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Friday, July 13, 2012

Rava Pongal


When Moong dal - Black pepper were announced as the ingredients for this month's magic mingle, I didn't have to think much. Moong dal and Black pepper usually means spicy pongal in my dictionary and the ingredients invoke the memories of delicious piping hot pongal that used to be served in my MIL's kitchen during breakfast times. She had such magic in her hands that each time she would dish out pongal with the same great taste and flavors, which used to leave me craving for more. After my MIL, I have never eaten such tasty pongal anywhere else, not even at restaurants or at weddings.

And so with my love for pongal, I decided it would be pongal this time for the magic mingle. However, I am going with the rava version instead of the traditional rice version as I have already posted it on my blog and I don't prefer now to eat rice in the mornings.

Other pongal versions already posted here.
Barley pongal
Cracked wheat pongal
Poha pongal
Quinoa pongal
Traditional rice pongal

Ingredients:
1 cup semolina / rava
1/2 cup moong dal
Water as needed (7.5 to 8 cups)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
For tadka:
Ghee as preferred (be generous for a tastier pongal.)
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp pepper corns ( I usually prefer pongal slightly on the spicier side and use crushed pepper as well.)
Few curry leaves
1 - 2 Tbsp cashews



Method:
* Fry moong dal on low flame until it starts to turn a few shades darker. Remove and keep it aside. This step is however optional and can be skipped.
* Toast semolina on medium flame until it starts to change the color. Transfer it to a plate and let cool.
* Heat about 4 cups of water and add moong dal and turmeric powder to it.  If you prefer adding pepper corns at this stage, you can do so. Cook until the moongdal is done. Add some more water during cooking (About 3.5 to 4 cups more.)
* Now add rava slowly and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed. Next add salt and stir well to combine.
* Cover and cook on low flame until rava / semolina is done.
* Heat ghee in  a pan and add cashews. Toast them until they turn golden brown and remove them aside. Then add ginger and fry until it starts turning golden brown. Next add the remaining tadka ingredients and toast them as well.
* Add toasted cashews and  tadka to the pongal and mix well.
* Serve as breakfast or a mini meal. Drizzle generously with ghee and serve with chutney / sambhar / tangy gojju.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Carrot - Fenugreek Greens Saute ~ Gajar - Methi Subzi


I bought a bunch of methi planning to try a new recipe that I got from my MIL's sister. Today when I thought about it again, I wasn't sure whether it fit the dry saute theme as it involved frying. And so I took the easy route since that's what I prefer doing when it comes to everyday cooking. A simple, healthy stir fry using carrot and methi with no concoction of spice powders.

Ingredients: (yield 2 generous servings)
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dal / Bengal gram
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 cups grated carrot (or peel and cube.)
1.5 cups methi leaves (washed and roughly chopped)
Salt and chili powder to taste

Method:
Heat oil in a pan. Add chana dal and mustard seeds. When dal starts turning reddish, add carrot, fenugreek greens and turmeric powder. Stir once, cover and cook until carrot softens. Next add salt and chili powder. Mix well and cook for a minute and turn off the stove.

Check what my fellow marathoners have come up with during BM#18, here.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mixed Vegetable Subzi


I am sure everyone has a favorite recipe/way of their own to use up the odds and ends from their vegetable bins. When I have to deal with a vegetable medley, my first choice goes towards subzis. I have several versions of mixed veggie subzis but I stick to particular combinations that work, like this one for instance. To be honest, I prepare this curry not only when I have to cleanup my refrigerator but even when my vegetable bin is full. I love this combination so much - cabbage, carrot, beans and chayote all being in top of my favorite veggie list. Add any other veggies that work with this combination like peas, potatoes or remove some, the subzi would still be wonderful. And also no need to worry about the quantity of the veggies. Just adjust according to the availability.

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped beans
2 carrots - peeled and cubed
1/2 chayote - peeled and cubed
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh, shredded coconut
Green chillies / dried red chillies as needed
Salt to taste
For tadka:
1 -2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Bengal gram / chana dal
1 tsp split, skinned black gram / urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Few curry leaves


Method:
* Heat oil in a non stick pan or a kadai. Add all the tadka ingredients in the order mentioned and when the dal starts turning reddish, add the chillies and saute for few seconds.
* Next add the veggies and salt to the pan. Cover and cook on low flame, stirring intermittently. When the veggies are done, add coconut and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.
* Serve with rice / rotis.

Check what my fellow marathoners have come up with during BM#18, here.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Easy & Quick Subzis ~ Spinach - Toor Dal Saute


This is one of the typical preparations using greens in many Andhra Brahmin households. It is a simple and quick dry saute using greens - toor dal with a basic tadka using mustard seeds and chillies. No addition of onions, tomatoes, garlic or coconut in the traditional version. It is meant to be basic and simple. The greens commonly used is amaranth leaves but I substitute spinach since I rarely find amaranth leaves here and always have a large stock of frozen spinach. I use frozen spinach and coconut and so this is done in a jiffy.

This healthy, nutritious spinach - dal saute is going to me my first day entry under the theme "Dry Sautes" in BM#18. Check what my fellow marathoners have come up with, here.

Ingredients: (4 servings)
Spinach (I used 10 oz frozen spinach. Or you msut have about a cup of spinach after cooking.)
3 Tbsp toor dal
1/4 cup fresh, shredded coconut (Thaw if using frozen coconut.)
Salt to taste
For tadka:
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dal / Bengal gram 
1 tsp urad dal / split, skinned blackgram
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
6 - 8 red chillies (broken into bits)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder


Method:
* Cook toor dal adding water. The dal must be done but it should  not turn mushy. The dal should retain their shape.
* If using frozen spinach, place it in a microwave safe bowl and cook without adding water.  
* Heat oil in a pan and add the tadka ingredients in the order mentioned. When the dals start turning reddish, add the cooked spinach (if using frozen). If using fresh spinach, add it to the pan and saute until done.
* Next add the cooked toor dal, coconut and salt to the spinach and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes more and turn off the stove.
* Serve with rice / rotis.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Soya Chunks Pulao


Healthy, nutritious soya chunks pulao for Day 3 of BM#18.

Everyone in my family loves soya chunks, including my pesky 11 year old. All rice dishes (except lime rice) seem to her alien and she never touches any of those. No cajoling / threatening works there since she thinks they are all spicy and she wouldn't budge from her stand. However today it was a different story and she ate this pulao without any complaints. The soy chunks did the trick. :) 
This pulao is very easy to put together. It is mild and suitable for even kids' lunch boxes.

Ingredients:
1 cup Basmati rice
3/4 cup soya chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup peas (I used frozen ones.)
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamom
4 cloves
2 one inch cinnamon pieces
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 small onions, sliced thinly
1 tomato, chopped
Salt and coarsely crushed pepper to taste
Minced cilantro for garnish

Method:
* Cook rice adding 2 cups of water and keep aside.
* Meanwhile, soak soya chunks in hot water for about 15 minutes. After soaking period, drain the water and squeeze out extra water from chunks.
* Cook carrot cubes in a microwave.
* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Saute for few seconds and then add onion. Fry until the onions soften and then add tomatoes, turmeric powder and soy chunks. Cook until the tomatoes turn mushy. Next add carrot, peas, salt and pepper and stir.
* Finally add rice to the pan and mix well to combine. Garnish with cilantro.
* Serve with a raita / yogurt.


Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#18.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tomato Rice & Creamy Blueberry Smoothie


Call it whether biryani / pulao / bhath / rice depending upon the cooking method and ingredients used, I prepare several versions of tomato rice. I have already posted a couple of them. This particular dish is really a simple one with south Indian tadka touch and a favorite one at our home.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups Basmati rice
2 tomatoes
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp skinned black gram / urad dal
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamom
Few curry leaves
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
2 onions
1.5 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp toasted cashews for garnish

Method:
* Grind tomatoes finely. Add water to it and approximately make about 3 cups of juice.
* Wash the rice thoroughly and drain. Add the tomato juice and turmeric powder to the rice and pressure cook.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and uraddal. When they start to brown add cardamom, curry leaves and onions. Saute onions until they turn translucent.
* Then add salt, coriander powder, chili powder and amchur powder to the pan and fry for a minute.
* Next add the rice cooked in tomato juice and mix well.
* Turn off the stove and let the rice sit for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with cashews.

Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#18.

Creamy Blueberry Smoothie:
The last weeks of spring gave us a glimpse of how summer is going to be this year. The whole US is under heat wave for weeks now and there seems to be no respite. We are trying to cool ourselves with shakes, smoothies and such.
Here is an yummy and cool smoothie perfect for these sultry days. Frozen blueberries and banana combined with yummy ice cream and vanilla yogurt result in a creamy and filling smoothie.

I blended together a cup of frozen blueberries, a small banana, 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup of  ice cream. Add a sweetener if preferred.


Sending this to Priya's "Veggie / Fruit A Month" event hosted this month by Harini-Jaya with the theme Blue berries.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Carrot Pulao


I went with “Pulao / Biryani" kind rice dishes theme for this month’s blogging marathon. When it comes to pulaos and biryanis, we stand neutral. Owing to our mothers' conservative cooking styles, my husband and I grew up in "no pulao / biryani" zones. And naturally, our loyalty is more towards other south Indian style rice dishes that we grew up on. I prepare pulaos once in a while only as a change to the regular fare but we haven't developed any affinity towards these dishes till date even though they do taste delicious. Keeping our opinions aside, most of the pulao / biryani dishes fall under easy breezy kind besides being crowd pleasers. :)

The day one post in this series is going to be this yummy carrot pulao. I prepare it either using whole spices or by grinding them as in this recipe. Now my husband doesn't find the sweetness associated with carrots very appealing and so I prepare this dish spicier to mask some of the sweetness.

Ingredients: (6 servings)

1.5 cups Basmati rice
4 carrots / 1.5 cup peeled and chopped carrot cubes
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp oil

To grind:
4 cloves
2 cinnamon
1 one inch piece ginger
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
2 onions
2-3 green chillies

Method:
* Wash the rice and pressure cook adding 3 cups of water, turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp oil / ghee. Or choose a cooking method of your convenience. After the valve pressure is gone, I usually spread the rice on a wide plate and fluff it, if adding it at the end.
* Meanwhile, add carrot and water to a microwave safe bowl and cook to the desired level. If you don't mind your carrots softer in the pulao, they can be directly added to the rice.
* Grind all the ingredients mentioned under "to grind" adding water as needed to make a thick paste.
* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add bay leaves and the ground paste. Saute the paste until the raw smell leaves. By any chance if the paste was runny, fry it until it thickens. Add salt and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes more. Then add rice and mix well so that the rice is coated well with the mixture. Cover and let it sit for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle.
* Serve it with a raita / yogurt.
Note:
1. If you choose not to cook the rice separately then add water and rice to the pan after the addition of carrots. Cover and cook on low flame until rice is done. It usually takes around 20 minutes to cook and don't be tempted to peek quite often. 
2. Grated carrot can be added instead of carrot cubes. In that case, saute the carrots until done.
3. Garnish the pulao with minced cilantro if desired.


Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking during BM#18.

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