Showing posts with label Food and Beverages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food and Beverages. Show all posts

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How to grow perfect green gram/ moong beans sprouts

When I was a kid I was a very willful child. I am still one. But I was a total mess when it was about food. I would refuse to eat a lot of things and take hours to finish the food on my plate. Being the eldest grandchild I was pampered and spoilt. It was usually my maasi's duty to feed me.  It was routine torture for her. I hear tales of my greatness till date in family gatherings. And I shamelessly smile about my silliness. Eating healthy was a far off thing. I would stay miles and miles away from milk, green vegetables etc. Anything which fell in the bracket of "healthy eating" was a big NO. None in the family would have ever imagined that I would write a food blog and blog about eating healthy.

I am a total opposite of what I used to be, even few years ago. My pantry would be stocked with junk food ... chips, chocolates and ice-cream was a staple. Not sure how this transformation happened. But I am glad it did. I guess it was hibernating somewhere in the sub conscious mind. I come from a family where eating healthy is the norm. But we do indulge once in a while.


Last week before going for grocery, I was checking my pantry and making a mental list of things I had to buy. I forget half of the necessary things though. I will talk about that some other day. So there was little green gram sitting quietly. These days dinners are more about salads .... so I thought why not !

Today my post is about how to grow the perfect sprout, the base for a good sprout based salad/ dish.

Health Benefit of Green Gram Sprouts

Mung bean sprouts is very common and one of the easiest to do. It is low in calories, have fiber and B vitamins, and deliver a boost of vitamins C and K. (Source - Google) 

How to grow the perfect Green Gram/ Moong beans sprouts

What you need

Whole Moong Beans (Make sure they are not too old) - 1/2 cup
A close box to make the beans sprout. (I used a wide mouth stainless steel one)C
Clean cotton cloth.

 

Method of Preparation

Wash the green gram/ moong beans under running water.
Soak overnight in enough water . (Or for 6-8 hours)
Drain the water. Wash one more time under running water.
Take a clean cotton cloth and wet it. Wring to remove excess water
Tie the moong daal in the cloth and keep it covered in a food container / box for a day.
Next day, you can see tiny sprouts.
Again take them out, and wash under water. Drain the water and repeat process till the sprouts grow little longer.

You can store them in air tight container/ zip lock bag for 2-3 days in the fridge. Best consumed fresh.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Crispy Grilled Sardines ......Oil Free Cooking



The owner of this fish shop is a very cheerful young guy. Each time I visit his shop he helps me recognize the fishes in display. Mostly with local names in Kannada ...... I can barely recognize fishes, except Rohu, which is our staple. Well, now I am well versed with white and black Pompfrets, Shrimps and Mackerel to a certain extent. Also, he would oblige me with cleaning the fishes and cutting it per my instructions, no matter how crowded the shop is. Especially on weekends.I can however boast of selecting fresh ones .... I got my lessons pretty young when I went to the fish market with my dad. 

These days I have been doing a bit of research on fishes and their nutritional values. I love my fish hot, crispy and shallow fried in oil. But I understand that frying the fish in oil is not that healthy and I don't like raw curried fish.To satisfy my taste buds, the fish needs to be fried first and they curried. But that's not quite healthy. Although I love the taste. Of late myself and J are on a health diet. No we don't kill ourselves by starving. We are just trying to eat healthy.  And we both love fish. We can eat it on any given day. So I am trying to recreate traditional dishes with very little or no oil. 


Today when I visited the fish shop, they had some good fresh stock of Sardines. We are not much into eating Sardines because it's a sea fish. People in my part of the world prefer fresh water fishes. The reason why I got attracted to it is because of it's nutritional values. It is a very oily fish and is extremely rich in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorous and Omega 3 fatty acids. It is known to promote heart and bone health as it is rich in Omega 3 and calcium. However, if you are having a medical condition, it is better to consult a doctor before including it in your diet. 


I prepared a crispy grilled sardine today. It requires less than a teaspoon of oil as the fish itself is very oily. And I really loved it as it can be prepared in a jiffy. It was crisp and equally yum as the pan fried ones. Marinate and toss it into the oven and forget it for next 20 minutes. I can say that I recreated the taste of pan seared sardines minus the oil. So it was guilt free indulgence.




Serves - 2
Preparation Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 20 minutes

Ingredients

Sardines - 6-7 (medium size) cleaned
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Laal Mirch - 1/2 tsp (or more if you like it more spicy)
Ginger Paste -  1 tsp (fresh is better)
Lemon Juice - 2 tsp
Tandoori Masala - 1/2 tsp (use any store bought ones)
Curry Leaves - A handful
Mustard oil -  1 tsp
Salt per taste


Method of Preparation

Clean the sardines and pat them dry. Or leave them in a colander so that all the water is drained out. 
Prepare a tray by lining it with aluminum foil (reduces your work of scrubbing and cleaning it later). Preheat oven in grill mode at 250 degrees centigrade for about 10 minutes.
In a bowl mix all the ingredients to make an even paste. Add curry leaves to the masala. It enhances the taste of the fish. 
Make deep gashes on both sides of the fish.
Take the marinate masala  and rub on both sides of the fish. Now layer the fish on the prepared tray. Now reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees centigrade. Place the try on middle rack and grill for almost twenty minutes or till done.
Serve with rice.










Friday, July 17, 2015

Chicken Rezala ....


I have come across various Rezala recipes several times. Mutton/Chicken/ Potato and even Cauliflower Rezala. And one thing that is strikingly similar and interesting to note is that most of my bengali food bloggers have it on their blogs. Rezala as the name suggests is a Mughlai dish which the chefs of Mughal Emperors from Awadh introduced in East of India. 

The dish is highly rich, full of flavors, enticing to the taste buds and the secret of a successful Rezala is the use of homemade sweet yogurt that nicely compliments the dish giving a nice sweet taste. Though Rezala is synonymous with mutton, the one I have prepared is with chicken. A perfect chicken rezala would have flavorsome gravy with juicy tender chicken pieces which would make your taste buds lingering with a burst of tang.

While I was scouting for a perfect Rezala recipe (actually there are many versions), I settled with one from my friend Sayantani's blog, A Homemaker's Diary. Though I followed most of the steps she posted, I tweaked it a bit per my taste buds. I would say her's is a more authentic version of Rezala as she has used a generous amount of ghee/ clarified butter and kewra essence. I have cut down a bit on the ghee/ clarified butter (wanted to make a low fat version) and used saffron instead of kewra. And I must say, J and I loved it. But you may add a generous amount of ghee for enhanced flavor and richness. 

My Verdict - This is one simple dish bursting with flavors.



Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients

Skinless Chicken, Bone in Medium size pieces -500 gms
Medium Size onion - 2
Garlic Pods - 3-4 large
Ginger - 1 inch
Fresh Curd - 1 cup
Ground Black/ White Pepper - 1 tsp
Nutmeg Powder - 1 tsp 

Whole Garam Masala

Green Cardamom - 3
Black Cardamom - 1
Cloves - 4/5
Black Pepper - 8/10
Red Chili - 2
Bayleaf - 1

Clarified Butter - 2 tsp
Refine Oil - 3 tsp
Cashew Nuts (Whole)  - 4/5
Poppy Seeds - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 pinch
Saffron - few strands


Method of Preparation

First wash the chicken and drain all water from it. Keep aside. Remove the skin of onions and pressure cook it using little water till one whistle. When cool open and remove from cooker. Let it sit for some time till it cools thoroughly. Crush garlic and ginger using a mortar and pestle. 
When the onion is cooled down chop it roughly. Grind onion, ginger n garlic together in a blender to make a smooth paste. The paste has to be absolutely smooth. 
Using a whisk, beat the curd to make it smooth.
Grind cashew n poppy seeds to a paste and keep aside.

In a bowl mix onion/ginger garlic paste and curd. Add nutmeg and pepper powder. Add salt to taste. Add the chicken pieces to the mixture and marinate. Keep it aside for minimum 30 minute. est if you can marinate it for 4-5 hours.


Once you are ready to cook Heat the oil and ghee. Lightly pound (just one or two stroke for the pods to open and release more aroma) the whole spices and add to the oil. Let it sizzle and  fill up your kitchen with lovely aroma.Shake off the marinate from the chicken and arrange them on the pan, preferably in single layer. on medium heat seal the chicken and cook till all sides turn white. Now pour in all the marinade and mix. 
Cook for 8-10 minutes and the add the poppy/ cashew seeds paste. cook for a minute and pour 3/4 cup warm water. Check the seasoning and cover. Let it simmer on low heat till oil starts to float on top and the chicken is cooked through.



Uncover and add the sugar and strands of saffron . Keep covered till you are ready to serve.
Serve with Indian flat breads Naan/ Paratha/ Kulcha etc.








Monday, June 1, 2015

Homemade Bounty Truffles / Coconut Truffles


I grew up in coastal Odisha where there are plenty of coconut trees and the use of coconut in cooking is also extensive. Especially sweet dishes called "Pitha". So I have a strong liking for coconut and use it liberally in my cooking. Because making Pitha needs patience and perfection I hardly venture into that area. I like things that are simple to make and where the scope of going wrong is minimal. Due to my love for coconut, I became a big fan of the Bounty chocolate the first time I tasted it. I can gobble half a dozen of it in a go. Kind of crazy, if you can say so. 


I don't think there would be anyone in this world who doesn't love chocolates.The richness of chocolate and the nutty coconut flavor makes me crave for it. I always wanted to replicate the same in my kitchen. And after a few experiments I nailed it.  The ingredients can be easily found in one's pantry and the process extremely simple. Even an amateur in the kitchen can make it. Making this with your kids is a great activity. And the best part, it can be done in no time.



Ingredients

Dessicated coconut (dry) - 2 cups
Condensed Milk - 1 cup (I use Amul)
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
Dark chocolate shredded - 1/2 cup (packed)
White Chocolate (Optional)



Method of Preparation

Dry roast the dessicated coconut in an open pan on minimum heat for a minute. Add condensed milk and vanilla essence. Mix well with a wooden spatula till condensed milk and the dessicated coconut get incorporated.
Remove from heat. Grease your hands with a little butter. Take a little of the mixture and roll it between your palms to make smooth balls.Once all the balls are done, cover and keep it in fridge for fifteen minutes.



Next, Take the shredded dark chocolate in a double boiler and melt it to a smooth liquid. Else you can melt it in microwave too.
Take the coconut balls out of the fridge. Dip in the chocolate to coat it on all sides. Remove and keep it on a parchment paper. Repeat till all are done. Again keep it back in the fridge till the chocolate becomes firm.
Next melt a little white chocolate and drizzle on the balls (optional)
Your home made Bounty is ready.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chicken Keema .....

These days when I blog I think about my little sister who is dealing with sleepless nights and tied up mornings for past few months. Her five month old monster is a handful. So I am trying to think of easy below thirty minutes recipes for her which can be done in no time with simple ingredients from the pantry. Chicken Keema is one such dish. It can be prepared in less that thirty minutes and can be paired with rice and breads.
My Marathi friend likes it a little spicy and pairs it with the famous Mumbai Pav. You can also make a wrap using your regular roti or make a grilled sandwich with it. You can also make a stuffed indian bread "Keema Paratha" with it. The options are many. Or just relish it with naan or roti.

Keema is packed with flavors and you can never go wrong with it.



Ingredients

Minced Chicken ( You can ask your local butcher to do it if it is not readily available) - 500 gms
Finely chopped onion - 2 medium size
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
Tomato Pureed - 3 medium size
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp ( You can add more if you want more spicy)
Chopped green chilies - 3
Salt per taste
Oil for cooking

For Garnishing (Optional)
Coriander leaves
Chopped onions



Method of Preparation

First wash the chicken keema pieces. Let it sit in a colander to remove excess water from it. Finely chop onions and green chilies, puree the tomato and prepare ginger garlic paste by taking equal quantity of ginger and garlic. You can also use store bought one.

Take a heavy bottom skillet. Add about 4 tbsp of oil. When hot add the finely chopped green chilies and then chopped onions. Saute the onions till they look translucent to golden brown. Then add the ginger garlic paste. Saute by stirring it regularly. Else it may burn. Then add the pureed tomatoes to it. Add turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Cook the masala till there is no raw smell and it starts leaving oil from the sides.
Add the minced chicken meat to it.

Mix well with the masala. Now add garam masala to it.
Add about 2 cups of water. Cover and simmer the meat on medium heat till most of the water evaporates and the meat it cooked.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Suggestion for Serving

Team it up with any Indian flat bread (Roti/ Naan etc)
You can also make a grilled sandwich with it.
Or even a wrap/ roll.
You can also use this keema for pizza topping



























Friday, May 8, 2015

Whole Wheat Spiced Banana Bread


It was long weekend here on May 1st and we went on a long road trip from Bangalore to Rameswaram. The trip was beautiful .... I will blog about that separately. But when I was back after four days of fun and frolic I saw a bunch of banana staring back at me. They were over ripened  and on the verge of getting spoilt. The first thing that came to my mind was Banana bread. But with a husband who is sweating it out to loose few pounds, it had to be healthy. So I experimented with baking with whole wheat flour (atta) and the result  didn't disappoint me at all. Infact it was better. And I am never going back to baking with all purpose refined flour/ maida again. 
This banana bread if guilt free indulgence with the goodness of wheat flour, brown sugar and olive oil and cinnamon. 


Health Benefits of Banana 
Banana is called the fruit of the wise, the reason being quite obvious ..... it has great nutritional values, tastes good and is easy on your wallet.
Brain Power Banana is a rich source of Potassium which is known to increase the alertness of the brain. 
Anti Depressant Have a ripened banana whenever you feel low or depressed.This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Heartburn Bananas have a natural antacid effect on the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Nerves Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
Smoking & Tobacco Use Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Antacid Since they have a naturally occurring antacid effect in the body, bananas help get rid of heart burn after eating your favorite (but miserable) foods, which have loads of spices in them.


Ingredients 

Ripened Bananans - 3 medium size 
Whole wheat flour/ atta - 2 cups
Olive oil - 2/3 cup (You can also use canola/ sunflower oil)
Brown sugar - 1 cup
Eggs -  2 large
Curd - 2/3 cup
Milk- 1/2 cup
Cinnamon Powder - 2 tsp
Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp
Baking Powder - 1. 5 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Chopped Walnuts - a handful (optional)
Chocolate chips - a handful (optional)
You can substitute cashew nuts, chopped dates, sultanas etc in place of walnuts and chocolate chips.


Method of Preparation

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon or hand whisk to incorporate well. (Whole wheat flour + Cinnamon Powder + Cardamom Powder + Salt + Baking Powder).Sieve 2- 3 times and keep aside.

First peel and mash the bananas roughly using a fork.  Now add the brown sugar to it. Using an electric hand blender mix the sugar with the bananas completely. Next add eggs one by one and mix well. Add oil beat. Next add curd and mix to blend in completely. Also add vanilla essence. 

Now add the dry ingredient slowly little by little and fold into that mixture gently. Don't mix vigorously as you can break the air pockets and the bread won't get soft. Also add a little milk while folding the dry ingredients.
Finally add chopped walnuts and chocolate chips and fold.

Prepare a cake tin/ loaf tin by greasing it with some oil properly. Preheat oven at 185 degrees centigrade. Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 35 -40 minutes or till you insert a skewer and it comes out clean. 

Cool and de mould from cake tin. 










Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Aam Panna - Raw Mango Cooler

Summer time is not just the season ..... its about a lot of interwoven memories. Memories that are deep rooted and are close to the heart. Its about the time spent with grandparents and a bunch of cousins. It's about whispers and laughter's. About afternoon siestas and about sneaking out and playing in the hot sun under the mango n guava trees. The sweet smell of neem and jasmine flowers that intoxicate the cool evening breeze. And the smell of earth after a rain shower and a gang of kids walking in the rain under one umbrella to floating paper boats. I wish I could freeze that time forever. 

 
Summer is also about mangoes, especially if one is in India. One can find the markets flooded with varieties. And I can never ever get tired of eating one. Although I prefer ripe to raw ones but I have been hooked to this summer cooler ever since I tasted it. More because it has no sugar in it and is a guilt free drink.
There is no thumb rule of preparing this drink. Every household has its own way of preparing it. The ancient Indian science of Ayurveda and age old wisdom of grandmothers insist on drinking Aam Panna during summers because of its medicinal values. It keeps our body cool and prevents heat strokes. 
 

Health Benefits
Raw Mango is a rich source of Vitamin C, Zinc and Sodium Chloride.  It helps in replenishing these essential nutrients that we loose in the process of sweating during summer.
Also, I have substituted jaggery to sugar for making it more healthier. Jaggery/Gur is rich in iron and helps purifies the blood. 


Ingredients 
Raw Mangoes - 4 (small size) or 3 medium size
Jaggery -3/4 cup

Roasted cumin powder - 1 tsp
Black Salt - 1 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp

Mint leaves for garnishing
Water - 4 cups + 2 cups 
Note : You can add more jaggery if you like it sweeter.


Method of Preparation 


Wash the mangoes properly under running water. In a pressure cooker add about four cups of water. On medium heat pressure cook it for about ten minutes or till the mangoes are cooked and tender.
Let the pressure cooker cool. Remove the skin of the mangoes. (Once the mangoes are cooked the skin comes off easily). Mash the mangoes in the water using your hand to remove pulp from the seed. 

Next take a stainer and stain the juice with the pulp to remove any skin. Add another 2 cups of water to it to dilute it further. Now add the jaggery/ gur to the juice and stir well using a spoon so that it gets completely dissolved in it. 
Next add black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder and black salt. Mix well so that all the ingredients get incorporated in the mango juice.
Chill in fridge for about an hour before serving.


Serving Suggestion
Garnish with mint leaves and serve chilled.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rasmalai .... An Indian Delicacy !



I have not been in the best of health these days. The flu and fever have taken a toll on my health. There are many things that I want to do but the energy levels are so low that I hardly can. Like a ritual I logged into the social networking sites ...... and I could see posts on "Earth Day" and slogans like "Reduce Recycle Reuse .... blah blah blah". Earth Day .... Really !! Like I had the choice of going and living in another planet. It is not about one particular day, rather about what choices we make everyday. I am not against spreading awareness but it is about how much we practice the same.

So one day when the milkman left me few extra packets of milk I decided to make rasmalai from it. It was the first time that I was going to try it. Rasmalai is a very popular indian dessert made from soft cottage cheese and dunked in flavored saffron milk. These are easy to make that if you make it once you kind of get addicted. 

Ingredients 

Milk - 3 liters
Vinegar - 3-4 tsp
Sugar - 1 cups (You can add more sugar to the milk syrup per taste) 
Saffron for garnishing 
Dry fruits for garnishing (Optional)


Method of Preparation 

1. PREPARING THE CHEESE/ CHENNA 

Boil 2 liters of the milk in a heavy bottomed over medium-high heat, stirring frequently making sure that the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
As the milk comes to a boil, add vinegar slowly and stir the milk gently. The cheese will start separating from the whey, turn off the heat.
Once the milk fat has separated from the whey, drain the whey using a strainer line with cheesecloth or muslin cloth.
Wrap the cheese  in a muslin cloth, rinse under cold water, and squeeze well. This process takes out the sourness from the vinegar. To take out the excess water squeeze the cloth, or press the wrapped paneer under a heavy pan for about one hour. Taking the right amount of water out of the paneer is the most important part of this recipe.
To check if enough water is out of the paneer, take a little piece of paneer on your palm and rub with your fingers. After rubbing the paneer for about 15-20 seconds, you should be able to make a firm but smooth ball.
If the paneer is too dry, add a few drops of water, using the water squeezed from the paneer.

Once the paneer is drained, place on a dry, clean surface and knead the paneer for 3-4 minutes until the paneer is almost rolls into smooth soft dough.

Knead the paneer by dragging the palm of your hand hard on the paneer. Keep scooping it back to together and knead more. Your palm will be little greasy.

2. MAKING THE RASMALAI
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and roll them in smooth balls (It can be more or less depending on the size of the patties you make)
To make the balls apply some pressure at the first and then release when forming the balls, lightly press to make about 3/4″ patty shape. 
Mix half cup of sugar and water in a pressure cooker on medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Add the paneer balls and close the pressure cooker. After the pressure cooker starts steaming, turn the heat to medium and cook for about seven minutes.
Make sure the cooker is large enough to accommodate the finished rasgullas patties, as they will expand to about double in the volume while cooking in the syrup!
Close the heat and wait a few minutes before opening the pressure cooker. Pour cold water over the cooker before opening.
Take out the patties from the syrup and squeeze them lightly,and keep aside.
Boil the remaining 1 liter milk in a frying pan on medium heat until the milk reduce to half. 
Make sure to frequently stir the milk as the milk burns easily in bottom of the pan.
Add the saffron and remaining sugar to it. Stir well.
Add Rasmalai patties in milk. Let it cook for few minutes.
Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachios (Optional)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Methi Daal - Lentil Soup flavored with fenugreek leaves.


Nothing beats a home cooked meal .... but having the same staple food everyday can get a bit boring. And with the temperature soaring high I just wish I had a magic wand. That I could just wish and food would be served. The other option left is eating out or ordering food. That can surely solve the problem to an extent but that ain't  a permanent solution, especially for a person like me who is paranoid of calculating calories and is very picky about what oil the restaurant uses for cooking, blah blah ..... 
So, these days I am trying to tweak n twist some of my everyday recipes to make it little more interesting. And the best part is without much effort.
Lentils are an integral part of Indian cooking. There are a plethora of lentil or daal recipes in Indian cooking. Every Indian home has their own way of cooking it. In my place we normally have toor daal/ pigeon pea as a staple. The daal is pressure cooked adding salt and turmeric powder and in the end seasoned with tadka of spices. 

So today while cooking, I added a twist by adding some dry fenugreek leaves .... It was not much an effort but it took the otherwise everyday boring daal/ lentil soup to another level. 

Food Facts
  • Toor Daal/ Pigeon Peas is a rich source of protein for vegetarians.
  • It also has a good amount of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins.
  • It is high in dietary fibre.
  • Toor dal contains folic acid, an important vitamin for all women especially those planning to become pregnant.
  • Studies have shown that the fibers in fenugreek help prevent certain cancers.
  • Fenugreek contains saponins that help reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol from fatty foods. Some studies also indicate saponins to have a role to play in reducing the body’s production of cholesterol, especially the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Ingredients
(Makes -3) 

Split Toor/ Tuvar/ Arhar Daal / Pigeon peas - 1/2 cup
Garlic Pods - 4 (large ones)
Dry Red Chilies - 1
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Dry Fenugreek leaves (Kasturi Methi - Available is Indian Grocery stores) - 2 tsp
Oil - 3 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Water - 1.5 cups
Salt to taste


Method of Preparation

Take good quality lentils. This is the first step towards making a great dish. Wash and soak the daal for about 30 minutes. This will save the cooking time. Peel the garlic pods and crush them using a small mortal and pestle. Alternately, you can finely chop it. Using a kitchen scissor, cut the red chili into small pieces removing the seeds.

Now take the daal/ lentil in a pressure cooker. Add water to it. Add salt and turmeric powder to it and cook for about 2 whistles on medium flame. You can also cook it in any other vessel with a lid till its soft and cooked. 

After the lentils are cooked. Take oil (You can also use Ghee) in a small wok/ tadka pan and bring it to a smoking point. Add cumin seeds and let it crackle. Then add garlic, red chilies and asafoetida. In the end add the dry fenugreek leaves (Adding it in the beginning can burn it and it will loose it's delicate flavor) . Remove from heat and add the mixture to the daal. Stir and close the lid of the cooker.  

Serve warm with rice or roti.






Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ghee/ Clarified Butter ....... Home made from scratch


Certain things clearly intimidate me ..... one such thing was making ghee/ clarified butter from scratch. But finally I overcame my fear by facing it.I grew up in a kitchen where everything was made from scratch. I fondly remember my grandmother making ghee in an era when there was no hand blender or mixer-grinder. Those days she used a wooden hand blender called "Gholona" in odiya. Making ghee from milk cream was more of a ritual those days. There was a special vessel which was strictly used to making ghee, an old discolored aluminum pan. The aroma of freshly made ghee would fill the entire house and sometimes the neighbor's too. I remember scrapping the light brownish color milk solids from the bottom of the pan. Aai (Grandma) and myself loved this residue called "korua". We would take a generous helping of the korua and mix it with a bowl of puffed rice with some sugar. It tasted delicious to say the least. I have not had this for a very long time. 
Ghee is widely used in Indian cooking.The use of ghee in Indian cooking has been well documented in Ayurveda. 




Food Facts


Ayurveda recommends one teaspoon or less ghee per meal.Ghee can actually help to increase HDL, the good cholesterol.  Some additional reasons to use ghee when preparing your food are:
• Digestion (helps absorb and assimilate nutrients)
• Improves memory
• Helps increase flexibility by lubricating the connective tissues
• Carries the medicinal properties of herbs into tissues (yogavāhi)
• Stimulates the liver to produce fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K


Ingredients 
Milk cream - 2 cups
Curd - 7-8 tsp
Making Ghee from Scratch
Making ghee from scratch, begins with the collection of milk cream. When milk is boiled and cooled down, a layer of milk solid called cream/ malai is formed. You need to collect this for about a month and keep it refrigerated till you collect a decent amount (about 2 cups).
Day -1
When cream is collected, remove the cream from the refridgerator a night before and keep it in room temperature. Mix about 7-8 teaspoons of curd to the cream and blend well till curd and cream is incorporated evenly. Let it sit in room temperature for a day. The curd will help ferment the milk solids. 
Day -2
Now take about 2 cups of water (not very cold but room temperature) in a tall mixie jar. Add about 4-5 teaspoons of the cream n curd mixture and pulse it for few seconds. You will notice the butter floating on the water. Extract this butter and keep in a heavy bottom Kadhai/Wok. Repeat process till you extract all the butter. 
Now switch on the flame and keep the wok on medium flame. The butter will start melting and forming a foam. After about 20- 25 minutes you will see golden color ghee separated from the solids. Switch off flame and let it cool down completely. 
Strain the ghee to separate the milk solids. Store in a clean n dry bottle/ can at room temperature.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Curried Chickpeas aka Chole/ Choley

Yah I am back blogging after an era literally. Hopefully this time for good ..... If you have been a regular on my blog you should be familiar with my style. There is a little story/ narration and a recipe. Since I am back after a very long time, I decided to twist my style and make it more versatile depending on the mood.
Because it is summer time and we all are in the mood to flaunt our beach bodies ...... or you might be in the other category as me, struggling to loose some weight, particularly those love handles:)

While I can vouch that there is no magic that helps shed those extra kilos, healthy eating habits and a little bit of working out won't hurt. Intact if one is consistent, you can see the results in a few months. Yah you heard it right, "months". The goals need to be realistic.
So this series is all about healthy eating ...... You don't have to starve to loose those extra kilos.

Choley or curried chickpeas is a very versatile dish and can be done in several ways. The style of preparation also varies from region to region.
This recipe is a milimalistic one with very little oil and spices and can be prepared under 30 minutes.

Food Fact 

Chickpeas are high in fibre and protein, and they have a low glycemic index. This powerful combination can help control your weight and lower the bad cholesterol levels. They are also rich in protein and packed with vitamins that are easily absorbed by our body

Ingredients
Chickpeas/ Kabuli chana/ Choley - 1.5 cups 

Boiled Potato - 1 small

Garlic pods - 12 (medium size ones)
Onion - 1 medium
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Tomato - 1
Green chili  - 1 (You can use more if you like spicy)
Choley Masala - 2 tsp (You can use any store bought one but I used MDH as I like it better)
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking - 2 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp


Method of Preparation
1. You can soak the chickpeas for 8-9 hours (overnight). Then pressure cook it adding salt, 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and the garlic pods. The chickpeas should be soft when cooked. You can add a small potato to the chickpeas and boil if along with it to save time.
2. Finely chop onion, garlic, tomatoes and green chili and keep aside. Mash the boiled potato. 
3. Now put a kadhai/ wok on the stove and switch on the flame. Add 2 tsp of vegetable/ olive oil. When the oil is hot, add green chilies and ginger first. Sauté for a minute and then add the finely chopped onions to it. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes and cook till the masala has no raw smell and starts leaving oil from the sides. 
4. Now add 2 tsp of MDH Chola Masala (or any other masala brand you like) and immediately add the boiled chickpeas/ choley to it. Add mashed potatoes and stir the mixture lightly to blend in. Simmer on low flame for 10 - 15 minutes. You can taste the salt and add more  to the gravy if needed.(Mashed potato helps make the gravy thicker)
5. Switch of the flame and add chopped fresh coriander leaves to it.


Serving Suggestion


Goes well with any flat bread (poori, paratha, phulka / roti etc)




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Macha Tarkari aka Fish Curry


Shanti would sit just outside the porch and call out for Aai  in her shrill voice that can be heard from a mile after keeping aside her big basket of fish. Her timing is always perfect..... 9 am sharp, Sunday mornings. The old bamboo basket is now falling apart and permanently stinks fish. Shanti has been selling fish for many years now. She is a dark busty woman with paan stained teeth. Padma, Aai's domestic help would also follow Aai to the porch. Buying fish every Sunday was more of a ritual. Shanti would carefully remove the leaves from top of the basket and pull out the best one for Aai. But it is Padma who would give the final approval after checking the gills. Then they all nod in agreement before the fish is weighed and cut. 

Aai's house had a big aangan,a courtyard in the middle of the house. The fish is cleaned there, even now. While Padma cleans it, there are more than one onlookers. One of them being Meeoon - Aai's cat, my sister M and few crows perched on the roof. The cleaning regime is completed admist constant chatter, purring of Meeoon and cawing of the crows. After through cleaning the pieces are marinated with a generous amount of haldi and salt and kept away securely from the prying eyes, especially Meeoon. 


Aai eye balls the amount of garlic, ginger and onion and hands it to Padma. And its perfect every time. The masala for the fish curry is prepared the old school way using a seelbata (a mortal and pestle made of stone). Padma's bangles make a nice jingle as she grinds the masala. 

The smoky and nutty smell of hot mustard oil fills the kitchen as Aai carefully drops the fish into the hot oil. And you don't need a sensitive nose to know that the maach is already in the oil. Even before the first batch is out of the kadhai, little M is already there waiting for her share with a small shiny steel plate. Aai smiles and carefully places a crisp hot piece on M's plate with a warning "hot". And as for Meeoon, she is curled comfortably on the kitchen doormat hoping that she gets a little more than the left over bones. 


Preparation Time - 60 minutes
Serves - 4
Ingredients
Rohu Fish - 750 gms ( You can also prepare this with Catla or Tilapia)  
Potato - 2 small
For the masala
Onion - 1 medium 
Tomato - 1 small
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 4-5 pods
Cinnamon - 1 inch 
Cardamom - 2 
Bayleaf - 1
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/3 tsp
Turmeric - 1/3 tsp
Cayenne Pepper/ Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt -  to taste 
Oil for cooking 

Method of Preparation
1. Wash the fish pieces and pat dry. Add 1 tsp of turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt to the fish. Marinate and keep aside.
2. Chop the onion, ginger and garlic roughly and make a smooth paste using a food processer/ blender.
3. Cut tomato into small pieces and keep aside.
4. Cut the potatoes skin on into medium side wedges.
5. Pour some mustard oil (you can use any vegetable oil instead) and heat it to smoking point. Slowly add the fish pieces one by one and shallow fry them in batches. 
6. When the fish is done add the potatoes and shallow fry them in the same oil and keep aside.
7. If enough oil is still left in the kadhai (else add some more oil)  add whole garam masala to it, ie cinnamon, cardamom and bayleaf.
8. Next add the onion ginger garlic paste to the oil. Stir and fry the masala till the masala is cooked and there is no raw smell. Add chopped tomato, turmeric, cumin powder,corriander powder, chili powder and salt. Cook for few more minutes till the masala starts leaving oil at the sides. Cover and let the curry simmer on medium heat till potatoes get soft.
9. Remove from heat and add chopped coriander leaves on top to garnish.

Serve with rice. 
9. Add 2 cups water to the masala to make a gravy. Cover and bring it to a boil.
10. Add potato wedges and fish to it. Now add the garam masala powder.