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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Peanut Sambhar

This recipe had been on my to do list since I noticed it at Pavani's space and am glad that I decided to try it. It was so good that even my coconut hating husband loved it and my mother who watched it over our video chaat found it very appetizing just by the looks of it.

It is not the kind of sambhar where a handful of peanuts are thrown in but is an interesting variation with a peanut base. This delicious sambhar doesn't use any lentils or any kind of beans and makes a flavorful and spicy side dish. The original recipe had sauteed onion, tomato and garlic which I omitted and added some vegetables. One can choose to go either way or one can add vegetables on hand. I also reduced the cumin seeds' quantity and added a little sweetener. 


For the paste:
1/4 cup peanuts
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. fenugreek seeds
3 dried red chillies
1/4 cup dry coconut, grated
For tempering:
1 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
A sprig of curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida powder
For sambhar:
1 cup chopped, mixed vegetables *
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. thick tamarind puree or to taste
1/4 tsp. jaggery / sugar (optional)
* I used peeled and diced carrots and chopped beans. The original recipe had sauteed onion and tomato instead.

* Cook the vegetables adding enough water in a microwave, pressure cooker or in a pan on stove top. Keep them aside.
* Dry roast peanuts on low flame, continuously stirring for 3 - 4 minutes. Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chillies next and toast until fragrant and the seeds start to change a shade darker. Add coconut and stir once. Turn off the stove and let the ingredients cool. Grind the ingredients to a smooth paste adding enough water.

* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves, turmeric, asafoetida and stir. Immediately add the cooked vegetables along with water used to cook them, the peanut paste, salt, tamarind and sweetener if using. Add water to reach the desired consistency like a sambhar / stew. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Simmer the sambhar for 7 to 8 minutes and serve hot with rice.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Beetroot & Beans Curry

When our state became the second one in US to issue a 'stay at home ' order, I thought now I am going to have plenty of time on my hands. I don't even know why the thought crossed my mind since as a stay at home mom, my life seems to be under a perpetual quarantine as half of our family are not home most of the time and I wasn't planning to make any drastic changes to my current life styleFast forward a month, I don't even know how the time has been running except that I get to sleep a tad more and I seem to spend more and more time in our kitchen. However the situation has presented an opportunity for the four of us to be under one roof after a long time, at a stretch. 

It turns out however that I was not able to cook anything new for the blog inspite of all the cooking I have been doing. My son hasn't spent this much of time at home in the past four years and my husband who is mostly away on weekdays has been enjoying his stay as well. All we are craving are simple home style Indian  meals with rice / roti, vegetables and lentil based dishes. This curry is a part of one such simple meal that is filling and nutritious. I have combined chopped beets and beans here. Feel free to substitute any other vegetables that you have on hand. You can omit one of these vegetables and replace it with carrots. Cabbage and green peas, potato with cauliflower or bell pepper or eggplant are some of the popular combos. Or can make a curry combining more vegetables like carrot, beans, chayote, potatoes and cabbage. It goes good with either plain rice and a dollop of ghee or rotis.
1 cup peeled and chopped beetroot cubes
1 cup stringed and finely chopped beans
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. split chickpeas / chana dal
1 tsp skinned black gram / urad dal
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 sprig of curry leaves
1/4 - 1/2 cup of shredded fresh / frozen coconut
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste

* Pressure cook the vegetables adding a little water, for 3 whistles.
* Heat oil in a pan and add split chick peas, black gram, mustard seeds and cumin seeds in that order. When the split chickpeas and black gram start to turn reddish, add turmeric and curry leaves. (If the vegetables are not pressure cooked, they can be added now along with the salt. Cover and cook on low flame, stirring in between until the vegetables are tender. A little water can be sprinkled in between if needed.)
* Saute once and add the cooked vegetables, coconut, salt and chili powder. (I add the water used to pressure cook the vegetables as well if it is little in quantity.)
* Mix the ingredients well once and taste to adjust any seasoning if needed. Cook on low flame for about 4 to 5 minutes or until all the water evaporates and turn off the stove.
* Serve it along with rice or rotis and any leftovers can be refrigerated.


Friday, April 24, 2020

Bengali Style Tomato Chutney

A traditional Bengali every day meal is a six course one, unlike the other regional cuisines of India. I am assuming the modern households don't have the time or energy needed to cook such elaborate meals but a typical lunch in a Bengali household of the olden times was by itself a mini thaali, dishes ranging from bitter to savory to sweet. A meal with a total blast of flavors in sharp contrasts.

The chutney or chaatni, as the locals call it is a part of the meal and  tomato chutney is one of the commonly prepared one locally. It is served at almost at the end and is not eaten as an accompaniment or side dish in the meal as they do in other regions. It is a sweet and spicy condiment, served typically after the savory dishes and before the dessert as a palate cleanser. The traditional tomato - date chutney typically contains tomatoes, dates, raisins, sweetener like jaggery / sugar and cooked in mustard oil. I did not have dates on hand but had dried mango slices and used them in the recipe as Sandeepa suggested. It is not the typical south Indian variety chutney which I am used to and was too sweet to my palate. It can be eaten as a condiment with starters or even some slathered on a toast.
1 tbsp. mustard oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 red chili broken into bits (I used 2.)
2 big sized tomatoes
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. dried mango pieces (optional)
1 tsp. ginger juice (I used grated ginger)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. tamarind chutney / tamarind extract to taste

Heat oil and add mustard seeds and red chili. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, add tomato pieces, turmeric and salt and continue to cook. 

When they are almost done, add the dry mango, ginger juice and water. Continue to cook until the tomatoes are cooked to a soft pulp. 

Add sugar and to make the chutney tangy, add a tsp. of tamarind chutney

* Continue to cook until it thickens and turn off the stove.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Kaddu ki Subzi / Pumpkin Curry

Recently I had tried a couple of versions of pumpkin curry, north Indian style. This is one of those and comes from the Benaras region. And of course this is not the only way a pumpkin aka kaddu ki subzi is prepared locally. All you need to make this quick, easy and delicious curry is pumpkin and spices from your pantry. The original recipe used not so ripe pumpkin as mine was and also included some potatoes that I have omitted. The orange hued pumpkin lends a sweetness to the curry here which can be of course balanced adjusting the quantities of chili powder and dry mango powder to the desired level. This is a great accompaniment to go along with Benarasi kachori and aloo. Trust me, this trio, a signature breakfast of the region makes a lip smacking meal anytime.  

Recipe source: Here
1 tsp. mustard oil / sarson ka tel
1 tsp. mustard seeds / rai
1 tsp. cumin seeds / jeera
A pinch of fenugreek seeds / methi ke daane
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds / saunf
1 tbsp. ginger / adrak paste
A pinch of asafoetida / hing
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder / haldi
2 cups pumpkin / kaddu cubes with the skin on (I peeled the skin.)
Salt / namak to taste 
Chili powder / mirchi to taste
1 cup water
2 tsp. dried mango powder / aamchoor or as needed
2 tbsp. cilantro / mint leaves (optional)

* Heat oil in a kadai / pan and add mustard, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add ginger, asafoetida and stir well. 
* Add turmeric and pumpkin cubes to the pan and stir for minute. Add salt, chili powder and water to the pan. Cover and cook until done on medium flame. If the curry is prepared without potatoes, the curry is done in no time. 
* Finally add dry mango powder and mash the curry a little, if needed. Add chopped mint or cilantro leaves, if desired to make it more flavorsome.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Spicy Sesame Tomato Chutney

I came across this chutney sometime ago when I was looking for something to pair up with the momos I had made. The original recipe had mentioned it to be an inspiration from a local Himalayan restaurant which made me to give it a try in the first place. It is a simple and easy to make kinda chutney, redolent with Asian flavors. All you do is toast the ingredients and blend. Onions and tomatoes lend a natural sweetness and tartness while sesame seeds add nuttiness to the chutney. One can easily adjust the spice levels by reducing / increasing the quantity of pepper flakes. Or even dried red chilies can be used instead as I had done.

Recipe Source: Here
1 tbsp. oil
4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 inch ginger piece, finely chopped
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes or to taste
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 cup chopped red onion
14.5 oz canned diced tomato (About 2 cups)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water

* Heat oil in a pan and add garlic and ginger. Saute on low flame, until fragrant, for about a minute or so. Next add the sesame seeds and red pepper flakes and toast for a minute.
* Add onion next and fry until they soften. Add tomatoes and cook until soft and juicy, about 5 minutes.
* Add the above toasted ingredients, soy sauce, lemon juice and water to a blender and grind to a smooth paste. Taste and add salt if needed. Use immediately or keep refrigerated.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Horse Gram Dosas / Ulava Dosalu

South Indian breakfast dishes are preferred over bread / cereal any given day in our home and I therefore keep rotating them. However idlis and dosas, which everyone seem to like mostly contain rice and I am trying to make them a tad healthier. Over the recent years, I have started to substitute a healthy ingredient for a portion of the rice in those recipes. Today's recipe is such one though a traditional one to make idlis and I make dosas with it as well. 

Horse gram, though chiefly is horse fodder as the name suggests is beneficial to humans as well as it is rich in iron. It is being used in Indian cuisine from a long time though not used as extensively as the other beans. Here is one way to include these in the diet if interested. One cannot miss the distinct flavor of horse gram, when tasting the dishes made with this bean. If one is bothered about it, serve these dosas with a coconut chutney / sambhar instead of dry spice powders which masks the flavor.

1/2 cup horse gram / kulthi
1/2 cup skinned black gram / urad dal
1/2 cup idli rava
Salt to taste 
Any neutral flavored oil to make dosas 

* Rinse horse gram and black gram with water thoroughly and drain. Soak them together in water for at least 3 hours, such that water level is at least two or three inches higher than the ingredients during the soaking period. 
* Similarly rinse idli rava and soak separately, covered in enough water.
* After the soaking period, drain the water completely from beans and rava containers. Add all the soaked and drained ingredients to a blender and grind into a thick, smooth batter adding salt and enough water. The batter should not be too runny. 
* Pour the batter into a container, with some extra space to allow the fermented batter to rise. Cover the container and leave it in a warm place overnight or for at least 8 hours or more depending upon the local weather to ferment. 
* Heat a tawa / flat non stick griddle when ready to make dosas. Stir the fermented batter once with a ladle. Pour a ladleful (about 1/4 cup) of batter at the center of the griddle and quickly spread it thinly with the back of the ladle. Pour 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. oil around the edges (I use very less oil.) 
* Cook until the bottom side is done and the surface no longer looks wet. Flip it with a spatula and cook the other side as well for few seconds. Transfer the cooked dosa onto a plate and repeat the dosa making process with the remaining batter. 
* Serve them warm with coconut chutney or any other spicy chutney.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Foxtail Millet Instant Puliyogare

Here is another dish to add to 'Millet Recipes' repertoire, if one is interested in millet based Indian diet. I have substituted millet for rice in the instant puliyogare here to give it a healthy touch. Instant puliyogare mix is one of the products from MTR that I love. It yields a south Indian style, quick and tasty tamarind rice when mixed with cooked rice

1 and 1/2 cup cooked foxtail millet
2 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. peanuts
1 sprig curry leaves
2 tbsp. instant puliyogare powder (I used MTR brand.)
* Let the cooked millet cool a bit before using it in the recipe. 
* Heat oil in a pan (There is no need to bring it to smoking point.) and add peanuts and curry leaves. Toast until peanuts turn golden brown. Then add puliyogare powder to the oil and mix quickly. Turn off the stove. 
* Add the cooked millet and mix gently to combine. Taste and add salt if needed and mix once again. 
* Serve immediately.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Jowar Idli / Jonna Idli / Sorghum Flour Idli

These are traditional idlis with a healthy twist and below is the recipe if looking to incorporate millets into everyday Indian diet. The addition of sorghum flour to the idli batter boosts the nutrition factor while retaining the taste and the soft consistency of the rice version idlis.

Ingredients: (Yield 30 idlis)
3/4 cup sorghum flour / jowar flour 
3/4 cup idli rice
1/2 cup black gram / urad dal
Salt to taste

* Rinse and soak idli rice and black gram in water for about 3 hours. Let the water level be at least an inch above the level of the ingredients during the entire soaking period.
* Drain the water used to soak and grind them along with sorghum flour adding salt and water as needed to form a thick, smooth batter. The final batter should not be runny. (I used less than 1.5 cup water to grind the ingredients.)
* Pour the batter into a container big enough to hold the fermented batter and cover it. (The batter level raises during fermentation.) Allow the batter to rest in a warm place overnight. The batter may take anywhere between 8 to 16 hours to ferment depending upon the local weather. The fermented batter looks like below in the images.

* Stir the fermented batter and pour into idli plates. 

* Heat water in a steamer / idli cooker / pressure cooker on medium flame. Place the idli stand in it and cover the lid. There is no need to put the pressure valve on if using the pressure cooker to steam idlis.
* Cook on low medium flame until idlis are done, about 15 - 20 minutes. (To check whether idlis are done, touch the surface of the idlis with wet fingers. If they are not sticky then that means idlis are cooked perfectly. If they are sticky, cook for some more time.)
* Wait for about 5 minutes and carefully remove the idli stand. Run a spoon around the edges of idli and unmould them.
* Serve with a spicy chutney and / or sambhar.