Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! - Tsoureki (Greek Easter Dessert Bread)

Happy Easter!

Everyone takes turns hosting holiday celebrations in our family; this year Mom hosted Easter. My assigned job was to bring a dessert. Last year for Easter, I make Tsoureki and it was a hit so I made it again this year!

Tsoureki, pronounced 'sue-wreck-ee,' is a traditional Greek braided bread made for Orthodox Easter. It's usually braided with three dough ropes and three red dyed eggs are placed on top. The number three is significant because it represents the Holy Trinity in Christianity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
While traditional bread is flavored with sour cherry seeds, makhlepi, I like to flavor my bread with more familiar spices such as Allspice, Caraway Seeds, Cinnamon, and Star Anise. These freshly ground spices add a lovely licorice aroma to a slightly sweet yeasty bread.

Here is my recipe for a Sweet and Spiced Tsoureki:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy Ugadi! - Mixed Vegetable Vada (Fritters)

Happy Ugadi Everyone!

This last Monday (3/31) was Telugu New Year also known as Ugadi! It is usually celebrated with the reading of the New Years' almanac and traditional foods. Like Ugadi Pachadi whose ingredients represent different experiences that we all deal with in one year's time: Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Surprise and Fear. Last year, we celebrated our first Ugadi together with some recipe help from Amma!

There was Mango Rice, Plantain Bajji, Tindora fry, Potato fry, Ugadi Pachadi, Curd Salad, Bobbattu, and Cabbage Vada. Now before you say anything:
I know, I know the most important dish the Ugadi Pachadi was missing from the photo! Not because I forgot to make it, but because it didn't hang around long enough for a photo...

Ahem, (*cough*) Kishore ate it.

This year, Ugadi was on a Monday, at the start of a particularly busy work week so I had to scale it down a bit. 
There was Mango Rice, Eggplant Bajji, Ugadi Pachadi, Curd Salad, and Mixed Vegetable Vada.

I was particularly excited about this year's Vada. 
In case you don't know, Vada is a doughnut- shaped fritter made from ground bean paste and vegetables. It's crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and tasty all around. 
So Why was I excited? Because I experimented this year! Since we had just celebrated St. Patrick's Day the week before, we still had plenty of leftover green cabbage and veggies. So, I decided to use them all; green cabbage, along with red cabbage and kale, some shredded broccoli stalks and shredded carrots for good measure. The colors from these veggies are very reminiscent of colorful  spring flowers; perfect for a holiday celebrating the onset of spring and the start of a New Year!
Part of the reason I like making/eating Vada is that it's simple, quick, it can be made with pretty much any vegetable and it's filling. It's great as a snack or a side dish.

Here is my recipe for Versatile Mixed Vegetable Vada:

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