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Friday, October 12, 2018

Rajgira Sheera / Amaranth Flour Halwa

Coinciding with the Navratri season, here is one more dish associated with it and the fasting regimen. This halwa / sheera is prepared using amaranth flour / rajgira atta and seems to be a popular dessert fit for the season. Not a tricky one to prepare but patiently roasting the flour in ghee without burning it until it turns light brown is important. 
The halwa can be prepared with either milk or water. It is rich because of the ghee and milk used and therefore eaten in small quantities. I used jaggery instead of sugar and 1/4 cup of it makes it not an overtly sweet dish but one can increase the sweetener by a couple of tbsp. more if one prefers a sweeter halwa. The consistency of this halwa would be smoother compared to the sooji halwa since flour is the base here.

1/4 cup ghee (I used less.)
1/2 cup rajgire ka atta / amaranth flour
1 and 1/4 cup milk
4 - 6 tbsp. sugar (I used jaggery instead.)
2 pinches of ground cardamom
Nuts to garnish

* Heat ghee in a pan and add amaranth flour to it. Start toasting until you notice the aroma and the mixture changes to light brown color, about 6 to 8 minutes.
* Meanwhile, heat milk and sugar in a microwave or in a pan and keep aside. No need to boil the milk.
* Add milk and cardamom to the toasted flour gradually in small increments from the sides of the pan, stirring continuously and quickly to avoid forming lumps. Cook on low flame covered until the mixture thickens and the ghee starts to release along the edges.
* Garnish with slivered almonds / any other nuts and serve warm.

This goes to blogging marathon #93 with the theme of "Pick one ingredient & Cook 3 recipes". My choice of ingredient is amaranth flour. Check out the page here to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rajgira Kadhi / Vrat Ki Kadhi / Farali Kadhi

A Indian kadhi generally is a spicy, yogurt based gravy which is thickened by the use of chickpea flour. Other flours are substituted for chickpea flour aka besan especially during the Navratri fasting season, a tidbit I have learnt from the blogging world over the years. I tried recently amaranth flour based kadhi aka rajgira kadhi and it turns out that even a basic version kadhi without all the frills can taste good too. No chickpea flour, onions, tomatoes, asafoetida, mustard seeds, turmeric or dried mango powder in this version but one wouldn't call this gluten free gravy a flavorless one. We at least didn't mind even a bit and I am sure that any kadhi lover would enjoy this amaranth flour kadhi as well. The lackluster color of the kadhi may be a giveaway that it may not be the regular version kadhi but one would probably just assume the lack of turmeric in it.

Whisk the yogurt well to a uniform consistency. I was lazy to do so when I made this and that's why the kadhi looks curdled but it is not so. If not using this as a fasting meal, feel free too use turmeric, mustard seeds, asafoetida, onion, salt and other stuff one would prefer in a kadhi. Even buckwheat flour or chestnut flours can be used in place of amaranth flour in the recipe.

Ingredients: (2 servings)
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup amaranth flour
2 tsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ginger paste or grated ginger
2 finely minced green chillies or 1 tsp. green chili paste
Rock salt to taste
Minced cilantro to garnish

* Whisk yogurt well in a bowl. Add amaranth flour to the yogurt and mix until there are no lumps. Yogurt and flour together can be whisked in a blender as well.
* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they start to brown add ginger and chillies. Saute for few seconds and then add water.  Next add yogurt - amaranth flour mixture and rock salt to the pan. Continue to cook on low flame stirring intermittently until the mixture thickens. If the mixture appears to be thicker than the preferred consistency, add extra water and bring the mixture again to a boil and turn off the stove.
* Garnish with cilantro and serve warm. It can be served with any cooked grains allowed during fasting or rice / rotis.

This goes to blogging marathon #93 with the theme of "Pick one ingredient & Cook 3 recipes". My choice of ingredient is amaranth flour. Check out the page here to read what other marathoners are cooking.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Amaranth & Wheat Flour Rotis

Amaranth is a pseudocereal like quinoa and buckwheat and has been cultivated over thousands of years in various parts of the world. It is a protein rich grain with low glycemic index and the cooked seeds, flour and greens are all edible. It is gluten free making it an healthier substitute over wheat for people with gluten  intolerance. I am not new to the plant since a couple of species of amaranth leaves are eaten through out India and it happens to be in fact, one of my favorite greens while growing up.

On the other hand, amaranth flour is not consumed in south India but seems to be a staple ingredient during fasting days of Navratri in many northern and western kitchens of India, where it goes by the name rajgire ka atta. The seeds by the way are called ramdana / rajgira. Coincidentally, Navratri began yesterday and people who practice the fasting ritual (which is in a way to detoxify one's system) abstain from grains / millets during this period and replace them with ingredients like amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, chestnut flour and tapioca pearls which are not typical pantry staples of Indian kitchens excepting the last one.  

I have started using amaranth flour in my kitchen about an year ago and it goes mainly in making rotis like these or thalipeeth. If one is new to roti making, amaranth flour is not the right choice to start your practice with. That would be atta aka the Indian wheat flour. Amaranth flour is gluten free and so some starch like mashed potatoes need to go along with it to form a dough. If adhering to the fasting rituals, omit the wheat flour and salt from the recipe and use rock salt instead. The resulting rotis with this dough are thinner and softer than the regular rotis. They can be served with a spicy curry / lentil based gravy. Or make rotis spicier by adding minced green chillies & ginger / red chili powder to the dough while preparing and serve with plain yogurt.
Ingredients: (Yield 15 rotis)
1 big sized potato
2 cups amaranth flour (rajgira atta)
1/2 cup wheat flour (atta) + extra for dusting
1/8 tsp. salt (optional)
About 1/4 cup oil (I used canola oil.)

* Peel and boil the potato in a microwave. Let it come to room temperature and mash the potato finely, leaving no lumps. Don't throw away the water used to boil the potato as it can be used to make the roti dough. (I had slightly less than 1/2 cup of mashed potato. It doesn't matter if  the potato is slightly less or more than the quantity I used.)

* Combine flours, salt and mashed potato in a mixing bowl. Rub the potato well into the flour. Grease your palms if  needed since the mixture tends to get sticky while making the dough. Add water gradually in slow increments and make a soft, pliable dough. (I needed slightly less than 1/2 cup water.) Add a tbsp. or two of oil to the dough and work the dough for about 30 seconds. Cover and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. (I rested it for about 90 minutes.) 
* Heat a skillet / rimless non-stick pan on medium flame. (Don't heat the griddle yet if not well versed with the routine of rolling and toasting parts simultaneously. One can roll out some dough circles prior to heating a griddle.) 
* Grease your palms with oil and divide the mixture into 12 - 15 portions and roll them into balls and keep the covered.  Grease your palms again if needed and work with one ball at a time. Press the ball into a disc between palms and gently roll into a thin circle on a dusted rolling board / clean counter top using a rolling pin. Dust a little extra flour in between, only if needed.
* Place the rolled out dough circle on the hot griddle. When the surface starts to dry out and bubbles appear on the bottom side, flip it with a spatula. Gently press it with the spatula all over. Pour 1/4 tsp of oil around the edges and surface and flip again. Press again with the spatula and flip. Toast it until both sides have brown spots developed all over. It would take a few seconds on each side to cook once the skillet is hot. Transfer the cooked roti onto a clean plate and repeat the process with the rolling and toasting parts. Keep the cooked rotis covered until serving.
* Serve them with a spicy accompaniment.

This goes to blogging marathon #93 with the theme of "Pick one ingredient & cook 3 recipes". My choice of ingredient is amaranth flour. Check out the page here to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Mtedza ~ Malawi Peanut Cookies

African donuts and these peanut cookies were on my shortlisted 'dessert' recipes to try for the third day of this week's marathon. I was reluctant to try these cookies initially since I was fixated on trying the former. However the idea of frying did not appeal when the time came to try them and I decided to go with a small batch of mtedza. A decision I regretted as soon as I got to have a bite of these yummy, buttery rich cookies. These are like those delightful, crumbly wedding cookies or the moon cookies with an additional surprise of peanuts embedded in them. Not little but loads that give a lovely crunch to these super yummy cookies. Give them a try. You would be delighted, I promise. 

These peanut cookies or groundnut cookies seems to come from the African nation of Malawi and are called mtedza. The online recipes circulating over the years for these cookies seem to be one and the same. I am not sure if the cookies are prepared traditionally this way considering that Malawi is a poor nation and the probability of people owning ovens is probably low. However the cookies taste awesome and are are a beginner level of recipe.

Ingredients: (Yield 8 - 10 cookies)
4 - 6 tbsp toasted and skinned peanuts
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp. sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
Powdered sugar for dusting
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
* Roughly chop the peanuts into small pieces or pulse in a food processor.
* Cream butter and sugar together. Add the remaining ingredients to form a crumbly dough.
* Make small balls out of the mixture and place the on a cookie sheet. (The cookies don't expand while baking. Shape them as big or small you would prefer.)
* Bake them for 20 minutes or until they turn light brown.
* Once done, roll them immediately in powdered sugar.

This goes to blogging marathon #93 with the theme of recipes from countries that start with the same alphabet, "Pick one alphabet - 3 countries". My choice of alphabet this week is 'M' and today's post is from Malawi. Check out the page here to read what other marathoners are cooking.