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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Peach Smoothie

 
 For many years, I had this misconception that smoothie has to do something with fruit and yogurt while a milkshake involves fruit and milk. That was until I read about the history of smoothie somewhere. According to wiki, a smoothie is a fruit based, blended and (sometimes) sweetened beverage. Sometimes chocolate or peanut butter may be added as well. Besides fruit, it may include crushed ice, frozen fruit, honey or syrup. They may also contain dairy products like milk, yogurt or ice-cream. And coming to ice-cream, there are divided opinions about whether it can be used in a smoothie or not. Some believe that ice-cream is added to milkshakes and not smoothies. As long as I know it tastes yummy, I don't care whether the ice-cream goes into a milkshake / smoothie. :)

It turns out that pureed fruits and fruit slushes have been a part of many cultures across the world for many centuries. The word "Smoothie" supposedly first appeared in 1940 in connection with the then newly commercialized electric blender. In short, the invention of electric blender paved the way for smoothies in America. The waring corporation (who financially backed the inventor of the blender, Fred Osius) had published a booklet that contained a dozen early recipes of "Milk Smoothees". Mabel Stegner, a Home Economics Consultant developed these recipes for the blender company and she coined the word "smoothie" for the first time in her article "Let the blender do it for you" in the year 1940. Her instructions to smoothie preparation were to add a banana / strawberries / pitted cherries / diced vegetables to a few ounces of a liquid base of one's choice. The liquid base can be milk / fruit juice / tomato juice or any other desired liquid. And the recipe mentions that in under one minute comes out a banana milk smoothie, a fruit nectar or a raw vegetable cocktail.

Smoothies were made initially in households that owned blenders. The first smoothie flavors were limited to the seasonal fruits available until refrigerators started appearing in homes. Banana, strawberries and pineapple used to be the most commonly available and popular flavors. The invention of blender and refrigerator during the early 1900's have revolutionized the smoothie making business. Other berries and exotic fruits came into the smoothie world once refrigerators became popular among households. The fruits could be now frozen and stored for using during the off-season. The smoothies gained popularity once the  ice-cream vendors and health food stores started selling them during 1960's. 
(Source:wiki) 
I kept it simple for today's smoothie. I just blended a cup of peach slices, a cup of yogurt, some ice cubes and a small quantity of sweetener. The resulting beverage was thick, creamy and real yummy.

This is going to be a part of "Smoothies" week, at BM #43

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Strawberry Smoothie


Thanks to my husband, one of my refrigerator bins is always filled with a variety of colorful fruits. However I tend to reach out for humble bananas or juicy strawberries whenever I think of preparing shakes/smoothies. Somehow they are my favorite choices and no surprises there considering that how popular are those smoothies over the blog world as well. Here is my version of one of our favorite smoothies made with plump, sweet strawberries. A refreshing and filling drink for a muggy day like the one we had today or for a quick breakfast option.

Just blend the following ingredients for a yummy drink.
1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup chilled yogurt
1/2 cup chilled milk
6 ice cubes
Sugar to taste

This goes to BM #43, for the "smoothies" theme.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Banana - Chocolate Smoothie

I had chosen "Smoothies" theme for this week's blogging marathon and the timing wouldn't have been more perfect than this. Our summer months here are June through August and we hit very few 80 deg F (around 26 deg C) kind of temperatures until the middle of August this year and I was enjoying the balmy weather. I had even mentioned to my mother a couple of weeks ago, that we had relatively a mild summer here in Chicago-land compared to previous summers. I had spoken too soon it seems and from last few days even though I am not seeing sun much, temperatures are more or less around 90 deg F. I know if I mentioned this to any southerner or people living along the west coast, they would have been wrinkling their noses at me. :)
This heat and muggy weather is making everyone at home preferring cold smoothies, ice-creams, chilled juices and that kind of stuff. My daughter who seldom throws a look at chilled stuff  has been reaching for that chocolate ice-cream carton in the freezer more and more. I had prepared this yummy smoothie a few days back with some leftover overripe bananas. Make sure that sweet variety kind bananas are used. Add frozen banana / some ice cubes if not using frozen yogurt. 

Blend the following ingredients to a smooth consistency and serve immediately.
1 sweet variety banana (Bananas can be frozen ahead too.)
2-3 tbsp chocolate chips
2/3 cup frozen yogurt (or substitute chocolate ice cream.)
Sweetener if needed

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pizza Rolls

 
Here is one more yummy snack idea for the "Pizza" themed week of BM #43. I had used the dough that I posted on yesterday's post to prepare these yummy rolls which were a hit at home. Homemade or store bought pizza dough can be used. Even puff pastry sheet / bread dough can be substituted for the pizza dough. One can add their favorite toppings and seasonings. I am just giving the general directions below.

Ingredients:
Pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Any pizza seasonings (optional)
Cornmeal for dusting

Method:
* On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle, make dimples with your fingers and brush the surface with olive oil.
* Then spread pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and seasonings if
using. Roll it into a tight log.
 
(At this point I chilled  the log for about 20 minutes as my pizza dough was very soft and I had read somewhere that it would be easy to cut the rolls without them falling apart when chilled.)
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Sprinkle cornmeal over the baking sheets.
* Cut the log into one inch slices and place on the cornmeal sprinkled sheet.
 
* Place them in the oven and bake until slightly browned or for about 15 - 20 minutes.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Pizza Sticks

I usually make a rectangular shaped pizza and cut it into rectangles to make pizza sticks. Though there is nothing wrong with the taste of those sticks, I never found them appealing enough looks-wise to post it on the blog. For me they look like just rectangular shaped pizza slices with sauce and cheese oozing from all sides. I prefer neat looking individual sticks over them. I therefore decided this time to slice the rolled out pizza dough into rectangles before baking rather than waiting to slice after the baking part is done.
The dough I used for these pizza sticks comes from here. This recipe has become a recent favorite of us and I have been using it quite often for delicious, homemade pizzas. I used half of the dough to make cheese pizza and the rest to make about 13 sticks. For a quicker option, store bought pizza dough can be used.
Ingredients for pizza dough: 
1 cup lukewarm water
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tbsp sugar
1.5 tbsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil (optional) 
2 & 3/4 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
Ingredients for pizza sticks:
Pizza dough (above or store-bought)
Pizza sauce 
Mozzarella cheese
Vegetable toppings if desired
Pizza seasonings any if desired
 Dough preparation:
* Add sugar, yeast and salt to lukewarm water. Mix well to combine and leave the solution in a warm place for about 10 minutes. The mixture would turn frothy by the time. 
* Start with about 2 & 1/2 cups flour and go on adding extra as needed to form a smooth, soft dough.
* Using a mixer / a bread machine set on the dough cycle / hands, knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes.
* Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours.

Making Pizza Sticks:
(I used half the dough I prepared from above measurements and divided it into two portions.) 
* Gently deflate the dough before using. Line a baking sheet with greased aluminum foil or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 450 deg F.
* Place the dough ball directly on the sheet, shape it into a thin rectangle and slice it. If the end slices have contracted around the edges, just pull and reshape.
* Spread pizza sauce and sprinkle cheese over the slices. Arrange vegetable toppings and seasonings if using.
* Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the cheese bubbles and slightly browns.
* Remove from the oven and slice them along the previously made cuts.
* Serve immediately along with ketchup or marinara sauce.
These are on their way to BM# 43 under "Pizza" theme. Check the link to learn what other marathoners are cooking this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bagel Pizzas

Bagel pizzas are made at my home now and then as they are my daughter's favorite snack item. They taste yummy and can be a quick alternative to the traditional pizza, especially when one is in no mood or have time/patience to prepare a pizza starting from scratch. Most of the kids love these and so they can be a great after-school treat. These take hardly any time to prepare and are quite easy to put together. Preparing these impromptu pizzas can be a great way to involve younger kids in kitchen. They get to feel all responsible by choosing their own toppings and preparing the bagels for baking.  
When I thought of making these bagel pizzas a few days back, my daughter took over the prep work. As expected, she decided that she would go with cheesy bagel pizzas for herself. However when I was topping the other batch of bagels with onion, olives and green peppers, she realized that she was missing her favorite olives and decided to add some on her cheese bagels. Below are the general directions for preparing these quick bites.
 
Ingredients:
Bagels
Pizza sauce / spaghetti sauce as needed
Shredded mozzarella cheese as needed
Desired vegetable toppings (optional.) 
Any pizza seasoning (optional) 

Method:
* Preheat the oven to 425 deg F / 220 deg C. Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper / aluminum foil.
* Slice the bagels crosswise. Arrange the bagel halves, cut side up 
on a baking sheet.
 
 * Spread a thin layer of sauce. Top with cheese and any vegetables if are using. Sprinkle the seasoning if using and place the baking sheet in the oven.
* Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and start to brown.

These are on their way to BM# 43 under "Pizza" theme. Check the link to learn what other marathoners are cooking this week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Live Dhokla

Now here is another variety of dhokla that are supposedly becoming a popular street food in Gujarat and believe it or not, they are called live dhokla. The title itself caught my attention when I saw them on a TV cook show. If I recall correctly, the chef was mentioning that these dhokla are called so because they are prepared live in front of the customers and are served fresh and warm unlike the traditional dhokla and are quite becoming a rage.
My local "Patel Brother's" grocery shop sells freshly made dhokla, samosas, dabeli and similar stuff on weekends and they would be gone like hotcakes in under an hour or so. My husband is a great patron of that store and so I can understand the popularity considering that they are served warm. 
The recipe is quite simple though a bit of pre-planning is required since the batter needs to be fermented. And don't worry, there is no grinding involved here. All you need is a bowl, a spoon and a couple of minutes. The recipe uses flours and so the batter can be whipped up in a jiffy, right before you go to sleep. Unlike the traditional ones, these are thinly made and are smeared with oil as soon as they are steamed. There is no mustard - sesame seed seasoning or garnishing with cilantro or coconut. These dhokla are soft, spongy and are slightly on the tangy side. These thin dhokla bites are a great evening snack / breakfast item when paired with green chutney posted below and a sweet chutney.
 Ingredients:
1/2 cup handvo flour
1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup corn flour
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup slightly sour yogurt
1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp baking soda 
Water as needed (I added about 3/4 cup.)
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1 finely chopped green chili
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp oil

Note:
Store-bought or homemade handvo flour can be used. If preparing at home, use rice and a mixture of dals in the ratio 1:1 and grind them coarsely. You can use basically any variety of skinned dal than can be found in an Indian kitchen. For example: Urad dal (skinned black gram), chana dal (split chick peas), toor dal (lentils), moong dal, masoor dal and/or any other dal. I prepared it using rice, urad dal, chana dal and toor dal.

Procedure:
* Mix the flours and turmeric powder in a bowl. (If you don't have turmeric powder, you can leave it out but the dhokla would end up white.)
* Combine yogurt and 1/2 tsp baking soda in another small bowl and whisk. Add this to the above flour mixture and mix well with a spoon. 
* Next add water as needed and mix to make a thick batter (thicker than dosa batter). I had to add about 3/4 up water.
* Cover and let the batter sit to ferment overnight or for about 7 - 8 hours or lesser time if you live in a hot climate. (I prepared my batter around 10.30 pm and prepared dhokla in the morning.)
 * In the morning / just before steaming the dhokla, grease a thali (stainless steel plate with high edges) or a circular cake tin of about 6- 7 inches in diameter. Keep your steamer / pressure cooker ready for steaming by pouring water in the base and turning on the heat.  * Add salt, asafoetida and green chili to the fermented batter and mix well with a ladle.
* Add 1/2 tsp baking soda to 2 - 3 tbsp. of hot water and stir it with a spoon and add it to the batter. Stir the batter vigorously using a ladle in clockwise motion for few seconds. You would notice the effervescence and the batter turns frothy. 
(If you are going to use one thali to steam at a time, my advice would be to work with the fermented batter in batches to retain the action of baking soda. Use half of the fermented batter and add 1/4 tsp baking soda as explained in this step, pour into the container and steam. When ready to steam the next batch of dhokla, use the remaining half of the batter and again add the hot water and 1/4 tsp baking soda. )
* Similar to sandwich dhokla, these are also kept thin and so pour about a cup of batter (about 1/2 cm thickness) into the greased thali / circular container you are going use to steam dhokla. Gently shake the thali / container to ensure that batter is spread evenly. (I used two 8 inch containers and poured the batter at about 1/2 cm thickness and steamed them in my pressure cooker.)
* Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp red chili powder over it. Place it in the steamer / pressure cooker and cover it. Remember to not use a whistle on if using a pressure cooker.
* Steam on medium flame for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a knife / toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Another way of checking is, removing the lid and trying to touch the surface of the dhokla with wet hands. The surface wouldn't be sticky when done. However be careful with the latter method. This needs experience and caution as there is the risk of burning hand with the hot steam if attention is not paid. I follow this method but follow it at your own risk. :)
* Allow it to rest for a couple of minutes and brush it with about a tsp of oil over the surface using a flat surfaced wooden spatula. Cut into squares using the same spatula or a knife.

These dhokla were served with a green chutney in the show. It is quite simple to prepare. Just bend together finely the following ingredients.

Ingredients for chutney:
1/4 cup daliya / roasted, split chick peas
3 -4  tbsp. cilantro
1 - 2 green chillies
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste  
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp. yogurt

This is my entry for BM #43 under the theme "dhoklas".
Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Sandwich Dhokla


I have become a fan of a Gujarati cook show that I watch on one of Indian TV channels here and I record the shows for future reference. It is a vegetarian show and most of the recipes are unique or the cooks give an interesting twist to a regular dish. I never miss a show and in the process had noted down a few dhokla recipes earlier. I somehow forgot that fact when looking for ideas for this "dhokla" based marathon week and realized too late that I had better choices. 
This soft and spongy sandwich dhokla comes from that show and the viewers of the show wanted to see how thinly sliced dhokla sandwich can be made with out the filling spreading all over. The chutney which is sandwiched between the two thin slices of dhokla is kept on the thicker side and for an even distribution, actually the chef used a rolling pin. 

I have seen over the web, sweet chutney / paneer slices used in sandwich dhokla recipes but the chef used only a green chutney for this mess-free sandwich dhokla recipe. The green chutney was prepared thick by grinding cilantro leaves, green chillies, salt and a small quantity of dalia and peanuts.The rice and urad dal for the batter are used in 2:1 ratio just like the idli batter.
Ingredients: (4 - 6 servings)
1 cup rice (I used sona masuri rice but idli rice / extra long grain kind can be used.)
1/2 cup urad dal / skinned black gram
1/4 - 1/2 tsp citric acid crystals
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp of baking soda + 1 to 1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp oil + 4 - 6 tsp oil 
(The second set of baking soda and oil quantities mentioned above depend upon the quantity of fermented batter.)
About 1 - 1.5 cup of thick green chutney
Ingredients for seasoning:
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder1 tbsp minced cilantro
 
Method:
* Wash rice and urad dal in two exchanges of water and drain. Then soak the rice and dal in water for about 3 - 4 hours. Take care that the rice mixture is submerged in the water through out the soaking period. In short, soak the mixture in plenty of water. 
* Drain water used for soaking. Grind the mixture into a thick, slightly coarse batter, adding only as much water as needed. I ground my mixture in wet grinder.
* Add citric acid, salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp oil to the ground batter and mix well.
* Leave it to ferment in a warm place overnight or for about 8- 10 hours. Please note that in Indian kind of tropical climate, fermentation may take less time, especially during summers.

* Keep your steamer / pressure cooker ready for steaming by pouring water in the base and turning on the heat. Grease a thali (stainless steel plate with high edges) / circular cake tin of about 6- 7 inches in diameter.
* In the morning, we add oil and baking soda to the fermented batter again but we do it in batches instead of dumping them at once to the entire quantity of fermented batter. We are going to steam dhokla in batches and we want the action of baking soda not lost in the waiting process. And so we are going to deal with a small quantity of fermented batter at a time. Transfer about a cup of fermented batter to a mixing bowl.

* Add about a tsp of oil and 1/4 baking soda to a small bowl and mix well.

* Add it to the 1 cup fermented batter. Mix quickly with a spoon and you will start noticing the effervescence.
* Pour the batter into the greased plate and shake the plate clockwise gently so that the batter is spread uniformly.
* Here we are looking for thin dhoklas but not the chunky ones and so the batter should be spread in a thin layer. It is spread so thinly that in the below picture, you can notice the bottom of the dish near that arrow mark.
 
* Put the plate in the steamer / cooker base and cover with the lid. Don't put the whistle on if using a pressure cooker.
* Steam on medium flame for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a knife / toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
* Cool the steamed dhokla slightly, gently run a knife around the edges and unmold it. Cut the disc into two equal halves.
* Spread thick coriander chutney evenly on one side of the half portion.
 
* Place the rough side of another dhokla piece on it. Gently roll using a rolling pin. 
 
I actually steamed 2 thin discs and so spread chutney on one and placed the other disc on it and cut into squares. I forgot to take the pictures when I made the thin discs and so again when I made a thick disc, i just took the pictures to give an idea.
* Cut the disc into square / diamond shaped pieces.
* Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds and sesame seeds. When mustard seeds start to crackle, add asafoetida and turn off the stove.
* Pour this mixture over the dhokla evenly, garnish with minced cilantro and serve.

This is my entry for BM #43 under the theme "dhoklas".
Check here to know what other marathoners are cooking.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Corn Dhokla

 
Dhokla is a mildly savory, vegetarian dish that originated in the Indian state of Gujarat. Well made dhoklas are usually soft and spongy and can be a great meal for anytime of the day, though they are usually treated as a great snack / breakfast. This traditional, guilt-free dish can be made in two ways - The first one is using a fermented batter which of course involves some preparation ahead and the other way is a quicker version where batter is instantly fermented using Eno fruit salt. A paste of ginger - green chillies, salt, turmeric powder and baking soda (in case of fermented batter) are added to the fermented batter and poured into a greased thali and steamed. Thali being a stainless steel plate with high edges. A seasoning of toasted mustard seeds, sesame seeds, green chillies is poured over the steamed dhokla and then garnished with cilantro and coconut. 
 
Dhoklas are nutritious and filling besides being delicious. They are usually cut and served as small squares along with green chutney and sweet chutney. If not for the chutneys that are served as side dishes, the dhoklas are mild on their own and can be served for little ones as well. Though "chickpea flour/besan" based dhoklas are the most popular among the instant variety kind, there are other interesting variations to choose from.
For instance, like this no-ferment, instant version corn dhokla, I came across at Tarla dalal's website. I like toasted corn but somehow not a great fan of corn in cooked dishes. I had so some initial reservations regarding this recipe as I was not sure how this dhokla would smell / taste because of the corn used and how they would turn out in terms of texture. However it turns out that I was fretting over nothing. These dhoklas are really good as the recipe promises and a quick one to put together. Unless someone mentions, one wouldn't know these are corn based ones and so if one is looking for ways to sneak in some corn in their cooking then this is a perfect dish.
 
Ingredients: (2 - 3 Servings)
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup semolina / rava
2 - 3 green chillies or as per taste
1/2 cup yogurt / curds
Salt to taste
1 to 1.5 tsp Eno fruit salt
1 tsp lime / lemon juice
Oil / ghee for greasing the bowl
Ingredients for garnishing:
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp of coriander leaves

Method:
* Blend corn kernels, green chillies and yogurt to a smooth paste and transfer it to a mixing bowl.
* Next add semolina, salt and about 1/2 cup of water to the grouns paste and mix well. Leave the mixture to rest for about 10 - 15 minutes.
* Just before steaming, sprinkle fruit salt, lime/lemon juice and a tbsp of water over the batter. Mix the batter gently when you start noticing the effervescence. 
 
* Immediately pour the batter into a greased thali (a stainless steel plate with deep edges) / circular cake tin of about 6 - 7 inches in diameter.
* Shake the thali gently to the spread the batter evenly.
 
* Place the thali in a steamer and steam on medium flame for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a tooth pick / a knife inserted comes out clean. If using a pressure cooker to steam dhoklas, remember to not put the whistle on.
* Cool slightly and run a knife around the edges of the cooked disc.
 
* Reverse the thali / dish you used to steam onto a wide plate and gently tap it. The cooked dhokla would unmold itself.
* At this point, you can pick any one of the options below to garnish, though I would greatly recommend the second one. Toasted sesame seeds and mustard seeds add a nice crunch to the spongy dhoklas.
1. Just garnish with minced cilantro and 2 tbsp of fresh shredded coconut if you wish and slice into squares.
2. Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds and sesame seeds. When mustard seeds start to crackle, turn off the stove and pour the contents over the steamed disc evenly. Next garnish with minced cilantro and cut into squares before serving.
  
These are on their way to
1. BM# 43 under "Dhoklas" theme.
2. Srivalli's "Kids' Delight" event, hosted by Harini this month with the theme "Healthy Snacks" 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pongali / Ven Pongal (Milk Version)


The word "Pongal" in a nutshell embodies the essence of the harvest festival from the southern regions of India. For the uninitiated, the word stands for two things. A south Indian harvest festival also known as Sankranti and a dish prepared with rice and moong dal on that day. Talking about the latter, there are savory and sweet versions and they were originally meant to celebrate the harvest bounty like rice and sugarcane. The term"pongal(i)" generally refers to the savory version and also goes by regional names like khara pongal / ven pongal or huggi.
Besides being the quintessential item on a festival day, it also happens to be a popular 'prasadam' offered at south Indian temples and a much enjoyed breakfast option at homes. No surprises there considering that it tastes so divine. Rice and roasted moong dal are cooked until they reach a creamy consistency and are spiced with pepper, cumin, ginger and salt. When I want to make the dish extra special, I replace more than half of water used to cook rice and moong dal with milk. The resulting pongal would be more rich, creamy and tastier. Another important point to be noted while making a pongal dish is not to skimp on the usage of ghee. Besides making it calorie laden and luxurious, it turns the dish super yummy. 
 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup rice (Don't use Basmati variety.)
1/4 cup moong dal
1.5 cups water
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp pepper corns
2 cups milk
1.5 tsp salt
Ingredients for tadka:
2 to 4 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp pepper corns, crushed coarsely
1 tsp cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
Method:
* Roast the moongdal on low flame for a couple of minutes and remove from fire. (This step is optional.)
* Wash rice in two exchanges of water and drain. Add rice, moong dal, turmeric powder, peppercorns and about 1 & 1/2 cups of water to a dish that can fit into your cooker. 
 
* Add water to the cooker base, place the dish into the cooker and cook for 2 -3 whistles. Turn off the stove and wait till valve pressure is gone.
 
* Alternatively, the ingredients can be cooked in a non stick pan / sturdy pot on stove top. (You can add equal quantity of milk and water while cooking.) However keep stirring in between and add any extra water/milk needed while the cooking progresses. Cook until rice-dal are done. 
* Now transfer the pressure cooked rice-dal mixture to a sturdy pot or a non stick pan and add salt. Mix and mash the mixture lightly with the back of a ladle and add the milk.

* Let the mixture cook leisurely on a gentle flame until the milk gets incorporated into the mixture and the pongal reaches a creamy texture.
* Mean while, heat ghee in a small pan and add cashews. Toast them until they turn golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Then add the grated ginger to the same ghee and fry until it starts to brown. Add the remaining tadka ingredients and sauté for a few more seconds. 
 
* Remove from heat, add it to the cooked pongal and mix well.

* Serve with chutney and / or sambhar.

These go to BM #43 under "Festival Special Theme". Check here to learn what other dishes are being cooked during this marathon.