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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spinach Raita

 I prefer raitas to go along with my rotis, especially during my lonely lunches on weekdays. Raitas are usually simple, quick, convenient and nutritious. What more you can ask for in a side dish? I have used low fat yogurt and frozen spinach in this version which can be put together in around 10 minutes.

5 oz / 150 gm frozen spinach
2 cups yogurt (fat-free will do.)
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
4 to 6 dried red chiilies (Adjust according to spice preference.)
a sprig of curry leaves
2 pinches of asafoetida powder 

The following are the simple steps for this healthy and tasty raita.
* Thaw and lightly cook spinach in the microwave without adding extra water. After spinach is done, drain any extra water if present.
* Meanwhile, lightly beat the yogurt using a whisk or a fork.
Now for the tadka part in microwave. Heat oil and mustard seeds in a microwave safe bowl. When the seeds start to crackle and pop, add chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. Heat for a few seconds more.
* Add the cooked spinach, tadka and salt to the yogurt. Mix well and serve.

If substituting fresh spinach, wash and roughly chop. Sprinkle a little water and cook in the microwave. If using stove top, you can first do the tadka in a pan and saute chopped spinach till done.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Rava - Semiya Payasam

Semolina - Vermicelli Payasam:
I prefer quick and easy payasams for neivedyam and yesterday I prepared rava - semiya payasam. This is another delicious, simple payasam from my kitchen for those with a sweet tooth. The filling semolina and vermicelli combine with the coconut which lends a rich, sweet flavor and adds a little crunch to the dish. 

Ingredients for 8-10 servings:  
A fistful or 2 Tbsp of each - semiya(vermicelli), rava(semolina) and shredded, fresh/frozen coconut  
Milk - 4 cups  
Sugar - 1/4 cup or to taste  
1/2 tsp cardamom powder  
1 tsp ghee (clarified butter)  
1 Tbsp cashew nuts & raisins  
The 'how' part:  
Heat the milk, preferably in a non stick sauce pan. Mean while, dry fry the vermicelli and the semolina separately till the vermicelli browns uniformly and rava starts to brown. Add the vermicelli, rava and coconut to the milk and let them cook till done. (You know that it is done when the vermicelli is cooked.) Add some more milk if the payasam is thick. Add the sugar and cardamom powder and cook for a couple more minutes till sugar is dissolved. Heat ghee in a small pan and add cashews and raisins to it. Stir them with a spoon till cashews turn golden brown and raisins plump. Turn off the stove and add them to the cooked payasam. Serve them hot or chilled. 

Related Post: Carrot - Vermicelli Payasam 

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Dasara and Steamed Green Beans with Moongdal & Senaga Guggillu

Happy Dasara to everyone. I prepared a simple neivedyam as Dasara (navarathri) began today. It included green beans koora, eggplant-tomato sambhar, puliyogare, semiya payasam and senaga guggilu. And today I am posting recipes for a couple of them. The first one is steamed green beans with moongdal.

Beans - PesaraPappu Koora: Green bean is one of my favorite vegetable and so is frequently cooked in my kitchen. I use them in various ways and here is one easier method to cook green beans.

A fistful of moongdal
2 tsp. canola / peanut oil
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp. urad dal / skinned black gram
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A sprig of curry leaves
4 dried red chilles (more or less to taste.)
1/4 cup shredded fresh / frpzen coconut
Salt to taste
* Wash and soak a handful of moongdal (skinned, split green lentils) in water for an hour or two. Then drain the water and keep the moongdal aside.
* Wash, trim the ends and chop the green beans into 1/4 inch bits. (String before chopping, if necessary. Usually the beans I find here, need no stringing.)
* Add the chopped beans and about 2 tbsp. of water to a pressure cooker and cook for 2 -3 whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, remove the beans and drain them in a colander.
* Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add chanadal, uraddal, mustard seeds & cumin seeds in that order. When the dals turn reddish, add red chillies ( broken into bits), curry leaves and sauté them for a few seconds. Then add the cooked beans, moongdal, salt and coconut to the pan. Saute them for about 3 to 4 minutes on low flame and turn off the stove.

Now the other recipe is for Senaga Guggillu / Kala Chana Salad. Guggillu / Usli / Sundal or what ever you call them depending upon where you live is nothing but a (South) Indian style bean salad. Dried beans are soaked, cooked till tender and then seasoned with spices and flavored with some shredded, fresh coconut and lime juice at the end. Senagalu - the brown chick peas are one of the favorite beans used to prepare the guggillu. Often served as prasadam at temples in Southern India, this is a fulfilling snack anytime of the day.

For 4 servings, wash and soak 4 fistfuls of dried, black chick peas overnight. In the morning, drain the water, wash the chickpeas twice and cook with about 4 to 6 cups of water in a pressure cooker. After the valve pressure is gone, remove the chickpeas from the cooker. Drain the water and wash the chickpeas with fresh water once or twice. Heat about a tbsp. of canola/peanut oil in a sauté pan. Heat about a tsp. each of chana dal / split chick peas and mustard seeds. When chana dal turns reddish, add a few curry leaves and two finely chopped green chillies. Saute them for about 30 seconds and add cooked chickpeas, 1/4 cup of fresh, shredded coconut , salt and a tbsp. minced cilantro. Saute them for a couple of minutes more. Remove and add juice squeezed from a lemon. Stir well and serve. Kitchen Tip: While buying green beans, make sure they look fresh and green and when bent, they snap with a crisp sound.

Other related posts:
Kala Chana Sprouts Salad
Carrot & Beans with Moongdal

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Easy-Breezy Breakfast on a Lazy Weekend - Godhuma Dosa / Wheat Flour Dosa

I prefer to cook (especially the breakfasts) simple on weekends. On the other hand, my husband who is is not a sugary cereal / bread person prefers Indian breakfasts so that he can devour them leisurely. In the bargain, I vote for dosas -the no ferment, instant kinds. I prepare the batter and if I am not in the mood, he chips in.
While the rice flour dosas are from my mother, these wheat flour dosas are from my MIL's kitchen. Easy to prepare batter and the lacy, crisp dosas would make them any one's favorite. Serve them hot with any chutney or pickle and you would have a decent breakfast (or even a meal). :)


How to prepare batter for about 10 - 12 dosas:Mix about a cup of wheat flour / atta and 1/2 cup of rice flour and 2 tsp of salt in a steel bowl /container. Add about 3 & 1/2 cups of water to the mixture and prepare a thin, lump free batter. (I gave the water measurement just for an idea and the cup is about 235 ml, the same one I used for the dry ingredients. However use discretion while adding water just noting that it should be watery like rava dosa batter.)
Heat about 1 tsp oil in a small pan and add 1 tsp mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add a pinch of asafoetida powder to it and turn off the stove. Add this to the flour mixture and mix well.

Use the batter immediately to make dosas.

Making the dosas:
You need the above batter, oil (canola or peanut) and a griddle to make dosas. Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the hot pan. If the water sizzles, the pan is ready. Take a ladle full of batter and pour it from a little height on to the griddle. Start pouring the batter from outside circle of the griddle. The wheat flour batter is sticky and so spreading it with the back of the ladle as traditional dosas should be avoided. It will spread on it's own and fill any gaps in the middle with dosa batter. Pour about half a tsp of oil around the edges of dosa and let it cook on medium flame. When the dosa turns browner (the side closer to the griddle), flip it and again pour another 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and let it cook for a minute and remove it.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mango Dal / Mamidikaya Pappu

మామిడికాయ పప్పు:
Pappu, the signature dal dish from Andhra (one of the South Indian states) is simple to make with the basic ingredients from an Indian kitchen and usually brings out the flavors and characteristics of the vegetable being used. However, it should be noted that all vegetables are not used to make pappu. If we make a list of pappus being made, some stand out in the crowd. Mamidikaya pappu (mango dal), (leafy greens like) gongura & chukkakoora pappus are mouth watering, absolute Andhra classics.
I have given here the recipe for mamidikaya pappu, which is one of our family favorites. Mango dal, the protein rich dish with the tart mangoes and the flavorful asafoetida and curry leaves would please any palette.

Ingredients required:
1 cup toordal
1 small firm, green mango - peeled, seeded and chopped into cubes (I had about a cup.)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder

Thick tamarind juice/puree (Use as needed. I had used about 1/8 th cup.)
Cilantro to garnish (optional)
For tadka /popu: 1 -2 tsp canola oil /peanut oil/ghee, 1 tsp each of mustard seeds & cumin seeds, few curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida

How to cook:
Wash the dal with water twice and throw away the cloudy water. Cook the dal with 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder in a pressure cooker till done.
The sourness of the mango sometimes doesn't let the toordal cook properly. You can therefore cook the mango cubes in another container (while cooking dal) in the cooker or cook separately in a sauce pan adding a little water.

Mash the cooked dal with the back of the ladle to get a smoother consistency. Add the cooked mango cubes (sans water), salt, chili powder and tamarind if using. Mix all the ingredients well with the ladle. Check the taste and adjust the salt/chili/tamarind if needed. Turn on the stove and let the dal simmer for about 5 minutes for all the flavors to mingle.
Mean while, heat the ghee/oil in a small pan. Add the mustard & cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the cumin seeds turn brownish add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Turn off the stove and this tadka to the cooked dal and mix well. Garnish with minced cilantro if using.
How to serve:

Serve this with a small mound of rice and a tsp of ghee. Serve a koora (subzi), pickle and yogurt along and you would have a heavenly, Andhra style bhojanam.

A note from my kitchen:
Pick the sourest kind of green mango you can, for this dal. See that it is very firm to touch and green in color. The signature flavor of the dal is lost with out the sourness.
Some mangoes which appear greener from outside may have a yellow, sweeter flesh inside which will not work for this recipe. That kind is good to eat as it is or left to ripe than cooking.
Also the requirement of tamarind in this recipe depends upon the sourness of the mango being used. If the mangoes are really sour as back in India, tamarind may be omitted. I get sour mangoes but not that mouth puckering variety and so I happen to use tamarind.

For tamarind juice, soak about a lemon sized tamarind in water or nuke it in a microwave (of course, with half a cup of water added) for about a couple of minutes. Squeeze the tamarind using your fingers or passing through a sieve. Discard the seeds and fibre. Use the thick puree extracted as required and save the rest for later use.
If using the ready made tamarind paste, the quantity mentioned above varies.

This goes to Susan's 'My love affair with legumes' -& "The Fifteenth helping' is being hosted by Sia of 'Monsoon spice' this month.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chayote Chutney / సీమ వంకాయ పచ్చడి

I am sharing here another vegetable chutney that goes well with rice. The mild sweetness of the chayote is well balanced with the lentils and the spices used in this lip smacking chutney. 

1 small sized chayote
4 tsp. oil 
1 tbsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tbsp. urad dal / black gram
1 tsp. mustard seeds
A pinch of fenugreek seeds
4 -6 dried red chillies (depending upon their heat)
1/16 tsp. turmeric powder
3/4 tsp. sized tamarind ball
2 pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste

* Peel a chayote, quarter and remove the center seed. Cut into cubes. (I had about a cup of chayote cubes) 
* Heat the oil in a small saute pan and add chana dal, urad dala nd mustard seeds. 
* When the dals turn reddish and the mustard seeds start to pop, add fenugreek seeds and chillies (Fenugreek seeds burn faster and so are added at the end.) 
* Stir them once and add the chayote, tamarind and turmeric. Lower the heat, cover the dish and cook the chayote till it is done (becomes softer.) 
* When the chayote is cooked add asafoetida and turn off the stove. Set the pan aside and let the contents cool.
* Grind the ingredients coarsely, adding salt. 
* Transfer the chutney to a bowl and serve with hot rice and a tsp of ghee.   
* Cover the remaining chutney and keep it refrigerated. It stays fresh for 3 - 4 days.