Monday, 30 April 2012

Ponnanganni Keerai Kurma

Ponnanganni Keerai Kurma

There is a reason this green leafy vegetable is called ‘poonanganni’ where ‘ponn’ refers to gold. Consuming this helps our skin start looking like gold I believe. Well, not that you will become like something that king Midas touched, but the point is that it is extremely good for health. It is also suppose to be good for hair growth. Boiling coconut oil with these leaves, hibiscus flower and ‘arugampul’ is suppose to promote hair growth. Rather than preparing it in traditional ways, I tried making kurma so I could have it with rice or rotis. It was great with roti and I had some leftover with curd rice the next day, so am sure it is great with both. Here is the recipe...

2 cups chopped ponnanganni
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon cashew nuts
5-6 almonds
½ teaspoon aniseeds/caraway seeds/fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
5 teapsoons dessicated coconut/grated coconut
3 green chillies
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil

Boil the spinach in little water until done

Heat little oil and fry the onions until it changes colour

Add the tomatoes, ginger garlic paste and cook until it turns mushy

Grind together the almonds, cashews, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, chillies, coconut and aniseeds with little water and add this to the tomato onion mixture.

Allow it to boil and stir frequently, then add the spinach and boil

Simmer for few minutes, add required salt and it is ready to serve!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Sprouted Bajra Dosa (Sprouted Kambu Dosa)

Sprouted Bajra Dosa
Bajra is a rather common type of millet, however I came across a few millet varieties that are much less common. They just seem to have not made their way out of the villages or farms in which they are grown. I tried searching for them online so I could buy, unfortunately they seem to be more readily available as bird feed than food for us. It is a shame that we do not appreciate the benefits of these ingredients and think they are rather for the birds. Hopefully one day I will get my hands on these goodies, for now it is back to the millet on hand. What is a good way of making them more nutritious, sprouting! I had sprouted bajra earlier but had left them a bit longer outside and they started rotting. So learning was that sprouted bajra does not last as long as mung sprouts. This dosa was really good and came out like hotel dosas. Main reason I like this recipe is because it breaks the myth that healthy dishes have to taste like mud. So, here you go, try it and get stronger!

½ cup bajra, sprouted
½ heaped cup idli rice
¼ heaped cup urd dal
Handful of poha
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Soak idli rice, urd dal, poha and fenugreek together and grind to make a smooth batter along with sprouted bajra. Add required salt

Pour ladleful of batter on a hot tava and drizzle some oil and cook until golden brown. Flip sides so both are cooked

Serve hot with chutney and sambar

Monday, 23 April 2012

Badam Halwa (Almond Pudding)

Badam Halwa (Almond Pudding)
It is said that success is a journey, not a destination and that is so true. Well, I know there are several other food blogs with even thousands of recipes and my milestone is quite a humble one but I think it is unfair for me to compare with others, each one being different. So, am going to give myself some credit and pat myself on my back for coming this far. I am very glad that I have been able to sustain my interest and not let it die away with just a few recipes. On the contrary, my interest has increased several folds and am trying to research more and more about ingredients, get hold of many forgotten ingredients and so on. With the intent of sharing as many healthy yet tasty recipes, I started off with just pictures of the final dish. I then thought it may be helpful to show step by step pictures as a picture speaks a thousand words isn’t it? For the lowest level of amateur photographer that I am, I was pleasantly surprised to receive good feedback about my clicks. I am hoping that soon I will post video recipes atleast for some recipes which seem rather tricky for many.

Coming to the 300th recipe, there is probably nothing innovative about the recipe as it is a very traditional dish and very simple by itself so adapting it would not have made meant much. Reason I wanted to post this for this milestone is that it is my husband’s favourite sweet (he does not like sweets otherwise). It was him that prompted me to start a website (in the end I chose blog) and despite not being adventurous with food he has tried almost all the dishes I make. I do not normally tell him what is in the recipe but allow him to give the feedback and these days his guesses are getting better and thinks I add goodies like millets, lentils etc. to most of the dishes I make. Having said that there is nothing innovative about this recipe, I can assure you that it is a fool proof halwa recipe. The struggle many have is usually with final consistency as some end up with a hard cake rather than a soft halwa or for some it may not come together. As we do not have a sweet tooth I added less sugar, however equal amount of almond and sugar would probably be just right for someone who likes sweets. Thanks to all the readers, especially the ones who have taken time to try my recipes, leave comments/feedback/idea. Without you readers it may have been a bit pointless running a blog. Thanks to my family for the continuous encouragement, without them I would have had nothing to write about.

2 cups almond
1 ¾ cups sugar
2-3 pinches saffron strands
About a cup of milk (may need more or less)
5 teaspoons ghee

Soak almond in hot water for atleast an hour and remove the skin

Put it in a mixie/food processor and add just enough milk to cover it and grind to a not so smooth paste

Heat couple of spoons of ghee and add the ground almond. I did add a little water to rinse off the mixie jar and added it. Add the sugar and stir well. Now begins your 20-30 minutes stirring exercise! Do not leave it at all as it will burn very easily

After about 10 minutes of stirring, add the saffron strands and more ghee and keep stirring until the ghee separates from the rest

Garnish with some almond flakes and serve!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mutltigrain Fruit Loaf

Multigrain Fruit Loaf

Variety adds spice to life and ofcourse to food as well. Variety not just in the kind of dishes made but also the ingredients used is a key. When we use a number of different ingredients, we improve our chances of getting a variety of nutrients and benefits from the food. Also, some research seems to suggest that eating the same food over years can make your body develop intolerance to food. For example, one might eat wheat in every meal, every day. Over years, they may develop intolerance and reach a point when they can no longer take wheat. It is said that introducing the all important variety can help avoid such conditions. So, that possibly explains why I try to add a variety of grains and cereals in my everyday cooking. One other aspect is to reduce the amount of refined food. This includes white sugar as there is not just a lot of processing involved in refining it but some say animal bones are charred for the refining process. I have added brown sugar like most times and also added almond flakes to give a slight crunch when biting. It is perfect for breakfast or even as a snack during the day. Here is the recipe...

¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ cup oats
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup oil
½ cup yogurt
¼ cup dried currants
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoon almond flakes
2 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon vinegar

Mash the bananas and add all dried fruits and almonds

Sift baking powder with wheat flour, cornmeal and all purpose flour and then add the oats

Add sugar, yogurt, oil and about 1/3 cup of water (enough to bring it to dropping consistency), mix just until combined

Add the vinegar just before you are ready to put in the oven. Pour into a greaseproof paper lined loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool, slice and serve

Friday, 20 April 2012

Turmeric Pickle

Turmeric Pickle

Who said medicines have to be bitter or have horrible taste? I strongly believe that the first medicine we all should believe in is our food. The way we all seem to have evolved, we would not really ingest stuff that are not tasty so packaging healthy and nutritive food attractively, not just appearance wise but taste wise is very important. This has been my motto ever since I started cooking in my kitchen and I do hope that readers of the blog have been able to see that. One of the most important and beneficial ingredients in Indian cuisine is turmeric. Typically used in the powder form, it is actually a perennial rhizome. Many would have commonly seen it during Pongal festival as it is usually tied by a thread to the special pot used to make the Pongal. I have written in greater detail about turmeric in this article. I noticed a fellow blogger had posted a fresh turmeric pickle recipe and then it occurred to me that I should try something with this wonderful ingredient. Now that I am in a place with better access to Indian ingredients including fresh vegetables, I got my hands on fresh turmeric. I wanted to stick to a rather South Indian version as that would go down better in my household. I had some ideas in mind and in the interest of time and energy, took a few shortcuts and came up with this recipe. What I really like about this recipe is that unlike most pickles, it does not need an awful lot of oil and is primarily preserved in lime juice. I also did not use much salt to keep it safe for people with blood pressure problems. Ensure you store it in a clean dry container. Keeping it out under the sun for a couple of days is said to augment its flavour and prolong the life. My pickle is going down fast so I am not too concerned about its life! Please note that turmeric is used as a dye as well so when you chop it, it is likely to stain anything it touches. Make sure to lay few papers down on the counter before chopping. It will stain the hands as well, some say this could be avoided by applying some oil before chopping but the stain on teh hand will go away in a couple of days. Here is the recipe...

1 cup chopped turmeric rhizome
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
3-4 tablespoon oil
1 ½ teaspoons chilly powder
Salt to taste
Juice from about 6 limes
½ teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Heat some oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the fenugreek powder, chilly powder, asafoetida

Add the turmeric and rest of the oil and required salt and cook in low flame for about 5 minutes. Then add the ginger powder

Cool for a few minutes and add the lime juice

Store in a clean air tight container

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Paneer Methi Chaman

Paneer Methi Chaman

Green, green and greener! The deeper the colours of the fruits and veggies we eat, the healthier it is for you and green vegetables follow the same rule as well. Methi leaves are rich in vitamin K and comparable with spinach in that aspect. It is said to help clear constipation and also good for people who suffer from frequent stomach pain. This recipe is by Tarla Dalal originally and I made minimal changes to just simplify the steps like adding green chillies to the greens rather than grinding it separately etc. With soft cubes of paneer added, it was a great side dish for rotis. Here is the recipe...

2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup fenugreek leaves, chopped
1 ½ cups cubed paneer
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon kasoori methi
½ teaspoon garam masala
3 green chillies
½ teaspoon chilly powder
Salt to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Cooking oil

Boil the spinach and fenugreek leaves in little water until done. Cool and blend along with green chillies

Dry roast the kasoori methi until crisp and keep aside

Heat little oil and add cumin seeds, once it browns, add the onions and fry until soft

Add the ginger garlic paste, chilly powder, coriander powder, kasoori methi, turmeric powder and fry for a couple of minutes

Add the blended spinach mixture, cook for couple of minutes

Add paneer cubes, garam masala and little water, required salt and boil. Simmer for a few minutes

Serve hot with rotis and squeeze some lime juice if you like

Friday, 13 April 2012

Mango Pachadi

Mango Pachadi

It is Tamil New Year today, so ‘Iniya Tamil Puthandu Vaazhthukkal’. My mother would normally make festive meal on this day and menu would include vada, thayir vada, thirukannamudhu (payasam/dessert), mango pachadi and regular rasam, mor kozhambu etc. Owing to my circumstances, I could not make an elaborate meal but I made it a point to make the pachadi. The main reason for that is the thought process behind the recipe. The pachadi includes a variety of flavours – sweet, sour, salt, heat, bitterness. The sourness comes from teh raw mango used, sweetness from the jaggery, heat from the green chillies, bitterness from the neem flower added. It is suppose to represent how life is full of mixed flavours, happy one time, disappointed another, sad at another time and so on. On the new years day, one makes and eats this dish to gulp down that truth about life. Another reason I wanted to post this today is that I have been wanting to get the blog ready with festival recipes ahead of the festival so readers can benefit but have just not got to it. Atleast this one has made it in the very day!

1 mango, cut into chunks
½ cup jaggery powdered
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urd dal
1 teaspoon neem flower

Boil the mango in water until well done

Mash it roughly and add jaggery water (I prefer to dissolve the jaggery in little water and filter, you could add grated jaggery). Add green chillies and salt and bring to boil and allow to thicken

In the meantime heat little oil and add urd dal, mustard seeds and neem flower and allow the seeds to crackle and dal to brown.

Add this to the mango and boil for couple of minutes and it is ready!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Crispy Cauliflower (Low Fat Cauliflower Fry)

Crispy Cauliflower

With a hope to keep cost and wastage down I have been buying frozen cauliflower for the last few weeks. However, when I did come across a rather low cost cauliflower at the Indian grocers, I could not resist the temptation to buy it despite my freezer stock still being available. And then came a dull evening when I felt like munching something, not unhealthy and also filling enough for me to have just fruits for dinner. I had been meaning to try a low fat version of cauliflower fry. It was a bit complicated preference I had that day as I did not want bajji like dish and neither did I want to add soda bicarb. So I decided to increase the quantity of crispness adding flours like rice flour and corn flour and also added a bit o foil to the batter so it does not turn out too dry. I really liked the dish and if all these healthy veggies can be served in such yummy and low fat form, I could easily have not just my five a day but also ten a day! Well, enough of my rant, here is the recipe for you to try for yourself.

¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup corn flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3-4 cups cauliflower florets
Turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon chilly powder
3 teaspoons cooking oil
Salt to taste

Mix corn flour, rice flour, all purpose flour, salt, turmeric powder, chilly powder, required water to make a thick batter like dosa batter and add two teaspoons oil and mix it

Add blanched cauliflower (I steamed it for 10 minutes, you could put it in boiled water for ten minutes) to this batter and mix so all of them get coated well

Put this on a lightly greased oven proof dish and bake at 200degC for 20 minutes, then give it a quick mix and put it in the oven for 10 minutes, ready to serve!