Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pastaaa - Indian Ishtyle !!

Dear Foodies,

The pasta aisle in the grocery store always wins the game. I start out on my monthly shopping with a firm resolution that I wouldn't buy any pasta on this trip, but you will always see a new bag of it in my kitchen closets !! During my last visit, Orzo, the rice grain shaped pasta was the winner :-) My most favorite of them all is the tri-color Rotini, though they might be similar in taste to any other kind of pasta, the colored spirals are a treat to the eyes. Toss in some colored peppers and tomatoes and you have a masterpiece !!

This pasta recipe is the result of some gathered inspiration from a friends' recipe and my cravings for a spicy n quick breakfast on the weekends. Its very simple and a regular in my apartment. Since its a dish with no particular recipe that I stick too, I add anything that comes within my arms reach in the kitchen !!

  • 1/2 pack - Rotini, cooked as per instructions
  • 2 nos - Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 nos - Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 nos - Capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 cup - Lima beans (I used canned ones)
  • 1 1/2 tsp - red pepper seeds/Chilli powder
  • 2 Tbsp - Maggi Hot n Sweet sauce /Tomato ketchup
  • 3 tsp - Lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for sautéing (I used olive oil, the newbie in my kitchen :-) )
  1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions, add a few drops of oil to the boiling water to avoid sticky pasta.
  2. In a skillet heat some oil. Once hot, sprinkle some red pepper seeds and then the chopped onions and saute till translucent.
  3. Next comes the capsicum, once they are tender add the tomatoes and cook covered till the tomatoes cook. If using chilli powder, add it now.
  4. Mash the tomatoes a bit and add in the lima beans, salt and ketchup and cook covered for a few more minutes till it all comes together. Add a little water if required.
  5. Now toss in the pasta and stir to coat it well with the vegetables. Add more salt if required. cover and cook for a couple of minutes till the flavors blend into with the pasta.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice for a tangy twist and to complete the desi touch.

  • I guess you could add any veggie of your choice to this dish. eg: carrots, peas, potatoes, french cut beans and also tofu or crumbled paneer if you have some.
  • You can also add some roasted peanuts for an extra crunch :-)
  • I add the Maggi hot n sweet ketchup for it to be extra hot, you can skip that if you are not huge spicy food fan. You could use plain ketchup while cooking instead and reserve the Maggi sauce for the bowl just before serving.
  • If you don't have the Maggi ketchup you could use a dash of green chilli sauce or tobasco sauce.

Now its over the Nandita's WBB event.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Kalakhand - My Deepavali Special :-)

Dear Foodies,


Hope all of you had a wonderful Deepavali. I enjoyed the music concert I mentioned in the previous post. I managed to get Sudha Ragunathan's autograph and also a few photographs with her. It was just great listening to her mellifluous voice for more than 3 1/2 hours !! I am amazed how she could keep singing for such a long time without feeling any strain. Plain talking for more than an hour makes my throat go sore !! Well, I dont think I should be comparing myself with her in the first place..!! haha

I also got to fire crackers for Deepavali at the Hindu temple in Cincinnati, with my friends here . Our first time after coming to the US, so we were all happy happy happy :D

Recipe for the Kalakhand will follow soon, for now all I can say is it was really really delicious. The taste was authentic, just like the ones we get at the Mithai shops in India. It being my first time, I dint have high expectations and so I was pleasantly surprised when it was done :-)


For Deepavali, I wanted to make some kind of milk sweet but was bored of the usual payasam. I had seen a few Kalakhand recipes for the JFI - Milk event and for some odd reason when I was deciding about the Deepavali special dish the first one to come to my mind was Kalakhand, when I asked a friend for suggestions, he came up with the same thing too, and so it was decided that I would make Kalakhand. Thats when the search for a good recipe started. I saw 3 different methods: one using ricotta cheese, the other using milk powder and condensed milk and the traditional ones using whole milk.

I have never used ricotta cheese before and so was hesitant to use it now, the main thing stopping me was...We dont get ricotta cheese in India so there should be a method which skips it. So I was looking for recipes that started with milk and ended with kalakhand :-) I read a few recipes which did this, the method was simple. Separate half the quantity of milk you are using and reduce the other to half. Then add them to together and reduce further, add sugar and additional flavorings, decorate with nuts. Now that looked simple and authentic too. The only differences in the whole milk recipes were in the method of separating. A few used citric acid and few used tartar (heard of it only in toothpaste ads !!).

Well, I dint have either of these, but had lots of lime juice. Lime juice, I knew for sure would help separate/split the milk, but there was soon a anti-climax. I poured half a gallon of whole milk into a huge vessel and set it to boil. Once it started to raise, I added a spoon of lime juice and waited for it to split. 1sec...2sec...3sec...nothing happened...2nd spoon of lime juice...1..2..3..4..countdown again...nothing happens...this process continued and I had added 5 spoons of lime juice with no hint of splitting from the milk !! I was totally confused...sometimes I badly crave for a hot cup of tea and end up with a cup of split milk and today I was trying HARD to split it but it wouldnt budge !!! I was also scared to add more lime juice as I dint want a lime n lemony Kalakhand !! :-( As a desperate attempt I also added 2 teaspoons of vinegar but to no avail !!

That was when I decided to trick the milk, a drop of lime juice in a cup of milk was successful in separating it and so I divided the milk into 2 smaller portions and added 1 spoon of lime juice in each and Yayyyyyyy it split...I guess it was the first time I was happy that the milk split !! So I would advice you guys to use citric acid if available for this recipe, it might be a more efficient milk-separator :-)

Going by the glossy pieces in the pictures you might think that this sweet uses a lot of ghee, but believe me, I did not add even a drop of ghee. Its just magic with plain MILK :-) The pistachios can be added raw unlike cashews or raisins which need to be toasted in ghee.

The whole process of making this sweet took about 1 1/2 hrs, so do make sure you have a good company of friends to share the stirring of the milk !! :D But it was fun making it and all of us just loved the Kalakhand, it was simply superb, perfect store bought taste. I would surely recommend all of you to try it out.


  • 1 gallon : Whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups : Sugar
  • 1/2 cup : Condensed milk
  • 4-5 nos : Cardamom/Elaichi, powdered
  • 10-15 nos : Pistachios, sliced
  • 3-4 drops: Vanilla essence
  • Citric acid/lime juice to split the milk

  1. Boil half a gallon of milk in a vessel, once it come to a boil add the acid to split the milk. Use of a sieve to drain the water and reserve the solids/paneer. The paneer does not have to be kneaded. A little water left in it is okay too. ( I read a recipe that did not filter the water, but that could make the process even longer and the water needs to vaporize)
  2. In another vessel heat the other half gallon on milk and reduce it to a little more than 1/2 its volume. Keep stirring every 3-5 mins to avoid any burnt layers. Be sure to use a clean vessel and spoon as we don't want this half to split :D. This could take about 45 mins.
  3. Once the milk gets thick add the paneer, sugar, condensed milk, half the sliced pista and the vanilla essence. This is the crucial stage, stir more frequently or you could end up with burnt layers and also to get the sugar incorporated into the mixture. (This semi-solid mixture tastes great too :-p, and keep in mind that even if it looks like it needs lil more sugar at this stage don't add any, as it thickens it will get a bit sweeter)
  4. Keep stirring till you can judge that the kalakhand will become firm on cooling. I scooped a small spoon of the mixture onto a plate and put it into the freezer for a minute. If it feels a little hard the Kalakhand is ready !
  5. Transfer all the Kalakhand into a flat dish and even out. Sprinkle the rest of the pistachios and place in the freezer for 30mins.
  6. Once it sets and is firm you can cut the Kalakhand into the desired shape and sizes.
A few chunks of the Kalakhand are now off to VKN's My Dhaba for the :

My Notes:
  • To get a thicker texture you can increase the quantity of milk that you reserve for splitting. That will give more solid pieces when you bite into the kalakhand.
  • Condensed milk was something I added just because I had a can of it lying in the fridge. I guess you could skip that and increase the amount of sugar a bit.
  • If you want to reduce the amount of milk stirring time, I think you could microwave it for around 10 mins or so and then move it to the stove top.
  • Fortunately there was no trace of all that lime juice and vinegar I used. I wouldn't want to advice you guys about the method of splitting the milk. Follow your very own tried and tested method there :-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Deepavali Treats # 1

Dear Foodies,


I really really miss being at home for Deepavali, some how this festival shares a very special place in my heart. Its probably because of the goodies mom makes or the Lakshmi Puja at home or the new dresses that Daddy buys for all of us or the fire crackers or the festive look in the house and the neighbourhood or the non-stop Deepavali special shows on TV or its just ALL of them.

Every year we kids in our street would have a competition of who light's the first cracker for Deepavali. And so, my brother and I would be up at 4:00 am in the morning, not to get ready for an oil bath, not to help mom with the preps... but to get the first 100 wala lit on the road !!! And the excitement in the air would be really infectious, and one after the other for abt 30 mins everyone in the street would hear 100 wala's and 500 wala's going off instead of their boring alarms. And that would begin the wonderful day for us :) No matter how splendid the fireworks display in the US is, I would still prefer our small bijili pattasu, flower pots, sparklers, rocket bomb and Vishnu chakra any day !! When I was a kid, I would roam around the whole day with a gun filled with roll caps with a cowboy look and pride on my face :D And when all is over, in the night when we collect all the trash papers we would toss in a few roll caps and serpent tablets for that finishing touch :D The whole day was just AWESOME !!

Read the list of fireworks industries based in Sivakasi, one could call it the fireworks capital of India, here and its history here ( .pdf file).

Being in school, I havent found time to make anything for the Big Day. But well, there has to be a silver lining somewhere rite, its Deepavali !! And here it is, tomorrow, that is on the eve of Deepavali we have a concert by none other than the outstanding carnatic vocalist, Sudha Ragunathan rite here in the university, just 10 mins from where I am now :-) Its being organised by SABHA. Hats off to SABHA !! Well I bet all of you have heard Sudha Ragunathan, if you havent please do listen to her render a carnatic song and you will be enthralled for life :-)

Well back to the food part of this blog, every Deepavali my mother makes boondi laddu and kara mixture at home apart from other sweets & savouries. She makes them in huge quantities too and a major portion is for sharing with relatives and friends and neighbours. Deepavali is a traditional Indian 'Thanksgiving' thing.

This year though, my mother did not carry her usual enthusiasm as both my brother and I are here in the US. But well, God has His own way of getting things done :-). So my pedamma (Aunt) volunteered to make a bigger batch of treats to share with us for our naivedyam and my mom did a beautiful job at photographing every stage of the laddu making process. After looking at the pictures I felt me writing out the recipe would be redundant !! Have a look at them yourself.

All thanks to Vee for hosting the JFI-Diwali, its a wonderful idea and has lit up all our blogs. Its bringing in the festive look I was missing staying away from home :-) THANK YOU VEE

So here goes the recipe for the laddu our the family, my aunt making them, my mom photographing it, and me happily blogging about it :-) (The recipe for home-made mixture is in the previous post)

~ Boondi Laddu ~

This plate is on its way to Vee's JFI-Diwali

  • 1 cup - Besan
  • 1 1/2 cup - Sugar
  • 1 tbsp - Rice flour
  • 5 nos - Cardamom/Elaichi, powdered
  • 10 nos - Cloves/Lavang
  • A pinch of saffron color
  • Few kalakand pieces
  • Water for sugar syrup

  1. Prepare the sugar syrup, by adding required amount of water and boiling it till u get the one-string consistency(see second pic below for the 1-string test). Add some saffron color and reserve.
  2. Make a batter with the besan by adding required amount of water to get a bajji batter like consistency i.e., the batter needs to be slightly runny.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai and on a medium flame. Now pour a spoonful of the batter into the slotted spoon and rub the batter in to make it fall like tiny droplets into the oil. You can use either a rounded spoon/cup/your hand to do this. Be very careful though.
  4. Fry the boondi on a medium flame. Dont wait till they get crisp, remove when 3/4th done and dunk them into the reserved sugar syrup.
  5. When all the boondi is done toss in the lavang and kalkand pieces in too and make small laddu's of the mixture. This is easiest when the mixture is hot. If it has already cooled down you can re-heat till the sugar melts a little bit or you can use a little milk to moisten your hands while making the laddus. The use of milk will reduce the shelf life of the laddus though !
  6. The next is to wait until the naivedyam is done to pounce on the laddus :-)

Deepavali Treats # 2

Dear Foodies,


Kara Mixture
( This one too wants to go to Vee's place)

This is another deepavali-special guest at our home :-) The recipe for boondi laddus is in the previous post.

For the mixture, make small batches each of
  • Thenkuzhal
  • Om Podi
  • Mullu Muruku
  • Kara Boondi
  • Maida biscuits
  • Fried : Kabuli channa and dried green peas,Putnalu/dalia, Peanuts, Cashews, Raisins, Atukulu/Rice flakes and curry leaves

All these are then tossed together with some salt and chili powder and a spoonful of sugar !! And I can assure you its the best mixture you will ever lay your hands on. (Though I am sure each one will give this title to your moms :-) )

I dont have the pictures for each one of them and so will share the recipes alone for now.

  • Thenkuzhal:
Ingredients: 2 cups - Rice Flour; 1 small cup - Urad dal flour; 1 tsp -Sesame seeds; 1 Tbsp - butter; Salt to taste and Oil for frying.

Procedure: Bring all the ingredients together in a bowl and add some water to make a dough. No kneading of the dough required, just blend the ingredients together. Take very good care to avoid lumps. Any dry flour in the dough will lead to fireworks when put in the oil !! So be very careful. Now separate the dough into small portions and fill them one by one into the mould of the murukku press. Use the plate with three round holes for this one. Now using the murukku press transfer the dough to the oil and leave it to fry on one side and then turn it around so that it browns evenly on both sides. As soon as the dough hits the oil you will see a lot of bubbles, you will know that the murukku is done when all the bubbles subside. Use medium flame for frying.

  • Mullu Murukku/Star murukku:
Ingredients: 2 cups - Rice Flour; 1 small cup -Moong dal flour; 1 small cup - Channa dal; 1 tsp -Sesame seeds; 1 Tbsp - butter; Salt to taste and Oil for frying.

Procedure: Follow the same procedure as above. Use the murukku plate with a star hole for this one.
  • Om Podi:
Ingredients: 1 cups - Rice Flour; 1 cups -Besan; 1 Tbsp - Omam/Ajwain powder; Salt to taste and Oil for frying.

Procedure: Its the same procedure again and this time use the plate that has tiny holes. The dough might need a little more water than the ones above as the smaller wholes would nessesitate a looser dough.
  • Kara Boondi:
Ingredients: 1 cups -Besan; 1/4 cup - rice floour; 1 tsp - chili powder; Salt to taste and Oil for frying.

Procedure: Its the same procedure used to make the boondi's for the laddu. But in this case fry the boondis till they are crisp.
  • Kabuli Channa & Batani (dried Green peas)
Soak the channa and peas overnight and dry them on a paper towel the next day. Once they are free of the moisture fry them in the oil till crisp. Be VERY careful while frying these as these batani's and channa are mini atom bombs !! The WILL surely explode a bit when dropped into the oil due to the stored moisture within them. And so cover the kadai with a lid the moment you put them in the oil. After the initial 1-2 mins you can check to see if they are done, but until then COVER them well and stay AWAY from the stove top.
  • Peanuts/Putnalu(dalia)/Cashews/Raisins/Atukulu/Curry leaves
Fry all the above in oil and drain the excess oil with a paper towel. For these you can use a large tea strainer kind of a spoon while frying. Its easier to evenly fry them using that.

Now that you have all your savouries ready, toss them all in to a huge bowl and add some salt and chilli powder according to taste. Add a few spoons of sugar too for added flavor.

And its done... :-) 'Home made Mixture' readyyy :D

Phew !! That was a huge list, never really noticed how many went into the mixture while I gobbled them up all these years !! Well, you can always add and subtract any of these , like in the picture above the mixture that my aunt made for us uses just Ompodi, boondi, peanuts, atukulu and putnalu/dalia.

Other festive treats:



Sunday, October 15, 2006

Food Charmers' Treasure Trove # 1

Dear Foodies,
I have been filling up my Treasure Chest from the day I got introduced to blogs, now its time to show you a few that came out of it and landed on my kitchen stove :-)

Below are pictures of the dishes I tried to re-create. Each one of them has been a success and have found a cozy place in my every day menu. I would recommend all these dishes to you guys if they havent yet landed on your plate :-)

I tried out two splendid recipes from Vaishali's Happy Burp

Mirchicha Chatka

Since it was my first trial at this dish, I took her advice and used lesser amount of chillies and dunked them in lots of yoghurt :D , but I must tell you it was lovely with the paratha's, it added a spicy zest to the boring store bought parathas.


Sorry for the terrible picture !! This dish I should say is a bundle of surprise to your taste buds. It was the simplicity of the recipe that tempted me to try it out, and also the unending packets of mixed vegetable in my freezer :-P. This recipe does not call for any spices, but the harmony of flavors in the end product in unbelievable. And its too darned simple to make, soo simple that the egoistic cook in you will want to churn out another dish to compensate for its simplicity !! :D

Did I say two splendid recipes from Vaishali's, but I just tried another one yesterday !!

Didir Dosa

Her Didir dosa is really quick, dhideer means sudden/without prior notice in Tamil. Though this recipe does not compete with the speed of Rava dosa's or Besan Cheela's , it is a quick recipe for our regular dosa, skipping the soaking & grinding of the rice and dal. All you need to quench your cravings for some nice crispy dosa's is to stock your kitchen with some Urad dal flour and Rice flour at all times and you can have a lovely breakfast anytime :-)

Peanut chutney

To complete the brilliance of the dosa's I made some Peanut chutney to accompany them, and where did I look for an authentic recipe ? Where else but at the wonderful, peanut loving Indira's Mahanandi. Its a very simple recipe and the chutney holds a warm place in every Telugus' heart. I can assure you that a plate of crispy hot dosas, a dollop of peanut chutney and a spoon og allam pachadi (ginger pickle) will surely buy you a free roundtrip to Heaven !!

Now, once I got back to Earth, we were hungry again and it was time for the irresistible Dhansak.

The moment Nandita of Saffron Trail, posted her Parsi dhansak, I knew I had to try it. I was sincere in buying the pumpkin but after that the enthusiasm died down a bit, but then Shammi of Food, in the Main came up with her recipe (the recipe for the dhansak masala is her previous post) for it too. After that there was no more delaying :-)

A few days back, the passionate cook Nabeela who is currently treating us to her Iftar recipes everyday, made some roasted potatoes.

Roasted potatoes

I just bought my first can of olive oil and was eager to experiment with it. This was the perfect starter recipe for a starter :D. The potatoes look oily, but I used just a teaspoonfull of EVOO for 3 potatoes !! I was not sure about the amount of time that I had to leave them in the oven, and I guess I took them out a bit early. I would have liked them crispier, better luck next time :-)

Now its time to close the treasure chest with a dessert.

Eggless chocolate cake

This is from Priya's Kitchen. A wonderful eggless chocolate cake to dig into after a wonderful dinner. The pic is from my second attempt. The first time I tried I found that the 6tsp of cocoa powder mentioned was too less for the chocolately taste to stand up and dominate, probably because of a 'big cup-small spoon' measurement :D . So this time I increased it to 8 tsp for 3 cups of flour. I baked it for a friend's B'day this weekend, and we all enjoyed the cake. I added some icing on top too and used some ready made chocolate icing to decorate the cake. I scooped a lil into a ziploc bag and made a cone of it for decoration.

Thanks to all of you for sharing such delightful recipes !!

I am off now, the treasure chest will pop open more often from now on. I already have a few more waiting to show themselves to you guys :-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pongal - Sweetened Rice and Lentils

Dear Foodies,

Here is the first recipe among the goodies I made for Dasara.

My entry to Luv2Cook's JFI-Ghee event

Pongal, is a rice and dal mix that is cooked in jaggery and made rich with generous amounts of ghee and dry fruits, raisins and cashews roasted in ghee in particular. Coming to think of it, the word dry fruit in most South Indian sweets, more often than not implies, raisins and cashews. Very rarely have I seen other nuts used. And interestingly, though there are soo many festivals celebrated in India each one of them has a particular 'traditional festival-menu' attached to it. This was probably deviced to treasure the hundreds of recipes that our forefathers came up with. In our house its not just the sweets and savories but the daily lunch/dinner menu is also a custom-made one for that particular festival !!

Well back to Pongal, I think its one of the easiest sweets you can dish out, and it is relatively lesser time-consuming and does not call for much of your attention either. Leave the dal and rice to cook and take care of the other things in kitchen till then. Get back to it after sometime, add some jaggery-dissolved water, forget about it yet again and let it simmer, finally add a few dollops of ghee and dry fruits. And Voila,Its done !! You have a comforting and rich dish ready to serve.

Home-made ghee would be the best for this recipe or for any Indian sweet, for that matter, the better the quality of the ghee the more mellowed the flavor and the aroma is just enticing. This month's Jihva event hosted by Luv2Cook is all set to showcase the pivotal role that ghee plays in our cuisine.

This time I made a few variations to my usual recipe. I cooked the rice and dal in half milk - half water mix instead of just water. And I also forgot the amount of dal to add and went ahead and tossed in dal equal to nearly half the amount of rice. And when the final taste was different from what I had planned for, I called Customer Support, my Mom :-) She pointed out to me that we have to use very little dal. She said, the reason a little dal is added to the rice is, plain rice is never offered to the Gods, so we add a lil moong dal and/or channa dal to it. Now you ask might want to ask why not just plain rice...?? According to tradition, plain rice is offered to God only when mourning a death in the family, and so for every other occasion a little dal, even if it is just a few grains, is added to the rice while cooking it and offered as naivedyam. Even for everyday naivedyam, my mother adds a few grains of toor dal to the rice.

  • 1 1/2 cup - Rice
  • 1/4 cup or lesser - Moong dal
  • 1/4 cup or lesser - Channa dal
  • 4 cups - water (or your usual ratio for 2 cups rice )
    2 1/2 cups - water & 2 cups - whole milk
  • 3 cups - Jaggery (or equivalent amount of sugar)
  • 3-4 Tbsp - Ghee
  • A handful of raisins and cashews/almonds
  • 3-4 nos - Cardamom pods/Elaichi, powdered (optional)
for garnishing:
  • chopped fresh coconut pieces
  • ghee
  • honey
  1. Pressure cook the dal and rice with the water or a water+ milk mix.
  2. In a separate pan toss in the jaggery with a cup of water and allow it to melt. It does not have to get a syrupy consistency, we only want the jaggery to dissolve in the water. This might take just 5-6 mins and so you can do this after you have switched off the rice cooker and are waiting the steam-pressure to ease.
  3. Add the jaggery water and powdered cardamoms to the cooked rice-dal mixture, stir well and simmer for 8-10mins. Check ferequently to avoid the bottom layers from burning. If using sugar you dont have to make a syrup, you can directly add the sugar with some water to the rice-dal mixture while its hot and stir on low heat.
  4. Roast the dry fruits in 1 Tbsp of ghee and add it to the rice along with the rest of the ghee. Mix well, add a little more water if required. Keep in mind that the pongal thickens when it cools, so turn off when it is still holding some water.
  5. Serve hot or cold. While serving you can garnish it with chopped pieces of fresh coconut and/or a drop of ghee. My father likes to drizzle a spoon of honey on his !! YUMMM :-)
  • I did not have fresh coconut, so I roasted some dessicated coconut flakes in warm ghee and added it to the pongal.
  • If you use just water to make the pongal, the final dish will have a deep yellowish brown color from the jaggery. Since I added milk, the color has lighened.
This bowl of Pongal is now off to Luv2Cook's medley of JFI -Ghee dishes :-)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Dasara

Dear Foodies,


I made Pongal and Sundal as
naivedyam on Friday and here are the pictures. I will be posting the recipes a little later as I plan to make more goodies for Vijayadasami too. :-)

Dasara in our house is a big event. We have the custom of keeping '
kolu/golu', which is an exhibit of dolls(made of clay or wood), majorly consisting of Gods. We usually have a 5 or7 step arrangement. A few dolls that we have in our collection in India are:a Ashtalakshmi set, Dasavataram, a doll set depicting a market place, a collection of animals which we arrange in some wet soil to depict a zoo, a temple with a band of muscians. The most reacent major entrant is a cricket set which is soo much fun to set-up :-). I miss being at home for this festival. It was always soo interesting to help my mom arrange the dolls.

I was of the opinion that Dasara and Dussera were just two different ways of spelling the festival name in English, but wikipedia says otherwise....read about the interesting twist:
Dasara and Dussera

I made some Rava Kesari and Bajji(potato fritters) on Sunday for the Saraswati puja naivedyam. A little about the puja from wiki
The goddess Saraswati is worshipped during Navaratri. In South India, Saraswati Puja is a very important festival. The last three days of Navarathri starting from Mahalaya Amavasya (the New Moon day) are dedicated to the goddess. On the ninth day of Navaratri (Mahanavami), books and all musical instruments are ceremoniously kept near the gods early at dawn and worshipped with special prayers. No studies or any performance of arts is carried out, as it is considered that the Goddess herself is blessing the books and the instruments.

I had some batter left even after I used up all the sliced potatoes. It was then in a sudden flash that I realised my mother uses a slotted spoon to make boondi and I was using one such spoon to drain the oil from the fritters. And soo... I happyily made use of the extra batter in making boondi's instead of peeling another potato for the fritters :-) They were nice n crisp and it was wonderful eating them after a looong time :-) I think I am going to make boondi's more often as they are soo simple to make and yet soo tasty.

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