Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Kollu Rasam (Horsegram/Brown Lentil Soup)

Kollu Rasam (Horsegram/Brown Lentil Soup)

I have possibly rambled enough about how terrific rasam is and how I just Love it in my ginger rasam post. A south Indian meal without it is incomplete for me. The best part is that it is so simple and quick to make. It also lends itself to a number of options. Being a rasam lover I will start putting more rasam recipes. Most of the rasams can be had separately as a soup or be mixed with rice. Usually one of the key ingredients in a traditional rasam is lentils and tuvar dal (pigeon peas) is quite commonly used. In this recipe I have used another lentil – horsegram. I have always walked past this ingredient in the shop but recently I grabbed it and kept it in my pantry. I was curious to know what it is called in my mother tongue as here it said brown lentil. Bingo, it is actually the wonderful kollu. It is rich in fibre and protein and is particularly good for people trying to lose weight. In my mother tongue they say ‘Elachavanuku Ellu, Kozhuthavanuku Kollu’ which means for a skinny person, sesame is suitable and for fat person, horsegram is suitable. It is such a shame that the fact that this lentil is a popular horse food, some people are not happy to even try it. Anyway, here is how I made this rasam...

To roast and grind -
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3-4 dry red chillies

¼ cup brown lentil
1 cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
Turmeric powder
Generous portion of chopped coriander for garnish
1-2 sprig curry leaves
Ghee/cooking oil for tadka
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt to taste

Cook the lentil until mushy. I prefer the lentil blended very well in the rasam so I just ran it under my hand mixie to further mash it.

Roast the ingredients (mentioned to be roasted) separately just so none of them burn. All except the red chillies will start to pop once they are ready to be taken off the flame. Cool and grind all these together to make your rasam powder.

Add a cup of water to the tomato puree and boil well. Add the tamarind paste, asafoetida and turmeric powder

Allow it to boil for a couple of minutes and add the cooked lentil.

Add a portion of the curry leaves so it gives a nice aroma. Add the rasam powder and salt and boil for couple of more minutes. Just before turning flame off, add chopped coriander leaves.

In a small skillet, heat little ghee or cooking oil (less than a spoon), add mustard seeds and once it crackles, add remaining curry leaves and let it turn crisp. Add this to the rasam.

Serve hot with rice or just by itself!

If you cannot take hot food, avoid the red chillies and just include black pepper. If you do not have tomato puree, just cut couple of tomatoes finely and use it.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bajri Roti (Gluten free Millet Roti)

Aloo Bajri Roti

Bajri brings back some distinct memories of my childhood. Much to my mother’s disapproval, I insisted on growing birds in a cage because the birds were so beautiful and I actually loved them. My mom was always for letting them free. Anyway, the main feed for the birds was bajri. I used to have packets of bajri so the birds were well fed. I barely had any idea that this seed is so good for human consumption, such a shame. We eventually let the birds free and with that I stopped buying bajri. Later, when I started working and realising how health savvy I was when it came to food that I ate, I bought bajri but never made anything due to lack of time. During my visit to India, I indulged in shopping again and finally gave bajri roti a shot and it was a disaster because I could not even make rotis from the dough. Further trials have now led to a more successful recipe which I quite liked. Bajri aka millet is possibly a popular grain (I am told it is infact a seed) among the gluten or wheat allergic. To me, it comes across as a nutrition repository. It is rich in protein, iron, B vitamins, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. So, you could enjoy this roti like I did....

½ cup bajri flour
1 medium potato boiled and mashed
½ teaspoon chilly powder (optional)
1 finely chopped green chilly (optional)
Few spoons warm milk or water
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander leaves
Bajri flour for dusting
Salt to taste
Ghee or cooking oil

Mix bajri, salt, chilly powder, coriander leaves, chilly to well mashed potato. Knead with your hand. If needed, add some warm milk or water, little by little to make a soft dough. Smear some oil on your hand and knead dough once.

I happened to rest it for 30 minutes simply because I had to be away from the kitchen to get on with something else, you could make the rotis straight away.

Take lime size balls and some oil in your hand. Use a plastic sheet or the back of a plastic plate to make flatten the ball with your hand to make small rotis. You will have to use a combination of flour and oil to enable you to handle the soft dough well and take the roti of the plate/sheet.

Fry one side of roti or a hot tava and turn, cook and turn again and lightly press the roti so it rises a wee bit. Add little ghee or cooking oil while frying the rotis

Enjoy with a nice gravy or vegetables of your choice. Above quantity yields about 6-8 medium size rotis.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Brown Rice & Soyabean Dosa

Brown Rice & Soyabean Dosa

The success of soyabean kofta recipe gave me hopes of making nice dishes using this healthy ingredient. In my culinary adventure I have had a lot of success and a few failures. Like law of nature, I have seen how few things like ratios and proportions almost always work. So I do try to follow some thumb rules so I keep my failure rate low. I know failure helps me learn but I hate to waste food and from that standpoint, I desperately want success. Dosa is one of my all time favourite dish. I was drooling seeing a program by Gordon Ramsay in which they showed an Indian vegetarian restaurant in England making awesome dosas. The food was supposedly so good that even hard core meat eaters relished it. Anyway, there is no way I can get a hotel dosa in the place I am so got to take role of the chef and whip up something myself. The speciality of this recipe is that it uses one more great ingredient – brown rice. It is far more nutritious and also has more fibre than the polished rice. I hope you get to try it, so here is how I made it...

¼ cup urd dal
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
¼ cup brown rice
¼ cup soyabean
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Rinse the soyabean a few times and soak. Rinse urd dal and fenugreek seeds together and soak. Also rinse and soak the rice. Allow all ingredients to soak overnight.

Grind the urd dal to fine paste and then add soyabean. Grind to fine paste and then add rice. Grind further to smooth paste. Do not add too much water.
Add salt and ferment the batter for 12 hours or overnight.

Heat a tava/pan and pour a ladle full of batter (add just enough water to have a free falling batter) and spread to make dosa of desired thickness. Add little oil around and turn once lower side begins to brown. Allow second side to cook. Dosa ready!

Some like dosa browned some like it a bit lighter in colour. Adjust cooking time according to your taste. For more tips on fermenting, see post on barley idli.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tomato - Sesame Seed Chutney

Tomato - Sesame Seed Chutney

For a long time my association with Sesame had to do with the phrase from Arabian Nights – Open Sesame (which by the way reflects the fact that sesame bursts open upon maturity). Having said that, I now understand that the ‘milagai’ powder that mom made for idlis and dosas had a lot of sesame seeds in it. It is a shame that it took me a long time to realise that the 'nallennai' aka gingelly oil is actually sesame seed oil. But for that, I have barely included sesame in my diet. Honestly, I was not really able to appreciate its distinct flavour and taste. I had used it in a dish and results were quite good. As always, I do have a big packet of black sesame seeds that has been lying in my shelf for a long time now. I was keen to use them soon because the oils in the seed could go rancid if stored for long. I was trying a variety of dosas, which is quite a normal thing in my kitchen, and wanted a new chutney for it. I was also thinking of trying some Andhra recipe and that is how I ended up with tomato sesame seeds chutney. I must say that it was a superhit. My husband, who is usually very wary of my experiments, actually said he liked it and would like it made more often. I quite liked it as well and am drooling now even thinking of it. The best part is it goes well with idlis, dosas, rice, rotis and even bread. I know some people love ‘milagai’ powder (gun powder) but the amount of oil mixed with it is not good for cholesterol. This chutney has the potential to replace the ‘milagai’ powder and is a must try. Here is how I made it…

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 big tomatoes, chopped
5 dry red chillies (adjust according to taste)
½ teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon channa dal (kadalai paruppu)
1 teaspoon sambar powder (optional)
Asafoetida and turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon urd dal
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

In a skillet, roast the sesame seeds till they start popping. Keep aside and roast the chillies until they turn crisp, keep aside. Roast the channa dal till it turns golden brown.

In a saucepan, cook the tomatoes until it becomes pulpy. Add the tamarind paste, asafoetida, turmeric powder and sambar powder and cook for further couple of minutes.

Grind the sesame seeds, channa dal and chillies first and then add the tomato pulp and grind. Season with required salt.

In the skillet, add less than a teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds and urd dal. Once the mustard seeds splutters and dal turns brown, add to ground chutney and serve.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Eggless Banana Pancake

Eggless Banana Pancake

When I started this block I thought it will be a space for Indian recipes. However, as I began to expand my culinary potential, I am beginning to try few typically western recipes. Most of the times it would be an Indian version of a western recipe. I do this quite a lot especially when it comes to my son’s food. Main reason is that I want him to be able to adapt to both food as long as they are healthy options. For sometime now, he has just not been interested in banana and am quite surprised by that because he used to love them and could survive just on bananas when he just started solids. Knowing banana is a very nutritious fruit and is quite important for a growing child, I had to be a bit cheeky and disguise it. Thus came the pancake. Usually pancakes have eggs, I did not put any egg as I first wanted to see how he likes it before I go on using up ingredients, would be terrible to waste them if he dislikes it. Anyway, turns out, he quite liked it. So, eggless banana pancake will be a regular for his snack or breakfast. Here is how I made it. It will yield 3 pancakes. Could not take many photos as I was making it very quickly.

¼ cup whole wheat flour and all purpose flour mixture
1 teaspoon sugar (you could even use just half teaspoon)
1 pinch baking powder
1 pinch salt
¾ of a big ripe banana or a full small ripe banana
3-4 tablespoon milk
Butter or ghee to cook the pancake

Mix the dry ingredients together

Mash the banana and add to the flour mixture and mix

Add milk to form a thick batter that just about flows

In a hot pan, add some batter to make a pancake about the size of your palm. Do not make them too thin. Add some ghee, butter and cook both sides

You could serve with apple sauce or maple syrup or just on its own.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Vegetable Patties

Vegetable Patties

Usually I try to make some snack for the afternoon atleast three days in a week. When I make something I also keep it common for both my son and us. I would normally make a less hot one version for him and reasonably hot one for us. Going forward, I hope this would help him get into family meal comfortably. I was looking at a Tarla Dalal book and found a nice recipe for vegetable patties. I adapted this recipe to suit availability and our taste. I find it quite a healthy snack as it contains a variety of vegetables that too in an appealing way, atleast it looked appealing to me. Here is my version...

For covering
2 medium sized potatoes, well boiled
1 tablespoon cornflour
Salt to taste

For stuffing
Handful of mixed vegetables, boiled
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
½ teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
Small piece of ginger, grated
Salt to taste

Cooking oil to cook the patties

For the covering, mix the cornflour, potatoes and salt and mash with hand to form dough like thing. Try not to add any water.

For the stuffing, roast the cumin seeds and powder the same. Mix all ingredients together and coarsely mash the vegetables with a spoon. (You could use cumin powder instead of roasting and grinding)

To make the patties, take a lemon sized ball of the potato, slightly flatten between your palm and make a small depression in the middle.

Keep a teaspoon of stuffing in the depression and cover up the stuffing using the potato on the sides.

Make a ball again and flatten between palms.

Put less than a teaspoon oil on a tava and place a patty on it. Cook both sides until golden brown.

Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Masala Sprout

Masala Sprout

Soaking beans, especially mung beans to sprout it eventually seems to have become a habit for me now. The convenient thing is that it is a raw food so you do not always have to cook it. However as I somehow am not a raw food person, I try to include it in some recipes. As I had some barley dosa batter left over I thought I will make masala dosa (stuffed crepe) and use the sprout in the masala. That was quite an easy way to get a lot of vegetables in a meal. Usually my dosas are pretty thin and I put a lot of stuffing in each of them. This helps me have more vegetables inadvertently. You could eat this stuffing with chapattis or even use them in a sandwich and grill it. Here is how I made the stuffing...

1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
1 big potato, boiled and coarsely mashed
1 carrot, grated
Generous handful of sprout
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Chilly powder
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Heat a teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add turmeric powder, asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger and onion.

Fry the onions and add carrot and tomato and cook for about 3 minutes

Add the potatoes and the sprouts, mix

Add chilly powder and required salt and cook for couple of minutes.

Stuffing ready!

I put it in barley dosa and enjoyed!

To sprout mung beans, rinse beans few times in water. Soak in water overnight. Drain and keep in a warm place, away from sunlight. I usually do not tie in muslin or use any specific sprouting device, just put it in a plastic box with lid losely closed. It will usually begin to sprout in 12 hours. They keep well in the fridge, so keep them handy!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ragi Dosa (Finger Millet Savoury Crepe)

Ragi Dosa

Sometimes when I think about the importance given to having a variety of fruits and vegetables in everyday diet, I wonder why there is not much importance given to a variety of grains that we should include in our diet. I am currently reading a book about food, diets and nutrition. I read about how people could have been eating something for decades and suddenly become intolerant to it. For this reason, it is suggested that we include a variety of food in our diet. Infact the book goes on to giving recommendations like say if you have wheat today, give 2-3 days time before you have wheat again. For most of us I would guess that could be quite challenging. As far as possible I try to avoid keeping my lunch and dinner common. Again to keep dinner light, it is usually tiffin as we call it. One of the regulars is a variety of savoury crepe, dosa. This dish recipe uses ragi, a grain which is suppose to have its origin from Ethiopia and is quite common in south India. I have written a bit more about ragi in my post on Ragi Kuzhi Appam. Most ragi dosa recipes are instant dosa type. However I somehow dislike that preparation (usually mixed with rice flour, maida and buttermilk) and prefer this fermented version. It keeps the consistency close to traditional dosa, which I love and still more nutritious.

¼ cup urd dal (black gram)
½ cup par boiled rice (idli rice)
½ cup ragi flour
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste

Wash and soak the urd dal and fenugreek seeds together. Soak rice separately. Try to soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Grind the urd dal to a fine paste and then add the rice and grind fine. Now add the ragi flour and grind until the batter is uniformly mixed. The consistency of the batter should be such that it just starts to flow when spooned.
Add salt and allow to ferment overnight. Before making the crepe, mix the batter and if needed, add some water.

Pour a ladle of batter on a hot tava and spread to desired thickness. I usually make a thick (‘uthappam’ like for my son) and make thin crispy crepe for myself. Spoon some ghee or oil and cook both sides.

A wee cat dosa I made for my wee one!

Serve with nice chutney.