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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some Entries for the Events - Breakfast Juice, Eggless Latkes, Apple Sauce & Spinach - Tomatillo Masoor dal

It's been a while since I posted multiple recipes in a single post. I usually do it when I am in a last minute rush to send my entries for  events I want to participate in. And so here I am today with a few recipes that are going to be a part of some wonderful events. :)

 My mom is well known for her breakfast dishes in our family circles. Naturally, hoping to learn some new dishes from her, I mentioned about the Jihva - Breakfast event that I am hosting this month. I was in a surprise when she told that she rarely prepares breakfast now a days as there are only two adults at home. They mostly opt for healthy breakfast drinks or fruits instead of going through the hassles of breakfast preparation.
 And here I am with her 'Under 5 minutes, Veggie Juice' which is going to be my mother's entry for the Jihva - Breakfast event. I am posting this because she doesn't know the ways of blogging. My mother mentioned that this healthy, simple Carrot - Beet - Tomato Juice doesn't need any additional sweeteners and sometimes she adds a little honey if she feels like having it.
Just blend 1 carrot (peeled & cubed) + 1 tomato (deseeded) + a small bit of beetroot in your blender / mixer. If you don't deseed the tomatoes, you can pass the juice through a sieve. Add water if needed. Also using beetroot is optional.

Jihva is the brain child of  Indira.


Latkes are Jewish potato pancakes. That's what I thought until a peek into the wiki world.

According to it, potato pancakes are popular through out the European nations and infact it is the national dish of Belarus.  Didn't know that there were natinal dishes and now wondering what would be a national dish in the case of India. Sure there would be a clash among the regional ones. Now back to latkes.
The name of the potato pancakes keep changing depending upon where you live. In Yiddish, they are known as latkes or latkas and are traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews during the Jewish Hanukkah festival.
Latkes are shallow-fried pancakes of grated potato, flour and egg, often flavored with grated onion or garlic and seasoning. Potato pancakes may be topped with condiments like sour cream, sugar or applesauce or they may be served ungarnished.
Here I am presenting my way, the egg less version.

Ingredients for about 5, small sized latkes:
2 potatoes - peeled & grated (we had about 2 cups)
1 onion - finely minced
4 Tbsp pancake mix (used Bisquick)
3 Tbsp rice flour
Salt & pepper to taste
1/8-cup oil to shallow fry

Making Latkes:
Squeeze out the water from potato. Mix the other ingredients except oil and form into a mass. You can adjust the quantities of flours if needed. Divide the dough into 5 portions and shape them into balls.
Gently heat the oil in a shallow pan. Place one dough ball in the center. Pat it into a circle using either your fingers or the back of a spatula. It doesn't need to be very thin. Cook on low flame till the bottom portion appears golden brown. Then flip and cook the other side till it browns as well. Drain them on paper towels. Low flame ensures that latkes are cooked through out perfect and attains that golden brown hue.
Since the pancakes are primarily made out of potatoes, there is nothing not to like about them. :)
I served them with applesauce to kids for their after school snack and they really enjoyed them.

They go to Priya's Pancakes event.

Apple Sauce:

Applesauce is one of those basic things to prepare in a kitchen. You can serve it as a snack for little ones or use a fat substitute in baking. Since I mentioned that it is a basic thing, preparation is obviously a simple one.

I used a golden delicious apple since that's what I had in my refrigerator. I tried substituting cardamom powder for cinnamon this time and I enjoyed it. Increase the quantities of ingredients to make a large batch.
First step is to cook the apple till it softens. Peel and cube an apple. Cook it in the microwave covered, for 2 minutes on high. Check once in between. Add a tsp of water if needed.
Then puree it with 2 tsp of brown sugar and a little cinnamon powder using a blender.
Serve as needed.

Spinach - Tomatillo Masoor Dal:

Now moving to lunch / dinner. Here is a healthy, substantial and simple dal which can be served with rice / rotis. This one qualifies for 'under 30 minute meals' or 'bachelor friendly dishes' because it is pressure cooked along with rice in another container.
A well-prepared dal - greens combination never disappoints and today's recipe is one such combo. Nutritious spinach and tart tomatillos are paired with filling masoor dal.

Our meal today - Rice - Spinach dal, Orange slices and homemade fatfree yogurt

Ingredients needed for 6 -8 servings:
1 cup masoor dal
1 bunch spinach leaves or 8 - 10 oz / 250 gms frozen spinach
2 tomatillos, chopped
A pinch of turmeric powder
A small lemon sized tamarind
3-4 green chillies, chopped (I used Serrano variety. Adjust the quantity if using other variety.)
Salt to taste

For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 10 curry leaves and a little asafoetida powder

Preparation of the dal:
Wash the masoor dal twice and throw away the water. Wash and chop the spinach and the tender stalks.
Add the masoor dal, spinach, tomatillos, turmeric powder,chilies, tamarind and 2 cups of water to a container and cook it in a pressure cooker till done. Or cook on stove top adding water as needed.
When the valve pressure is gone, remove the container. Mash the dal with the back of  ladle and add the salt.
For tadka, heat oil in a small pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add curry leaves and asafoetida powder and turn off the stove.
Mix the tadka ingredients to the dal and mix well.

This goes to Healing Foods - Spinach hosted by Divya and Siri being the creator of the event.

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Roundups of the Events I hosted

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pineapple / Ananas Gojju

For novices, Gojjus are kind of stews bursting with myriad, yet balanced flavors and are a specialty of Karnataka cuisine. Those  flavors are a treat for your taste buds. Some gojjus (this pineapple one for instance) are associated with festivities and celebrations and some (like hagalakayi gojju) are cooked at home to perk up the taste buds and escape the humdrum of everyday saaru and hulis (dals from that state.)
The preparation is quite simple and don't be put off by the long list of the ingredients presented here. Some go for tadka and some for grinding. Try this if you haven't earlier and you would not be disappointed.

Ingredients needed for 3 - 4 servings:
1 cup pineapple cubes (if using canned ones, rinse the cubes well)
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp jaggery powder
1 tbsp tamarind juice (tamarind soaked in water and squeezed)
A pinch of turmeric powder

For tadka: 2 -3 tsp oil, 1 tsp chanadal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, little asafoetida powder, a red chili broken into bits

For gojju powder:
4 Tbsp dry coconut (copra), shredded
2 Tbsp chanadal
1 Tbsp uraddal
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
a pinch of methi seeds 
6 byadagi chilies (red chilies which give color & are less spicier)

Preparing Gojju Pudi / Powder:
Toast chanadal and uraddal separately in a sauté pan till they turn reddish and remove. Add coriander seeds to the pan and saute on low flame till it turns a few shades darker. Similarly toast sesame seeds, methi seeds and chilies for a few seconds. Cool all the ingredients and grind into a fine powder.

Preparing Gojju:
  • Take a kadai or a pan. Heat the oil in it and the chanadal and mustard seeds. When the dal start to turn reddish, add the asafoetida  powder and the red chili. Then add the pineapple cubes and a little water. Cook till pineapples are done or the pineapple cubes can be cooked in advance in a microwave with a little water.
  • Then add the gojju powder, turmeric powder, tamarind, jaggery, salt and water (I added about 2.5 cups) as needed. Check the flavor and adjust the seasonings, if any needed.
  • Cook till the gojju thickens.
  • Serve with rotis / rice.
1. Gojju pudi can be prepared in large batches and can be stored in an air tight container and used whenever needed.
2. Curry leaves are optional in this gojju recipe as there are too many flavors present in the dish.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Kitchen Gallery - Byadagi Chilies

The Byadagi chilies from Karnataka are prized for their color than spiciness. They are used in most of the dishes especially the spice powders, from that state because of the orange - red hue they impart to them. When paired with the Guntur variety Chilies, from the neighboring state Andhra, one would end up with a dish appealing to both the eyes and palate. :)

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pantry Essentials - Charu Podi / Rasam Powder & An Award

I always get good compliments from family / friends for my charu / rasam recipe. Some of those who have tasted it have become loyal fans and even shifted to this charu / rasam powder recipe. :)  Though I feel greatly appreciated for the response I get, I know whom I should be thankful for.
A good charu needs a good charu podi and that's the secret behind my successful charu. And the credit for this charu podi goes to my mother maternal grand mother. Today I thought of sharing this decades old recipe of hers, here. This was supposed to be my first post when I started blogging but some how it got erased. Better late than never and so here it is after three years. 

Ingredients to prepare 1 cup of charupodi:
Toor dal - 1/4 cup
Coriander seeds - 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds - 1/4 cup
Peppercorns - 3/4 th of 1/4 cup
Red chilies - 6 (I used byadagi)

Dry roast the toordal in a sauté pan on medium flame till it turns reddish. Then toast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds separately till they turn a few shades darker. Then toast the peppercorns and red chilies. Except the toordal, the remaining ingredients take about a few seconds each to toast. Take care not to burn them. Cool them.
Alternatively, you can place the ingredients in the sun for a day or two if you have a good sunshine (like in India or 80 - 90 deg F).
Grind the ingredients together to a fine powder in a mixer/spice grinder. Store it in an airtight container and use it when making charu.

This is going to Cooking with seeds - Coriander Seeds, guest hosted by Radhika and the event creator is Priya.

Fellow blogger pals Kiran, Priya Mitharwal, Rupali, Priya Srinivasan  have shared 'The Sunshine award' with me. Thank you gals and I greatly appreciate it.

It is mentioned that these Award Winners have to do the following:

1) Use the logo within your post.
2) Pass on to at least 12 other bloggers.
3) Add a link to the nominees in your post.
4) Let the nominees know of their award.
5) Share the love and link to the friend, who has passed this award to you.

I did 1 & 5. Choosing only 12 among the wonderful bloggers seems hard. I am so going to share it with everyone who generously share their recipes. :))

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tomatillo - Tomato Pappu

Being a South Indian and a person who loves simple cooking, I tend to lean towards basic dals. I welcome simple yet fulfilling dals with oodles of enthusiasm. Today's recipe is one such dal prepared with tomatillos and tomatoes - the green, tart and red, savory balls respectively.
Tomatillos are an unknown entity in an Indian kitchen since they are mostly cultivated in the Western hemisphere. However it is not hard to adapt tomatillos in Indian cuisine. They come with a paper thin husk, which needs to be removed before cooking. They are not to be confused with the unripe, green tomatoes available in India.  Today's recipe is based on my MIL's green tomato pappu.

For 2 Servings, the following ingredients are required:
1/2 cup toordal
4 tomatillos 
1 big sized tomato - chopped into cubes
2 green chilies - chopped fine (I used Serrano peppers. Adjust the chilies quantity if using other varieties.)
1 & 1/2 tsp salt or as needed
A pinch of turmeric powder
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 8 - 10 curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida powder

Making Dal:

  • Remove the husks, wash and then chop the tomatillos.
  • Wash the toordal and throw away the cloudy water. Then add about a cup of water and turmeric powder to the toordal. Cook the toordal in a pressure cooker till it turns soft. Alternatively, you can cook on stovetop in a pan and adjust the water quantity accordingly.
  • In a sauté pan or kadai, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Next add the green chilies and saute for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped vegetables. Sauté them till they turn mushy.
  • Remove the dal from the cooker and mash it with the back of a ladle. Add this mashed dal and salt to the tomatillo mixture and mix well.
  • Let it simmer for a couple of minutes more and then turn off the stove.
  • Serve it with steamed rice / rotis. Ours was served with kohlrabi parathas.

1. The tart tomatillos acts as the souring agent in this dal recipe. If you find your tomatillos not that sour, then tamarind can be added.
2. You can add the chopped vegetables and chilies directly to the toordal while cooking it.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eggless, Whole Wheat Pancakes - Sweet & Savory Versions

After wintry weekend, it looks like spring is almost here. We had a snowfall this weekend and now we are in 50's. It feels good to see some sunshine and no snow. (Not exactly, I still see some in my yard.) 
Kids are now home enjoying their weeklong spring break. Though they bring their lunch and snack boxes unfinished during school days, they seem to be always hungry when at home. There are going to be multiple snack times, I guess. :) Yesterday, I offered to make pancakes during their snack time. I was thinking about the apple based ones and still asked for their inputs. Shravs wanted her favorite chocolate chips in them while Shreyas recommended cinnamon and so here we are with chocolate chip pancakes. I consider them a hit since they asked for some more today after enjoying them yesterday.

Eggless, Whole Wheat, Chocolate Chip Pancakes:

Ingredients to make around 8 pancakes:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup milk (milk at room temperature / luke warm. I used milk since I was serving kids.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar (optional) 
Cinnamon powder for flavor
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Oil / ghee / melted butter to drizzle

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon powder. Gradually add the milk and whisk so that you end up with a lump free batter. Then gently combine the chocolate chips.
Heat a griddle or a shallow pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter and spread gently into a 4 - 5 inches circle. Drizzle a few drops of oil around the edges. Let it cook for about a minute. When it appears cooked, (In the pic,notice the edges are done while the center portion appears uncooked.) flip the pancake and cook for about 30 seconds or a little more when the other side too browns a little bit.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.

Eggless, Whole Wheat, Savory Veggie Pancakes:
While the above version of pancakes look like kids' favorite, here is a version for the grown ups, particularly Indians who favor savory ones over sweeter ones.

Ingredients for 8 pancakes:
1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1 cup milk (at room temperature / luke warm) or water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped spinach
A handful of frozen green peas
1 green chilie, finely chopped
Oil / ghee / melted butter to drizzle

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually add the milk and whisk so that you end up with a lump free batter. Then add the veggies & chili and mix well.
Make pancakes as above.

They are going to be a part of Priya's Pancakes event.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Sprouted Ragi Idly

I gladly admit that an error led to this enjoyable experience and I am more than ready to repeat such mistakes in the future.

Following a recipe of M's SIL, I had sprouted some ragi. I sprouted ragi longer than intended and could not use it in her recipe and also was not in a mood to use it in a salad because of the size of the sprouts.
Trashing them seemed like a sin since I carried ragi all the way from India during my previous visit. Again a talk with her led to the idea of using them in dosa/idly batter and here I am with sprouted ragi idlies.
They were no different from the regular idlies and were very soft, fluffy and yummy. Drown them in a bowl of sambhar or chutney, you have melt in your mouth beauties.

Ingredients needed to make around 25 - 28 idlies:
1 cup uraddal
1 cup ragi sprouts
1 cup idly rava
1 Tbsp salt

Preparing Batter:

  • Wash separately uraddal and idly rava with two exchanges of water. Then soak them separately, for a minimum of 3 - 4 hours.
  • Grind uraddal and ragi sprouts individually into smooth batters using a grinder/mixer/blender. Use only as much water as needed. Do not add more water and make the batter runny. Runny batters ruin idly preparation. It is important not to mix the uraddal and ragi while grinding since ragi does not grind properly with uraddal.
  • Drain the water from the idly rava completely. Using your hand, squeeze out any water left in the rava. There is no need to grind the rava.
  • Then combine the ground batters of uraddal & ragi sprouts and rava. Add salt and mix well.
  • Place the batter container in a warm place, overnight to ferment.
Making Idlies:
  • Next morning, pour the fermented batter into greased idly mounds. Place the idly stand and steam in an idly cooker or a pressure cooker with out the whistle / weight on. (I know some novice cooks doing this. :)). Cook for five minutes on high and when the steam begins to escape, lower the heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Drizzle a tsp of ghee over the idlies and serve with chutney / sambhar.

                Ragi idlies served with sambhar and chutney.

Tips from my kitchen:
  • Ragi can be substituted for ragi sprouts. If using ragi, wash and soak it in water and grind separately.
  •  Idly rice can be substituted for idly rava. Idly rice also needs to be soaked separately. It can be ground into a smooth batter  together with uraddal.
  • For batters to ferment well, put the batter in the oven, with the light on. If that doesn't work, preheat the conventional oven and turn it off. Then place the batter container, with the light on. I always had well fermented batters even during Chicago winters.
  • Here is a way to check whether the idlies are done. Carefully remove the lid. Wet your fingertips and touch the idlis. If they don't stick, the idlies are done. Do this with out getting into the way of the hot steam. :)
  • Use a container with enough room for the batter to rise. Put a large plate or aluminium foil sheet under the container to catch any drips after the fermentation. Yeah, it happens sometimes. The batter rises more than you expected and you may end up with a messy oven.
  • Idlies can be refrigerated or frozen. If frozen, you may need to thaw them. If you refrigerate them, you can put the idlies in a container and place it in a pressure cooker with out the weight on and steam for 5-10 minutes. They will be piping hot as the freshly made ones. Or sprinkle a few drops of water and place it in a microwave safe bowl covered, for 1 - 2 minutes depending upon the quantity.
This goes exclusively to my Jihva - Breakfasts,  Indira being the creator of the event.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Almond Flavored Dates - Banana Milkshake

Milk shakes are a smart way to incorporate the fruits and milk in our diet and also to finish off those leftover fruits begging for our mercy. :) This rich, flavorful milkshake serves good as part of a breakfast on a hot summer day or as a nutritious, afterschool snack for the kids. I prepared this yummy drink to get rid off those last two bananas I had sitting on the hanger adorning my kitchen table for several days. The following recipe can be altered adding any extra fruits / nuts / dry fruits.

  • Blend together 1 medium - large sized banana +10 pitted dates + 1 cup milk + 1 - 2 Tbsp badam mix, until the dates are almost pureed.
  • You will end up with two servings of a creamy, delicious almond flavored milkshake.
1. We like thicker milkershakes but the milk quantity can be increased by 1/2 cup in the above recipe.
2. Use the almond / badam mix powders (used to prepare badam milk) sold by Indian grocers. I use MTR brand almond mix powder.
3. No extra sweetener is needed. Sweetness from the dates & almond mix powder is sufficient.

This goes to 
1. Jihva - Breakfast guest hosted by me & Indira being behind Jihva.
2. Divya's Sunday Snacks - Healthy Snacks
3. Madhuri's 'Serve me some - Juices, Shakes, Smoothies'.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Creamy ~ Dreamy Subzis - Methi Matar Malai

In a nutshell, Methi matar malai is a delectable indulgence that needs basic cooking skills. This delightful subzi from the Northern region of India has a flavorful combination of aromatic methi leaves, sweet peas, rich cream and spices.
This is a quick and simple subzi to prepare. However, the rich, creamy dish gives the impression that you have slaved longer in the kitchen. Plan therefore to cook this when you have invited guests or need to pass on the chore of doing dishes to the other adult at home. :)

Ingredients required for 3 servings:
Methi leaves / Fenugreek greens - 2 cups, firmly packed
Matar / Green peas, boiled - 3/4 cup (substitute - frozen peas)
Malai / Cream - 1/2 cup
1 Tbsp oil / butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
For paste:  Grind the following ingredients into a paste adding a little water if needed.
2 (small sized) onions + 1 inch ginger piece + 2 green chilies (I used Serrano peppers and if using other variety, adjust the quantity)
For powder: Powder the following ingredients in a spice grinder.
6 cashews + cardamom seeds from a pod + 2 cloves + 1 inch piece cinnamon + 6 pepper corns

(You can grind the paste + powder ingredients together. I avoid it since spices don't grind well with the wet ingredients.)

Cooking method:
Heat oil and add cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle and turn a shade darker, add the onion paste and fry on low flame till the raw smell of the paste disappears. It would take around 6 - 8 minutes.
Then add the methi, turmeric powder & also 1/4 cup water to the cooked paste. Continue to cook on low flame for about 5 minutes and then add the peas, powdered ingredients, sugar, salt and coriander powder. Mix well and cook till methi leaves are done. Add a tablespoon of water (or more) if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the cream at the end and simmer for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove.
Serve hot with rotis.

Recipe Source: Box of matar methi malai sold commercially. Though I refuse, my husband keeps stuffing our pantry with those commercially sold, popular brand, boxed subzis in the name of convenience. I have prepared this subzi earlier going on by my instincts. This time, I went basically with the ingredients mentioned behind the box, substituting for some of the ingredients to suit me. For example, I went with cashews instead of wheat flour.

This goes to EFM - Parathas and Gravies / Curries Series hosted by Srilekha.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knolkhol / Kohlrabi Parathas

                   Kohlrabi Parathas served with Tomatillo Dal

After preparing sambhar and subzi with kohlrabi last week, I had to use the remaining kohlrabi lying in my refrigerator. I was in no mood to prepare the same things again and so thought of preparing these parathas. As you might have guessed, mooli parathas are the inspiration behind this.
The parathas are yummier (for kohlrabi lovers like me) and do remain soft due to the kohlrabi addition and so are a perfect lunch box candidates.

Ingredients to make around 12 parathas:
3 cups atta (whole wheat flour)
1 cup grated kohlrabi
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil (optional)
Green chili, finely chopped / 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional and skip if serving kids)
1 Tbsp finely minced cilantro
1 & 1/4 cups water (Approximate quantity given and adjust accordingly. Same cup was used to measure the atta.)
Oil to make parathas

Preparing the dough:
Mix the flour, kohlrabi, salt, oil, chili and cilantro together in a bowl. Gradually add water to the flour mixture and prepare the dough. The quantity of the water can be increased or decreased depending upon the softness of the dough preferred (while rolling out parathas). If the dough becomes too soft, more flour can be added. In the same way, if the dough becomes too stiff, add a little bit of water. Also note that after resting, the dough becomes a little softer due to the addition of the kohlrabi.
Cover and allow it to rest for at least an hour.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into balls. Take a ball, flatten it and dust with flour. Roll it into a thin circle of about 5 to 6 inches diameter. You can stop rolling here and can fry it or roll it into a triangular shaped paratha as follows. Smear the rolled circle with oil / ghee and fold into half and again fold it to form a triangle. If needed, dust it again and roll it into a thin triangle. Repeat the rolling with the remaining dough. If you are comfortable, you can do the rolling and frying stuff simultaneously. Or roll some parathas, do the frying and come back again to roll.

Heat a skillet / tava over medium heat. Place a paratha on the skillet and toast it about for a minute and flip it. Add 1/2 tsp oil each around the edges and on the surface of the paratha. Toast the other side too. Flip one more time if required. The parathas need to be toasted uniformly.
You can fry with out the oil too. I usually smear a greased spoon over the rotis.
For a detailed and pictorial description of how to make parathas, look here.
Serve warm with any subzi / dal.

This goes to
1. Jihva - Breakfast guest hosted by me, Indira being the creator of the event.
2. EFM - Parathas and Gravies / Curries Series hosted by Srilekha.
3. Kid's Delight - Snacks hosted by Srivalli.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Ugadi & Microwave Beetroot - Dates Halwa

Before proceeding to recipe, I would like to wish my friends & readers a happy Ugadi.

ఉగాది శుభాకాంక్షలు.

ಯುಗಾದಿ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು.

I go on stuffing my favorites folder with recipes I find online or keep jotting down in my journal whenever something catches my attention. There are only a few occasions when I again look back  and really use those recipes.

Last week there was such an occasion. I saw Mahima's sugarless beetroot halwa and wanted to give it a try immediately. I didn't have to note down the recipe this time since it appeared familiar. However, it was a sugarless version and natural sweetener, dates played the sweetener part.
I did try and fell in love with it. I prefer microwave to prepare halwas thses days since it can be done in a jiffy, there is less stirring and after clean up is simple as nothing sticks to the cooking bowl.
It was a simple, yummy dessert, which could be prepared under 20 minutes in a MW.

To make about 2 cups halwa, you need:
2 cups - peeled and grated beetroot
1 cup - chopped seedless dates (This quantity gives moderate sweetness which I prefer. If a sweeter version is preferred, use 1/2 cup more.)
1 cup milk (I used whole milk. Half & half, cream, evaporated milk or less fat milk can be substituted)
1/8 tsp cardamom powder
2 Tbsp melted ghee
2 Tbsp cashews (optional)

Add the ghee and cashews to a microwave safe bowl and put it in the microwave. Toast the cashews till they turn golden brown. Remove the cashews with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
Then fry the beet and dates in the same ghee for about three minutes stirring once in between.
Remove the bowl from MW, add milk and mix well. Again put back the bowl in MW and cook till done. Remember to stir 2 or 3 times in between to avoid burning. At the final stages add cardamom powder and mix well. Add toasted cashews after the cooking part is done.
Serve warm or cold. Leftovers ( :) if any) can be refrigerated.

It took about 10 minutes in my MW to cook the beets after adding milk. I would like to mention to novice cooks that the cooking time might vary depending upon the strength of your MW and keep an eye while using the MW.

This healthy dessert is going to be a part of
1. Kid's Delight - Snacks hosted by Srivalli.
2. MEC - Celebrating bloggers guest hosted by Jayashree and the event creator being Srivalli.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spinach - Carrot Dosas

To my family, skipping breakfast seems like an eternal starvation. All of us like home cooked breakfast (who wouldn't?) and some don't appreciate toast / cereal and so I end up making breakfast every day. After cooking all week long, however I tend to choose simple and substantial ones for weekends. Today we went with spinach carrot dosas for the brunch. The inspiration to this dosa came from a TV cook show and I have changed the recipe considerably to suit our needs.

                  Spinach - Carrot Dosas served with Carrot Chutney

Ingredients to make a dozen dosas:
1 cup toordal
1 cup rice (long grain will do)
2 cups firmly packed, spinach leaves
1 cup grated carrot
1 or 2 onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup shredded fresh coconut (entirely optional)
Red, dried chilies - 12 (I used byadagi variety, which are less spicy. If using hot variety reduce the quantity according to taste.)
Salt to taste (I used a little over 1&1/2 tsp)
Asafoetida (about a pinch and optional)
Oil to make dosas

Preparation of the batter:
Soak rice and toordal in water overnight or for at least 3 hours. Throw away the water used to soak and wash the rice and dal once again. Grind rice and dal along with washed spinach leaves, salt, red chilies, asafoetida and coconut into a coarse batter adding water as needed. The batter should be thicker than regular dosa batter and should not be runny. Add carrot and onion to the ground batter and mix well.

Making dosas:
Heat a dosa pan and pour a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of batter onto it. Spread into a thin circle with the back of the ladle and pour 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa. Let it cook on low - medium flame. When the bottom side is cooked and turns golden brown, flip the dosa with a spatula, spread again 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa and let it cook for a few seconds. Remove the dosa when done.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

This goes to
1. Jihva - Breakfast guest hosted by me, Indira being the creator of Jihva.
2. Healing Foods - Spinach hosted by Divya and Siri being the creator of the event.
3. Kid's Delight - Snacks hosted by Srivalli.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Vankaya - Tomato Pappu / Eggplant - Tomato Dal

With basic things and an earthen stove in her village kitchen, my paternal grand mother would create magic. I must admit that  some of the best home made food I had was in her dining room. Yep, they had a room exclusively to eat in that village setting too. Even the mundane stuff like pappu (dal), pachadi (chutney) prepared by her had an enigmatic flavor. It still has that power to tickle my taste buds now and still lingers in my mouth when I think about it two decades later after her demise.
I hope apart from her good looks, she also passed on some cooking skills to me. ( :))) if she had been alive and young, we would pass as identical twins.)
She always prepared pappu* for lunches. No sambhars / pulusus were prized in her kitchen and I guess that's why I prefer pappus as well. :) Her mamidikaya pappu, gongura pappu, dosakaya pappu were some of my favorites. She used to prepare rock hard pappus and that means more toordal if you have a crowd to feed.
The following pappu has no similarity in looks or taste compared to hers. :)) However I assure you that I make a good pappu and in today's recipe vankaya - tomato pappu, the eggplants/brinjals and tomatoes are the star ingredients.

Ingredients to serve with rice / rotis for 4:
½ cup toordal
2 eggplants – (I have used purple, round eggplants)
2 tomatoes
2 green chilies – finely chopped (used Serrano peppers)
Salt – 1 & ¾ tsp
Tamarind juice – 6 Tbsp (Soak a lemon sized tamarind ball in water for an hour or place in a microwave with a little water for about 3 minutes. Then squeeze the juice adding a little if needed.)
For tadka - 3 tsp oil, 1 tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
Finely minced cilantro for garnish (optional)

Making pappu:
Wash the toordal with two exchanges of water. Then add about a cup of water to the toordal and add turmeric powder to it. Cook it in a pressure cooker till the dal turns soft.
Alternatively, cook dal on a stovetop till done, adding water as needed. The final dal should be mushy with little water. It should not be runny.
Chop tomatoes into cubes. Cut the stalks of eggplants and slice them thin.
Heat oil in a kadai / pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter add curry leaves and chilies.
Sauté them for about 30 seconds and add eggplant slices. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add tomatoes as well. Mix them well and continue to cook till the eggplants soften. Stir in between to avoid the vegetables getting burnt.
Mash the cooked dal with the back of a ladle and add it to the vegetables along with salt, tamarind and asafoetida. Cilantro can be added at this stage. Mix well and allow the dal to simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the stove.

Kitchen tips:
1. Eggplants, tomatoes and chilies can be directly added to toordal while cooking in a pressure cooker. I avoid it because my dal takes longer to cook and by the time the eggplants would have turned mushy. Sometimes the sourness of the tomatoes further toughens the dal cooking process.
2. Salt and tamarind quantities above can be altered according to taste preference.

* Pappu - The thick dal from Andhra

This goes to
1. Susan's MLLA, 21st edition being guest hosted by MirchMasala.
2. Vegetable Marathon - Beans hosted by Silpa.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kandi Podi

Flavorful, protein rich, legume powders are a common occurance in South Indian kitchens. Some are used to spice up the dishes and some gel well with some steamed, hot rice and a spoonful of ghee. Today's recipe 'kandi podi' which literally means 'toordal powder' from Andhra belongs to the latter kind. Cumin and asafoetida add the aroma and flavor to this delicious podi.
I prepare this in two different ways and am posting both the versions.

Ingredients needed:
Toordal - 1/2 cup
Chanadal - 1/4 cup
Red chilies - 10 (Increase or decrease the quantity depending upon the spiciness you prefer. I used 5 byadagi chilies for color and 5 hot variety chilies. If using only hot variety, about 7-8 chilies will suffice.)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - about 12
Salt - 1 tsp
2 tsp oil
A little asafoetida

Making kandi podi:
Heat oil in a small saute pan and add asafoetida. Turn off the stove after about 20 seconds and leave it aside.
On medium flame, dry roast the dals in a saute pan till they turn red. Take care not to burn them. During the final stage of frying dals, add the chilies and curry leaves as well to toast.
Remove the dal mixture and add cumin seeds to the same pan. Toast the cumin seeds on low flame till they slightly brown.
Allow the mixture to cool. Then grind it along with the asafoetida into a coarse powder adding salt.
Or you can skip adding asafoetida while grinding and add it to the powder at the end and mix well.

This is another variation I got from M's aunt. It is almost like toordal chutney in the powdery form.

Ingredients needed:
Toordal 1/2 cup
Red chilies - 8 (used 4 byadagi chilies for color and 4 hot variety chilies )
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Salt as needed
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Making podi:
On  medium flame, roast the toor dal till it turns red, taking care not to burn it. At the final stage, add red chillies as well and toast them. 
Toast the cumin seeds on low flame till they slightly brown.
After the mixture cools, grind it into a coarser powder adding salt
Heat oil in a saute pan and add mustard seeds. Turn off the stove when they start to splutter. Let it cool.
Add the mustard seeds to the ground powder and mix well.

This goes to
1. Susan's MLLA, 21st edition being guest hosted by MirchMasala.
2. Vegetable Marathon - Beans hosted by Silpa.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quick Subzis ~ Knolkhol Koora / Kohlrabi Subzi

This delicious subzi falls in the category of 'simple and under 15 minutes' dishes. If you haven't ventured into the kohlrabi world yet because of its smell, then this one is for you. This subzi is the right way to start the relationship with this root vegetable.
Surprisingly, the pronounced smell of kohlrabi mellows down after cooking and it attains a pleasant flavor (almost like cabbage.)

What you need for 2 servings:
1 cup grated kohlrabi (1 small kohlrabi peeled and grated)
Salt - 1/2 tsp
For tadka: 2 tsp oil, 5-6 curry leaves, 3-4 red chilies broken into bits, 1 tsp each of chanadal, uraddal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds

Heat oil in a small pan or a kadai. Add the chanadal, mustard seeds, urad dal and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter and the dals turn reddish, add the curry leaves and red chilies. Sauté for a few seconds and add the grated kohlrabi and salt. Mix well, turn down the flame to low and cover the lid. Continue to cook till the kohlrabi turns softer.
Serve with rice / rotis.

  Served on the plate - Rice, knolkhol koora, mango ginger pickle

Add 2 Tbsp shredded fresh/dry coconut at the end and cook for a couple of minutes more.

I am sending this over to Cooking Basics event.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Menthya/Menthe Dose

I have a special bonding with the state Karnataka, the sandalwood land where I grew up and spent most part of my life. I am partial towards its cuisine. My all time favorite dishes happen to be from that state and my closest friends happen to be Kannadigas. Though not pre planned, I strongly feel the urge to showcase this week, Karnataka breakfast dishes for the Jihva - Breakfast event. 
And therefore after cabbage dose, here are menthya doses. (I promise the next dishes will not be doses.) As the name suggests the dose batter contains menthye / fenugreek seeds in a little over dose than a regular dose batter and that difference counts. It makes these dosas taste fabulous with that fenugreeky aroma. Serve hot with chutney / palya /sambhar and your guests would be salivating for more.

Served on the plate - Menthya dose with peanut chutney

Ingredients to make dosas:
2 cups rice (long grain will do)
1/2 cup uraddal
4 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
1 Tbsp poha
2 tsp salt

Making Batter:
Take all the ingredients except salt in a container and wash them twice. Then soak them in water for a minimum of 3 - 4 hours. (The ingredients should be immersed in water through out the soaking period and so add more water while soaking.)
Throw away the water used to soak and grind the soaked rice - dal to a smooth batter adding as little water as needed. When you feel the ground batter between your fingers, it should be smooth and not coarse. Then add the salt to the batter and mix well. Allow it to ferment overnight.

Making dosas:
Heat a dosa pan and pour a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of batter onto it. Spread into a thin circle with the back of the ladle and pour 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa. Let it cook on low - medium flame. When the bottom side is cooked and turns golden brown, flip the dosa with a spatula, spread again 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa and let it cook for a few seconds. Remove the dosa when done.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Tip: If dosa and idli batters wont ferment/raise during cold weather, leave the batter container covered, in an oven with the light on. And if the problem still persists, try this. Preheat the oven & turn it off, leave the light on and put the batter container. Also try to ferment for a little more time than you usually do. For example, if you grind usually during 6 pm try doing it by 1 pm.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Cabbage Dosa

These utterly delicious, healthy and filling dosas from Mangalore are perfect as breakfast, snack or as part of a lazy weekend brunch. The batter of this dosa needs no fermentation and can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.

Ingredients to make around 12 dosas:
Rice - 1 cup (long grain)
Finely shredded / grated cabbage - 1 cup
Shredded fresh coconut - 1 cup (If using frozen coconut, thaw it.)
Red chilies - 7 (I used byadagi variety which gives color and is less spicier)
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - 1.5 tsp
2 onions, finely chopped
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Minced cilantro - 2 Tbsp

Preparing batter:
Soak the rice in water for a couple of hours.
Grind together the rice, coconut, red chilies, asafoetida and salt adding yogurt and water as needed. Grind into a coarse and slightly thicker batter than regular dosa batter.
Add the shredded cabbage, chopped onion, cilantro to the batter and mix well.

Making dosas:
Heat a dosa pan and pour a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of batter onto it. Spread lightly into a circle with the back of the ladle and pour 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa. Let it cook on low - medium flame, covered. When it cooks on the bottom side, flip the dosa with a spatula, spread again 1/4 tsp of oil around the dosa and let it cook for a minute. Remove the dosa when done.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

This goes to JFI - Breakfast hosted by me and Indira is the creator of this event.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vermicelli Upma / Semiya Upma / Shavige Uppittu

Ever tried getting a recipe from an elderly Indian woman like a grandma, aunt or even your own mama? You are in luck if you do get and understand the right measurements of a recipe. Most of them go with either a pinch / a dash / a handful or with a measure that you might have never heard in your life. You cannot blame them because that's how on a daily basis, an average Indian woman cooks with no need of any measuring tools. In case, if they need a measuring cup, they would grab any one lying nearby. Seriously. :)
When I was about to move here and sat with my mom for a sort of '2 day cooking course for dummies', I had a first hand experience of this. She would tell me the ingredients that went into a recipe but wouldn't tell exactly how much. She was having a hard time explaining me the measurements as she pretty much eyeballed everything while cooking.
I have learnt that experience teaches everything. Now my husband would be watching in horror as I go adding salt directly from a saltbox's spout while cooking. That's how I know how much to add and not with a spoon or by pouring salt in my hand. :)
A kitchen can be an overwhelming place for a novice cook. Keeping that in mind, I have tried to explain today's recipe in an easy manner. I hope that even those who are stepping into the kitchen for the first time have no problems following this.
I have chosen one of the simplest breakfast items from South India, the vermicelli upma. Eat it for breakfast or as a mini meal, your taste buds and tummy are going to thank you.

List of ingredients for 2 servings:
1 cup* vermicelli
1 big sized or 2 small onions
1 tomato (optional)
1 big sized, medium hot green chili (more or less depending upon the heat preferred. I have used Serrano.)
1.5 tsp salt
4 tsp oil
1 tsp each - chanadal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds
Few curry leaves (like 10)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
Water - 1 & 1/2 cups (same cup used to measure the vermicelli, about 350 ml)

Preparation & cooking time - Less than 30 minutes

Fry the vermicelli in a sauté pan on medium flame. Keep stirring the vermicelli with a big flat spoon / spatula till it turns golden brown through out. It would take around 3 minutes. A tsp of oil or ghee may be added while frying though it is entirely optional and can be skipped. Also don't bother about this step if you are using pre-roasted vermicelli.
Chop the ends of the onion. Cut into halves, remove the outer skins and then chop them. Also wash & chop the tomato.
Wash the green chili. Remove the stalk and slit lengthwise twice so that you have 4 pieces. Holding them together, chop them fine. Don't discard the seeds and remember not to touch your eyes or face after cutting the chilies.

Cooking part:
Heat oil in a kadai or deep-based pan for about 30 seconds or a little longer and then add chana dal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When chanadal starts to turn reddish and mustard seeds start to sizzle, add the chili, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Sauté them for about 15 seconds and then add the chopped onion. Mix everything with the spatula once and on low flame, cook the onions till they turn soft. It would take about 2 - 3 minutes. Then add the tomato to the cooked onions and keep stirring for about 3 minutes. After that add the water to the onion - tomato mixture and let it come to a rolling boil.  Increase the flame to high to quicken the boiling process.
When water comes to a rolling boil, add salt and the vermicelli and stir well once. Again turn down the flame, cover the lid and let the vermicelli cook till done.

1. Add finely chopped vegetables like potato, carrot, green beans and peas along with onions. Serve with some yogurt for a full meal.
2. 1/2 tsp of shredded ginger can be added along with onion.
3. Finely minced cilantro (fresh coriander leaves) can be added as a garnish.
4. Ghee can be substituted for oil.
5. Peanuts or cashews can be added in tadka.
6. Squeeze some lemon/lime juice while serving.

* American measure

This is going to Cooking Basics event.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Announcing Jihva - Breakfast, March 2010

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper ~ Adelle Davis

If we look back into our childhoods, probably we would find rare occasions when our busy mothers (or grandmothers) have left us starving in the morning. Never complaining women like my grandmother / mother in law with big families, had fed their kids at least leftovers if they could not prepare tiffin (desi term for breakfast.) They were wise enough to feed their kids in the mornings instead of telling them to wait for lunch.

Unfortunately, now we are in such a fast paced, time constrained and calorie conscious world that some of us choose to skip breakfast - the important meal of the day.
When we wake up in the morning, our body would be on starvation mode after an overnight fasting. Skipping breakfast would therefore be further starving and depriving our body the essential fuel.  Especially growing kids missing breakfasts regularly means jeopardizing health and less concentration and less learning at school.
Studies show that people who eat more calories in the morning tend to eat fewer during the day. Eating a well-balanced breakfast will help us feel more energetic all day. It kick-starts our metabolism, meaning we burn more calories more efficiently.
A cup of low fat milk / yogurt / milkshake / a fruit / PBJ sandwich / cereal bars / cereal / bagel with cheese are some of the simple, no cook choices to suffice the hunger of a kid or even an adult.

A breakfast with a balance of carbohydrates for energy, protein and fiber to help keep us full longer is good for our body and brains. 

Thanks to Indira, I am hosting Jihva here during March 2010 and I have chosen the theme as 'Breakfasts'.
Breakfast can be anything - Simple ones or elaborate ones, traditional ones or inspired ones, Eastern or Western, cooked or assembled or the ones concocted from your imagination and creativity.
Send me over anything you prepare, enjoy and would like to share.
Here are the guidelines for participation in JIHVA - Breakfast

1. Prepare any vegetarian / vegan breakfast and publish the recipe on your blog in the month of March 2010.  No eggs please.
2. Please link to this event announcement and Indira's main announcement page in your post.
3. Please send me an email notifying about your entry at toveggieplatter@hotmail.com with the subject JIHVA and the following details - Name, Recipe name, Recipe URL and a picture of the dish.
4. Non-bloggers can email me the recipe and a picture, if they have one.  
5. The deadline for this event is March 31st, 2010 midnight.
6. Multiple entries are welcome. Recipes submitted to other events are welcome.
7. Recipes from archives can also be sent only if they are reposted with a link to this announcement page and Indira's announcement page.

Looking forward to your participation in this event.

And check out Siri's Jihva - Fennel round up, here.

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