature is misleading of its sole purpose, functionally there’s a lot more you can do with it.

Check out these five dishes that you can make with a rice cooker and you might just consider picking up a nice Pigeon Essentials Rice Cooker today!

 

 

Pancakes

We’re not kidding about this. All you need is the pancake base or mix and you’ll get the most evenly cooked pancake you’ve ever had. It’s most likely to be much thicker than the regular ones but that just means a more wholesome plate of deliciousness. 

Recipe

  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
  • DIRECTIONS:
  • 1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until completely blended. Add in remaining ingredients and whisk until only small lumps remain.
  • 2. Grease the interior of your rice cooker pot. I used my 10-cup rice cooker with only a cook/warm function. Pour in the batter. If you have a very small ricer cooker, make sure your batter does not reach past the halfway point since the pancake will rise when cooking. Close your rice cooker. If your rice cooker has a timer function, set it to cook for 45 minutes. If it doesn’t, set a separate timer for yourself and then press cook. If your rice cooker only has a cook/warm function, the rice cooker will likely go from cook to warm before the 45 minutes is up (mine did it after 10-15 minutes). You can try pressing cook again, but my rice cooker wouldn’t let me. I left it on warm and it continued to cook, finishing at 45 minutes. Your cooking time may vary slightly depending on your rice cooker (size, power, etc). You can check on it periodically. When it is done, the cake will have slightly pulled away from the edges of the pan. The surface may look slightly wet, but it is likely from condensation. When you touch the cake, it should feel firm and bounce back. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Let cake cool a few minutes. Then invert the cake onto a plate (the cake should slide out easily), and the surface of the cake should be brown.

 

 

Soup

There is no food more comforting than simple good old soup. You could literally just drop all the ingredients in and start cooking depending on which soup you want. Can’t cook, rice cook it.

Recipe

  • Yield – 6 Cups
  • Preparation Time – 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time – 40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 cups broth or water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt, black or red pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, optional
  • Directions
  • Combine all ingredients except butter in a rice cooker and stir.
  • Cook. (Mine just has an on/off button. It’s not fancy.)
  • Stir in butter.
  • Blend soup until creamy in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy with traditional grilled cheese or just crackers!
  • If freezing or rewarming, be prepared to whiz in more broth as the soup thickens as it cools.

 

 

Bisi Bele Bhath

Move over plain rice and bring in the spice. Bisi Bele Bhath is the perfect treat to tantalize taste buds with spices that tease and keep those guests begging for more.

Fix a batch with this easy recipe, this Sunday!

Recipe

  • Ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)
  • For the rice:
    1 cup regular rice (I used sona masuri rice)
    ¼ cup raw peanuts (moongphali)
    ¼ teaspoon raw salt (sendha namak)
    2.5 cups water for cooking the rice.
  • For the dal:
    ¾ cup arhar dal (tuvar dal or pigeon pea lentils)
    ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
    2 cups water
  • Cooking veggies for bisi bele bhath:
  • 1 medium carrot or 100 to 200 grams carrot
  • 18 to 20 french beans or 80 to 100 grams French beans
  • ½ cup peas (matar) or 60 to 70 grams peas
  • 3 to 4 small brinjals (baingan or aubergine) or 80 to 100 grams baingan
  • 1 medium onion or 3 to 4 shallots or 80 to 100 grams onions or shallots
  • 1 medium tomato or 80 to 100 grams tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind soaked in ½ cup water
  • 2 or 2.5 cups water for cooking the vegetables
  • 1 cup water added later
  • 3 tablespoon bisi bele bhath masala dissolved in 1 cup water.
  • ¼ tablespoon rock salt for cooking the vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon rock salt added later or add as required
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened desiccated coconut
    For tampering
    bisi bele bhath:
  • 3 to 4 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 or 2 marathi moggu (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (rai or sarson)
  • 2 to 3 dry byadagi/ bedgi chillies or dry red chillies (sookhi lal mirchi)
  • 12 to 15 curry leaves (kadi patta)
  • ¼ tablespoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 18 to 20 cashews (kaju)
  • How to make recipe
  • Cooking the rice:
  • Rinse the rice peanuts first. Add 2.5 cups water.
  • Soak both rice and peanuts for 20 to 25 mins. Add salt.
  • Keep on the stove top and cook the rice.
  • If required, then you can add some more water while cooking the rice.
  • Bring to boil and then lower the flame. Simmer till the rice grains are cooked well. The peanuts would also cook well. Cover and keep aside
  • Cooking lentils and veggies for bisi bele bhath:
    1. Soak 1 tbsp tightly packed tamarind in ½ or 2/3 cup of warm water for 25 to 30 mins.
  • 2. Later squeeze and extract the tamarind pulp.
  • 3. In a pressure cooker, add rinsed tuvar dal/ pigeon pea lentils, turmeric powder and 2 to 2.5 cups water.
  • 4. Pressure cook for 8 to 9 whistles or till the dal is cooked soft.
  • 5. Once the pressure settles down on its own, mash the dal and keep it aside.
  • 6. In another pan, take the chopped veggies and ¼ tsp salt. Pour 2 cups water and stir.
  • 7. Cover and allow the veggies to cook till they are cooked and still retain their shape.
  • Making bisi bele bhath:
  • Now in the cooker with the mashed dal, add the cooked rice and peanuts.
  • Then add the cooked vegetables along with its stock. Stir lightly.
  • Add 1 cup water. Add tamarind pulp. Mix everything well taking care the rice grains do not break.
  • Now in another pan or bowl, take 3 tbsp bisi bele bhath masala and 1 cup water.
  • Stir very well. The masala tend to stick the back of the spoon while stirring, so scrape it off and add to the mixture.
  • Now add this bisi bele bhath + water mixture in the cooker.
  • Add desiccated coconut. Add 1 tsp or as required. Stir well.
  • Keep the cooker without the lid on the stove top and simmer on a low flame for about 20 to 25 mins. Add more water if required. Keep on stirring often. The raw aroma of the tamarind has to go away and all the flavors should be blended well. Cover and keep aside once done.
  • Tempering bisi bele bhath:
    1. In another pan or the tadka (tampering) pan, heat ghee or oil first. Crackle the mustard seeds and then temper the curry leaves, Marathi moggu, dry red chillies, cashews and asafoetida till the dry red chillies change color and the cashews turn a light golden. Don’t burn the spices.
  • 2. Pour this tempering in the prepared bisi bele bhath. Stir and cover the cooker with its lid for about 5 mins, so that the tempering flavors infuse in the bisi bele bhath.
  • 3. Later serve the bisi bele bhath with potato or banana chips/ wafers or fried papads. While serving bisi bele bhath you can top with some ghee if you prefer.

 

 

Pulihora aka Puliyogre

Here’s another spicy entrant that becomes an instant favourite! With many names to Pulihora, you’re sure too to earn a lot of nicknames for yourself with people coming over for more. Bring the Andhra magic to your home with this tangy treat and become the envy of the neighbourhood with this ridiculously easy fix.

Recipe

  • Ingredients (240 ml cup used)
  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 2tbsp Oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame Oil(you can replace with normal water)
  • 2 springs of curry leaves
  • 2 red chillies broken
  • ½ tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp channa dal / senagapappu
  • 1 tbsp urad dal / senagapappu
  • 2 to 3 tbsp peanuts
  • Generous pinch of Hing
  • Salt as needed
  • Handful tamarind or 4 tbsp. thick tamarind pulp(adjust to suit your taste)
  • 2 Green chillies slit (if not for naivedyam)
  • ½ tsp Ginger finely chopped (optional)
  • Turmeric as needed
  • ½ tsp lightly roasted mustard powder or roasted sesame seeds powder (optinal)
  • ½ tsp Jagery (optional)

 

  • How to make recipe
  • OIf you wish to use sesame or mustard powder, lightly roast them and cool. Powder and set aside. Do not use both, use either of them.
  • Wash and soak tamarind in hot water for some time. Squeeze and make a thick paste. Pass it through a filter, discard stones and pulp.
  • Wash and cook rice till just done. Do not make the rice mushy. Grains must be separated. Cool the rice on a wide plate. Sprinkle salt, turmeric and 1tbsp sesame oil evenly. Leave it aside till the seasoning is ready. When the rice cools down mix the rice with sprinkled turmeric and salt. If needed use more turmeric to get a nice colour.
  • Heat a pan with oil, add peanuts, dal and fry till golden , add curry leaves, green chillies, red chillies and ginger if using. Fry till the red chillies turn crispy.
  • Add hing, tamarind pulp, jiggery and little more salt.
  • Cook till the mixture thickens otherwise pulihora will be moist.
  • Off the heat, add powdered mustard or sesame seeds powder to the rice, give a quick stir do not let the mixture fry in the pan. Add the seasoning to the rice. Mix well. Do not mix while the rice is hot.
  • Serve tamarind rice or pulihora with fresh homemade curd.

 

 

Applesauce

Perhaps one of the easiest dishes you can make in a rice cooker, apart from rice (duh). Just grab a bunch of apples, some cinnamon sticks, some water and you’re good to go!

Recipe

  • INGREDIENTS
  • Core and quarter 10-15 apples (or as many will fit in the bowl of the rice cooker); don’t worry about peeling them.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon or a whole cinnamon stick
  • PREPARATION
  • Add all ingredients to rice cooker. Cook on Quick Cook setting. Mash or leave in chunks. Store leftovers in fridge.

 

 

Cake

That’s right! Cakes too! Most of Japan steams their cakes and well, now you know you just might not need an oven anymore. While the cakes are moist, it’s just as dense and delicious!

Recipe

  • Ingredients for Carrot-Orange Cake)
    4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
    1/2 C sugar
    1/4 t salt
    1/2 t vanilla extract
    1/3 C vegetable oil
    1 T orange zest (from 1 orange)
    1 C carrot, peeled & grated (about 3-4 thin carrots)
    1/3 C pecans or walnuts, toasted & finely chopped
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
    1 T baking powder
  • Start the cake by greasing the rice cooker bowl with vegetable oil (you can also use butter).  You can do this by squirting a few drops of oil in the rice cooker bowl then wiping it with a piece of paper towel.
  • Sift together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
  • Whisk egg whites.  When egg whites turn white and foamy, add 1/2 of the sugar and continue to whisk.  When sugar has been incorporated and the meringue starts turning glossy, add the rest of the sugar and continue to whisk.  Stop when the meringue is firm and silky-glossy.  When you lift the whisk, the tip should gently fall, which is about soft-medium peak (see picture above).
  • Add and mix to completely incorporate the ingredients, one group at a time in the order of the following.
  • – egg yolks and salt
  •  – oil and vanilla extract
  •  – orange zest and shredded carrots
  •   – chopped nuts
  • Then add flour into the egg mix.  With a wooden spoon, gently incorporate 1/2 of the flour mix first.  Add the rest and fold in gently just until there are no lumps of flour.  Do not overmix.
  • Pour the batterinto the greased rice cooker bowl.  Tap the side of the bowl to release big air bubbles.  Place the bowl in the rice cooker.
  • Press ‘Steam’ (a.k.a. ‘Multi-Cook’) for 40 minutes if your rice cooker has the option.  Alternatively, ‘Cook’ twice, i.e., press ‘Cook’ and when it’s done, press ‘Cook’ again.  You might have to wait for the rice cooker to cool a bit before starting the second run in case of some older/simpler rice cookers.
  • When it’s done, flip gently on a plate.  Let it cool to room temperature.  If you can gather enough patience, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to allow some time to moisten and its flavors to settle before serving.
  • What about the icing and candied carrot garnish?  Follow me to the next steps…
  • Ingredients for carrot ribbons)
    1 carrot, peeled
    1/3 C sugar
    1/3 C corn syrup
    1/2 C water
  • Ingredients for cream cheese – yogurt frosting)
    8 oz. low-fat cream cheese in block (not in a tub), a.k.a., American neufchatel cheese, at room temperature, softened
    1/2 C Greek yogurt (I use 2% Fage)
    1/2 C confectioners sugar
  • For cream cheese – yogurt icing, whisk together softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt and confectioners’ sugar.  Cover and refrigerate.
  • For candied carrot ribbons, peel a carrot with a peeler to the core.  In a small pot, add sugar, corn syrup and water and heat it until sugar is dissolved.  Add carrot ribbons and bring it up to a simmer over low heat, uncovered.  After about 20 minutes, carrot ribbons should turn transluscent and shiny.  Keep reducing the syrup over low heat until the syrup starts bubbling up.  Stir to keep bubbles down.  When carrot ribbons have turned sticky with no crunchy bite, remove from heat.  Let it rest, covered with a lid, for 30 minutes.   Strain the carrot syrup and let the carrot ribbons dry slightly by laying them out separated on a parchment paper-lined pan.
  • For assembly, slice the carrot cake horizontally with a serrated knife to make two layers.  Spread the cream cheese – yogurt icing on the bottom layer of the cake, starting from the middle.  Gently place the top layer over the bottom layer of the cake.  Spread the rest of the icing on the top layer of the cake.  Garnish with the carrot ribbons as you wish.

 

 

Baked Potatoes

Baked Potatoes in jackets are perhaps most photogenic food items to make and now even easier with a rice cooker! Choose the ones with the right skin to get a nice crisp exterior. The rice cooker might make it a bit damp but the interiors will be a fluffy godsend.

Recipe

  • Baked Potatoes
  • Traditional baked potatoes are roasted in their skins in an oven, or occasionally in the coals of a fire. The outer skin becomes dry and crisp, while the potato inside is steamed by its own moisture. It’s important to pierce the potato several times with a fork or paring knife so steam can escape without the potato exploding. This leaves the interior fluffy and dry. Some prefer a soft skin on the potatoes, wrapping them in foil before baking them. Rice cooker “baked” potatoes have a similar appearance.
  • Rice Cooker Baked Potatoes
  • To “bake” potatoes in your rice cooker, choose russets or other starchy potatoes. Keep their size as uniform as possible, so they’ll bake evenly. Pierce the potatoes and arrange them in the bottom of your rice cooker, then close the lid. Press the On button, and allow the cycle to complete. Depending on your rice cooker and the size of your potatoes, you might need to put them through a second cooking cycle. If so, rotate the potatoes so the top of each one becomes the bottom. This helps ensure even cooking.
  • Serving
  • Once your potatoes are fully cooked, remove the lid from your rice cooker. This gives the steam a chance to dissipate and the skin an opportunity to dry. If you favor baked potatoes with a soft skin, serve them immediately while they’re piping hot. If you like your baked potatoes crisp on the outside, place them in an oven or toaster oven for a few minutes at 400 F. This will dry and crisp the skin slightly, giving a finished potato that’s more like an oven-baked version.