Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kolumbo

For reason unknown to me, my amma (maternal grandmother) always used to cook "kolumbo" on Thursdays. So just thought of blogging her trademark Kolumbo on Thursday. I had written this draft from a long time. but I was waiting for a Thursday!! :-)

Kolumbo
Ingredients
1 cup toor daal
4-5 big florets of cauliflower
2 potatoes, quartered
4 -5 green beans, cut into 2" pieces
4-5 Tondlis/gherkins, cut into slivers
4-5 pieces of drumsticks, cut into 2" pieces
1 sprig of curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tomato, quartered
1 tbsp tamarind paste
salt to taste
Tempering
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2 sprigs of curry leaves

Method
1. Pressure cook toor daal. Mash and set aside.
2. Add all the vegetables except tomatoes in a big saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water, turmeric powder and 1 sprig of curry leaves. Bring it to boil. Cover and let it cook till done but not mushy.
3. Add daal to the vegetable mixture.
4. Mix tamarind with kolumbo masala. Add 1/2 cup water. Add the mixture to the daal and veggies. Add more water to adjust the consistency. Now add tomatoes.
5. Add salt to taste. Bring to boil. Switch the flame to low. Let it simmer for 7 minutes.
6. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
7. Pour the sizzling oil to the kolumbo. Switch off the gas and cover with the lid immediately.
8. Serve hot with rice and red chili papad.

Note -
1. You can add more or less vegetables. But generally we add most of the vegetables mentioned above.

2. Amma always roasted the fresh ingredients and made fresh kolumbo masala every time. After powdering the masala, she would add tamarind paste and water, and would grind again to make a wet masala. She always used stone ragda for all her grinding.

Kolumbo Masala

Most of the recipes I have blogged, have a source from family or friends or newspaper clippings or cookbooks or my own idiosyncratic experiments. The source of this recipe is very special. Every time I look at those scribbles, it touches my heart. My maternal grandmother's recipe hastily written by my mom when she was a new bride, and was given to me (or rather I demanded) when I got married. It's the most treasured and cherished part of my wedding trousseau.


I always follow this recipe as-is though the resulting masala is too much for our family of 2 & 1/2. But since I don't like to change the recipe I follow it. My grandmother never stored this masala. She always made it fresh, and so her kolumbo used to burst with fresh flavors. The recipe gives me masala enough for kolumbo for 2 occasions. I generally use the first one for kolumbo and second for alsande kolumbo (black eyed peas sambar).


Whenever I look at mom's notes, it makes me realize how the recipes are preserved and handed down from mothers to daughters, generations to generations.


Kolumbo Masala
Ingredients
4-5 black peppercorns
12 byadgi chilies
2 tbsp chana daal
2 tbsp toor daal
2 tbsp urad daal
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida

Method
1. Dry roast all the above ingredients.
2. Grind to a fine powder.
3. Store in an airtight container.

Note
For maximum flavor, always make a fresh batch of masala before making kolumbo. and grind again with tamarind and water and then add the masala mixture to the Kolumbo.

Microwave Wheat Flour Cake

I was looking for a cake recipe with wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour for a long time. and finally, I found it a in a wonderful book "Fresh Ways with Cakes". The recipe uses not only wheat flour but also cake is "baked" entirely in the microwave. Now that was really cool. It tasted good too. My only addition was a handful of chocolate chunks since "without chocolate", cake is not cake for the little cookie monster at my home.

Oh, and talking of cookie monster, have you guys seen "Sesame Street" in Hindi? It is "Gali Gali Sim Sim". and cookie monster is "Biscoot Badshah!" and mind you, he is not biscuit but biscoot Badshah!! :-) Gudiya had lots of fun watching this video in Hindi. Have a look for a quick chuckle!
Anyways back to the cake recipe. I must admit, my first try was rather disastrous. In my infinite wisdom, I reduced the amount of butter as I thought 5 tbsp is rather too much. Well. The cake came out good. It even tasted delicious. but after some time, it became hard! Gudiya asked for it again in the evening, but she described it as "Mumma, give me that cake which later became granola bar!" :-)



So second time, I followed the recipe the way it was supposed to. Since it was made in microwave, I was eager to know if it really comes out well. The second try was successful. and the cake remained moist later.


Having said that, I also know that microwave cooking times do vary. So I sincerely hope the following cooking time works for you as well.


Chunky Monkey Cake
[Microwave Wheat Flour Cake]
Adapted from "Healthy Home Cooking/Fresh Ways with cakes"
by the editors of Time-Life books
Ingredients
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 bananas, mashed
4 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp maple syrup
2/3 cup dried dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chunks
1/4 cup walnut pieces

Method
1. Lightly grease 5 x 9 " loaf pan.
2. Mix mashed banans with yogurt, brown sugar, butter, egg, syrup. Mix well.
3. Mix flour and baking soda and add to the above mixture to make a smooth batter.
4. Add dates, walnuts and chocolate chunks
5. Pour in the greased pan.
6. Keep an inverted plate in the microwave. Place the pan on the plate.
7. Cook for 10 minutes, giving the dish a quarter turn every 3 minutes
8. Cook for another 2 minutes. Give another quarter turn.
9. Cook for another 2 minutes until the cake shrinks from the sides of the dish.
10. Let the cake stand for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
11. Serve cold or warm.

Note
1. You can sprinkle some confectioners' sugar on top of the cake.

2. The picture above is the second version of cake that means the one which remained moist later too. :-)

Credits
1. Original recipe is from "Healthy Home Cooking: Fresh ways with Cakes" by The editors of Time-Life books.
2. "Chunky Monkey" name inspired from "Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Ice-cream"


This post is my contribution to Bindiya's "These are a few of my favorite things: Cakes/muffins".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Batatya Talasani

"Mumma, My body needs Vitamin F" - Gudiya declared yesterday as I was about to start cooking.

Well, I remembered my constant "bukbuk" (rant) at the dinner table about how she is going to be strong after eating healthy foods. So she was really paying attention! And yes, in my vitamin list of Vit A (carrots/spinach), Vit B (Sprouts), Vit C(OJ, Strawberries), Vit D (Milk), Vit E (Almonds)...Yes! I stopped at E, and didn't talk about vit F...It makes sense now! - I thought.

"You need vitamin F?" - I asked.

"Yes, mumma. and I only get it from French Fries!" Gudiya said in her usual chirpy voice.

Point noted. Yes, she is learning letter F this week at her pre-school. and she is also learning how to outsmart her mom!

We all have our cravings and indulgences. I don't mind her having french fries once in a while, but I don't want french fries to replace the dinner of poli-bhaji-koshimbeer-dahi and I do not want her to have it as a habit. What do you do? You make "Batatya Talasani" - just the way my amma (maternal grandmother) used to make. So Gudiya can eat it with chapati(poli), koshimbeer(salad), dahi (yogurt). A golden mean!! :-)

Batatya Talasani
Ingredients
2 big potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, cut into french fries style
Salt to taste

Tempering
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
2-3 byadgi chilies, halved
5-7 curry leaves (optional)

Garnish
1 tsp fresh coconut
3-4 drops coconut oil (optional)

Method
1. Heat oil in a wok. Add all the ingredients for tempering.
2. As mustard seeds splutter, add potatoes. Stir fry for 7 minutes.
3. Add 1 tbsp water, which will evaporate soon. Cook till done.
4. Add salt to taste.
5. Garnish with freshly grated coconut. Drizzle coconut oil, if using.
6. Serve with rice and daalitauy or chapati and yogurt.

Note -
1. Coconut oil gives a wonderful flavor and aroma to this simple dish.


Check out Purnima's version of "Batate Upkari".

This post is my contribution to Sia's "Ode to Potatoes" event at Monsoon Magic.

Charoli

Since I mentioned about adding "Charoli" in "Piyush", some of you wanted to know what charoli is. So, posting this picture of charoli. It is called "Chironji" too. They look like lentils but taste like nuts. They are available in local Indian stores in US - at least where I live. But always store in the refrigerator else they may turn rancid.

Here is an interesting article about charoli from NY Times.

Vagharela Dhokla

I think leftover dhokla gets new avtaar just like any leftovers magiacally transform themselves in different parts of India. but the tempering for this "vagharela" meaning tempered Dhokla needs to have garlic and boriya chilies to get the authentic flavor.

Here's how I make it -

Vagharela Dhokla
Ingredients
2 cups leftover steamed khatta dhokla
salt to taste

Tempering
1 tbsp oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 boriya chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida

Garnish
2 tbsp chopped cilantro or coriander leaves

Method
1. Heat oil.
2.Add all the ingredients for tempering. As garlic changes the color, add dhokla pieces.
3. Stir fry till all the dhokla is nicely coated with spices and turns brownish.
4. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves
5. Serve hot.

Note -
If boriya chilies are not available, use any dry red chilies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Palak Ki Puri (or Paratha!)

My dear friend, Bhagyashree is from Indore. She brings these lush green palak puris for many of our picnics during summer time. Guys play cricket (what else?!), girls play throw ball, kids play in the playground. It works out well for everyone. and the best part is food of course. It's our summer picnic potluck. Bhagyashree almost always brings puri-bhaji. but it's never monotonous. Every time it is a different type of puris and different alu ki bhaji. We all look forward to her puri-bhaji. She has the whole gamut of puris - Palakwali (with spinach), Methiwali (with fenugreek leaves), Matarwali (with fresh green peas), aluwali (with potatoes)...Paalakwali puri is my favorite.


It looks wonderful with green color. She has shared her Indori delicacy with me, but "You are such a spoilsport!" was her spontaneous response when I mentioned, I made the parathas instead. :-) So, if you want that real Indori experience, please deep fry them!! :-) I am really happy with the parathas.

Here's the recipe -

Indore ki Paalakwali puri
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup wheat flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp maize flour
1/2 cup besan
1 bunch spinach
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, freshly roasted and ground
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 tsp oil

Oil for brushing the parathas/more oil for deep frying

Method
1. Clean, wash spinach. Boil 1 cup water. Add spinach leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take out. As they cool down, grind to a fine paste in a mixer.

2. Knead a dough adding all the above ingredients. The boiled spinach will have moisture, so add water gingerly. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.
3. Make small balls for puris, bigger balls for parathas.
4. Roll into small discs for puris, bigger discs for parathas.
5. Deep fry for puris, shallow fry for parathas.
6. Serve hot with alu ki subzi and pickles.

Note -
1. My friend adds 1/4 cup oil while kneading the dough. You can certainly do it, to get a softer texture.

2. You can follow the exact same recipe using only wheat flour. In that case, increase the wheat flour to about 2 1/4 cups.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Piyush

In a nutshell, Piyush is Maharashtrian, nutmeg flavored Lassi. It is also common in my Gujarati family but that recipe is different. I will share that recipe some other time.

If you ever visit Mumbai, (or are in Mumbai and haven't done it so far), don't forget to visit Aaswad or Prakash or Ulhas at Dadar to relish their authentic Piyush! Though all three serve excellent Piyush, I love the one at Ullhas the most!
 
This is how we make Piyush at home.
 
Piyush (Serves 2)
Ingredients
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup water
2-3 tbsp sugar (more or less depending on your sweet tooth!)
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of nutmeg powder - preferably freshly crushed
A pinch of salt
3-4 threads of saffron + 1 tbsp warm milk
Garnish
2 charolis
Method
1. Rub saffron in warm milk and keep aside.
2. Churn yogurt, water, lemon juice, salt and sugar.
3. Stir in cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and saffron milk.
4. Pour in two serving cups.
5. Garnish with charolis.
6. Serve chilled.
Note -
1. Make sure that the yogurt is not sour.
2. Freshly ground nutmeg - just a pinch - is crucial to get the right flavor.
3. Use full fat yogurt for richer flavor.
 

Sambar Paratha

Ever seen those Pringles? Guacamole , Thai , ranch, barbecue, salsa, pizza, cheese flavors...

So I thought why not use the same principle and make parathas using distinct Indian flavors. My first thought was Sambar - that yummy flavor - how about incorporating it in Paratha?


I made it two ways. First time, I used the homemade sambar powder in the wheat flour and the second time I used sambar itself...:-) We loved the flavor of this absoltely crazy paratha - as crazy as me!!:-)

So here are my two versions -

Sambar Paratha Version 1

Ingredients

2 cups wheat flour

1 tsp cumin seeds

salt to taste

1 tbsp sambar powder (preferably homemade)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp coriander leaves/cilantro chopped

1 tsp oil

oil for shallow frying

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients till 1 tsp oil. Add little water and knead the dough.

2. Make balls. Roll into parathas/discs. Shallow fry.

Sambar Paratha Version 2

Ingredients

2 cups wheat flour

1 cup leftover sambar

very little salt, since sambar already has it.

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tsp oil

Oil for shallow frying

Method

1. Mix everything together. Knead the dough using very little water. Do not add water first. Get the idea by the moisture of sambar.

2. Make balls. Roll into parathas.

3. Shallow fry.

Note - Preferably use the leftover sambar with vegetables like onions/potatoes. I think, sambar with mushier vegetables like eggplants, okra( bhindi/ladies fingers) etc may have difficulty in kneading the dough.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Alu Beans Bhaja

This recipe is from my notebook. The title says "Alu bean bhaja - Orissa (SK)". You know what that means? This must be from one of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor shows! :-)

Alu Beans Bhaja
Ingredients
1 lb or 1/2 kg green beans/farsabi/fansi/shravan ghevda, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled, diced
salt to taste

Tempering
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chilies, slit
pinch of asafoetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Method
1. Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering.
2. Add potatoes and green beans. Add 2 tbsp water.
3. Cover with a lid. Cook till potatoes are cooked but not mushy.
4. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve.
Note
I used 1 lb french cut green beans from the frozen vegetable section.

Happy Republic Day, India!

Image from here.



Happy Republic Day, India!




Friday, January 25, 2008

Bhoplyache Bharit - Acorn Squash Dip

My mom makes this "bharit" of red pumpkin as an accompaniment . I use the same recipe but substitute pumpkin (Bhopla in Marathi, kaddu in Hindi) with acorn squash. It's quite simple to make.

Here's the recipe -

Acorn Squash dip
भोपळयाचे भरीत
Ingredients
1 Acorn squash
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp roasted, unsalted peanuts, crushed
1 green chili, finely chopped
salt to taste
sugar to taste


Tempering
1 tsp oil or ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
4-5 curry leaves (Optional)


Garnish
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves


Method
1. Wash acorn squash. Put in a microwave for 1 minute. Let it cool down for a minute. Cut into two halves. Remove the seeds and pith. Pressure cook using 2 tbsp water.
2. Peel the cooked squash. Using potato masher or a fork, mash the squash.
3. Add salt, sugar, peanut powder and yogurt. Mix well.
4. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida. As the seeds splutter, pour on the "bharit" and stir.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Note -
1. We serve this bharit with chapati, but can also be served with grilled/toasted pita wedges as an appetizer.


Credits -
I read about this fantastic tip of microwaving acorn/butternut squash to cut easily at Anupama's Food-n'-more.




This post is my entry Martha's Fresh Produce of the month: Squash.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rice Crispies chiwda


Rice Crispies Chiwda
Ingredients
1 lb Rice Crispies, plain
1/3cup oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp carom seeds/owa/ajmo/ajwain
2 green chilies, cut
3/4 cups cashewnuts
1 cup peanuts
1 cup potato sticks (ready made) - optional
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt (or per taste)
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 sprigs curry leaves


Method
1. Heat oil. Add all the seeds and powders.
2. Add green chilies and curry leaves
3. As the chilies change the color, add peanuts and cashewnuts.
4. Saute for about 10 minutes on a low flame till the nuts look crunchy.
5. Now add crispies, potato sticks - if using, salt and sugar.
6. Keep stirring so all the masala coats the crispies. Do not let them burn.

 

7. Take out and spread on a deep plate or paraat, lined with paper towel to drain out excess oil.
8. Store in an airtight container when cooled.

Note -
1. Rice Krispies is a toasted rice cereal. When used this cereal, you do not have to deep fry the poha to make the chiwda. I especially like Brown Rice Crispies that's available at Sprouts Farmers Market.
 

Bhugga

Bhugga is a Punjabi winter delicacy. It is made around Lohri festival. I am sure there must be several different versions available. But I learned this version from a wonderful Punjabi aunty in our neighborhood whom we used to lovingly called "Kapoor Aunty". I have modified the original version of using khoya or mawa by substituting ricotta cheese.

Bhugga
Ingredients
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (or mawa/khoya)
1/3 cup brown sugar (use more if you prefer)
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp almonds, chopped
1 tbsp pistachios, chopped
1/2 tbsp raisins (optional)
1 tbsp dry coconut, grated
1 green cardamom, seeds crushed
1 brown cardamom, seeds crushed

4-5 saffron threads (optional)
7-9 charolis for garnish
Method
1. Powder sesame seeds coarsely and keep aside.
2. Pour ricotta cheese in a nonstick kadai. Keep frying on a very low flame till the moisture is entirely evaporated. It may take about 25 - 30 minutes.
3. Add sugar and powdered sesame seeds. Keep stirring for another 7-9 minutes.
4. Switch off the gas. Add dry fruits, saffron, cardamom powders. Mix together.
5. Let it cool down. Make balls of the mixture.
6. Flatten each ball and press a charoli on top.

Note -
1. You can use white sugar instead of brown sugar.
2. Bhugga can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
3. The above mixture will yield around 7 - 9 bhugga.
4. Ricotta cheese or khoya gets reduced in quantity after water is evaporated.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mooli Ke Parathe (With carrot & spinach too)

Mooli ke parathe - as the name suggests are Punjabi style white radish (or daikon radish as called in America) flat breads. In order to boost the nutritional value, I sneaked in some carrots and spinach. And then here they are Mooli, gajar aur paalak ke parathe! :-)

When I have time on my hands, I make these flatbreads using the traditional method of kneading the dough and stuffing each ball with radish filling and rolling them out to make flatbreads. But most of the times, I am in a hurry and this method of kneading everything together comes handy.

Mooli Ke Parathe(1)
Ingredients
2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup peeked, grated white or daikon radish
1/2 cup peeled, grated carrots (Optional)
1/2 cup shredded spinach (Optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mughlai garam masala or any other garam masala
1/2 tsp dry pomegranate seeds, pounded
1/2 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste

Method
1. Mix all the ingredients together to make a dough. Add little water at a time for kneading since the vegetables will have moisture.
2. Cover and keep aside for 20 minutes.3. Make equal sized balls of the dough.
4. Roll into discs.
5. Shallow fry on a pan or tawa using oil so that brown spots appear on both the sides.
6. Serve hot with yogurt and achar.
Note -
1. You can also, knead a dough with wheat flour and salt. and make a separate stuffing of the rest of the ingredients and then roll a disc, stuff a ball of vegetable mixture and then roll a paratha and proceed.
2. Alternately, you can make two discs, keep a vegetable mixture on one disc, cover it with the second disc and then roll and make a paratha. However, mixing everything together is the simplest way and it suits me the best! :-)
3. Squeeze out water from the grated radish before using it for kneading.

This post is my contribution to Pooja's "Theme of the week: Orange, White & Green".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Orange Sandesh

This is absolutely a non-traditional recipe. The real orange sandesh is made with chhenna and is really delicious. I came up with it when I found that I had ricotta cheese, and orange in the fridge. Instead of shaping sandesh into individual balls, I just poured the mixture in a thali. and we served ourselves with a spoon. But you can certainly shape them in any shape you like.

Orange Sandesh (Serves 6 -8)
Ingredients
1 Container Whole milk ricotta cheese (16 oz)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar (or more if you like sweeter taste)
A generous pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder
1 orange

Garnish
Pistachio Slivers
few strands of saffron

Method
1. In a nonstick wok, add ricotta cheese and cream. Keep the gas low.
2. Keep stirring for about 30 minutes.
3. Add sugar. Fry for another 5 minutes.
4. Add cardamom powder. Spread in a greased plate.
5. Garnish with pistachio slivers and saffron.
6. Peel the orange. Remove all the threads and piths. Take out only soft inside segments. Place them gingerly on the cheese mixture.
7. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Note -
1. You can roast the cheese mixture longer till it is dry. and proceed with the following recipe. You can then, shape them in balls, topping with orange segment on each.

Just like my earlier recipe of "Narangi ni Basundi" , I had already blogged about this recipe before. Pooja's (of creative Pooja) rules say that the already blogged recipes are welcome to participate in her Indian Republic Day event as long as you blog at least one new recipe. Pooja, I am going to blog a new recipe with tricolors soon. But couldn't resist to blog this recipe again since it too, highlights the tricolors.


This post is my contribution to Pooja's "Theme of the week: Orange, White & Green".

Boriya Chilies

Boriya Chillies - They got their name "Boriya" because they resemble Indian Jujube berries known as bor (or ber in Hindi). They are used in Gujarati cooking for tempering the kadhis and daals. They are supposed to be very pungent - that's what I have been told. So I have never taken a bite, as sometimes, I do listen to my elders!! :-)






Gujarati Chili Powder




Gujarati Chili Powder - Now what is so special about the chili powder, you may ask! This Gujarati chili powder is very coarse. So if you take a closer look, you will actually see the flakes of the chilies. and when you use this chili powder in grindless shaaks or curries, the chili powder still retains its grains and doesn't get all mixed up. My mom-in-law has her trustworthy miller who mills this special powder for the whole family but even Everest markets it by the name "Kutilal".






Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pa Chao

I love cooking and I love to collect different recipes and try them out. Though I have tried my hands on many regional cuisines of India and some from around the world, I am very embarrassed to admit, that I hardly know anything about the far eastern states of India. I kept looking for the recipes, but never found one. So you can imagine how happy I must have been when I found a recipe from "Arunachal Pradesh" in a wonderful cookbook "Indian Cooking Without Fat" by Mrs. Mridula Baljekar. More than this healthful recipe of fish curry, I was excited that it was from Arunachal Pradesh - the place which cuisine I was not at all familiar with and was dying to try out.

Mrs. Baljekar says that she got this recipe from her friend who is from Arunachal Pradesh. and the curry brings out the flavors of the tribal foods in the Himalayan foothills. Now that sounds so exotic, isn't it?

So here's the recipe -

Pa Chao (Fish Curry from Arunachal Pradesh)
Adapted from "Indian Cooking without fat" by Mrs. Mridula Baljekar
Ingredients
4 rainbow trout steaks (or any firm fish steaks/pieces)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika or chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Grind to a fine paste
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1" ginger root, peeled, chopped
1 tbsp dessicated coconut

Garnish
1 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves

Method
1. Sprinkle salt, turmeric powder, lemon juice and chili powder/paprika over the fish steaks. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
2. Grind the rest of the ingredients to make a fine paste.
3. Pour the ground paste in a wide nonstick saucepan. Add some more salt to taste. Remember you have already sprinkled some salt over the fish steaks. Let it cook for 7 minutes.
4. Add marinated fish pieces in a single layer. Cover with a lid. Cook for 7-9 minutes. Shake the pan from side to side and spoon over some sauce on the fish pieces.
5. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with plain basmati rice.

Note -
1. The original recipe calls for the canned tomatoes, however I preferred to use fresh ones.
2. The recipe calls for salmon, but I made this curry with rainbow trout.

Credits
For trying this and many more healthful recipes from all around India, read "Indian Cooking Without Fat" by Mrs. Mridula Baljekar.


This post is my contribution to RCI:North East India by Bhags at Crazy Curry.

Regional cuisines of India (RCI) event is started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Masoori Saar Upkari

Konkani Saar Upkari is like beans broth. It's watery and delicious. I make it with masoor (brown lentils), chawli/alsande (black eyed peas) or kala chana (chickpeas). Many konkani homes serve it with beans and broth separately. but we just serve it together. It is extremely cold here. So we slurped a big bowl of Saar Upkari today. It is my "bean soup for the soul"!

Masoor Saar Upkari
Ingredients
1 cup Masoor/brown lentils sprouts
salt to taste


Tempering
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 green chili, slit
1 red chili, slit
7-9 curry leaves

Garnish
1 tsp freshly grated coconut

Method
1. Heat oil in a pot. Add all the ingredients for tempering. As soon as chilies change their color and a wonderful aroma wafts through your kitchen, add sprouts and 2 cups water.
2. As the water starts boiling, lower the gas flame, cover with a lid. Let it simmer till the sprouts are cooked.
3. Add salt, and more water to make a broth like consistency. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Garnish with coconut.
5. Serve hot.

Note -
1. To make a complete one-dish meal, you can spoon some cooked rice in the individual serving bowls. I also add some shredded spinach while cooking to get more nutrition. However, this step is not authentic!
2. For the authentic flavor, use coconut oil.
For more information about sprouting the beans/legumes, read this.


This post is my contribution to the legume love affair by Susan of the well-seasoned cook .

Chora Daal

Left - Urad ; Right - Chora daal

Chora daal is the daal made from red chowli beans. It is used in Gujarati cooking for making pooda (dosa), mixed daal dhokla, mixed daal vada etc. This daal is little bigger than urad daal. But if you are in a hurry and haven't labeled the container, you may grab it for Urad daal. This daal does not need soaking more than 3-4 hrs. If you soak longer than 4 hrs, it may turn rancid.


Use this daal to make -
Chora Methi Dhokla
Chora Vadi
 

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kanda-Daalicha Zunka

Onion plays a very important role in the Indian kitchen. There are many recipes with onion as a star ingredient. One of my most favorites and a fairly humble fare from Maharashtrian kitchen is "Zunka" where onion is tempered and then smeared with besan. There is another variation to this zunka where instead of using besan, soaked/ground chana daal is used. The result is awesome. It may remind you of Parippu Usili of Tamilnadu or Patholi of Andhra Pradesh. But that's the magic of Indian cuisine. Each state boasts a plethora of unique culinary delicacies and somewhere suddenly you meet something which appears so similar yet different.

Kanda-Daalicha Zunka
कांदा - डाळीचा झुणका

Ingredients
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions/spring onions including white and green parts
1/2 cup chana daal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp chili powder (or more)
salt to taste
sugar to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Tempering
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Garnish
1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method
1. Soak chana daal in water for 4 - 6 hours.
2. Grind chana daal coarsely along with turmeric powder, asafoetida, salt, chili powder.
3. Heat oil in a wide kadai/wok. Add all the ingredients for tempering.
4. As the mustard seeds start to splutter, add chopped onions. stir fry for 5 minutes.
5. Add some salt & sugar to taste. Remember that salt is also added to the chana daal mixture. So adjust accordingly.
6. Now add ground chana daal. Stir fry for another 5 minutes.
7. Cover the kadai/wok with a lid. Turn the gas to low flame. and let it cook for 30 minutes.
8. Stir in between. Add lemon juice. Mix together.
9. Stir in cilantro leaves. Remove the lid. and fry for another 5 minutes.
10. Serve with chapati and yogurt on side.

Note -
As time goes, this zunka gets drier and drier. So always serve with a little yogurt or yogurt-based koshimbeer/raita on side.


This post is my contribution to Jihva: Onions hosted by Radhika of Radhi's Kitchen

Jihva series is started by Indira of Mahanandi.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kashmiri Garam Masala

After making a batch of Mughlai Garam Masala, I wondered why I didn't make masalas at home ever? Since I had made Mughlai masala in a small quantity, it got over pretty soon. So time had come to make the next batch. So this time, I decided to make Kashmiri Garam Masala especially since I already had dry ginger powder at home. I again followed the Sumeet recipe booklet for the recipe & instructions. Looks like making these masalas at home is going to be my new hobby and I would like to give Sumeet all the credit because it makes it so easy.

I had saved this draft so I could send this post for RCI: Kashmir. But I think I just missed the boat. I couldn't find the event hosted anywhere and then I thought was I just dreaming about reading RCI:Kashmir somewhere? :-D

Here's the recipe (From my Sumeet booklet) that I followed. I made some modifications with the amount of cinnamon, 20 sounded too overpowering! -

Kashmiri Garam Masala
Ingredients
1/3 cup black peppercorn
1/3 cup dry ginger powder (sunth)
1/3 cup cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup cardamom
1 tsp cloves

Method
1. Grind in the blender to get a fine powder.
2. Store in an airtight container.
3. You have to make this masala to smell that aroma! Just wonderful.


Credits -My Sumeet Recipe booklet

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wheatgrass Juice - A superfood?

My aunt N has a green thumb. Gardening is her life. Sometime back, she read about wheatgrass and its benefits. Since then, she has been harvesting wheatgrass daily, extracting the fresh juice and drinking it every morning.

I was curious. I did my research on google and found some interesting information. Wheatgrass juice is considered one of the superfoods as just 1 oz of juice gives you nutrition worth of 2 lb of vegetables. It is also considered good for immune system, blood pressure, metabolism, digestion. It is also claimed that this juice cleanses human body, neutralizes toxins, slows the aging process, and prevents cancer. The claims are really mind boggling. Is it really an elixir? - probably more research, data points and results will confirm it in the future. But I surely wanted to grow it myself and taste it! :-)

You may have seen cut wheatgrass in plastic bags in the vegetable sections of health food stores like wild oats and whole foods. Here I am sharing my own gardening escapade of growing that superfood - wheatgrass & also sharing with you all, aunt N's tips to grow wheatgrass at home.

Aunt N's Wheatgrass growing principles -

As the name suggests, wheatgrass is the grass of wheat berries. 7 to 10 days old wheatgrass is considered ready to be harvested for making wheatgrass juice. My aunt takes 7 day old wheatgrass for making the juice. After cutting the wheatgrass on day 7, she reuses the same container but uses different soil for growing the next batch. This is a weekly activity which needs little time and patience. But once you get a hang of it, it's not a big deal - so says Aunt N.

What to do?

Take 7 small containers . Fill all of them with soil. Mark the containers 1 to 7. (Or days of the week). Keep all the containers in a sunny window.

Day 1
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 1. Sprinkle some water. (Just a few sprinkles, do not overwater!)
Day 2
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 2. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2

Day 3
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 3. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2,3

Day 4
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 4. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2,3,4

Day 5
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 5. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2,3,4,5

Day 6
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 6. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2,3,4,5,6

Day 7
Throw a handful of wheat berries in the container # 7. Sprinkle some water on container #1,2,3,4,5,6,7

On this day, container #1 is ready to be harvested.

To harvest, cut the lush, green wheat grass from top, leaving 2-3" from the bottom. Rinse the wheatgrass. Add 1/2 cup water and grind in a blender. Pass the extracted juice through a fine sieve. Lush green wheat grass juice is ready to drink. After taking the wheat grass out, use a new soil and repeat from Day 1 steps for that container. Similarly harvest each container on 7th day since planting.

Taste -

My cousin feels that the wheatgrass juice tastes like sugarcane juice. But I do not agree. It does have a touch of sweetness but it certainly is no sugarcane juice. Of course, if it indeed has all the claimed benefits, then who cares for the taste?

Note -

1. It's always advisable to ask the Doctor before trying any new regimen including wheat grass juice therapy.

2. Do not exceed the dose of wheatgrass juice. Too much of good thing is not good. Generally 1 - 2 oz is recommended in the wheatgrass therapy. But probably that too varies from person to person.

3. I am neither a Doctor nor a nutritionist. To understand if this juice is really beneficial for you, please consult your doctor or nutritionist.

I did my own experiment of wheatgrass growing to have fun and understand how the wheatgrass juice is extracted from fresh wheatgrass.

For more information about the benefits of wheatgrass -http://www.energiseforlife.com/wheatgrass_juice.php
http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/nutrition/wheatgrass.html
http://www.wheat-grass.com/benefits.html


I would like to send this post as my contribution to the weekend herb blogging to Rinku of Cooking in Westchester.


Weekend herb blogging is started by Kalyn of Kalyn's kitchen.

Vanilla Bean



Sunday, January 13, 2008

Microwave Til Ladoo



I really wasn't going to make til ladoo. But her gorgeous post about Makar Sankranti brought back all the childhood memories associated with it. I felt like making them too. That's what food blogging does to you, I guess! Thanks, Maya for bringing back that nostalgia, redolence and joys.

I followed the recipe by Mrs. Jyoti Nikunj Parikh from her cookbook "Wonderful Microwave cooking".
Microwave Til Ladoo
Adapted from "Wonderful Microwave Cooking" By Jyoti Nikunj Parikh
Ingredients
2 cups sesame seeds
1/2 cup dalia/dalya/roasted gram without skin
1 1/2 tbsp ghee
1 1/4 cups jaggery
1/2 tsp cardamom powder, freshly ground

Method
1. Microwave sesame seeds and dalia mixture for 2 minutes till crisp.
2. Put ghee into a large casserole dish. Microwave for 1 minute.
3. Add jaggery, mix and microwave for 3 minutes till bubbles form and it is golden in color. Stir once.
4. Mix in the sesame /dalia mixture. Microwave for 2 minutes.
5. Let it stand for 2 more minutes. Stir in cardamom powder.
6. Remove the mixture in a plate. As the mixture cools, but is still warm, make small ladoos. Arrange ladoos on a plate to cool completely.
7. Store in an airtight container.

Note-
1. Though the original recipe does not call for it, I added peanuts and dry coconut pieces so to make 1/2 cup mixture of dalia, peanuts and coconut.
2. I also added 1/2 tsp cardamom powder which is not in the original recipe.

Credits
तिळगुळ घ्या आणि गोड गोड बोला
Happy Makar Sankranti!
Happy Pongal!

Ambat Batat


Ambat means sour. Ambat Batat can be translated as sour potatoes. But actually with the jaggery in it, it has a nice touch of sweetness as well. This curry generally is made on the religious festivals or poojas (since no onion nor garlic!) in the Maharashtrian GSB households. This special recipe is from my paternal grandmother's repertoire. and why "batata" (potato) suddenly becomes "batat" in this curry, is a puzzle to me! :-)

Ambat Batat
आंबट बटाट
Sour Potato Coconut Curry
Ingredients
5 Medium potatoes, boiled, peeled, cut into wedges
Salt to taste
1/2 tbsp Jaggery

Grind to a coarse paste
3/4 cup fresh Coconut
1 tsp Tamarind
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
5 dry red chilies

Tempering
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/8 tsp Methi seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida

Method
1. Pressure cook potatoes and peel them. Cut them into wedges.
2. Grind the masala to a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add all the ingredients for the tempering.
4. Add potato wedges. Give a quick stir.
5. Add masala and 1/2 cup water.
6. Bring it to boil. Add salt and jaggery.
7. Simmer for a few minutes.

Note -
1. The consistency of this curry should be thick enough to stay at one place when served in a plate, but at the same time, thin enough to be eaten with rice as well.
2. This curry tastes mild, sweetish sour. It is not meant to be overwhelminingly sour though the name says "Ambat" or sour.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Microwave Idlis

I received this lovely "microwave idli stand" as a gift during my last India trip. It's like the egg poacher you get in the supermarket but it is also stackable. But I admit, that I do not use it much and prefer the good, old conventional method of steaming. Srivalli's MEC:Tiffin event encouraged me to use this microwave idli stand.

It has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you have idli batter ready in the fridge and you are going to eat idlis in the next 5 minutes, it's the best. But if you are planning to make idlis ready and eat after a few hours, it's not good because idlis then tend to get dry. So I use this stand when we are just about to eat. Fresh hot idlis coming out of the microwave are a treat indeed. The microwave cooking time varies so you need to figure out what works the best for your microwave.

Use your usual recipe for making idli batter - actually that could be another topic of discussion. Urad daal to Rice ratio varies from house to house from 1:2 , 1:3, or even 1:4 and additional ingredients vary from boiled rice, puffed rice, pressed rice. Should you add fenugreek seeds or reserve it only for dosa - the answer varies from house to house, region to region. So whatever is your most loved recipe (even if it's ready made or instant mixes), you can use it now.

This microwave idli stand comes in three basic parts. A somewhat shallow plate (blue in the above picture), a dome shaped lid and an idli stand.

This is what I did -

Microwave Idlis with idli cooker
Ingredients
Idli batter (homemade or readymade)
A few drops of oil for greasing the idli moulds
Water

Method
1. Fill about 1/4 cup water in the shallow plate and microwave for 1 minute.
2. Grease the idli moulds with oil. Pour the batter. Fill about 3/4 th.
3. Cover with the dome shaped lid. Microwave for 4 minutes.
4. Let it stand for 1 minute in the microwave before opening the microwave door.
5. Let it stand another minute outside before taking the idlis out. 6. Serve immediately with sambar or chutney of your choice.




Check out Purnima's great ideas for making delicious microwave idlis here.

Check out Asha's great ideas for making delicious microwave thatte idlis here.

This post is my contribution to the Microwave easy cooking event MEC: Tiffin by Srivalli of cooking for all seasons.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tendlya Talasani

I finally got the tendlis/tondli/tindora. This perky, little vegetable goes by many names. I wanted to make the talasani for Think spice: Garlic event. I think for the first time, someone might have gone to buy tendlis just for talasani in my family! Let me explain. For the reason unknown to me, this talasani was made only by keeping 9-10 small tendlis aside, and after making main tondlichi bhaji, these 9-10 tendlis were smothered with garlic and coconut oil to make that delectable talasani. But let me also quickly add that you may need to have that acquired taste to like this rustic talasani as it is fiery and has just basic 3-4 ingredients.

Here's is what I did-

Tendlya Talasani
Ingredients
20 tender tendlis
7 -9 cloves of garlic (more or less)
2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

Method
1. Wash and wipe the tendlis. Remove both the ends. Now the fun begins! Can you guess?
2. Take a kitchen mallet or pestle and give a quick thud on each and every tendlis. Do not make a mush. The tendlis should stay whole. But just one big thump is enough. It's good for you if you are mad at someone! :-) Let all that anger come out!

3. Now garlic has the same fate. Thump.4. Heat oil in a kadai/wok. Add smashed garlic cloves. As soon as they turn darker, add all the tendlis. Add chili powder and tamarind. Let it coat the tendlis and garlic. 5. Cover it with a lid with water on top. and on a very slow flame, let it cook for about 20 or 30 minutes till the tendlis are tender, but not a mush! So keep checking in between.6. Make sure that water doesn't fall in the talasani. Add salt to taste. Mix well.7. Serve with chapati or dalitauy & rice.


Note -

1. To expedite the process, you can steam the tendlis in the pressure cooker before adding to the garlic. But slow-cooked tendlya talsani tastes better.

2. Do not let garlic turn too dark brown as it will turn bitter.

3. Like almost all Konkani food, talasani too tastes better if made with coconut oil.


This is my contribution to Sunita's (of Sunita's world) Think Spice: Garlic event.

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