Friday, 30 July 2010

Ragi Rice Sevai (Ragi Rice Idiyappam/noodles)

Ragi Rice Sevai (Ragi Rice Idiyappam/noodles)

Sevai as it is called in my household is like noodles and is also called idiyappam. It was quite a common dish in my family and my mother was expected to make it from scratch for everyone including my aunt and her family. That seems to be proof enough that she is so patient. Anyway, I remember there used to be special equipment in brass to make sevai from the dough but my mom had to use her small ‘nazhi’. It is usually quite a bland dish but can be pepped up with a nice hot and sour dish on the side. Usually mom used to make ‘pachai puli’, a dish made with tamarind and charred egg plant. A hot vegetables and coconut stew would also be a nice combo. The sevai can be had plain or tempered with some roasted coconut or be made lime flavoured. Where we are, we get ready cooked rice noodles in packets. I used to make lime sevai with it for a simple and quick meal. As I always want to make our meal more nutritious I was looking to enhance this dish. I then chose ragi to provide the nutritional boost. I do not enjoy the instant ragi dosa and few other recipes I have seen with ragi. For that reason I constantly try to come up with enticing ragi recipes. In this dish, I have not used ragi but used rice as well to give a nice texture and colour. As you know, ragi does not have the most appealing or tempting colour! Ragi is rich in protein and quite low in calories and fat. It is also high in fibre, keeping you fuller for longer. If you get ragi grain itself, you could sprout it (rinse and soak in adequate water for 6-8 hours; drain and tie in a muslin cloth or keep in a box in a warm place for atleast 12 hours), roast it or dry it and grind it to powder to make the flour. Alternately you can buy the ragi flour from the store and this usually is sprouted ragi flour. With that, here is how you can make it...

For sevai:

½ cup rice flour

½ cup ragi flour

Salt to taste

Boiling water – quantity depends on rice flour as some tend to suck more water than others.

To temper, flavour and serve:

1 cup grated carrot

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 green chillies finely chopped

1 sprig curry leaves

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder


Juice of one lime

Fresh chopped coriander leaves to garnish

To make the sevai, roast the rice flour until it starts appearing bit coarse than it was to start with (if you know how to put rangoli/kolam, take some flour between your index finger and thumb and see if the flour freely flows enabling you to put kolam. If it is not free flowing, roast further). Also roast ragi until you get a nice aroma from it.

Add salt and mix both flours. Add enough boiling water to make a dough that is not watery. Due to rice flour, the dough will be soft but make sure it is not watery. Ensure there are no lumps in the dough.

In a ‘nazhi’, squeeze out the dough to form the strings. I did it on idli plate, if you have sevai plate, you can use that. Steam for 10 – 15 minutes.

For lime sevai, in a pan, add teaspoon cooking oil and once hot, add the mustard seeds, after it splutters, add curry leaves, turmeric powder, and asafoetida. Finally add the carrot and cook for a couple of minutes so carrots remain partially cooked (just to retain more nutrients).

Let the sevai cool so it does not lose shape while mixing. Using your hand, mix the sevai with the tempered carrot. Squeeze juice of a lime and mix again.

Garnish with coriander and serve with tangy chutney.

If you wish to make coconut sevai, replace carrot with couple of teaspoons of coconut and roast it with rest of tempering. I had this with a spicy and sour green chilly sauce (masiyal).Above quantity could serve 4.

Here is a great tip - if you are a busy bee, you need not always make this sevai from scratch. I make a big batch of dough and instead of steaming it all, I dry some in my oven and keep in a plastic bag. Just got to steam whenever I want it!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Barley Dosa (Barley Savoury Crepe)

Barley Dosa (Barley Savoury Crepe)

While I am excited about writing up several recipes just now this particular recipe will give me more satisfaction. Reason is because it is packed with a lot of goodness and it is the first time I have tried using barley in a dish. My experience eating and cooking barley was always limited to boiling it and drinking the ‘broth’ and discarding the barley. Barley water is said to be particularly good for lactating mothers. My other experience incorporating barley in my diet was through breakfast cereal which had barley as well but it was not significant. I recently found how much I had undermined the goodness in barley and that was my wake up call. Barley has soluble fibre, beta-glucan. This is supposed to help reduce blood glucose and hence considered very good for diabetics and also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. Moment I read about barley’s role in controlling blood sugar, I became quite impatient as I wanted to come up with nice recipes so my mom could enjoy them. Barley also has insoluble fibre which helps the maintenance of bowel function by regularising it and hence reducing the risk of caners like colon cancer. Barley is also supposed to contain anti-oxidants specifically ones that help slow down oxidative damage by gathering up free radicals that form when body cells use oxygen. They also contain several vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and big bonus is that they are very low in fat. Barley is also said to help weight reduction.

I went looking for barley flour and could not find any in the supermarket, did get bread flour that is supposed to contain lot of barley. I later found barley flour at Asian grocers which is now in my pantry. First on my agenda though, was to use the pearl barley I already have at home. I wanted to keep the recipe simple and familiar and decided on dosa. I think it is a nice way of eating this good grain as the dosa has lentil (lentil-urd/blackgram, parboiled rice and ofcourse barley). Parboiled rice is healthier than raw rice. This dish I thought will be a wholesome and hearty combination of grains.

½ cup par-boiled rice (idli rice)

½ cup urd dal (blackgram)

½ cup barley

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Salt to taste

Rinse all grains and lentils separately. Soak urd dal and fenugreek together and rice and barley separately for atleast 6 hours.

Grind urd first, add rice, grind and then add barley. Grind well to form a fairly loose batter, just like usual dosa. Add salt, mix and allow to ferment overnight.

On a hot pan, pour a ladle full of batter and spread to desired thickness (I like thin crispy dosa). Drizzle a bit if oil and cook until edges become brown. Turn and cook other side for a minute or so.

Serve with a tangy chutney like tomato chutney.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Peppery Mushroom Pepper

I love shopping and usually any kind but should admit not electronics shopping really. I am not so much a tech savvy person and leave it to my husband. I however do insist on doing the weekly grocery shopping as I find it easy to pick things and get to know what’s new in the market, what I can experiment on etc. Sometimes I also find it hard to specify the quantity if I should hand a list to my husband. Only I will understand why I need loads of few ingredients, tomatoes for example. Few ingredients come a long way even if only one pack. My husband had bought loads of green peppers (capsicum) and mushroom one of these weeks. To be fair I think he did so because we had my brother and sister-in-law over and so he just doubled the quantity. However I could not cook as much as I wanted to as we were either going out or just lazying or too full from the previous meal. Left with the peppers and mushrooms, I decided to do a nice and simple dish. I also wanted something different from the usual gravies. That’s when I ended up creating Peppery Mushroom Pepper. While the first peppery refers to the pepper I added instead of chillies so it is easier for my husband to stomach, the last pepper refers to the capsicum. Here is how I did it…

250g closed cup mushrooms (if using button mushroom, increase the quantity) sliced
1 onion sliced
2 green peppers sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper powder (fresh preferably)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste
1-2 teaspoon soya sauce (don’t bother if you do not have)
Cooking oil

Heat about a teaspoon of oil and add the onions. Fry the onions

Add the green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and turmeric powder. Add about half the salt you would normally add. This is done to encourage the mushrooms to give up its water quickly. If you are not using soya sauce, add salt to taste.

Once the mushrooms give up liquid and atleast half of it is evaporated, add black pepper powder and soya sauce. Also add the kasoori methi and stir.

Cook for 5 more minutes or so or until you get desired consistency (I preferred to retain some water, but wanted it thick and pepper powder did the trick). If it is too watery add less than a teaspoon of corn flour and cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot with rice or chapatti

Friday, 23 July 2010

Oat Wheat Biscuit

Oat Wheat Biscuit

Baking is definitely not my strength. It is probably because it is not a very common cooking method in Tamil Nadu. We did not have an oven at home either. When I relocated I was all excited about having an oven (yeah, am so silly) and couldn’t wait to bake. My mother-in-law taught me a basic biscuit recipe but also said it is not very good for health because of the quantity of butter and sugar. She is a nutritionist and so I would not argue. Needless to say, it tasted delicious. Then came a time when my son could start eating biscuits and I also read a research paper written by an Indian team saying children who snack on healthy biscuit develop and grow better than those that do not have biscuits. Isn’t that enough trigger for the dutiful mother? Off I went to the shop and looked at different biscuits in the baby aisle, picked the one with least chemicals and artificial whatever. My son liked it. But they still contain soda bicarbonate and some ammonium compound. Soda bicarbonate tends to reduce nutritional value. For this reason and for the simple reason that I would like to know whatever goes into his food, I decided to make a biscuit. That is how I put this recipe together and guess what? I no longer want to call it just baby biscuit cos I love it. It is such an ideal tea time snack. Crispy to wake you up, wee bit of butter to melt in your mouth and just dash of sugar to boost your energy.

½ cup allpurpose flour/maida

½ cup whole wheat flour (I used medium chapatti flour so it is rich in fibre as well)

½ cup oat flour (grind about a cup oats coarsely)

3 tablespoon sugar

50g butter kept in room temperature

1 teaspoon spice (cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger powder/cardamom powder or a combination) I used cardamom powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch of salt

Mix all flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spice

Add the butter and mix with hand to make crumbles that look like bread crumbs

Add very little water (just sprinkle) to form tight dough. Rest the dough for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will make the dough loosen a bit so make sure you do not add too much water thinking something is wrong.

Divide dough into four parts. Roll each one out to less than half millimetre thick and cut into desired shape using cookie cutter. You could do this with your kid so they get involved in the preparation which is said to encourage eating.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170degC for 20-25 minutes. Place a baking sheet over the tray, no need to grease. Keep biscuits spaced from each other as they will expand. The colour does not change much and just the edges begin to brown a bit.

Cool and dive!!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Chickpea Spinach Stew

Chickpea Spinach Stew

Have you heard people mixing up the terms spicy and hot? Indian food immediately rings one bell in non-Indians – spicy. Unfortunately most of them refer to the heat (due to chillies or chilly powder) instead of the wonderful mix of several other spices that go into a dish. In my mind, a dish could be spicy but not hot. One could always increase or decrease the heat and enjoy the wonderful blend of spices. Some recipes somehow make me think it will be ideal for our western friends. It is probably because of their flavours and not having to be hot to be appealing. Also because some of these dishes fit into the kind of style in which their meal is served, like rice with some kind of sauce or naan with a big portion of curry.

This dish is packed with goodness as well. It has chickpeas (garbanzo bean) which are a good source of dietary fibre, essential minerals like phosphorous, calcium, iron, zinc and also goods source of folate and protein. It has spinach, being a green leafy vegetable comes with loads of goodness like chlorophyll, iron, iodine, calcium etc. It is also suppose to be alkaline and thereby help balance your body pH. It also has another important ingredient – coconut. Some shy away from it thinking it is harmful due to its fat content. I have read articles saying that recent studies suggest that coconut has some key components which are infact good for a healthy heart. Always remember, moderation is the key. I have used coconut milk in this dish. I try to keep my ingredients as chemical free as possible so I do not usually buy the tinned coconut milk which has several ‘E’ numbers. I read in a book I bought from a charity shop that I could add boiling water to coconut cream (it does not have any chemicals) to make coconut milk. I tried it as I do not have time (read it lazy) to make it from scratch and then clean it. Worked out great! Okay, that is enough build up, now for the recipe...

1 cup boiled chickpea (that would be about ½-3/4 cup dry chickpea)

1 pack of spinach leaves (about 400g)

1big onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 green chilly finely chopped (increase or decrease based on preference)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)

½ teaspoon cumin powder (jeera powder)

½ teaspoon coriander powder (dhania powder)

½ teaspoon chilly powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ cup coconut milk (pour half cup boiling water over contents of a 50g packet coconut cream)

Salt to taste

Cooiking oil

In a skillet add teaspoon cooking oil and once hot add the cumin seeds. When they begin to brown, add onions, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and chilly.

Once onion is cooked, add the cooked chickpea. I soak overnight and pressure cook until soft and not mushy. If using tinned, drain, rinse and use. Add the spice powders. Add a cup of water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now add the spinach and once it is almost cooked, add the coconut milk and simmer for few more minutes.

Season with salt, mix and serve.

It goes well with rice and other Indian breads.

If you find it a bit watery, then mash some of the chickpea just to thicken it.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Masal Idli

Masal Idli

Idli is probably one of the most popular dish from South India, especially Tamil Nadu. There are two key selling points for idli. One is that it is fermented and thereby contains good bacteria that is helpful to maintain healthy gut. Second is that it is steamed food and hence is considered harmless. It is a bland dish in itself but the condiments usually make it yummy. When kids are unwell, idlis are given to them as it is spiceless and easy to digest. Most South Indian households may have the batter almost all through the week as it is very handy. If idli is on your menu, your wee one can have it too rather than making something else. Here is idli spiced up!

4 ladles of idli batter (depends on how many idlis you want to make)

4 teaspoon/tablespoon of masal as discussed in vegetable masal recipe

Pour a ladle of the batter on the idli plate but do not fill it completely.

Spoon the masal over the batter and steam. Cook for about 15 minutes. Usually you will start to smell the idlis and then you know it is done.

Let the idlis cool a wee bit, then put them on a plate and cut into bite size portions depending on your child’s age.

Remember idlis are made with par-boiled rice and Urd dal (black gram). Along with the vegetables (carrot, peas, onion and potatoes) in the masal, this will be a healthy meal with carbohydrates, protein and vitamins.

Try to make the batter yourself. Instant idli mix contains soda and that not only destroys some nutrition but also makes one feel bloated. You do not want this to put your child off! I soak 1 portion urd dal with a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and 4 portions of idli rice overnight. Grind and ferment for a night. Refrigerate.

Vegetable Masal

This is my first post under the baby, toddler and kids category! From the day I started weaning my son on solids, I was sure I should lead him to eat family meal around one year old. One of the ways I did that was I would give him mashed version of the same vegetables we were eating for that meal. When he started accepting textured food, I started making common meals and reduced chillies in our meal. Sometimes I would cook chilli-less version on another burner. When he would come toddling to our plate, he will find the same food and express a sense of relief and satisfaction. At one stage I just had to make the food common as if I gave him anything different, he would refuse. In this dish, I was making masal dosa (savoury crapes with mixed vegetable stuffing). I made a chilli-less version for him and will be using it in different ways. Here is the basic masal recipe. As far as kid’s recipes go, the quantity of ingredients is really upto you. Some kids like one vegetable more than another and some may not like some flavours. Unless it is baked recipe, especially like bun or muffin or cake, I would suggest that you take the quantities as directions and tweak as required for your kiddo...

¾ cup boiled potatoes

1 big carrot, grated

1 onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 sprig curry leaves

½ cup peas

1 teaspoon grated ginger


Optional – ½ teaspoon cumin powder and ½ teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cooking oil

In a frying pan, add teaspoon oil and once hot, add the mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add curry leaves, turmeric powder, asafoetida, onions, ginger and peas (I use frozen peas).

Once cooked, add carrot. Remember carrots can be eaten raw so do not cook for too long as some nutrients could get destroyed. Cook for two minutes and add potatoes. Keep mashing and mixing and season with salt.

If you were adding cumin and coriander powder, do so when the peas are cooking. If your child is a very young toddler (just past the baby phase), make sure you do not add a lot of salt. For everyone at any age low salt is better.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Sag Aloo

When my husband said we will relocate to the city we are in, I was very sure there will barely be any touch of Indians here. Where we are is a beautiful city in North of Scotland with lovely views and plenty of things to do outdoor, weather permitting. There are barely any industries here and hence I would think tourism is a big source of revenue and employment. Inline with my expectations, there were very few Indian families around, no temples and no asian grocery shop. But what did surprise me was the number of Indian restaurants! It then gave me an idea of how much curries are loved by the locals. Unfortunately, most of these restaurants do not really serve authentic Indian food and there is only one that is close to it and we go there when we fancy escaping from the kitchen. As they lack authenticity, there are very few dishes I like on the menu and choice is further restricted for a vegetarian. The two main dishes I quite enjoy is Naan and Sag Aloo. I decided I should attempt to replicate that dish in my kitchen and I almost did. My husband enjoys Sag Aloo so that was another reason I wanted to replicate this dish. Having said that, you can be sure to see another post for Sag Aloo as I have two different ways of doing it. Here is one way…

3-4 potatoes, boiled and cut into long pieces

1 big onion chopped

½ cup tomato puree

2 cups spinach, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon each – dhania (coriander) powder, jeera (cumin) powder, garam masala

Salt to taste

Cooking oil

Take teaspoon oil in a skillet and once it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When they begin to brown, add the onions and fry. Add turmeric powder

Add the spinach and allow it to wilt

Add tomato puree and allow it to boil

Add the spice powders and cook

Add potatoes when most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and cook for further ten minutes.

Serve hot with rice, roti, chapatti or naan bread.

I prefer this dish to be a little dry and not have gravy as such. If you prefer gravy, then you could increase the tomato puree or add water. You could also mash some potatoes so the gravy gets a nice consistency and is not very runny.

This dish contains atleast 3 of your 5 a day vegetables (onion, tomato and spinach) and a portion of the everyday starchy veggie, potato. Happy Cooking and Dining!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Easy Tomato Egg Drop Soup

Food blogger I may be but I have these days when I cannot be bothered cooking. That happens usually when I am exhausted or am thinking deeply about something or sometimes just lazy. Although, it is hard to be lazy and sit back when you have a toddler around. I did have such a day yesterday where we had great South Indian meal at a friend’s place for lunch and I just could not bother cooking in the night. Human body does not care how much you stuffed during a meal but just begins to growl in 4-6 hours again. My husband and I were trying to get something on our plate at ten in the night. I chose the lazy route – heat up frozen paratha and my husband made himself a plate of Maggi noodles and a surprise. It was tomato egg drop soup. It was such a simple recipe and he almost did it when his magi noodles was cooking. I should mention that myhusband does notconsider himself a good cook although I thoroughly love certain dishes he makes. He does saythat as far as kitchen goes, he is like an artist who will paint at their own will once a few months and not the daily cook. Anyway, this recipe would be great when you barely have any time but have to fill your stomach with good food. Also, I would imagine it could be a nice snack when you just come back from work so you can get some energy to cook yourself a dinner. It is so simple that I do not even have step by step photos! Here is my husband’s recipe and quantities serve one…

2 tomatoes finely chopped
1 green chilly finely chopped
1 egg, you could beat with fork
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

Take about 1 1/2 cups water and add the tomatoes and green chillies

Once the tomatoes are well cooked (say boil them for 10 minutes), add the five spice powder and salt

Boil for 2 minutes and add the egg and stir so the egg breaks up and gets cooked. Boil until egg appears done

Serve hot with black pepper powder if chilly is not very hot.

If you fancy, you could add spring onions along with the tomatoes, we didn't as we had none then.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Spinach Balls

Green Vegetable Balls/Spinach Balls

Have you had days when you start attempting a recipe and you end up with something completely different? Often, the result is great! Well, this is one such recipe. I was hoping to make patties or cutlet like stuff but ended up with something different. I try to make healthy snacks so we do not get empty calories and awful fat etc. For this recipe I chose to use some beans (pinto), spinach, coriander and potatoes. You can use peas in addition or to replace the beans or you could use some other bean like red kidney beans etc. I found this dish has a very unique taste and was quite new to me. Here is how I did it…

3 medium sized potatoes well boiled

2-3 green chillies

Generous handful of coriander leaves

Generous handful of spinach

2-3 tablespoon of cooked beans or peas

½ cup breadcrumbs (you may need more depending on how watery your vegetables are)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon each - coriander powder, cumin powder, chilly powder

¼ teaspoon garam masala (increase or omit based on preference)

2 tablespoon crumble dressing (if not available, just keep more bread crumbs handy)

Salt to taste

Cooking oil

In a food processor blend all ingredients except oil. If you take the mixture in a spoon it should just about drop. Do not panic if it is slightly more watery, try to adjust with the breadcrumbs.

Heat the ‘kuzhipaniyara koodu’ (you can find more information on this on the post low fat vegetable balls ) and add less than a teaspoon oil in each hole or pit.

Sprinkle the top of the batter with crumble dressing (which is rusk powder) and using a spoon just lift some of the batter and drop in the ‘kuzhipaniyara koodu’ once the oil has heated.

Keep turning each ball within its hole/pit to ensure even cooking. Cook until it has browned.

Serve hot with ketchup or just by itself.

This is quite a wholesome snack as it has carbohydrates from potatoes, iron from spinach, protein from the beans andother vitamins and antioxidants from the rest of the vegetables.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tomato Kadhi/Tomato Soup

Tomato Kadhi/Tomato Soup with a difference

God must have been in a great mood while creating tomatoes, he has given them wonderful colour and also flavour. Everytime I run low on stock of tomato, I get restless and need to go shopping. A wonderful vegetable that saves my day quite often! It was interesting to learn that tomatoes were initially considered toxic and to cause cancer and for this reason were avoided in the US until about 1800s. It is said that a traveller introduced it in his hometown of Salem by showing people that nothing happened tohim after eating a basket full of tomatoes. Recent research show that its current popularity is for good reason. The red pigment in the tomato, lycopene, is suppose to be a good anti-oxidant and key in preventing few cancers. Knowing all the benefits of tomatoes makes cooking even better because I know I am doing good for my family. It is a shame though that I cannot eat tomatoes raw because of my allergy to uncooked tomato.

My brother and sister-in-law were going to visit us and I was struggling to find time to cook. I had decided I will make corn pulav but was also thinking of a side dish. In the interest of time, I ditched that plan and wanted to make something simple, yet special. As the corn pulav did not have anything to give it a sour taste, I chose to make something with loads of tomato as a side dish for the pulav. I thought I will follow Tarla Dalal’s recipe for this but I must admit, I got lost but ended up with a very interesting dish. This dish can either be served as a soup or on the side with rice. Here is how I did it...

5 tomatoes

½ teaspoon chilly powder

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons besan (Bengal gram flour/chickpea flour)

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

1 small cinnamon stick (optional)

Salt to taste


¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

Dry roast and grind:

3 cloves

3 dry red chillies

2 teaspoon coriander seeds

Wash and cook the tomatoes in half cup water. Cool and blend. If desired, pass through a strain to get rid of skin and seeds. I chose to keep them.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add a teaspoon oil, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once mustard crackles, add asafoetida, turmeric powder (and curry leaves, cinnamon if using) and the chickpea flour (besan) and fry for a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn it.

Add the tomato and dilute with about half cup water. Allow it to boil.

Add chilly powder and the ground spice powder

Simmer for few more minutes, season with salt. Add dollops of yogurt before serving.

If you do not have time to roast and grind the spices, just add coriander powder, more chilly powder. Add few cloves along with cinnamon.

Kadhi is a traditional Gujarati dish and they tend to add some sweetness to the dish. If desired, you could add some jaggery.