Masala rawa idli

Idli literally meaning rice cakes are a staple food in the Southern parts of my country of birth India. Traditionally these are made using a fermented mixture of rice and lentils. I however make them using coarse semolina (mota rawa/sooji). My husband is fond of spicy food because he comes from the northern state of Punjab. I come from Uttar Pradesh and do not have a very spicy palate.

So we normally find a middle ground. And this is our version of masala rawa idli or spiced semolina puff cakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup coarse semolina

1.5 table spoon cooking oil

1 tsp Mustard seeds (raee)

1 tsp Chana daal

2 tsp grated ginger

1 chopped green chilli

2 table spoons of chopped coriander

6-7 curry leaves

1 tsp salt

1 cup yoghurt

1 cup of water

A pinch of aoesofotida (heeng)

Method:

Take oil in a pan and heat it on medium low flame. Add the Mustard seeds and aoesofotida. When the seeds start to crackle add the Chana daal and toast until the daal starts to look just slight brown. (See how the lentils have become brown). Slightly less done lentils are fine but if they get burnt it is better to start over again.

Now add the ginger, chili and curry leaves. Stir for a minute.

(apology for a poor picture there)

Now add in the rawa or semolina and roast it nicely until it becomes slight brown and gives a nice aroma.

Again the rawa must not be burnt. So when it starts to look brown then take it off the flame. Now add the coriander, salt and yoghurt, and water.

Let this mix stand for at least 15 min. The mixture will rise and you will most likely need to add another two or three table spoons of water depending on if you will make the idli in a microwave oven or on flame. Normally the microwave Method, which is what I use, need a slightly more water.

The final mixture has a smooth consistency and would be almost as fluid as a smoothie.

Now time to pour the mix into the idli cooker and microwave for 10 min on 800 watts. You might need to adjust this as per your equipment.

The final result should be well cooked puffed up cakes.

Happy cooking!

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Mangold recipe

Another super food is Mangold leaves. Widely used in mediterranian cooking, this leaf is not so common in the northern parts of India where I come from. Nonetheless I gave it a try and totally loved the final result. Simple, easy and quick – this is the best recipe to prepare right after work and ensure a healthy diet.

Ingredients:

4-5 mangold leaves with stems washed and chopped into small pieces

4 Potatoes chopped into small vibes

2-3 table spoon cooking oil

1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1/2 tsp Mustard seeds

2-3 whole black pepper

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp dried coriander powder

1/2 tsp black salt

Preparation:

Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin and mustard. Also add the black pepper. Give it a few seconds till they start to crack and add potatoes. Fry on medium-high flame and when the potatoes start to become a bit brown add in the chopped leaves. Stir and let it cook for a minute. Now stir again, add all the spices and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook until the potatoes and the stems of the Mangold are completely cooked.

Serve hot with rice or chapati.

Amaranth recipe

Amaranth is called the superfood of India. It is a very nutritious plant with a lot of protein, iron and calcium. And I have loving friends who have grown amaranth and then gifted some to me. I made a simple recipe today and I loved it. And so did my better half which usually is an indication that the dish is indeed tasty.

Ingredients:

Amaranth – around 400 gm finely chopped

Onions – 2 medium finely chopped

Potatoes – 4 chopped into thin (approx 0.5 cm thickness) pieces

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp

Dried coriander powder – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Garam masala – 1/4 tsp

Fresh lime juice – 2 tbsp

Preparation (cooking time: 30 min):

Take 2-3 tbsp cooking oil in a skillet and add the Cumin and Mustard seeds. When they have cracked, add Onions and a punch of Salt. Fry until onions start to turn brown. At this stage add Potatoes and let it fry together with the onions. When the potato wedges start to become brown, add the amaranth leaves and stir well. Now add in all the spices. The leaves will start to lose water and start to wrap around the Potatoes. Fry for around 5 min. Finally add the lemon juice. Mix well and fry for another minute.

And we are ready.

Karela (bitter gourd)


Bitter gourd or Karela (in Hindi) is a very special vegetable. It is very bitter and almost impalatable if eaten without proper cooking technique. But everything that is difficult to eat is usually bursting with health benefits. And so is karela. It is supposed to be very good for cleaning the blood, which leads to beautiful skin, better blood circulation and digestion and even used by diabetic patients. 

As a kid I always used to run away from karela. Somehow even the slight bitter taste would be enough repelling for me. Now when I am all grown up, I love this. Though I have to admit my sister loves this and have loved it ever since she was a kid. So I guess it is kid-to-kid that something would be appealing or not.

Ingredients:

6-7 bottle gourd each around 4-5 inches long

4-5 medium sized onion chopped into broad long slices

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/3rd tsp

Oil – 7-8 tbsp

Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/3rd tsp

Red chili powder – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried coriander powder – 1 tsp

Lemon juice – 1 tbsp

Method:

To get the bitterness out of the gourd it is important to treat it with salt. Here is how I do it. I first scratch off the pointy skin of the gourds and cut them into thin round slices. Don’t wash them yet. If the seeds are yellow or brown I normally remove them. Now I add 3-4 tsp salt and mix it well with the sliced bitter gourd. Then I transfer them to a bowl and cover with a lid. I left them standing for 6 hours though I don’t think 6 hours are really needed. 3 hours would do as well.

After 6 hours:

Wash the salt-treated bitter gourd with fresh water and throw away all the juices that the bitter gourd has oozed out by this time. Strain away all the water and keep the washed gourd aside.

Take oil in a skillet and let it heat up. When hot add cumin and fennel seeds. Let them crackle for 1 min and then add the onions. Fry the onions until they are slightly translucent. Now add the washed gourd pieces into the onions and let them fry together with the onions until the onions are all brown and the gourd is nicely cooked.

At this stage add all the remaining spices and mix well. 

Finally add the fresh lemon juice and mix again.

The vegetable is ready and usually goes well with roti or paranthas. 

This is really a healthy treat for the body! 

Dum aaloo without tomatoes

You know food is one of the best things in the world. It connects, it rejoices and adds love to life. So today I experimented with my Dum Aaloo recipe yet again. This is more of less the same recipe minus the tomatoes.

Why did I take out the tomatoes – to try! And my husband is Pubjabi so thought to try out the Pubjabi Dum aaloo today.

Ingredients:

Fried small potatoes – 4 cups

Chopped onion – 2 large

Black cardamom (badi elaichi) -2

Green cardamom (Choti elaichi) – 4

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch

Javitri – 1 stick ca. 1 inch 

Whole black pepper – 4

Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp

Crushed ginger – 1.5 tbsp

Crushed garlic – 1 tbsp

Oil for frying the potatoes and for cooking

Cashew – 5 tablespoons

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp

Garam masala –  1/3 tsp

Kasoori methi crushed – 1 tsp

Water 

Method: I half boiled the potatoes and pricked them with a fork. Then I deep fried them on medium flame until they had a nice golden brown crust. This step took around 30 min of preparation to end. When done remove the potatoes on a tray.

Now take 4 tbsp of cooking oil in a pan. Add black cardamom, green cardamom, javitri, cinnamon, black pepper and jeera. When the spices are fried, then add the thin long chopped onion. Fry until the onions are dark brown. Add this stage add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir and fry for 30 sec.

Now add the turmeric, coriander, red chili, garam masala and stir for 30 sec. Switch off the flame and let the masala mixture cool.

In the meantime soak the cashew in hot water for 5 min and grind to a fine paste.

When the masala mixture is cool, grind it to a fine paste and sieve through a sieve to remove the threads from cardomom and other whole spices.

Now take the pan again and pour in the sieved masala mixture. Add water and bring to a boil. Then add the potatoes and let it stay for 30 sec. Now add the salt to taste and kassoori methi. Finally add the cashew paste with a bit more water and stir to mix well.

At this stage I lower the burner to the least and cover the pan with a lid. Let this cook at simmering heat for another 5-10 min. Then switch off the flame. 

Dum aaloo is ready! We loved it with zeera rice. 

Pindi chole

White chickpeas (kabuli chana): 2 small cups

Baking soda: 1 tsp

Spices for boiling:

Cinnamon stick: 1.5 inch long

Bay leaves: 2

Black tea leaves: 2 tbsp

Green cardomom: 2

Black cardomom: 1

Spices for final dish:

Turmeric (Haldi): 0.5 tsp

Red chili powder: 1 tsp

Dried coriander powder: 2 tbsp

Pomegranate powder: 1 tbsp

Dried mango powder: 1 tsp

Salt: to taste

Black salt: 1 tsp

Kasoori methi: 1 tbsp 

For the tadka (sizzling):

Oil: 3 tbsp

Carrom seeds (ajwain): 1 tbsp

Ginger finely chopped: 4 tbsp

Green chilies slit into two halves: 2

Garlic crushed: 2 cloves

Method:

I soaked the chickpeas in normal water for around 7-8 hours. Most people leave them soaked overnight. Then I take them in a pressure cooker, add soda and salt to taste. Then I took the rest of the spices used for boiling and packed them in a little muslin cloth bag. If you don’t have a cloth, then you can susbtitute the tea with a tea sachet (remove the paper label) and then place the spices directly to the peas. I normally use Lipton black tea if I need to do this. The purpose of the tea is to balance the acidity from soda. Then an added advantage is the colour that it gives which is a signature need for pindi chole. Then pressure cook the peas for 7-8 whistles. The peas should be cooked until they are absolutely soft and crush easily between the fingers. 

Once boiled, drain out the peas but don’t throw the water. Keep the water aside. Spread the peas in a pan and then add all the spices for final dish in the order that has been mentioned in the ingredient list. Just sprinkle each spice all over the surface without mixing.

For the final sizzling, take oil in a pan and heat it. Add carom seeds, ginger, chili and garlic and sauté until the ginger is slightly brown. Make sure that this doesn’t burn. Pour the hot oil tempering uniformly over the spiced chickpeas that we prepared just before this step. 

That’s it!! Pindi chole are ready. If you have coriander garnish with that. And some might like to garnish with finely chopped onion and lemon. I usually make a mixture of onion and lemon and keep it separately if someone wants it.

You can enjoy pindi chole with poori, paranthas, kachauri or rice 🙂 it is yum! 

Samosas

Today is New Years!! 2017 couldn’t have been a more confusing year for us emotionally as a family where while we suffered many loses while at the same time we were blessed with a new little person. So morning after morning I wake up and think of my son up in the clouds. My child who is not in my arms anymore, not in the human shape and form. But as they say life keeps going on. But really!!! How can life be moving on? Sometimes such questions bother me, but then the next second I come to the wise words of someone who said, “Despite what may, the courage lies in saying YES to life”

So this morning we woke up, and the very first instinct was to eat Samosas and Jalebi. This is a typical breakfast menu, though definitely not the lightest or the healthiest menu. However all that is not so healthy is super yum. Well so we enjoyed the morning today and have retorted to lighter meals during the rest of the day.

Today I am penning down the recipe for Samosa’s which was a mixed effort from my husband, mother in law and me. Well why not take help from experience of my mother in law. She is an awesome cook so we followed her tips.

For the filling:

  1. 6-7 boiled potatoes – chopped into small pieces
  2. 1/2 cup of steamed peas
  3. 2 tbsp cooking oil
  4. 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds (split into halves)
  5. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  6. a pinch of asafoetida
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 2 tbsp dried ground coriander
  9. 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp garam masala
  11. 1.5 tsp dried mango powder
  12. 1 tsp black rock salt
  13. 2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh coriander

For the shells:

  1. 1.5 cup of all purpose flour (i.e. maida in hindi)
  2. 3.5 tbsp ghee
  3. 0.5 tsp carom seeds
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. Less than half a cup of cold water

 

Method:

Mix the flour, ghee, carom seeds and salt. Mix the flour well rubbing between your fingers such that all the ghee is nicely soaked and mixed with the flour. To check if the ghee is sufficient, take a lump of mixed flour in your palm and close your fingers. The flour should slightly stick together. If this is so then the ghee is sufficient. If not add another tbsp of ghee and mix well using your fingers.

Next add the water little by little and make a tight dough. Too much water is not needed otherwise the samosa shells will not become crispy. I usually give the final task to my husband who then takes the flour and kneads it nicely until it is soft and smooth. The surface of the dough will become smooth and not have cracks.

Now for the filling, take the oil in a pan. When hot, add the split coriander seeds, asafoetida, cumin seeds. Once they crackle add the potatoes and mix. Now add all the spices and mix well. Finally add the peas and let this mixture get roasted for around 3 minutes on medium flame. Stir once in a while. Finally switch off the flame, garnish with freshly chopped green coriander and mix well. Let the mixture cool down before filling into the samosas.


For the final step, divide the dough making small portions of the size of a golf ball. Take each little ‘golf ball’ portion and roll it into a thin round circular shape. Now carefully slit this circular flour base into two halves. Take one of the halves, add just enough filling and apply little cold water on the sides with your finger. The water in this case is used to glue the samosa together. Make all the samosas. Finally deep fry them on low-medium flame until golden brown.





Serve hot with your favourite chutney.

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