Festivals are a time when we can honor our mothers by preparing the special dishes as per their recipes they used and then sharing these dishes with loved ones. The festival of Shavuot this year is on June 2nd. and 3rd. 2006 to commemorate the receiving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah. The gift of Torah is like a gift of milk and honey. Therefore it is customary to have menus that have sweetened milk dishes. In India, my mother used to order extra milk from the milkman for 2 days before the festival. He was specially told not to add any water as she would require milk with cream.
One liter of milk is boiled on a slow fire with sugar to sweeten it, stirring occasionally till the quantity becomes half of the original and creamish in color. For quicker results a in of condensed milk and less sugar can be used. When almost ready, one teaspoon of finely ground cardamom powder, a handful of raisins, soaked skinned and diced almonds or pistachio are added. This dish is stirred often after taking it off the flame so that cream does not collect at the top. It is then refrigerated and served cold.
1) A simple dry potato vegetable made from boiled potatoes goes well with the Basundi.
One pound old potatoes are boiled and skinned when cold. They are then cut into bite size pieces. In a deep vessel add enough corn or canola oil.Heat the oil on a medium flame.Then add mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter, add a few curry leaves, and one or two medium size green chilies. When slightly yellow, add the cut potatoes, ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste. On a slow fire, stir the vegetable off and on. For five minutes. Add grated fresh coconut, one teaspoon of lime juice and freshly cut coriander leaves and serve.
Coconut is a common ingredient in Bene Israel cooking. Raw mangos are available at this time of the year in India. This side dish of green chutney is commonly used an adds a special flavor to the Potato Bhaji and Basundi.
Grind together ½ freshly grated coconut, pieces of one peeled raw mango, ½ a bunch of coriander leaves, 1 green chilly, 2 cloves of garlic and salt to taste. It is ready to serve.
This special side dish is very cooling in summer and is made instead of salad. It is truly a mouth watering dish and typical of Bene Israel cooking.
Grate one white onion, one yellowish but raw mango peeled, cut into fine pieces one medium sized green chilly and some coriander leaves. Grate ½ white fresh coconut. Mix the ingredients adding salt to taste and one teaspoon of sugar. Serve immediately.
Hot Puris are what every Bene Israel looked forward to.
To get the best results, one pound whole wheat flour is mixed with ½ the quantity of fine semolina (soji). Two table spoons of warm canola oil is added to the mixture with salt to taste. The dough is kneaded for sometime with cold water. The dough should be fairly soft. Cover and let it rest for ½ an hour. Make walnut size balls of the dough and roll each one on a work surface or on a wooden board with a little oil so that it does not stick. Roll into a circle of 5 inches diameter. The rest of the dough should always be covered with a damp cloth. Heat enough canola oil in a deep saucepan or wok. Put a tiny flattened puri to test if the oil is ready fro frying. If it should puff and come up like a ball, then add the first real puri. Pat it very gently with the back of a slotted spoon as it floats on the oil. When it puffs up, turn it gently and let it cook on the other side till the PURI is golden Turn it only once or else too much oil will be absorbed. Place a whit paper on tray and then place the puris on it top absorb extra oil.
Enjoy the Festival meal with your family and friends.
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