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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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