Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moong Chana Nu Daal

When it comes down to the absolute basics, there is nothing like Daal- Chawal (rice) and the glow of comfort it spreads.
On many evenings we make a full dinner of just that and call it a night. Wholesome daal provides protein and rice, just completes the meal.
When possible however, I like to bring in a small variation to the daal. A few ago, when I was ( and still am) hooked to 660 Curries, I made this dazzling daal and since then, this is a regular on the dinner table at least once a week, usually on a Thursday night when M comes home.

What attracted me to this daal is that it is a Gujarati preparation and that is by itself a testimonial. Also that it uses Moong and Chana daal, my new favorites.

Gujarati food is full of tantalizing flavors that combine hot and sweet at the same time. In my college days we would often go to a friend, who was a Gujuben (as we fondly called her) and beg of 'Maharaj' (the chef) to cook up something. He would make daal - rice & soft muslin-cloth-thin rotlis (roti/ bread) smeared generously with ghee and shaak (vegetable).
A simple meal but Maharaj had magic in his fingers, it seemed that he only had to touch an ingredient to make it tasty. The ghee tadka (tempering) for the daal would sizzle and perfume the kitchen and dining area and 10 girls, hungry as hunters would jostle one another to wash their hands and rush to the dining table. We would watch with admiration as he rolled one rotli after another, pace never varying, his hands working in perfect unison as he rolled, roasted and smeared ghee, it was like music, flowing , harmonious and above all satisfying.

This daal made me think of Maharaj and how perfect this recipe is, it was like I had some magic in my fingers... the ingredients are simple , the process uncomplicated and the taste - SUPERB!
My Mother also made this recipe ( I dictated the entire thing over the phone, thanks to Vonage World calling plan!) and urged her to try it ASAP. My Father who is a Gujarati food fan fell in love with the daal !
Source: 660 Curries

You Need:
1/2 Cup Moong Daal
1/4 Cup Chana Daal
2 Tbs Ghee (or oil)*
*Ghee is a preferable option
1Tsp Mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup crumbled /chopped Jaggery or packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
10-15 Fresh Curry leaves

Wash the lentils in 3-4 changes of water. Pressure cook the lentils until they are soft ( Iyer mentions the stove top method for cooking the lentils which take about 35-40 mins, however I speed up my work and like the zero attendance method,by using the pressure cooker)

While the lentils are cooking ( in my case, while the pressure is subsiding), heat ghee in a skillet.
Add mustard seeds, after the mustard seeds have popped, remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle with Cumin seeds, salt, cayenne, asafetida and turmeric. The spices will instantly sizzle and smell aromatic. Immediately add the tomatoes with the juices, jaggery, cilantro and curry leaves.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally, until ghee separates ( about 5 min)

When the legumes are cooked, coarsely mash the lentils and some of the peas with the back of the spoon and create a creamy yellow base for the curry.
Stir the sauce, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the seasonings permeate the curry (5 mins). Serve hot.

This curry tastes great with rotlis as well.
I keep the curry chunky. Usually I puree half of the cooked daal with an immersion blender and keep the rest as is to yield a thick curry, this is a personal preference, I like biting into daal.

Wishing all readers a HAPPY and SPLENDID NEW YEAR!!!! See you then!
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mishti Doi

"And what are you making for dessert?" I asked
"Sweet curd" she said.
"Adding yogurt culture to sweet milk ?" I asked
" Nah re! like mishti doi, the Bengali sweet you know" she said

My mind flew back to nearly 4 years ago when M and I were in Kolkata and how we had devoured mishti doi everyday, wishing we had some more!
I greedily asked if she know how to make it and I was rewarded not just with the recipe, but the real thing too!

A couple of weeks ago, Prajakta and Rucha, two of my friends dropped in at home and Rucha had this bag in her hand that she plonked on my dining table and smiled as she opened it.
It was sweet curd or mishti doi as I like to call it.
Call it what you will, this simple dessert is rich, creamy and delicious and satisfying. It reminded me of the misti doi in Kolkata and also faintly of the shrikhand my father makes.
The fact that it takes minutes to make just adds to its other merits.

Many moons ago, Prajakta got this recipe from a Bong friend and it has been passed on to many by word -of- mouth and having once tasted it, I can vouch for its popularity and can only regret that I did not know of it earlier.
Rucha's pyrex bowl reminded me that I had to return it and more importantly, make a batch of mishti doi for M ( he was not at home that day). So this weekend I made my first bowl of mishti doi and it was M who, on tasting the first creamy spoonful said," this one is for the blog!"

Here's how I made it:

1 can Evaporated Milk
1 can Sweetened Condensed milk
Yogurt (as per Prajakta, use a can - evaporated milk canful of yogurt)*
Cardamom powder or
crushed nuts of your choice to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a bowl mix the Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, yogurt ( * I used about 4 tbsp. of thick home made yogurt) (edited to add: I used less yogurt only because I had a little on hand, but I do recommend you use the suggested quantity of 1 evaporated can full of yogurt)
Whisk it together till all three are well blended (I used my hand-held mixer)
Garnish with topping of choice ( I used the milk masala)
Cover the bowl tightly with aluminium foil
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 mins.
Switch off the oven and leave the bowl in it for about 5-6 hours
Remove the bowl from the oven and keep in the refrigerator
Serve chilled

Thank you, Prajakta and Rucha!

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Lemon Rasam

Ooooh! the evenings are cold! At least for me. And what better reason to make some *hot*rasam and sip and imagine a howling wind and rattling window panes, steady snowfall piling up to create a white world.
If you have a vivid imagination like I do, you might be sniffling and shivering and probably have the fire place going and when in reality it is about 60-63 F [and to create a bit of drama... 50-55 F outside ( and that is, in the dead of the night) and NO snowfall and the windows are holding strong. Not that, that isn't cold enough for me!]
But it feels oh-so-good to hold a steaming cup and inhale the spicy-lemony flavor.
Taking a tentative sip, I know this is what the doctor recommended!
The heat coming from the ground peppercorns and the grated ginger, the lemony zing will make you wiggle your toes and dip the spoon in the bowl immediately. You can have this with rice, but I love to sip it like a soup.

1/4 cup Toor Daal
1 cup Water
1 inch piece Ginger, peeled and grated
4 Green Chiles ( or to taste)
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
3/4 tsp Black Peppercorn
1 1/2 cup Water, extra
2 Tomatoes , quartered
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 Lemon
Cilantro to garnish

2 tsp Ghee
1 tsp Asafetida
1 Red Chile halved
Few Curry Leaves

Pressure cook the Toor daal and using a blender/ hand-held blender, blend until smooth
Grind the green chiles and ginger to a paste ( I prefer to grate the ginger and chop the chile and leave it at that)
Using a spice grinder (or as in my case a coffee grinder) grind the cumin and peppercorns to a fine powder
Place the daal in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cup(extra) water, quartered tomatoes, ground turmeric, salt to taste, ginger-chile paste. Slowly bring to a boil
Heat 2 tsp ghee.
Add mustard seeds, asafetida, halved red chile, curry leaves and pepper cumin powder
When the mustard seeds sputter, add this to the rasam
Turn off the heat and add Lemon juice
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot (with rice)
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bhaja Moong Palak or Toasted Green Lentils with Spinach

As a child, whenever we went to a restaurant for dinner, we ordered the same thing, every time, Aloo Palak, Chana Masala. My parents are EXTREMELY tolerant folks, they ate the same thing, even if their taste buds screamed for a change. I don't remember when I actually sampled something new, probably at a wedding, probably at a friends, but finally, I did discover that there are different types of Punjabi curries and just as delicious as Aloo Palak, Chana Masala.

Every bite of this tasty curry made me wish my parents were here with us to share this simple yet absolutely and delightfully tasty curry with its roots in Bengali cuisine.
These days when ever I find a bit of time, I curl up with Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries.The book constantly fascinates me! I love the recipes and long to try all of them (the vegetarian ones).

Raghavan Iyer says,
Bengalis refer to 'toasted' or 'roasted' as bhaja. The process of toasting split green lentils in a dry pan not only creates a nutty flavor but also keeps the firm shape of the legume intact, no matter how long it cooks- certainly not the case of its untoasted counterpart, which breaks down to a mushy consistency very quickly. The spinach makes this dish colorful, but if you would like a slightly more bitter flavor - and a higher dose of iron -use mustard greens or kale instead.

Source :660 curries
Makes 4 cups

1 Cup Skinned green lentils/ Moong Daal
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
8 ounces Fresh Baby Spinach, well rinsed
1 tbsp. Canola oil
1 tsp. Fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
2-4 dried red Thai or Cayenne chiles to taste
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Ghee

Heat a medium size saucepan over medium -high heat.
Add the lentils and toast them, stirring constantly, until they are reddish brown and nutty- smelling, 5-8 mins.

Gently pour in 3 cups of water, stirring vigorously to break any clumps that form. The water will immediately boil because of the heat of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally , until the lentils are firm-tender, 15-20 mins.

Pile the spinach in to the pan, cover it and let the steam wilt the greens, 5-8 mins.

While the greens are wilting, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, cloves and chiles and cook until they sizzle and are aromatic 10-15 secs. Remove the skillet from heat.

When the spinach has wilted, pour the contents of the skillet into the pan. Add salt and sugar.
Continue to simmer the curry, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors mingle,5-8 mins.

Stir in Ghee and serve.
This goes to Sra of 'When my soup came alive' who is hosting MLLA(My Legume Love Affair)-17, started by Susan of the famous 'The Well Seasoned Cook'
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Monday, November 02, 2009

Hari Matar Paratha- Green Peas Paratha

Lisa groaned inwardly as the waiter set down my order on the table. As soon as he went she said, "please, promise me you will behave", I wrinkled my nose and uttered a "hummph" and turned and gazed sternly at the plate in front of me, "peas.....pheas, with a world FULL of a zillion vegetables, all they can find are pheas ". "Please", she beseechingly said. " Fine.... Only because you want me to". I did behave, I neatly lined the peas on the edge of the plate and ate the rest.
That roughly and mildly put, summed up my dislike for peas.
The only side dish I could eat with peas was 'Nimona,' at least, I think that is the name. I had eaten this at a dear friends' ages ago, her bhabhi (sister-in-law) is a fabulous cook and had transformed blah! peas into something spectacular. I am still waiting for Vandu to get the recipe from Bhabhi so I can make it.

I am not sure when I actually started eating peas, but it was because of blogging, that much I am sure of. My dislike came down a few notches and now I can eat peas, sometimes liking them.

I picked up Yamuna Devi's 'Lord Krishna's Cuisine' from the library sometime around Dec '08 with the general idea of using it to prepare food without onion and garlic for my visiting in-laws. One of the bookmarked recipes was Green Peas Paratha.

The filling is very tasty indeed! The natural sweetness of peas combined with a hint of jaggery and the gentle heat from the green chilies with a hint of lime make every bite enjoyable.

For the bread/ cover:
4 cups Chapati Flour
1/2tbs Salt
1/2 cup melted
1 1/3 cup warm water or as needed

For the Filling
2 tbs Oil
1 tbs finely scraped and shredded Ginger
1-3 minced hot Green Chiles ( +/- as needed)
1/4 tsp Asafetida
2 1/2 cups coarsely mashed cooked Peas
2 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp Lime juice
2 tsp Jaggery or maple sugar
3 tbs finely chopped Cilantro
Ghee / oil for cooking

Mix the Flour and salt in a bowl.
Drizzle in the melted butter ot ghee and rub it in the flour.
Add water slowly and make a medium stiff dough.

For the filling,heat oil in a large frying pan. Toss in the ginger and chiles.
Fry until the ginger starts to brown, add the asafetida.
A few seconds later add the peas.
Add the remaining ingredients and stirfry for about 2 mins.
Remove fom heat. Divide into 10 equal portions. Let it come to room temp. before making the paratha.
Roll out a portion of the dough. Spoon in the peas mixture.
Pull up the edges of the dough and seal
Flatten and dust with flour. Roll out a paratha.
Heat a griddle , brush with ghee/oil , carefully place the rolled paratha on the griddle, drizzle 1 tsp ghee around the edges and cook until the paratha has developed reddish brown spots. Similarly cook on the other side
Serve hot.
I did not use 1/2 cup ghee to make the dough, just a small drizzle.

If you do not have jaggery, substitute it with dark brown sugar

If the above method of making/ rolling parathas is not your thing, specially if you feel the filling will come out, try Musical's way of layering the filling. Works just fine!
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Lucknowi Chana Daal

My Mother cooks with toor /arhar, mostly. I have wonderful memories of Mom ladling hot 'amti' , mixing it with steaming rice and a drizzle of ghee. I remember my best friend once asking, "do you always eat only arhar daal?" I said yes, unsure what arhar was! Hey, Mom cooks, I eat - that was the equation in those days!

And then I began blogging and a wonderful world opened up! So much to learn and explore! I found myself exploring new ingredients and delighting in them. During my brief stay in Dallas I joined the library there. Not surprising that I instinctively made a beeline for the cook book section and found this! The problem however was, limited grocery items in stock, our stay was uncertain and though everything was available in the Indian stores, I was not too happy about buying and then trashing it all .

I leafed thru the book, drooled at the pictures and my hands itched to try some of the recipes. In the end, M got me a notebook and I jotted down the recipes I wanted, carefully packed the notebook and came home.

Daal-rice is a must on our dinner table. In fact, M would be happy if only daal-rice is served every single day, the only variation he does not object to is plain daal today, sambar tomorrow, rasam the day after....

This daal is s-i-m-p-l-e , when I jotted the recipe I did raise an eyebrow, about 1/8th of an inch... just that? nothing else? hmm... but there was one thing I was dead sure of, Bee says Raghavan Iyer’s recipes are too perfect to mess with and I trust her judgement.

The daal is simplicity itself, but don't fall into the error of thinking the same about the taste! One morsel and you are convinced, Raghavan Iyer knows his stuff !!
The husband was totally bowled over by this daal and it is a keeper!

Here is what you need to make 4 servings:

1 Cup Chana Daal
6 Cups Water
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
2 Tbs Ghee
6med Red Onions cut in half and thinly sliced
1 tsp. Cumin seeds, crushed
2-3 Green Chiles
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Cilantro

Cook Chana daal (I used the pressure cooker)
Heat ghee on med-high. Add onions and cook to a golden-brown
Add crushed cumin and chiles
Stir fry till chiles have a pungent aroma
Stir this mix into the daal
Partially cover and simmer (2-3mins) to blend flavors
Garnish with cilantro

Serve with rice.

That's it for the present....See you soon :)
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shev-Bhaaji and some chit-cha(a)t.

What happens when you move (temporarily) to another city in another state? What happens when you initially plan on staying 3 weeks and that stretches up to 2 months , specially when the departure date is changed every week after the first three weeks? You are happy,that's what!!! After almost a year of living a 'weekend family' life, finally little S and I got the chance to be with M and all arrangements made, we joined him in Dallas! His project work was too demanding to allow him to travel home on weekends and we did not fancy living alone all this time!I came prepared for 3 weeks, prepared to keep things short and sweet and so blogging would be on hold.
The hotel suite was comfortable with a small, yet fairly well equipped kitchen. Dallas has FANTASTIC Indian stores and restaurants (I am comparing them to L.A, where we do have everything) but the stores here were 4 times the size and the BEST part is, they all sell chaat.. I was clapping my hands in childish glee! Christmas in August!!
By far I recommend Taj Mahal Imports, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of this store, do visit it and make a beeline for the, what one might loosely call the restaurant, what you see is food counters (like those in Mumbai, metal counters and food is served , you take your stuff and go to the nearby bench , sit and eat)and benches, but don't let that fool you one bit, just park yourself in front of the pani-puri counter and ENJOY! I have tasted nothing but that, but M tells me that the Vada-Pav is tolerable(slightly different from Mumbai or home made Vada-Pav), me, I plan on sticking to pani-puri as long as I am here.
After 3 solid years of disappointment at eating bogus chaat, I found the pani-puri divine and to make sure ( before I put it in so many words here) I rechecked the quality every weekend and it was spot on!
Eating out here is also a pleasure! I yearned for Indo-Chinese fare... and no where was it quite up to the mark, I have been sorely disappointed but I found one place (after visiting several other restaurants) that has GOOD FOOD! Everything I have eaten here has been tasty, the Indo-Chinese fare is 100% Bambaiyya! South Indian food is authentic! Generous portions and finger licking, reasonably priced food, that in my humble opinion is a winner, unlike this fancy-shmancy restaurant which is a total letdown.
Coming back to the suite.. we had a 1 bed earlier with a small kitchen and a stove with just 2 coils (oh! how I HATE these coils...) so once we extended our stay, I promptly moved to a 2 bed suite which gave little S some extra space to run around and gave me 4 coils to cook on!
Somehow food (read chapati/roti) does not taste the same (or just as good) on an electric stove. I am making this bold statement only because I have a gas back home in L.A and LOVE it!
Hey, who cares? I can always go out to eat!! and NOTHING can beat the fact that we are all together! But when it rains ( as it has for almost a week here!!YAAAAY!) I long for spicy food , in the comfort of my home. Sure its fun to go out, but home cooked meal is comfort!
Having said that, a temporary kitchen is not much. Our travel date has changed every week for the past 3 weeks and so I am keeping my stock to a bare minimum.
Today for example, it was a rainy day, the temperature dipped to a pleasant 70deg. F ( Aaaah! gimme this any day, you can keep your summer with blistering 104 deg. F, pshaw!). Dinner was simple, shev-bhaji and dahi-rice.
I picked up K-Pra shev-bhaaji masala after reading the recipe on the back of the carton. It did not require too much prep or ingredients.
Here is how you make it:

First, buy the spice powder ( if you cannot find this spice at you neighborhood Indian store, try this or this) and buy a packet of thick shev/ sev, make it at home, if you have the time, a spicy version.

At home: you need:
1/4 cup Oil (the recipe on the carton says that, but I used abt 3 tbsp.)
1 1/2 cup Onion Paste ( I used finely chopped onion as I do not have a blender here)
1/2 cup Green Peas ( the recipe does not include this, it is my addition)
3 tsp. Shev-bhaaji masala
3 cups water (I used about 11-12 oz)
1/2 cup Yogurt
Shev ( I randomly added it to suit my pref.)
Cilantro to garnish
The spice powder contains salt and red chile powder, add extra if needed.

Heat Oil in a wok / kadhai.
Add the onion and cook until golden brown.
Add the spice powder and mix well. I cooked this for a minute to get the aroma.
Add the peas ( if using)
Add water and bring to a boil.
Simmer, add the yogurt, stir and take off the heat as soon as it is about to boil.
Add the shev/sev.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with bread or roti.
As per the recipe, add shev/sev and boil for a minute, I preferred not to do this, it would have made the whole thing one big soggy mess, I prefer my shev/ sev with it's crunch and it does go soft in the hot gravy.

Another thing which I did not quite like is the addition of yogurt, it splits / curdles.. any suggestions what can be done to avoid this? Adding Besan to the yogurt will make this a kadhi, I do not want to do that... anything else?

Verdict: Good for a quick meal and really good for a rainy-day dinner! the curry is spicy and the crunchy shev/ sev are a good combination.

That is all for now!!! Hope to see you all soon!!!
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bellam Pulusu

A lot of new couples and families have recently come to our city, some have moved into my apartment complex and I've had a good time meeting the new girls and inviting them over for a cuppa. The new group is mostly from Hyderabad and this sparked my enthusiasm for learning more about their cuisine.
M has always liked and favored Andhra food and I have tried some dishes from what I call my favorite,' Andhra Special', blogs. But there is always something different getting the perspective of a person who does not blog but the food still has the finger lickin' goodness!
My friend Madhavi moved to the apartment a few months ago, a quiet and gentle girl with a very friendly attitude and a huge plus in her favor was, my son liked her!
She has been my constant companion after my in-laws went back to India and has also cooked for me on days when I was tired chasing my active 1 year old all over the house!
One one of those days she came home with a steaming bowl of a hearty looking stew and told me to just mix with hot rice and enjoy! I enjoyed every morsel of this WONDERFUL stew and longed for more. What followed was an instant sit-down-here-and-tell-me-how-you-made-it session and I had it on my notepad.
I made this on a Thursday late night dinner when M comes home, tired after his long day at work and a short but exhausting flight.
This different, simple yet amazingly tasty stew was perfect after a long, long day. M usually prefers a simple Varan-bhaat meal, but this he claimed, was amazing!
I like the fact that it uses a variety of vegetables and I need not make anything else!

I have made this so many times that I eyeballed the ingredients ( you really cannot go wrong, feel free to experiment)

1- 11/2 Cup mixed vegetables ( carrot, squash, bottle gourd,yam, sweet potato) cubed
1-2 Green Chiles
1 Tomato chopped
1/2 tsp Conc. Tamarind pulp ( optional, if tomato is not sour), alternatively soak a small marble size ball of tamarind in hot water for 10-15 min, extract pulp and discard solids
*Jaggery a lime size ball
Salt to taste
2 T oil
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Few Curry Leaves
1-2 Dry Red Chile
2T Rice Flour mixed in water to form a batter
Cilantro to garnish

Wash, peel and cube all the vegetables.
Place all the vegetables in a saucepan, cover with adequate water and bring to a boil. Cook the vegetables till they are tender (but not all mushy)
Add the green chile, turmeric, salt, tamarind pulp and jaggery
You can add the green chile when boiling the vegetables if you want it to be very hot.
Add the rice flour paste and boil, this will thicken up the pulusu
Prepare the tadka/ seasoning:
Heat oil, add mustard seeds, after they pop, add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, red chile and curry leaves.
Pour the seasoning over the pulusu. Mix well.
Garnish with Cilantro and serve with steaming hot rice

*The pulusu is supposed to have a sweetish taste, the selection of vegetables is therefore as mentioned above and Jaggery, which is roughly double the quantity than tamarind, enhances the taste. The chiles balance the taste with their heat.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kulith Pithla

An oft heard statement in a Marathi household is, " pithla bhaat karte, lavkar hoeel" ( I will make pithla and rice, that is quick)... This is one handy recipe for the those evenings when energy and enthusiasm are low.
Pithla is a curry made with chickpea flour and is typically served with bhakris and also with rice.
I first tasted this version of pithla at my friend Prajakta's around Diwali time when we made goodies. With all the frying and looking after kids at the same time this pithla came to the rescue making a very tasty meal in minutes!
The truth is, I had NO idea what kulith or horsegram was, the only pithla I have ever eaten is the chickpea/ besan version. My Mother later told me that kulith is widely used by Konkanis.
Kulith has a nutty taste which , for some, can take time adjusting to, but for me it was love at first bite! Kulith pithla with piping hot rice is a perfect combination. In fact I liked it so much that Prajakta gave me a small packet. I used it sparingly till my in-laws came for a visit and got one more packet for me. This recipe was a hit with my ma in law, who though hates garlic, loved this particular recipe and it was made frequently.
To make Kulith Pithla , you need:
2-3 tbsp Kulith powder
2 green chiles (+/- to taste)
2-3 cloves of Garlic, chopped.
2 tbs. Oil
1 tsp EACH Mustard & Cumin seeds
2 pieces Kokum or 2 tbs.kokum syrup
Salt to taste
Few Curry Leaves
1/2 tsp. Red chile powder (optional)
Cilantro, finely chopped.
Water ( to make a paste as well as for the curry)
Mix kulith powder and water to make a paste, set aside.
Heat oil in a kadhai/wok. Add the mustard seeds, when they pop add cumin seeds.
Add the green chile and curry leaves and garlic, fry till garlic is golden brown an does not smell raw.
Add water ( about 1 1/2 cups) and bring it to a boil. Add Kokum/ kokum juice.
Add a tbsp. of chopped cilantro and red chile powder, if using, to the boining water and add salt to taste.
Reduce heat and add the kulith paste, stirring constantly.
Cook for about 3-4 mins.
Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro, serve with hot rice.
Other delicious Kulith recipes on my 'must try' list:
Kulith Saaru
Kulith Vade Pin It

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gojju Rice

On most days I look into the fridge and then plan what I would like to cook. Then there are days when I am expecting friends, when I plan what I want to cook. Yes, that is the way I operate. Works well for me.
And then I made an acquaintance who, how shall I put it mildly (?), is HIGHLY opinionated. I got lectured on how to take care of my baby, another friend's 5 year old got pinched on his arm (yes, pinched) and then said, "hurts doesn't it? see... that's how it hurts Mommy's heart when you are mischievous", and we all got lectured on how to plan menus in advance, for everyday cooking or when entertaining.
Plan menus for weeks in advance??? Heck, I don't know which pair of un... socks I will wear tomorrow! I left with my ears buzzing and a headache bordering on a migraine.

The only time I plan what to cook is on Sunday mornings, when the hubby travels to go to work and usually will carry his dinner as he reaches his hotel room rather late. Nothing too elaborate and double the amount, he says, so you can keep half and eat when you want, specially when an active 1 year old is running around!
Rice comes in handy on such occasions, tough I have cut down to eating rice in small quantities and only on weekends
I found this recipe scribbled on a notepad, copied long ago, nearly 1 1/2 year ago from a Maharashtrian cookbook, 'Hamkhass Pakasiddhi' and finally tried it!

2 Cups Rice
1/2 cup Tamarind Pulp( I used 1 tsp Tamarind concentrate)
1/2 Tsp Red Chili Pwd.
1 Tsp Sambar Masala
1 tsp Urid & Chana daal EACH
1/4 cup Peanuts and Cashews pieces
12-14 Curry leaves
1/2 cup Sesame powder ( roast sesame and powder)
Jaggery and Salt to taste
1 tsp Mustard seeds
2 hefty pinches Asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
5-6 Dry Red Chilies (+/- to taste)
2 tbs Oil

Cook rice ( separate grains) and cool.

Heat oil in a kadhai /wok, add mustard seeds, after they pop , add asafetida, turmeric , red chili and curry leaves

Ad tamarind pulp, salt, jaggery and boil

Add red chili powder, sambar powder, sesame powder and let the entire mixture boil

Cool the above mix and add the rice

Heat oil, add urid daal, chana daal peanuts and cashew pieces, add this to the rice, mix well and serve

This rice is served cold and makes it ideal for lunch boxes

* Feel free to add all spices , nuts and cashews , daals in the 'tadka'/ seasoning, saves time! In my humble opinion, this recipe can easily be made with or without exact measures, the 'andaz' ( guess) works just as well, just be careful with the tamarind.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Payasam and Nupur's Indian Vegetarian 100

Couple of weeks ago I celebrated my son's 11th. month birthday and as is oft repeated, time sure flies! From a soft and 'pliable' helpless new born, he is now an active toddler, walking everywhere in a typical baby gait, flinging food everywhere, pointing to things and making demands, sometimes showering me with sloppy-sloppy kisses! What more can I ask for!!!!
And so to celebrate my little man I made Payasam. He had just a tiny spoonful of it ( we are going VERY slow on introducing sugar and salt in his diet) he enjoyed it and kept pointing and asking for more.
Payasam needs no introduction, it is a sweet preparation that comes together without too much effort and everyone (my guess) makes it! In my home, 'shevaya chi kheer' was made more often and payasam to me was strictly 'madrasi' (No, back then, I did not know how Tamil cuisine was different from that of Andhra Pradesh or Kerala) and I would gladly accept an invitation to a 'madrasi' wedding knowing that the yummy food would surely have payasam on the menu.

This is a simple and easy to make dessert , can be made ahead of time and served chilled or warm.

You need:
Source : Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan

12 cups Milk
1/4 cup Rice ( long grained, I used Basmati)
1/2 cup sugar
6-8 Cardamoms, crushed
1 tsp Saffron
1/2 cup milk (extra)

Wash rice thoroughly. Place the milk and rice in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
Keep stirring and simmer until the milk reduces to half its original quantity.
Add sugar and crushed cardamoms
Dissolve the saffron in 1/2 cup warm milk and add it to the payasam.
Sir thoroughly.
Serve warm or chilled.

Your challenge, should you take up this meme is to:
  • Copy the entire list, along with these instructions, into your blog post
  • Bold the foods that you have tried
  • Strike out the foods you would never try
  • Tell us your score in the comments :)
  • If you wish to, make your own list or add to this one
Nupur's Indian Vegetarian 100

1. Ripe mangoes
Curd rice
Puran poli
Boiled peanuts
8. Stuffed baby eggplants The masala/ stuffing I will eat, NOT the eggplant
9. Aviyal
Stuffed paratha
Masala chai
12. Tirphal
13. Murukku
Curry leaves
Banana chips fried in coconut oil
Vada pav
Tender coconut water
Madras filter coffee
Boondi laddoo
22. Boondi raita
Navratan korma
Masala peanuts
A home-cooked Indian vegetarian meal
Sugarcane juice
Sabudana/sago in any form
Maggi noodles
Podi with rice and ghee
32. Roomali roti
Bitter gourd
Nylon sev
Vegetable biryani
Thali at a restaurant
Plantain flower
39. Nimbu pani
41. Kotthu parotta (minus egg, I will try!)
42. Panch phoran
44. Indian "French toast"
45. Sarson ka saag
Pav bhaji
Glucose biscuits
53. Tomato "omelet"
A wedding feast
Grilled corn on the cob with lemon juice, salt and chilli powder
Cadbury's fruit and nut chocolate
57. Sai bhaji
58. Solkadi
Indian-Chinese meal
Black forest cake
Bharwa bhindi
Kashmiri saffron
Ripe jackfruit
68. Bhut jolokia
69. Baby mango pickle
Meal off a banana leaf
Moong khichdi
73. Bebinca
74. Daal baati
Methi greens
Sweet lemon pickle
Ridge gourd
Bisi bele bhath
Coconut burfi
Caramel custard
Baingan bharta
Mysore pak
Punjabi wadi
Dal makhani
Paper dosa
Hand-churned butter
Curd chillies
Mustard oil
7. Fresh cashews
Tomato pickle

My Score 91%

I am not sure about Triphal ( there is something similar in Ayurveda and I may be confusing it with the one mentioned above) and I am pretty sure I have tasted Sai Bhaji, but as of today do not recollect the taste and so I shall leave it for a 'must try'.

So what is your score?
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Monday, May 04, 2009

Weekend fun with a QUICK Jam (?)

The temperatures here are high,2 weeks ago, we hit 93 F and left me drained out and listless, but this week we are back in the low 60's.. hows that for unpredictable behaviour!! 
In between these varying temperatures we decided to make  a small one day picnic to Carlsbad Flower Fields. 
It was a much needed break and to our joy, little S LOVED the flowers!! And what's more he
LOOOOVED the strawberry shortcake  (takes after his Mommy, he does, Bless him!) we had outside the fields and M and I must have set a new record at eating swallowing our shortcake!!
 Thus satiated, we made our next stop, at the adjoining Strawberry fields! 
This was my very first time picking strawberries and needless to say, I enjoyed it!         

At home sorting thru the bounty, we found some soft ones, no doubt due to travel. Now my MIL is handy with small tips and suggested we use the soft ones to make 'jam'. For a moment I was thrilled, but then, I realised and told her, I had no pectin, no know-how.  She merely smiled and said "pectin-shectin... we never knew these in our time, let's take what you, young people , would call a shortcut, and  there aren't THAT many soft strawberries."  True! lets get started then! 

We used 

1 Cup chopped / crushed Strawberries ( wash thoroughly, hull and chop)
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Lemon juice ( we skipped this)

Wash and sterilise a jar that you plan on storing the jam in. Dry thoroughly and keep aside.
In a non-reactive pan/ kadhai combine the crushed/chopped strawberries, sugar and lemon juice (if using) and cook over med-high heat until soft and the mixture comes together, stirring often and skimming off the froth on top. This requires a lot of patience, it takes a long..long time for  the whole thing to come together. I did not time it, I left the jam simmering on the stove top and in the mean time fed the baby, cleaned up etc. etc.
Store in the sterilised jar and refrigerate. Use a clean, dry spoon every time.

We made a second batch of jam and this time round I used my 'puran yantra' to mush the strawberries. I found an image thru Google search (and saved myself the effort of clicking that additional picture) 
Puran Yantra
The other proportions remaining the same adding just a few drops of lemon juice, which I felt was unnecessary.
The only difference in the batches were, the jam was 'smooth' as compared to the first version after getting pureed in the 'puran-yantra' but all hopes of it being seedless were dashed. The seeds remained intact.

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