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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Besan Doodh ~ A Punjabi Milk and Chickpea Flour Based Drink

I came across a 'besan doodh' recipe a few years ago and I have been itching to try it ever since. Somehow, I kept postponing  it though the preparation is quite a simple one and finally yesterday I decided to try it before the winter is gone for good. As the name suggests, besan doodh is a chickpea flour and milk based drink and a classic Punjabi winter warmer. It is usually served hot. This traditional drink is very healthy, especially for the kids and the elderly and also considered an effective home remedy for cold and coughs. Don't ask me how it is going to cure the cold but all the recipes I came across made it sound like a highly valued medicinal drink. I would more call it as one that pleases your palates and your guests'. 

Besan is toasted in ghee until it starts to smell nutty and then cooked in milk, thus creating the besan doodh aka besan sheera. Yes, it is not a typo. It sure seems to be also called as sheera though it is not cooked to halwa consistency. And dodhi and sudkaa seem to be other names of this drink. Adding nuts is optional but I found that throwing in some chopped nuts like almonds and pistachios to the drink makes it more yummier. Also I added turmeric in the mix for color and health benefit in place of saffron. 
 
Besan doodh is truly a delicious drink to try. It tasted almost similar to MTR badam mix drink or I should say even better without being all excessively sugary. It makes a great alternative to coffee and teas during winter and also a welcoming chilled drink during summers (or even winters), if you ask me. However if drinking chilled / serving guests, I would recommend to omit the ghee completely to toast the besan. The ghee solidifies when the milk is chilled and you feel like eating a layer of ghee along with each gulp of milk. Go ahead with the addition of ghee if you don't mind that feel. Otherwise the omission of ghee is not going to alter the taste though it may affect if drinking for medicinal value.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1 - 2 tsp. ghee
1 heaped tbsp. chickpea flour / besan
2 tbsp. roughly chopped nuts (optional but recommended.)
2 cups of milk
Ground cardamom from one pod
Sugar to taste (I used stevia.)
A pinch of saffron strands (Optional. I didn't use it.)


Directions:
* Heat ghee in  preferably a non-stick pan and add chickpea flour. Toast it on low flame until it starts to brown and nutty aroma can be noticed. 
* Add a small quantity of milk and stir constantly to form a lump free roux. When you get a homogeneous mixture, add the remaining milk, any chopped nuts if using, cardamom, sugar, and saffron if using. I added a pinch of turmeric as well.
* Bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer the mixture for about 7 to 8 minutes until the milk is slightly thickened and the chickpea flour appears cooked. 
* Serve it warm. 

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #98 under 'Cooking for two' theme.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Millet Daddhojanam

Millets in US has long been synonymous to being bird food or cattle feed even though they have been a part of human diet for thousands of years in other parts of the world. Millets seem to be back owing to the craze going on nowadays for the healthy, ancient grains. The most commonly available millet in (selective) American stores has to be proso millet. This yellow hued millet looks like tiny seed and needs no prior soaking before cooking. This can be easily cooked in a pan on stove top in about 15 minutes or can be pressure cooked. It tastes rather bland on it's own and can be eaten just like rice. Or it can replace rice in many rice based recipes, especially from the Indian cuisine. 

One of the American grocery stores in my neighborhood sells proso millet for around $1.50 per pound, which is economical compared to my local Whole Foods Market or the Indian grocers. I therefore stock up more proso millet variety than the other ones. The same millet replaces rice in today's daddhojanam / mosaranna / thaayir saadam aka the famous south Indian style yogurt rice recipe. Proso millet can be replaced by barnyard / foxtail / kodo / little millet. Use freshly made yogurt, preferably full fat one if not counting calories. Do not use yogurt which has gone sour. If packing / planning to eat later then replace some quantity of the yogurt with boiled and cooled milk. It is especially essential during summers when the yogurt can go sour in a few hours at room temperature.

Yogurt rice happens to be a perfect foil for the spicy Indian food or the tropical hot climate of the nation since yogurt is a natural coolant.  Lightly spiced and tempered with mustard seeds, roasted split chickpeas (chana dal), aromatic curry leaves and garnished with coriander, this dish makes an inviting meal. A gluten-free dish perfect for a south Indian style festival / picnic or brunch item. This also serves as a light, healthy meal on it's own and serves two adults.

Ingredients: 
3/4 cup millet
1 and 3/4 cups yogurt
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. roasted, split chickpeas / chana dal
1 tsp. split, skinned black gram / urad dal
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
A sprig of curry leaves
1 green chillie, chopped fine / 1 red chillie, broken into two or three pieces
1 tbsp. minced cilantro to garnish

Directions:
1. Rinse millet in two exchanges of water. Pressure cook for 3 whistles, adding 1 and 1/2 cups water. Let the cooked millet cool.
2.  Mix the cooked millet, yogurt and salt. Add more yogurt if needed. Replace some of the yogurt with milk (or pack extra milk) if the dish is going to be left at room temperature for hours, especially during hot climate.
3. Heat a small pan and add ginger, roasted, split chickpeas, black gram, mustard seeds, chillies and curry leaves in that order. When the dals turn red, remove the pan and add it to the millet - yogurt mixture and mix well.
4. Garnish with cilantro and serve as it is or with some pickle.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #98 under 'Cooking for two' theme.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Capsicum Sandwich

Here is a simple and healthy filling for sandwiches made with capsicum and fenugreek greens, suitable for spicy food loving palates. One can opt for other herbs, cheese and less spice to make it more kid friendly. Use pav bhaji masala / garam masala or any other spice powder instead of chili powder for a different flavored filling. This curry filling serves two adults generously and can be used for 4 to 6 bread slices.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
6 bread slices of your choice (I used multi grain, nuts and seeds one.)
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped (About 1/2 cup)
1 tomato, diced
1 green capsicum - seeds removed and chopped (About 1 cup)
1 cup fresh fenugreek greens / methi
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric 
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
Butter as needed


Directions:
* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add onion and saute on medium flame until it starts to brown. Add tomatoes, capsicum pieces, fenugreek greens, turmeric and salt. Continue to cook until capsicum is almost done. Add chili powder as needed and cook for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.
* Spread butter lightly on both sides (or only one side if preferred) of the bread slices. Spread capsicum curry evenly on a bread slice and cover it with another slice. Repeat the step with the other four remaining bread slices.
* Toast them in a sandwich maker / grill or on stove top in a pan until golden brown on both sides.   

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #98 under 'Cooking for two' theme.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Jowar Flour Laddu / Sorghum Flour - Nut Laddus

When I recently was discussing about travel food with my daughter, she gave me a list of foods that she would prefer to eat on a trip. It occurred to me that those are our family favorites I pack when we take long road trips and I realized with surprise that unknowingly I have created a tradition of our own. My kids one day probably would get nostalgic about our trips and reminisce about how their mom would stuff any vacant space in the car with food and other paraphernalia while dad is watching with dismay. 😇. 

Anyway while we were at it, the girl requested me to make some laddus. My daughter is not big on desserts but prefers a few selected ones like these peanut laddus for instance. I carry a load of homemade spicy snacks, energy bars and other sweets to munch on, especially if we are going to be on the road for a week or two and those laddus are a must for her. She got these energy balls to try this time which we all enjoyed. These laddus are loaded with healthy ingredients like jowar flour, raisins, a medley of nuts and jaggery which all contribute equally to make these laddus delicious and rich. The laddus do not need any ghee and the moisture from the ingredients used is enough to shape them. The laddus are firm though they look moist in the images. Try these easy and quick laddus on a festival day or as a after school treat for little ones. 

Ingredients: (Yield 12 laddus)
3/4 cup jowar ka atta / sorghum flour / jonna pindi
1/2 cup mixed nuts - I used skinned peanuts, almonds, cashews and walnuts
1/2 cup grated, dry coconut
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup powdered jaggery
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

Directions:
* Roast jowar flour stirring continuously, on low flame until you notice aroma, about 7 -8 minutes.
* Toast nuts on low flame for about a minute or so. (I just toasted them in a microwave.)
* Let the flour and nuts cool down.
* Pulse the nuts finely in a food processor until they start to clump if possible and transfer to a mixing bowl. Then add jowar flour, coconut and raisins to the food processor and grind them fine. Now add back the ground nuts, jaggery and cardamon to the food processor. Pulse a few times until all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly and finely ground.
* Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and make lemon sized balls from the mixture.
* Store them in an airtight container. Freeze them if wishing to save longer and thaw them before serving.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #97 and BM - 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Renu this month with 'Travel Food' theme.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Dabbakaaya Pulihora


In Andhra, a pulihora is a rice dish prepared with any souring agent like cooked tamarind sauce, lemon / lime juice, green mango and so on. 'Pulihora' (under different regional names) has been an essential part of the travel paraphernalia for generations, for those with south Indian roots. Especially the tamarind rice that don't get spoiled for at least two days even in Indian tropical climate, a perfect and economical travel food, especially if travelling with a large group. And there are those pulihoras which can be made in a jiffy like the lemon rice or the green mango rice which make perfect travel food when there is not enough time to slave around in the kitchen. Adjust the spice levels if there are kids in the group and carry some yogurt, you will have a filling meal for the whole family. I usually pack a rice item when we are taking car trips so that an hour is not wasted for lunch at the food joints along the way. I pack food individually in disposable containers with our names labelled on the box to avoid confusions over who gets what and to avoid my daughter eating spicy food. I put a disposable spoon, glass/water bottle and napkin in each set so that no one comes bothering me to figure out the wheres and whats.

Today's rice item called dabbakaaya pulihora is one such easy item. Dabbakaya called so in Telugu is a citrus fruit, which is as big as an orange but somewhat similar to a lemon in taste and looks. It is called as heralekaayi in Kannada and if I am not wrong, narthangai in Tamil. I saw it being referred to as a grape fruit, pomelo and citron online and I am leaning more towards citron. Dabbakaaya rice goes along similar lines of a lemon rice preparation and one just need to substitute this citrus fruit juice for lemon juice. It makes a simple, quick, and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It can be packed either in a lunch box, or a picnic basket. It can be carried as travel food or served as a part of a south Indian style festival meal. Just remember to cool down the rice completely if it is being packed.

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 cup rice (I used sona masuri.)
2 tbsp. oil (I used canola oil.)
2 tbsp. peanuts
1 tbsp. chana dal (split chickpeas)
1 tsp. urad dal (skinned and split black lentil)
1 tsp. mustard seeds
3 chopped green chillies or 5 - 6 dried red chillies, broken into pieces *
1 - 2 stalks of curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1 dabbakaaya or 3 to 4 tbsp. juice (Adjust depending upon the sourness of the juice.)
Minced cilantro to garnish (optional)
* A combo of both green and red chillies can be used too. The number of chillies in the recipe can be adjusted according to one's preferred spice levels.

Method:
* Wash the rice in two exchanges of water and drain completely. Pressure cook the rice adding 1 and 3/4 cups of water. (Add 2 cups of water if using a rice cooker.) When the rice is done, spread it on a wide plate and fluff the rice. Or let the rice sit for a while before using.
* Once the rice is ready, heat oil in a pan / kadai. Add peanuts, split chickpeas, split black gram and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop and the dals start to turn reddish, add chillies and saute for few seconds. Next add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida. Stir once and turn off the stove.
* Add rice, salt and the fruit juice and mix well. Taste the rice and adjust salt or the juice if needed. Salt and the fruit juice flavors tone down a bit after the resting period and so add those ingredients accordingly or taste the rice again after 30 minutes and adjust the quantities. 
* Let the rice sit for at least 15 - 30 minutes for the flavors to develop. 
* It can be served on it's own or serve some papad / chips along with it.
* If packing for lunches or as travel food then make sure that the rice is completely cool before packing. The rice may get spoiled quickly if packed warm.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #97 and BM - 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Renu this month with 'Travel Food' theme.
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Mixed Flour and Vegetable Thepla


Thepla, a staple bread from Gujarati kitchens is nutritious and can be served for any meal of the day. The bonus point is that one doesn't need to go through the hassle of preparing a side dish to go with them. A spicy pickle and yogurt on the side will do, the two staple ingredients of any Indian kitchen. Theplas remain softer for longer periods unlike the regular rotis and therefore are ideal to get packed in a lunch box, a picnic basket or as a travel food.

I gave a small twist to the traditional recipe adding a blend of flours and vegetables to make it more healthier and filling. You can customize the recipe by adding flours you have on hand and raw vegetables you think would work in theplas. Adjust the spice quantities if serving little ones and they can eat them directly with some ghee smeared over them, if preferred. You can find the classic methi thepla recipe here and oats thepla here.

Ingredients: (Make about 12 theplas)
1 and 1/4 cup wheat flour (gehu ka atta) + extra for dusting
2 tbsp. chickpea flour (besan)
2 tbsp. amaranth flour (rajgire ka atta)
2 tbsp. millet flour (bajre ka atta)
2 tbsp. sorghum flour (jowar ka atta)
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
Salt to taste
1 inch piece ginger + 2 -3 green chillies (adjust the quantity as needed)
or
1 tsp. ginger - green chillie paste (or adjust as needed)
1/4 cup fresh / frozen green peas
1/2 cup roughly chopped fenugreek greens / methi
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tsp. white sesame seeds
1/3 cup yogurt (I used homemade fat-free yogurt.)
1 tsp. oil + extra to toast theplas (I used canola oil.)
Water as needed

Method:
1. Pulse the flours, salt, turmeric, ginger - green chillies (if not using paste) and peas in a food processor until ginger, chillies and peas are chopped into fine bits. Or just coarsely grind the peas alone.
2. Transfer the ingredients to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except water. Form a firm dough adding water if needed, in small increments. (You may need a tbsp. or two of water.) Finally add a tsp. of oil and knead for few seconds.

3. The final dough should be soft and pliable, easy to roll into a ball. If it is sticky, add flour as needed and knead it to make it firm. In case it is too dry, add a little water and knead. Cover and set aside for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 10 - 12 balls or make lemon sized balls.

4. Work with one flour ball at a time, keeping the rest covered. Coat a ball with flour and press slightly to flatten it. Roll it into a thin circle of about 5 inches diameter, dusting the work surface with flour if needed. (Theplas can be rolled and toasted simultaneously. In case of novice cooks, a few theplas can be rolled before turning on the stove so that the process would not become overwhelming.)  

5. Heat a cast iron or non stick griddle over medium heat. Place the rolled thepla on the pan and cook until the surface appears bubbly. Flip it and add 1/2 tsp oil around the edges and run the backside of the oily spoon over the surface of the thepla just to coat it with oil. Press the edges down with a spatula to cook evenly. As soon as the brown spots appear on the bottom side, flip it once more, cook for 10 seconds or so and transfer it onto a plate.

6. Repeat the steps 4 and 5 until all the theplas are made. 
7. Serve them with some Indian style spicy pickle / achaar and yogurt. Lightly smear with ghee if serving kids.

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #97 and BM - 'Kids' Delight' event hosted by Renu this month with 'Travel Food' theme.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Che Chuoi ~ Vietnamese Banana, Coconut and Sago Pudding (Gluten-Free and Vegan Cooking)

Theme: Paleo / Vegan / Gluten-Free Recipes

I would probably never forget this sago pudding in my life, not because it was unforgettably delicious but it put me in bed for two weeks. The canned coconut stuff I used in the pudding was the culprit, at least according to my husband. 😕 I tried the dessert a few months ago because the combination of ingredients used in the preparation was unusual to me though I strictly didn't adhere to the recipe. I usually finish a cup of pudding in one sitting but that day I had only a couple of spoons but it still got me. My husband, my daughter and I all ate the same food for lunch that day except that I had this sago pudding. Coincidence or not, within ten minutes, I started noticing rashes all over my body coupled with itchiness. The rashes were like 2 by 2 inch patches everywhere and by night, my face was swollen beyond recognition. Fortunately, I did not have any breathing problems or I would have ended up in emergency room on that weekend. It took two days to see my normal face. A doctor's visit later confirmed that I had hives and it took me two weeks, on medication, to get completely cured and it wasn't a pleasant experience, I can assure.

Che chuoi is a Vietnamese sago and banana based pudding cooked in coconut cream, flavored with pandan leaves. The word 'che' refers to liquid desserts like drinks, pudding and even soups in Vietnam. Vietnamese folks prefer a variety of banana called 'chuoi su' to prepare this gluten-free, vegan pudding but perfectly ripe, (but not mushy) sweet variety bananas should work fine in lieu of those. Sweet bananas, coconut cream and sago cooked to a creamy consistency and topped with crunchy peanuts and sesame seeds is an interesting variation to the Indian version of sago kheer. 

I have used the tiny sized sago here which gets cooked in about 10 minutes. If using larger variety, soak them in water for about ten minutes and then cook the same way but it would take a few minutes extra to cook. My pudding is loosely based on this recipe and I left out the pandan leaves since I did not have them and cooked the sago my usual way, as mentioned in the recipe below. Pandan must lend a very inviting flavor here. If using pandan leaves and need to follow the traditional recipe, simmer two knotted pandan leaves in about 2 cups water for about 15 minutes to bring out the flavor. Next add the marinated banana - sugar pieces, sago, another two pandan leaves, and coconut cream and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until done.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1/4 cup small sized sago / tapioca pearls
2 ripened but not mushy bananas (Any sweet variety)
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
3/4 cup coconut cream
1 cup coconut milk / water
For topping:
2 tbsp. roasted and skinned peanuts, slightly crushed
2 tbsp. roasted white sesame seeds, slightly crushed

Method:
* Thinly slice the bananas and toss with sugar so that banana slices are coated well with sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. One can do this step ahead to avoid the waiting time to marinate. I read that they can be left marinated for up to two days though I haven't tried it.
* Rinse sago well and wash away the starch powder. 
* Choose preferably a non stick pot or a non stick sauce pan to cook the sago. Add drained sago and a cup of water and cook on low flame, stirring occasionally. Cook until all the sago become transparent. It doesn't take much time to cook if using the smallest size sago.
(Starch keeps building up while cooking the sago and tends to stick to the bottom of the pan if not stirred intermittently. If one finds cooking sago tricky because of the starch buildup, follow this step. When the water used to cook sago becomes starchy, add another cup of cold water. Sago go to the bottom of the pan and then throw away all the (starchy) water from the pan taking care to not drain the sago. Add a fresh cup of water to the sago and continue to cook. This step can be repeated one more time while cooking sago.)
* Throw away all the water in the pan when the sago pearls become transparent. Add banana - sugar mixture, coconut cream and coconut milk / water (as needed to thin the pudding to the desired consistency) to the sago and continue to cook on low flame until the preferred soft consistency of bananas is reached. Turn off the stove.
* Scoop the cooked pudding into serving bowls, each topped with some crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve the pudding warm or at room temperature.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Spicy Bajra Biscuits / Spicy Millet Flour Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan Baking)

Theme: Paleo / Vegan / Gluten-Free Recipes

Vaishali posted bajra biscuits some weeks ago and I had to try them for two reasons. We are on the millet wagon for quite sometime now and so needless to say that I keep looking for new ways to include millet in our daily diet. Any interesting recipe that catches my attention gets cooked immediately in my kitchen. The second reason being my husband who enjoys spicier biscuits / cookies to go along with his coffee / tea. 

I made them along the lines of a khara biscuit, on a spicier side to suit his taste buds. Thanks to Vaishali, we enjoyed these healthy and flavorful biscuits. These millet flour based biscuits are gluten free, vegan (free of eggs and dairy) and in a nutshell, guilt free. The flavors can be customized according to one's preferences. If looking for spicier cookies, my chickpea flour cookies and khara biscuits may interest you.
Ingredients: 
1 cup millet flour / bajra flour
1 tsp. ginger - green chilli paste
2 pinches of asafoetida
Salt to taste (I used a little over 3/4 tsp. salt.)
1 tbsp. finely minced curry leaves 
1 tbsp. cilantro
2 tbsp. oil
1/4 cup warm water

Directions:
* Grease or line a baking sheet. Also grease two plastic sheets on one side each. Or cut open a ziplock bag on sides so that you would end up with a large rectangle sheet and grease on one side and keep it aside.
* Preheat the oven to 300 deg F / 150 deg C.
* Combine all the ingredients except oil and water in a mixing bowl. In case you can not paste the ginger and chillies, just run them in a food processor along with the flour. Add oil and rub into the mixture. Next add water in small increments and mix until a dough is formed. Add a tsp. or two extra water if needed.
* Divide the mixture into two portions. Place one of the dough balls between two greased plastic sheets. (Or on one side of the greased ziploc sheet and fold the other end over it). Roll the dough into 1/8 inch thick circle.

* Cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters and prick them all over with a fork. 
* Place the cut biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake them until golden brown and crisp. (Vaishali recommended about 15 minutes of baking. My biscuits were 1/4 inch thick ones and so I had to bake for about 25 minutes flipping them in between since they were not browning. I left them in the oven few extra minutes after the oven was turned off. I went with checking the crispiness rather than the color for these biscuits to see if they were done. 
* Cool and save them in an airtight container. Serve them with coffee or tea.

Notes:
* The biscuits pictured here are 1/4 inch thick ones. 1/8 inch thickness gives crispy biscuits while 1/4 inch thick ones gives flaky and crumbly kind ones. We liked both but I would recommend 1/8 inch thick ones if not finishing them immediately. 1/4 inch thick ones kind of lost some of the crispiness the next day. 
* I used a 1.5 inch size diamond shaped cookie cutter and got around 30 biscuits of 1/4 inch thickness. One can make them into thin, big circles.

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Quinoa - Avocado Pasta

Theme: Paleo / Vegan / Gluten-Free Recipes

This quinoa pasta in avocado sauce hardly takes ten minutes to prepare and is quite a flavor packed one. The avocado sauce here is somewhat prepared on the lines of a pesto sauce along with avocado, which lends creaminess to the sauce. The quinoa pasta by itself is gluten free and vegan and the 'no cook' avocado sauce fits the paleo bill as well. Sprinkle some cheese over the pasta if not vegan to make it more tastier.

Ingredients:
2 cups quinoa pasta
2 ripe avocados -peeled, halved and seeded
2 handfuls of basil and/or cilantro leaves (I used cilantro.)
2 garlic cloves
A handful of almonds (optional)
3 - 4 tbsp. olive oil (or as needed)
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
(1/4 cup parmesan cheese if not vegan)

Directions:
* Cook quinoa pasta according to package directions. Save some of the pasta liquid and drain.
* While the pasta is cooking, add avocado, cilantro, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to a blender / food processor and blend well until the desired consistency is reached (chunky or creamy). If you have hard time processing the ingredients, add a little pasta water to facilitate easy grinding.
* Toss the pasta and the avocado sauce together. Season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately. (Sprinkle some cheese over the pasta if not vegan.)

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Shaak Wali Dal

I had cooked other dishes for this week but somehow ended up posting regional dals prepared with moong. Today's comforting and simple flavored dal called 'Shaak wali dal' comes from Gujarat. A lentil dish where you can sneak in all those 'not so favorite' kind of veggies and no fussy eater would figure out. And so this 'mixed vegetables' based dal is especially for those picky eaters or when one needs to finish off those last bits and odds from the refrigerator. Here dal and vegetables are cooked together and mashed to invisible bits to mask any vegetables used and tempered with ghee and spices. Any vegetable other than bitter gourd for the obvious reasons can be used. Onion, potato, tomato, carrots, peas, cauliflower, pumpkin, chayote, bottle gourd, zucchini are some of the vegetables that can go into this dal. Greens / Beets would be a nutritional addition if you don't mind the green/ red looking dal.  I used potato, carrot, peas and tomato and made it on a thicker side by not adding any extra water other than needed for pressure cooking. Also I added more toor dal than moong in my dal.

Recipe source: Here
Ingredients:
1/2 cup moong dal / skinned and split green gram
1/4 cup toor dal / split pigeon peas
3 cups of diced vegetables 
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
For tempering:
2 tsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 red chillies
a Pinch of asafoetida
1 sprig of curry leaves
Lemon wedges to serve

Directions:
* Wash and rinse the dals in two exchanges of water. Pressure cook dals adding vegetables, turmeric powder and 1.5 cups of water for 4 whistles.
(Soak dals for about 30 minutes in case not using a pressure cooker for any reason. Cook dals and vegetables together in a sauce pan on medium flame adding water as needed until the dals are cooked well. Keep stirring in between.)
* When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal and vegetables well with the back of a ladle or potato masher or a churner, until the mixture becomes homogeneous. Add the spices and 1/2 cup (or more) of water and bring it to a boil.
* Heat ghee / oil in a small pan and add cumin seeds and red chillies. When the red chillies start to brown add curry leaves and asafoetida. Turn off the stove and add the tempering over the dal and give it a stir. (Garlic can be used as well for tempering.)
* Garnish with chopped coriander leaves if preferred.
* Serve with rice or rotis, with lemon wedges on the side. 

This goes to Blogging Marathon under 'Bookmarked Recipes' Theme.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Moongdal - Green Mango Rasam / Pesarapappu - Mamidikaya Chaaru

Chaaru / Rasam / Saaru whatever the regional name maybe, happens to be a staple dish in south Indian cooking and is a thin, spicy lentil broth served with rice. It is served in many homes for every lunch / dinner and considered a comfort dish by many. It aids in digestion and is light enough to serve even to the sick. The classic and the most common rasam uses the pigeon peas - tomato combo. Or lemon juice in lieu of tomato. There are different variations nowadays in the rasam preparations and I happened to see this one on a television cooking program. Rasam powder aka the spice powder used to prepare rasam is a pantry staple in south Indian homes and if you have rasam powder (either homemade or store bought - I would recommend MTR brand) handy, the preparation becomes a simple and easy one.

I prepare rasam / chaaru on a regular basis in my home though I don't have the basic rasam recipe posted here on my blog so far. I am quite good at rasam preparation while not being so in  photographing it. I admit it without any embarrassment that my 'rasam' photographs usually don't do justice to the dish itself.  I see many bloggers beautifully capturing rasam in their images. In my case, all the good stuff sinks to the bottom including the tempering and clear liquid topped with drops of grease remains to be captured and I usually give up. I wasn't happy with today's image too but the green mango rasam is so flavorful that I could not let go without posting it.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup moong dal / skinned, split green gram
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 tsp. salt or as needed
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp. finely minced cilantro
Ingredients to toast and grind:
1/4 tsp. pepper corns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp. coriander seeds
or
1 tsp. homemade or store bought rasam powder
Ingredients for tempering:
1 tsp. ghee / oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies, broken into bits
2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise
6 - 8 curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1/4 cup grated green mango 

Directions:
* Wash and rinse the moong dal in two exchanges of water and drain. Pressure cook moong dal adding 1/2 cup of water and ground turmeric for 3 whistles. (At this stage, one can also add mango pieces along with dal and cook instead of grating and frying later). When the valve pressure is gone, finely mash the dal and mangoes (if used) with the back of a ladle and keep aside.
* Meanwhile, toast pepper corns, cumin and coriander seeds without burning them. Let cool and grind fine. (Skip the step if you have rasam powder.)
* Heat oil / ghee in a pan / pot and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds starts to splutter add red chillies, green chillies and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds. Next add asafoetida powder and grated mango (in case if you haven't pressure cooked green mango in the first step.). Fry for few minutes on low flame until the mango appears cooked. Then add pureed moong dal, salt, ground spices (or rasam powder), minced cilantro and about 1.5 cups of water (or as needed to get the desired consistency.) Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn off the stove.
* Serve piping hot rasam with rice and dollop of ghee or as a part of a south Indian meal.

Notes:
* I usually don't use green or red chillies in a rasam recipe since the red chillies and black pepper used in my rasam powder lend enough spicy kick. However I used MTR rasam powder while preparing this rasam and recommend the usage of red chillies and mildly spiced green chillies unless if the rasam powder being used is very spicy by itself. The sourness from the green mango cuts down the spicy level. 
* The mango can be cut into pieces and cooked (and then mashed) along with moong dal if desired instead of grating and frying later.
* Basically I use the same ingredients to prepare my own rasam powder but not in the same ratio. The recipe link to my rasam powder is given below.

Other Rasam recipes posted here.
Carrot Rasam
Drumstick Rasam
Pineapple Rasam
Rasam Powder / Charu podi

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Kerala Cuisine ~ Parippu Curry

A dal served with rice / roti is equivalent to a comfort meal to an average Indian. That 'dal' happens to be a legume preparation served in millions of Indian homes everyday and the kind of legume used varies regionally. Today's dal comes from the southern state of Kerala, and is prepared using moong dal and/or toordal. This parippu curry happens to be a simple dal flavored with coconut and mild spices. It is an essential part of sadya meal (Vegetarian festive meal). The use of onions in the recipe is optional and skip them if serving on festive occasions. 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup moong dal
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. ghee / coconut oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies, broken into bits
Few curry leaves
1 big onion, sliced or chopped (optional)
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 green chillies
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. Rinse the dal with two exchanges of water and drain. Pressure cook moong dal adding turmeric and a cup of water for 3 whistles. When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal well with the back of a ladle.
2. Meanwhile, heat ghee / oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add red chillies, curry leaves and onion if using. Fry the onions until they turn golden brown and translucent.
3. Grind coconut, cumin seeds and chillies to a smooth paste adding water as needed. 
4. Add the ground paste from step 3 to the cooked dal. Add salt and about 1/2 cup of water or extra if needed and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the stove.
5. Pour the sauteed onion mixture from step 2 over the cooked dal and serve warm with rice and a dollop of ghee. 

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Sweet Potato Fry (Air Fryer Version)

Here is a quick and guilt free sweet potato fry, Indian style. My recipe uses air fryer though sweet potato cubes can be fried even in a convection oven though it takes a little longer to roast. The fry is done traditionally in a kadai / saute pan and consumes extra oil than the quantity I used here. I don't go roasting the vegetable until it resembles sweet potato fries or until it is browned but just enough to be served as a curry, slightly crispy from outside and tender inside. Serve it warm as a part of Indian meal.

Ingredients:
1 big sized sweet potato (About 2 cups cubes)
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste (I used about 1 tsp. of less spicy powder.)
1.5 tsp. oil
Directions:
* Peel and cut sweet potato into cubes or small pieces.
* Add sweet potato cubes, salt and chili powder to  a bowl and toss well to coat. Add oil next and toss again so that the cubes are coated well with oil.
* Add them to the cooking pan of the fryer and cook according to the manual instructions. 
I set it at 400 deg F and toasted for 13 to 14 minutes, tossing the sweet potato cubes occasionally. (My Gourmia air fryer setting includes 3 minutes of preheating in the above mentioned cooking time. I am not sure but if there are air fryer models which require preheating before the addition of vegetables to the fryer, then the cooking time should be around 10 minutes.)

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Karela Batata Nu Shaak ~ Bitter Gourd and Potato Curry

Bitter gourd, a vegetable despised by many and loved by a few actually happens to be a healthy gourd and in fact is quite beneficial for diabetics. It is a commonly consumed vegetable in India though the vegetable does complete justice to its name and everyone at home may not be fond of it. Today's recipe is an interesting and a different kind of bitter gourd preparation from Gujarati cuisine. Give this recipe a try if you happen to like the vegetable. 

I happened to see this recipe here while looking for a different style of bitter gourd preparation. At least, it was different to me who uses bitter gourd in south Indian style preparations at home. My husband loves both bitter gourd and potato and this one seemed right in his alley and I decided to try it. The addition of cashews and sesame seeds lend an interesting touch to this delicious curry. This curry is very easy to prepare and bitter gourd lovers would definitely love it. We felt that the addition of onions would enhance the taste further.

Check out my other bitter gourd recipes' links below if you are interested.
Microwave bitter gourd crisps
Kaakarakaaya Podi
Haagalakaayi Gojju
Haagalakaayi Gojju (Version 2)
Bitter Gourd Curry (Andhra Style)
Bharwan Karela
Kaakarakaaya Pachadi

Ingredients:
3 big sized bitter gourds (3 cups cut pieces) 
Salt to taste
1 potato (1 cup cut cubes)
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 cup broken / coarsely crushed cashews
2 tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. chili powder or to taste
1/4 tsp. dried mango powder / amchur
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 tbsp. minced cilantro + extra for garnish


Directions:
* Wash and trim the edges of bitter gourds. Quarter them and discard the center pith and seeds if mature. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 3 pieces and cut again into 1 inch strips. Add the cut bitter gourd pieces and about a tsp. of salt to a bowl and toss well to coat. Keep it aside for about 10 to 15 minutes.  After the resting period, squeeze out the excess water from the bitter gourd. (This step is done to cut down some of the bitterness.)

* Heat oil in a non stick pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown, add asafoetida, turmeric and squeezed bitter gourd pieces. Mix well, cover and cook on low flame for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice in between.
* Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into cubes or strips.
* Add the potato pieces and continue to cook stirring occasionally,  until they are done and the bitter gourd have turned crisp, about another 8 to 10 minutes.
* Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and cook on medium flame for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

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