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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Carom seeds (Ajwain) - Onion Pararthas

Carom seeds have a light brown shade or a lighter army green (as fennel seeds / saunf) shade. They have a distinct aroma which is impossible to miss. They are pungent and if you don't like the taste, you would call it bitter. Like other spices, they too are used for a reason in an Indian kitchen. Ajwain / carom seeds are known to aid in digestion. In our region, infants are given a weekly/bi-weekly dosage of a little vaamu (caromseeds in Telugu), jaajikaya (nutmeg in Telugu) & maachikaya ( no idea about it's English name) to aid digestion. Jaajikaya and maachikaya are directly ground against a special stone meant for the purpose. Carom seeds are lightly ground. They are all mixed well with a little quantity of milk and fed to the infants who obviously don't enjoy it. I am not able to recall if any other spice is added to it as well. 4 years ago, when I came across carom seeds at a grocery store, the smallest package I could find was a 2 pound bag. I bought it, stored it in a bottle and could not finish it till now. I have noticed that unlike some spices, carom seeds don't lose their fragrance or flavor even after years. (I don't know about decades, though). I toss them some times in my roti / poori / bajji dough. Today I added them to the onion pararthas I was making. If the flavor is too strong, the quantity of the carom seeds can be reduced to a tsp. Ingredients to make 10 parathas: 2 cups of whole wheat flour (atta) + extra for dusting 2 onions, finely chopped 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro 2 tsp of ajwain 1 Tbsp of oil 1/4 tsp salt Scant 2/3 cups of water Oil /Ghee to fry Preparing the dough: Mix the flour, onions, cilantro, ajwain, oil and salt in a bowl. Gradually add the water to make the dough. The quantity of the water can be increased or decreased depending upon the softness of the dough preferred (while rolling out parathas). If the dough becomes too soft, more flour can be added. In the same way, if the dough becomes too stiff, add a little bit of water. Also note that after resting, the dough becomes a little softer due to the addition of the onions. Knead the dough for about five minutes. Cover and allow it to rest for at least an hour. Rolling: Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and shape them into balls. Take a ball, flatten it and dust with flour. Roll it into a thin circle of about 5 to 6 inches diameter. You can stop rolling here and can fry it or roll it into a triangular shaped paratha as follows. Smear the rolled circle with oil / ghee and fold into half and again fold it to form a triangle. If needed, dust it again and roll it into a thin triangle. Repeat the rolling with the remaining dough. If you are comfortable, you can do the rolling and frying stuff simultaneously. Or roll some parathas, do the frying and come back again to roll. Frying: Heat a skillet / tava over medium heat. Place a paratha on the skillet and toast it about for a minute and flip it. Add 1/2 tsp oil each around the edges and on the surface of the paratha. Toast the other side too. Flip one more time if required. The parathas need to be toasted uniformly. For a detailed and pictorial description of how to make parathas, look here. Keep the fried parathas covered. Serve them with a subzi / pickle. Ours were served with cauliflower subzi. This goes to Think Spice - Think Carom Seeds hosted by The Singing Chef, Raaga. Finally, happy holidays to everyone. Post a Comment

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kala Chana Sprouts Subzi With Cabbage~Carrot

I frequently sprouts beans at my home and if you are new to sprouting, I will assure you that sprouting is not a daunting task as many consider. It is a lot easier to grow sprouts than chopping vegetables to cook. Sprouts are nutritious, healthy, easily digestible and taste excellent. You can add them to any soups, salads, stews or subzis. I had earlier posted how to sprout by this method . Here is one more easy way to sprout. All you need is some beans / seeds (or the ingredient) which you need to sprout and a loosely woven / breathable cotton cloth (like a very thin towel). Soak the seeds for a day or overnight with plenty of water. If sprouting dried beans, use a container bigger than needed as beans swell and double in their size and soak for 24 hours. Then throw away the water and place those beans in a cotton cloth, loosely covered. Keep moistening the towel 2 or 3 times per day or whenever it is dry. Sprouts would be ready in a couple of days. I usually stop when the sprouted root's length is almost same as the soaked seed. Placing the beans bundle in a colander helps to drain any excess water. To speed up the process, leave the beans bundle in an oven with the light on. I sprouted a handful of kala chana and had a cup of sprouts. I added them to this cabbage carrot subzi which was a palate pleasing experience. We liked it very much and I got a thumbs up even from my husband who hates kala chana. What you need: 2 Onions, finely chopped 1 Cup kala chana sprouts 2 Cups grated / finely chopped green cabbage 1 carrot, grated 3 Serrano peppers, finely chopped Salt For tadka: 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida Cooking: Heat oil in a pan and add all the tadka ingredients in the order mentioned. When the dals slightly turn to reddish brown, add the green chillies & onions. Keep frying on low flame till the onions turn translucent. Next add the grated cabbage, carrot, sprouts and enough salt and stir once. Cover the pan and keep stirring in between till the cabbage is cooked. Turn off the heat. It goes well with rotis or rice. This goes to JIHVA - Sprouts hosted by Dee of Ammulu's Kitchen. Post a comment Other related posts here: Red chori bean sprouts usli Greengram sprouts subzi

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tomato - Kothimira Pachchadi / Tomato - Cilantro Chutney

This quick and easy chutney comes from my SIL. Tangy tomatoes combine with fragrant cilantro in this lip smacking chutney. It not only goes well with the usual rice, dosa, idli kind of stuff but also for sandwiches.

Ingredients required:
2 medium sized onions (outer layers removed and chopped)
3 medium sized tomatoes (washed & chopped)
1 cup cilantro leaves (washed)
5 Serrano peppers -washed and slit lengthwise. (Any variety of green chillies can be used and the number depends upon the spiciness preferred.)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind pulp - 1 Tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
1 Tbsp oil
For seasoning - 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida

Preparation:
* Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and add onions, chillies & turmeric powder. Fry them and add tomatoes when the onions turn translucent. Keep frying and when tomatoes turn mushy, add cilantro and saute for a couple of minutes more and turn off the heat. Let it cool down.
* Grind this mixture with salt and tamarind pulp.
* Heat 2 tsp of oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds and when they start to pop, add asafoetida and turn off the stove. * Add this to the chutney and stir well.

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Earlier related posts: 
Tomato Pachchadi 
Tomato Pickle 
Vankaya - Tomato pachchadi 
Tomato aavakaya

Friday, December 5, 2008

A New Home & Carrot - Vermicelli Payasam

A new home !! Yes, that is why I have been away from this space for the past few months. Beginning this year, we had been busy home hunting. Finally, we got the home of our choice this June. Gruhapravesham, the moving process and settling in at the new home took a while. Also M's SIL was visiting us from India and I was enjoying her company so much that I haven't peeked into my own blog recently. Our SIL is a wonderful cook and she was telling me that she had tried a payasam with carrots earlier. At the same time, I happened to see a cook show on some Telugu Channel which showed a similar recipe. I tried it the same day and it came out so wonderful that I have prepared a couple of times more in the past few weeks. What I liked about this payasam is it is a really simple preparation and it tastes divine. An irresistible combo of the rich milk, the creamy sweet carrots, the fragrant, nutritious almonds and the soft, melt in your mouth kind of vermicelli makes it a blissful treat to any palate. Required ingredients: Grated carrot - 1/2 cup (2 small carrots) Vermicelli - 1/2 cup Whole Milk - 2 cups Sugar - 1/4 cup Badam mix powder - 2 Tbsp Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp Cashew nuts - 1 Tbsp Ghee / Clarified butter - 2 tsp + 2 tsp Note that badam mix powder used above is not the powdered almonds / badam. It is the mix (like MTR / Orkay brands) available at Indian grocery stores to make badam milk. Try adding a Tbsp of this mix to any payasams and it transforms a simple payasam into a delectable expereience. Also using a nonstick utensil to make payasams is recommended as the contents don't stick to the bottom of the utensil. The Cooking part: Dry roast the vermicelli in a pan on a medium flame and remove when it attains slightly golden brown hue. If using pre-roasted vermicelli, skip this step. Also, You can use a tsp or two of ghee while roasting. Saute the carrot for a couple of minutes using 2 tsp of ghee in the same pan. Then add milk and heat it on a low-medium flame. Then add vermicelli and cook till it is done, stirring in between. Add sugar, badam mix powder and cardamom powder to the vermicelli - carrot mixture and let it cook till all the sugar melts. Turn off the heat. In the mean time, take a small pan and heat two tsp of ghee and roast the cashews till they turn golden brown. Add the fried cashews to the carrot - vermicelli payasam and mix well. This payasam can be served warm / chilled. This goes to JIHVA - Carrot hosted by The Cooker. Post a Comment Related Post: Carrot Payasam