Red Bean Vegetarian Burrito and Why not to kill a Mocking Bird.

COURAGE is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through, no matter what – Atticus Finch.

Red bean burrito

Red bean burrito

Some writers impress, some inspire while some simply fade away in the light of day. But Harper Lee, with just one glorious book under her belt, sits firmly in my head – bag, baggage and all. I just can’t seem to replace her. A lot many others try to occupy the coveted seat, but she just won’t budge.

‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ is not an ordinary book. And Atticus Finch is no ordinary hero. The book is a bolt of lightning. A revelation. And Finch’s kindness, courage and tenacity – invigorating.

To each his own

To each his own

Now what does a burrito have to do with Finch, courage or any mocking bird. Well.

I introduced the story to my eight year old this summer in her holidays. And although she seemed more fascinated with Scout and Boo and the title itself, it was Atticus Finch’s character that the relentless mother chose to dissect. Now, at our own very personal level thus began a truly interesting character dissertation of Mr. Finch. All this, while we prepped lunch using whatever we could find in the pantry. The detailed explanations were simplified for her unpolluted mind. What does an 8 year old know about racism or tolerance or black or white or courage without a gun? Though exhausting, the discussion was a revelation.

Tomato salsa

Tomato salsa

Untainted, pure minds have the most basic humane questions, to which, mostly you will have no answers. It is the way it is, was all that I could say. Their usually winged imagination falls short when human nature is in context. To explain that it takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs than to hold a gun was an insightful discussion for both of us.
At one point, I felt I rather stop, maybe I’m destroying her innocence. But I wasn’t.

Innocence is not crushed by an honest dialogue, rather it is enlivened and enlightened. It was a good thing that the deep discussions were laced with good food. This way you make happy memories and remember things for a longer time. She associates salsa and beans and guacamole with so many aspects of the book. Somehow, the food rendered the analysis less morbid, less sad and more hopeful. While little hands assembled the wrap, the mind too voiced it’s own opinions. How she would have punished Bob for being ‘so bad’ and how Tom would not die and how she would like to smack some more sour cream if I let her.

As you like it

As you like it

A red bean burrito is as satisfying to prepare and enjoy as it to read a well written book. Well, almost :)

The recipe:

To make 4 burritos –

Ingredients

4 flour or corn tortillas
8-10 tablespoons of red beans corn mix(recipe below)
4 tablespoons of guacamole
4 tablespoons of sour cream
4 tablespoons of tomato salsa
4 tablespoons of cabbage onion salad
a handful of olives and jalapeños for taste.
lime wedges, tomato salsa and hot sauce to serve

For the Red Bean Vegetable Mixture:

1. 1 cup boiled red beans or rajma
2. 1/2 cup sweet corn
3. 1/4 cup chopped peppers
4. 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
5. 1 big onion, chopped
6. salt, pepper powder and paprika according to taste
7. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

For the red bean mix –
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté ginger garlic and onions, till they sweat and turn pink. Add chopped peppers and corn. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add boiled beans along with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Mix well. Coarsely mash with the back of the ladle. Remove from flame. Keep aside to cool.

To assemble:
Take one tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons of red bean mix lengthwise in the centre. Top with guacamole, salsa, red cabbage salad and sour cream – all one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalapeños and a dash of lime. Fold and serve immediately with more salsa n cream!

stack, smear, dollop

stack, smear, dollop

Note: You can add any other vegetable with red beans if you like. Broccoli, zucchini or tofu will be equally delicious

Note: Cheese lovers – grate some up before the final folding.

Note: The cabbage onion salad is nothing but thinly sliced veggies marinated in little salt and lime juice for an hour.

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

I asked for the moral of the story in one or two lines only.
And this is what she said – To not be bad like Bob and to be good and courageous like Atticus. Hmm…. I think she got that right?

Good to go

Good to go

I painted a pretty decent picture without stressing on the heart breaking pathos of the story but I’m glad I introduced it to her this early. Later at every stage when she reads it, the book will reveal something new to her, as it still does to me.
It’s quite magical, isn’t it?!… This process of reading.

Kadai Vegetable, Restaurant Style

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Location: A simple Indian home in the 90’s housing a calm, tolerant and mostly busy mother, a loving, indulgent father who never entered the kitchen or helped in any of the housework and three feisty spirited young girls with mind and tongues of their own.
Act 1: Pre Lunch preparation for some random guest.
Scene 1: Girls fighting for the sole spare burner in the hot messy kitchen of this noisy raucous house.

She: I need that kadai, you always try to take things that I need. Give it back, right now.
Me: I took it first, so I get to make my dish first.
She: You are so mean, the moment I said I want to make my curry now, you jump in with this crap. So Wicked!! Me(proving her point, with a wicked grin): Yes!! Need to be.. with irritating sisters like you!!

. . . More rumbling grumbling, a tug here and a pull there and finally mother’s discordant yell settles it. She wins. I get to use the burner when she is done. And I knew very well.. she will take her own sweet time to make that horrid spicy vegetable melange, the recipe of which she refuses to part with.

I seethed and fumed. Threw a fit and a fuss. Refused to do my bit and walked out sullenly to the comforts of my room. Blocking my ears with earphones and all that unbearable noise and camaraderie of sister-mother, I impatiently wait to be called by mother. Now this was routine.

Sisters, with not many years parting them, fight like cats and dogs. And whats also routine is, the dismissed child expecting to be appeased by the decisive parent. So, I waited.

Till mother comes to assuage, let me fill you in the workings of this mad house. We are three girls, young, noisy, controlling, fighting yet extremely loyal and always in support when we have to tackle the big bad world outside. And when we entertained we always helped. Helped in tidying up the house, though it was given to the youngest one – who didn’t have a choice but listen to two ruling prevailing sisters. Helped in the kitchen… gladly choosing our signature dishes( which by the way never changed) to cook and present to our esteemed guests :)

So mother makes what she usually makes best and that which requires massive effort and experience. I keep experimenting and trying something new every time and she, she cooks one curry, every time – for the next 5 years ;) Though, to be fair, that spicy masaledaar Vegetable curry had many takers and much appreciation, made me so resentful and envious that I would refuse to put a morsel of it in my mouth. Sigh! How immature you would say. Yes, I do agree. But we were teens waiting to be appreciated and admired at the drop of a hat. Well! no amount of slickness from me could get hold of the highly guarded formula either.

Complete Meal

Complete Meal

Well, several acts and scenes later, and of course not to forget, age, marriage and kids later, we behave like how sisters ought to behave :) Like real ladies.
Bridges shortened, holes mended and love reignited, we now switch ideas in managing work, house and kids, not to forget over-grown babies called husbands. And of course we swap recipes :)

And for that spicy masaaledar vegetable kadai, which I so vehemently dismissed as Horrid!! In truth, every bite was relished albeit far from the sisters prying eyes. So when I made it a point to feature on my blog and asked for the recipe, It was no surprise that a wonderful detailed mail waited for me, along with exhortative suggestions to do some mean photography with her prized signature dish!

Restaurant style gravy

Restaurant style gravy

Kadai Vegetable is a fiery mix of of vegetables simmered in a thick delicious gravy. Ideally the entire dish is made in an hard iron thick bottomed kadai or a wok, hence the typical name.

Easy alternative to paneer

Easy alternative to paneer

The recipe:

Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups diced vegetables ( par boiled) – I used carrot, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and peas
    • 1 capsicum, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 chopped tomato
    • 1/4 cup diced paneer – optional
    • 2-3 tbsp of cream – if need arises
    • ginger julienne and coriander leaves to garnish
    • Dry masala : 1-11/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp coriander or dhania powder 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera powder 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp turmeric or haldi powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder 1/2 tsp saunf or fennel seeds 2 tsp of khus khus or poppy seeds 6-7 cashewnuts
    • Wet masala: 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp curds 2 tbsp of cream 1/4 tsp sugar
Thats pretty much all you need.

Thats pretty much all you need.

Method

      In a wok or kadai, dry roast all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes till they become fragrant. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind the wet ingredients and keep aside. Once the dry ingredients are cooled, grind to a fine powder. In the kadai, heat a tbsp of oil, and shallow fry onions and capsicum. Remove and keep aside. In the same wok, throw in the dry masala and roast for less than a minute. Add wet ingredients and sauté till oil leaves sides. Add chopped tomato and sauté for a couple of minutes. Finally add cooked vegetables, onion, capsicum and paneer. Give it a nice boil. Flavour with salt. If the gravy is thick or spicy, add milk or cream accordingly. Garnish with coriander leaves chopped and thinly sliced ginger. Serve with hot chappathis, rotis, naan, rice or bread.
Julienne ginger and green chili garnish - typically North Indian

Julienne ginger and green chili garnish – typically North Indian

Note:
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.

Note:
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.

Note:
Alter the spices according to your level of heat

Note:
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

I soon realise the recipe is pretty simple and not at all time consuming. So when I wondered aloud to her as to why would she ever take so long in prepping this simple dish, her smug replies leave me wanting to bite her head off!!! Sisters I tell you.. wicked bunch they are!

Taking sister’s signature dish to lovely Angie’s weekly visual potluck – Friday Feista, #63. Peek in to see some great delicacies.  Hope they like it!

Easy Home Made Granola

It's so easy.

Its so easy.

Walking down the aisle, I battled with all the choices given to me. We are being spoilt and confused was my constant refrain. The shelves looked so perfectly tabulated and full with these gorgeous boxes of cereal.
Sigh! ‘They do it purposely’, was my grumble while I placed the box back precariously. Well, the shopping was taking more time than necessary, and I was in no mood to loiter. So off I went, billed my stuff and got back home in good time to do what I do when in distress.

That you will make little gifts out of them

That you will make little gifts out of them

I was going to make granola at home – decided. Now all I needed was a nice clean recipe. :)
The web caters thousand different varied recipes. (Was running away from all the choices I had to make in the superfood aisle, and here I was, pounded by more!!) Well, did manage to get a gist of what I need to do and the rest was up to me. Yay!! I could throw in what ever I like, how much ever I like and skip what I don’t. Hmm.. pretty neat huh.

Goodness Jar

Goodness Jar

Getting all the stuff together is a pretty straight forward job, all I found difficult to procure was a pack of old-fashioned rolled oats. The most common variety is the quick cooking oats which cannot be used here. Well, after a bit of nosing around, I did find and I bought a big box immediately.

Thats pretty much what all you need

Thats pretty much what all you need

The best part about making this at home is you can play with the ingredients as you like. Some more of this, less of that, it’s all upto you.

I was so pleased with the results, that I packed small jars for family and friends to enjoy. The little jars make such cute gift article that its impossible not to like the look as well as whats in it!

Mix. Mix n Mix

Mix. Mix n Mix

Well, children (or rather my child) do not eat it so readily. I coaxed and cajoled, and she did give in to take a tiny bite. But that was it, she didn’t want to do anything more with it.

Try some

Try some

A small bowl of this very healthy nutritious granola goes a long way. Make it your breakfast with some fresh fruits and a tall glass of milk or some yoghurt. Try topping on your milkshakes. A handful of this on your ice cream adds crunch and a bit of health into it ;)

Pack some

Pack some

The Recipe: To make about 1 kg granola.

Ingredients

  • 500gms old fashioned rolled oats
  • 250gms mixed chopped nuts, I used almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans
  • 100 gms mixed currants and raisins, I used dried blueberries, raisins and black currants
  • 50 gms mixed seeds – I used melon, pumpkin, sunflower and flax
  • 100 ml coconut oil or olive oil or any healthy cooking oil
  • maple syprup or honey as per taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • a pinch of sea salt

Method

Keep the currants and raisins separately. In a saucepan, heat oil, maple syrup or honey, vanilla and salt. Simmer for a minute or two until all ingredients are well combined.

In a huge bowl, take oats, nuts and seeds. Do not add raisins and currants. Pour the honey-oil mix and combine it well. On a lined baking sheet, spread this mix out evenly and bake at 175 C for about 10-12 minutes or till they start to evenly brown. The ideal colour is golden and please take care not to over bake else they turn bitter.

Once the oats and nuts are cooked. Remove, Cool. Add raisins an currants. Give it a final toss. Store in airtight containers. Use as required.

Spill some

Spill some

Best Served with – yoghurt and fresh fruits!

I usually take mine with fresh fruits and chocolate protein shake. Its one full breakfast!

Daily Sustenance

Daily Sustenance

To health and nutrition

To health and nutrition

No Fuss Spicy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

She lies squinting in the afternoon sun. Looking up at the blazing ball of fire, she defies the curly strand resolutely falling her way. She wonders if hell was right in the middle of the sun. Would she go? Go to hell, that is. Umm.. she has her chances. Spilling milk, tearing pages off a school book or rather any book and stuffing ones mouth with heapfull of sugar does make one go straight to hell. For sure, thought she.
But then like how it is with most six-year olds, her thoughts jump from dreary to the quixotic in no time, wondering if the sun is made of honey or lime or both. The dreamy spell is broken by shrill cries of mother. Lengths of the roof covered in leaps and bounds, spirals of stairs run in twos and threes, the little girl runs blind, her curls flying behind her like a short cape. Huffs and pants, she stands erect and stares straight. A little sentinel to attention.

Flavored with garlic

Flavored with garlic

Mother hid a smile. She knew she was being appeased. Propitiated for those tight hugs and extra kisses, and for those moments when the curls would be delicately touched and taken behind a ear only to fall right back into an eye. For those special moments mother was being assuaged. Mother knew it. And she knew she knew it.

Well today no matter what, lunch will be eaten in peace sans objections, sans tantrums and grimaces, clever mother put out a plate which would have been shunned on any other day. But not today. Not after a morning of mess and shenanigans. And the little sentinel ate silently. The one with the largest sweet tooth, the stuffer of anything saccharine, sugar stealer, ingenious chocolate hider. That one, battled her candied tongue and slurped spicy tangy tomato rasam that day. Quietly. Obediently. Fully unaware that her runny nose needed all that pepper and spice. I know now for sure, coz she is me.

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Cut to present day. And I war with my seven-year old to stop slurping the tangy South Indian soup. It has pepper and garlic and red chiles and its hot and medicinal. I mean, she is supposed to dislike it. All kids do. But here is mine. Sprawled on the floor, demanding more ghee and more rasam in her bowl of soft white rice. It’s close to eight years now, and I still stare at my girl in disbelief. She is so unlike me. Gone on the father, I mutter. Both have an unbelievable palette for spicy tangy tart stuff.

white rice is the best

white rice is the best

Saccharine love has diminished over the years, and rasam which was once gulped like venin, is now savoured with abundant paraphernalia.

Rasam is a South Indian tangy drink usually served with rice and other interesting sides. And if you are ever caught nursing a bad cold or a sore throat then this peppery drink will surely be guzzled down your food pipe… hot ;)

Lentils, lemon, beets are used to make a variety of rasam. But the most common and easiest and popular one is the tomato rasam. The method I use is handed over to me by my brother in laws wife, and it has never been easier to make it since. One of my most favourite ways lately.

that very essential dollop of ghee!

that very essential dollop of ghee!

Make sure you have a potful of hot boiled rice, white or brown. Some ghee to serve. And I usually accompany the meal with some vegetable side like the one shown below. A cabbage carrot beans melange. Dry sauté with a tempering of curry leaves, green chilies and garnished with grated coconut and cilantro.

keep it light and simple

keep it light and simple

I have no idea about the science behind this, but I am making this statement – Food, especially, Indian Food tastes better when you eat with your hands. Its more intimate, more comforting. I can’t explain. It just is. So try it. Learning to use chopsticks was hard?! try scooping off watery rasam from a flat plate with your fingers. That’s art too.

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 red ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped.
  • 1/2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 1 small onion or few baby onions/shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or as per your taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated – optional.
  • coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

In a thick bottomed pan, heat ghee. Splutter mustard seeds. sauté red chili, curry leaves and sliced onions till pink. Throw in chopped tomatoes along with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and fat leaves the sides. Approx 10 minutes. Once that is done, add 1 glassful of water. Give it a boil. Grate garlic and sprinkle pepper powder – give it another boil. Switch the flame off, mix in juice of 1/2 a lime and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot!

Life's good

Life’s good

Note: Quantity of water can be increased or decreased according to the consistency you prefer. I like mine thin and runny, so I usually add more than a glassful.

Note: Tamarind, boiled lentils, rasam powder are all variations. You can try different types by adding these accordingly.

Note: For those who do not like to use onion and garlic, you can skip both, and flavour the soup with a bit of asofoetida or hing.

Eat it hot!

Eat it hot!

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with another main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

Buddha’s Feast

What Buddha would eat

What Buddha would eat?? Its all in a name

Someone and someone were debating. Vociferously. The avid listener in me yawned after 10 minutes of the bickering. The argument deviated from the original intent to a lesser one in no time. I was interested till the dispute inflamed my mind and made me think. But when it turned into a vegetarian-vs-non-vegetarian tone, I zoned out.

Brown rice feast

Brown rice feast

It started in innocence. What did God eat? Satvik someone piped. To become God, one has to feed the mind pure essential natural energy giving food, he reasoned. But Shiva ate meat, smoked the chillum and drank fermented nectar and he is God – another interjected. Sigh.

See, when you put religion, food and God, you’re bound to set some fireworks off. The main issue was never addressed and it all spiralled down to what-I-eat-is-better-than-what-you-eat.

Use fresh veggies for better flavour

Use fresh veggies for better flavour

So naturally, when I chance upon Buddha’s Feast on a menu card, I am left intrigued :) The dish was as delightful and delicious as anyone would want their meal to be. So in lure of replicating it at home, I do what I always do. Google :D

Well this is what I get – clean fresh pure vegetables in a simple slightly thick sauce, flavoured mildly with soy and chillies, ideally served with brown rice or whole grain noodles.

Add a protein

Add a protein

The Recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups of diced vegetables, like broccoli, bok choy, carrots, beans, mushrooms, baby corn water chestnuts etc
1/4 cup firm tofu or paneer, diced.
1/4 cup diced peppers
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 big onion, diced
1 cup Vegetable Stock
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chile paste
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste and pepper powder
Cooked brown rice, for serving

Method

Parboil broccoli, baby corn, beans and water chestnuts. Keep aside.
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté minced garlic and diced onions till they turn pink. Now add peppers, boo chou, carrot and mushrooms. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Saute till 3/4th done. Now add the parboiled vegetables and tofu. Toss.
In a small bowl, whisk together stock, soy sauce, cornstarch, mirin, and chile paste. Place 1/2 cup mixture in a small bowl.
Add this sauce to the sautéed veggies, cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper powder. Serve immediately.

Make a potful

Make a potful

Note: You can add marinated paneer or tofu is desired. Immerse the tofu in soy sauce and chili paste mixture for 30 minutes and then use as required.

Note: Add/Remove any vegetable of your choice.

Note: Adapted from here : http://www.marthastewart.com/316528/buddhas-feast-vegetable-stir-fry

For cold wintery nights

For cold wintery nights

A bowl full of this fresh stir fry vegetables and greens leaves you feeling calm, clean, light and satiated. So yea, I guess Buddha would eat this too :) But what’s in a name anyway, make this to health and for that feel good factor.

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with this main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

Oats Pongal

My first post of this year and hopefully I will blog more, photograph more and eat less. Wishful thinking or new year resolve? ;)

Oats Pongal

Oats Pongal

Now Oats Pongal seems like an apt recipe to start your year with. While embarking on something new or long, usually the zeal is fresh, spirits high and your resolutions loud and clear. It’s the time of the year when you will exercise, because you just resolved to, you will watch what you eat because you just drew up that cheeky crazy diet plan to be diligently followed from January 2nd. It’s the time of the year when you do things that you want to do the entire year but really don’t do it :)

So while you’re still on that rickety I-will-follow-all-my-resolutions ride, try this wonderful totally healthier version of the humble rice pongal made with oats and moong dal. Oooh so warm and comforting to hold a bowl full of this on a nice cold winter morning.

Skip the rice and use your oats

Skip the rice and use your oats

I am not fond of oatmeal. We Indians, usually like to kick start our day with something savoury… give us idlis, dosas, poha, upma, sandwich and we lick our plates clean and head out smiley and strong! Try putting sweet porridge in front of us and we crinkle our noses and take an hour to finish that bowl. But Oats has to be adopted. Its good, Its heart healthy, It watches your weight…ring in my ear persistently, and I find ways to make this grain savoury :)

Pongal is a warm mushy South Indian rice dish, seasoned with black peppercorns, cumin and a bit of asafoetida. This version, skips the rice and substitutes it with oats. So those who have given the rice a miss, this meal is tasty, filling and totally guilt free!

A big bowl fills up all

A big bowl fills up all

The Recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 cup yellow split moong dal
3/4 cup quick cooking oats (I used Quakers)
salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
water – 5/6 cups

Tempering:

1 tsp ghee or butter
5/6 chopped cashewnuts
3 curry leaves
1 green chili, slit – optional
6-7 whole peppercorns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida

Garnish – 1/2 tsp each of coriander leaves and grated coconut

Method

Wash and soak moong dal for an hour or so. If you don’t have time to soak, use as it is.

In a wide pan, dry roast the oats for 4 minutes. Once done, remove and keep aside. Remove all the water from the dal, in the same pan, roast the soaked moong dal for a couple of minutes.

Now, in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, boil the dal with 3 cups of water, season with turmeric and salt. Cook till mushy. At this stage add oats along with 1 cup water. Cook till the oats and moong dal mix and come together. Add more water as per your desired consistency. Give it a boil or two and switch of the flame and keep the pan covered.

For the tempering, heat ghee, roast cashews till they turn golden. Keep aside. Then crackle cumin, add asafoetida, add curry leaves, green chilies, pepper corns. Saute for a minute. Pour this tempering on the pongal. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut.

Serve with curd or green chutney or raita.

Break your fast with a big bowl

Break your fast with a big bowl

Note: Oats absorb a lot of water and tend to thicken quickly. For soft mushy pongal, add water in intervals and check for consistency.

Note: Feel free to add chopped vegetables like spinach, peas, carrot. You can add the vegetables after cooking the moong dal and before throwing in the oats.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating

Wishing you a very Happy New Year! Hope you get all that you wish for :)

Aloo Methi

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

There are some memories which never fade and some which just evanesce into oblivion. But smell can be a powerful memory trigger. Smell so rustic and comforting that deep buried images stand bare and bigger, usually leaving you distraught. You will be tormented and distressed till you put all those cognizant images back to where they belong.

Now before you speculate extraneous theories, let me clarify. The smell that invoked such strong visuals of my past, was nothing more than potatoes and fenugreek being sautéed on a particularly hot humid day. It wafted from somewhere above. Where, who, when and how … I did bother, but soon all that dissipated when flashbacks of the mother’s kitchen loomed up at me. Someone was making food just like my mothers – this thought was eerily comforting.
I mean, how weird, I tell myself. Whats there to get excited to smell food like what your mother cooked for you. But I was.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Aloo methi. Something so traditional and homey and simple….now why am I making a post for this? I am making this for all those young people out there who suddenly-mindlessly crave for food that they have grown up with. That cozy feeling – that you get out of familiarity.
And for documentation purposes too ;)
15 years down the line, I doubt if the daughter will ever call and ask for a recipe. She most probably will scan her favourite sites and lastly come to her mums where she will read this and nod and say yes, I miss my mother’s cooking too. And now I’m just being too hopeful! Am I not??! Never mind.

What all you need -

What all you need –

Just potatoes and fresh fenugreek leaves sautéed in some powerful mustard oil, with a bit of all Indian spices, and look how I am dancing with my words! Well, the above picture shows you all that you need to make this wonderful side to your everyday bread or rice.

That essential piece of lime!

That essential piece of lime!

There are plenty of variations for this vegetable side or sabzi as we call it. Mother used mustard oil, and no onions or garlic or any other paraphernalia for this dish. She kept it simple and it worked fabulously. A drizzle of lime and some fresh salad is all that you need to make your day.

Made my day :)

Made my day :)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups par boiled potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks
  • 2 cups of fenugreek leaves, picked, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 big whole red chilli
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil or any other oil would also do.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chill powder or as desired
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds mixed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder – I don’t skip this!
  • salt to taste.
  • Lime wedges to serve with

Method

In a large skillet or pan, drop a tsp of oil. Gently roast the potatoes till it gets a golden coating all over it. Regular tossing and turning help. Once done, remove from the pan and keep aside.

In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Add asafoetida and whole dried red chili. Fry chopped fenugreek leaves and green chilies till they wilt. Now add potatoes, along with all the masalas and salt. Saute for another minute or so.

Serve with chappathis or rice or any bread.

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

Note: if desired, 2 tsp chopped garlic can be added before adding the fenugreek leaves.

you will not regret making this :)

you will not regret making this :)

Like someone rightly said We live on the leash of our senses. Taking this wonderful aromatic side to pair with Angie’s gorgeous phulkas, for her 41st Friday Fiesta. come take a look, she make these chappathis and every single one puffs up! P
Happy Cooking dear foodies!

Dabeli

Dabeli

Dabeli

This has been the longest that I have gone without a post. And it makes me uncomfortable.
More so because I wasn’t sick or busy. Perfectly hale, hearty and enjoying all the interesting posts and doing things that I usually do. And yet, I couldn’t write.

Every now and then I need some motivation. He calls it kick, but I know he means literally :) Well, with no inspiration, I tend to do what I did. Procastinate. Hope dully, that maybe tomorrow I would be stimulated enough to publish. Ah! But things take their own time to happen. Even a post.
This bug is quite common with bloggers I hear. Every now and then I have blogger friends who disappear and then magically re-emerge. It’s a consolation. I am not the only one – I hear myself say. So, I put my feet up and bask in this self-imposed sabbatical. Waiting for things to happen on their own.

peanuts and the masala make this dish what it is!

peanuts and the masala make this dish what it is!

Dabeli. Spicy sweet crisp fun snack sold on the streets of Mumbai and Gujarat, this little guy has more fans than I could ever imagine. When you borrow the paav from the vada pav and steal some bhaaji from paav bhaji, decorate it with pomegranates, spicy peanuts and chutneys of various kinds, and finally sprinkle the highly aromatic dabeli masala, what you get is this crisp yet soft mushy paav meal which would satisfy those tiny hunger cravings.

Magic Masala

Magic Masala

Making the masala at home is a breeze, but still if you don’t have the time or resources to do so, it is easily available in any Indian store.
Now, like with any chaat/Indian street side junk, prepping this dish is elaborate, but assembling is fun and gets done in minutes.

A scroll view of all that you need to make one fresh crunchy Dabeli –

Take one dinner roll or paav, slice it into two neat halves –

dinner rolls or paav

dinner rolls or paav

Smear some prepared potato mixture –

Mashed Potato masala

Mashed Potato masala

Top with assorted paraphernalia according to taste –

The paraphernalia

The paraphernalia

This is how it looks from the insides –

thats what you see when you open one

that’s what you see when you open one

Slide the cap on –

Slide on the cap

Slide on the cap

Roast on a flat griddle till crisp and crunchy –

There, its complete now :)

There, its complete now :)

Enjoy with a glass of chilled lemonade –

Cool it off!

Cool it off!

The recipe –

Serves 4-5 people:

Ingredients

  • 6 dinner rolls or paav or buns
  • 12 heaped tablespoons of potato masala(recipe below)
  • 6 teaspoon of dabeli masala(recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted spicy peanuts
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate
  • 1/2 cup sev
  • garlic chutney(recipe below) as per taste – optional
  • tamarind chutney as per taste
  • coriander leaves to garnish
  • Bit of butter to roast the rolls

For the potato Mixture: 4 boiled potatoes-peeled and mashed, 1 onion-minced, 2 tsp dabeli masala, 1 tsp of oil, a pinch of hing or asafoetida, 1/2 tsp cumin/jeera, 2 tsp tamarind dates chutney, 2 tbsp coconut-grated, 2 tsp pomegranate. Water as required.

For the Dabeli masala: 3-4 whole dry red chilies, 2 cloves, 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 10-12 peppercorns, 1 tsp coriander seeds

For the garlic chutney:  2 dry red whole chilies, 7-8 pods of garlic, salt to taste and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method

For the dabeli masala: Dry roast all the ingredients on a flat griddle or a pan for 3-5 minutes or until aromatic. Cool the spices. Grind to a fine powder. Store in an air-tight glass bottle and use as required.
Note: I live in a very humid hot place so I usually refrigerate all my freshly ground masalas. So do as you deem fit.

For the garlic chutney: soak red chilies in water for about 15 minutes or so. Grind the soaked red chiles along with garlic pods, salt and lime to a smooth paste. Use as less water as possible for grinding.

For the potato mixture: Mash the boiled peeled potatoes roughly. Heat oil in a skillet. Splutter the cumin, fry onions till they turn pink. Sprinkle hing. Now mix dabeli masala powder that you made in the tamarind chutney. keep aside. Throw in the mashed potatoes, Now add the tamarind dabeli masala mix. Season with salt. Get all the pan ingredients together. Mix it well. Spread this mixture in a shallow bowl of plate. Decorate with grated coconut, pomegranate and coriander leaves. Use when you are ready to assemble the dabeli.

Assembling:

Spread all your prepared ingredients on the counter top. Put a flat griddle on fire. Slice each pav into two equal halves.
Apply garlic chutney on one side of the half, and tamarind chutney on the other side.
Spread 1-2 tbsp of potato mixture on one side.
Top with chopped onion, coriander leaves, roasted peanuts, sev and pomegranate.
I even added some more grated coconut!
Close the entire assembly with the other bun. Roast lightly on a flat griddle using a bit of butter.
Serve crisp!

Note: Its chaat! So you can tweak change substitute what you like and what you don’t accordingly! There is no hard and fast rule. Those who don’t like garlic, you can replace it with mint coriander chutney. It works just as fine.

peanuts, pomegranate, lime and something to sip on

peanuts, pomegranate, lime and something to sip on

Contributing to Angie’s Fabulous Fiestas is always a pleasure! Am taking this Indian yummiliocus chaat to her 41st!! Come, take a peek. You are gonna love all that you see!

Methi Muthiya / Steamed Fenugreek Bottle Gourd Dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

I was a disaster. A recidivous disaster in their kitchen. Not that I have redeemed myself or anything but of course I am not that clueless anymore. 10 years back, newly married, coming from a disparate environment and having no clue what they eat or how they eat has its effects – For my part I did well in my own pond. My parents gratified with me exorbitant cheer and praises, in effect rendering me totally naive to any critique or opinions. But the women of the house I married into, did what they had to do. They taught me. Well. I can never equal their expertise or their flair, but here I am, attempting to recreate the mother in law’s signature dish with a bit of both, confidence and apprehension.

finger food

finger food

Muthiya literally means a fist. When grated minced vegetables are mixed with smashed rice and flour, you fist them, make little logs to be steamed and then tempered. That’s muthiya. They are delicious, healthy and a wonderful party appetiser. In his house, they make it for dinner with spiced buttermilk curry or kadhi as they call it.

Truthfully, I sucked at making this. I just didn’t get it! you make a dough, steam and then cool and then temper.. for what? A little snack. Nah! too much work. And I am lazy – remember. So when we lived on our own, I dodged this snack as much as possible. And the few times that I did pursue, I failed so miserably that I vowed never to make them again.

Methi leaves

Methi leaves

Well, bottle gourd and fenugreek leaves are not exactly my child’s favourite. So when I get to incorporate these two in one and make something appealing out of it, I decided to attempt this formidable dish, one more time. Thankfully I saved it. Relieved that I would make it yet again with a not so surly outlook and a dour mind.

What I love about this snack is the tempering or seasoning! Vaghaar or tadka or chonk as it is called in India, the finale dish is brought about by heating oil, spluttering mustard, a bit of sesame and fenugreek seeds, along with the very aromatic curry leaf and some asafoetida! Slices of the steamed dumplings are then thrown into the hot oil-mustrad-sesame mix. It is so nutty and fresh and earthy. You need to have a slice or two to know what I mean. :)

Yea, so the ingredients for this one might not be in your spice box or pantry if you are not an Indian. But things like asafoetida and sesame and fenugreek make this dish what it is. So please go ahead and get it, make sure you have it when you try this one out.

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

As I proof read my write up, I realise the incessant rambling about how long and tedious it is to make this, might have dismayed you to ever attempt it. But I was digressing from the truth. The whole truth being that it is a super cool snack and all that you need is a bit of planning to complete any task. I make this for her lunch box at 6 in the morning – yea of course, with a bit of an outline.

all ready to be sliced and tempered

all ready to be sliced and tempered

The Recipe –

Ingredients

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup over boiled rice, mash it coarsely.
  • 1 cup fenugreek leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup grated bottle gourd
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup or more whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds or bishops seeds
  • 1 tsp green chili, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp red chill powder, or as you require
  • 2 tbsp curd or as required
  • 2 tsp oil and salt to taste
  • For the Seasoning: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp asafoetida or hing, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp sesame seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, 1 whole red chili, 1 tbsp coriander leaves to garnish.

    Method

    Make a dough of all the ingredients listed for dumplings using curd instead of water to bring it all together. If you add too much flour the result will be hard difficult to swallow kinda muthiyas. And if the flour is too less, you will have great difficulty in bringing it all together. So add the flour little by little, to make sure the muthiyas turn out soft yet firm to hold a shape.
    Once done. Keep a wide wok on fire, fill it partially with water, place a ring or some holder in it.
    On a greased plate, grab fistfuls of the dough and shape them into small sized logs. Place them carefully on the plate. Do that with all of the dough. Once the plate is full, keep the plate inside the wok. Cover and steam for at least 30 minutes. Keep checking at regular intervals for water at the bottom.

    Right after steaming

    Right after steaming

    After 30 minutes, remove the plate full of dumplings. Cool the plate. Once cooled, slice the logs into bite size rounds. Taste one to see if the spices and salt are in check.

    Get ready with your seasoning. In a wide wok, heat oil. Splutter fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds till just right about crisp. Take care not to burn them. Throw in mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, whole red chilli and sauté for a minute or two. If the dumplings lack in salt or chilies, then sprinkle the necessary spice over the steamed dumplings before adding them to the tempering.

    Now add the sliced dumplings. Toss and serve with coriander leaves garnish.

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Note: you can prepare them ahead of time and take it along with you for a party or a get together. They require no re heating. They taste good even when cold.

    Note: Green chutney or ketchup or kadhi/spiced buttermilk can be served along with it.

    Note: For a detailed step by step recipe, click here.

    A great way to eat vegetables

    A great way to eat vegetables

    Taking this to lovely Angie’s Fiesta Friday #33. Once there, drool over these incredible rainbow pizzas that she dished up to satiate her little girl’s whim :) They look SO gorgeous! And a whole list of beautiful food awaits. You just have to look.

    Channa Almond Pomegranate Mason Jar Salad

    Mason Jar Salads - replete with a protein and some fresh veggies

    Mason Jar Salads – replete with a protein and some fresh veggies

    Being on a salad spree is no fun really. Chomping on plain old carrots, chewing romaine and mindlessly mincing the veggie can be exciting for first few nights, but it sure gets exhausting when you intend to continue the salad sojourn for days to come. I know of this, coz it happened to me. But I want to diligently stick to the fad, so I fish for new ingredients, newer proteins and yet newer ways to eat my greens.

    He was heading out. Not one to carry a tiffin, grabbing a sandwich or some street side junk are his usual options. Well, that was not be that day. I was determined to pack his supper.
    Wide mouthed glass jars preserving fruit and vegetables seems like an incredible idea. They are air tight. No spill, no soil, no frills. So easy to carry around. And looks pretty cool too. Somewhat amused, somewhat intrigued, somewhat preempted, he took his tiffin :)

    Toasted almonds - for that extra bite!

    Toasted almonds – for that extra bite!

    To add a protein to your vegetable bowl is a must. That extra mile on the treadmill is of no use if you don’t support it with a repairing agent. Lean muscles, shiny hair and strong nails give obeisance to exactly this necklace of amino acid. Yea, so all in all, it’s that important.

    So I add channa one day, paneer another, Mung sprouts, soya nuggets, boiled peanuts, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, tofu and assorted nuts to give you an idea.

    Kale channe or black bengal grams is what I used for this wonder salad. Its nutty. Its wholesome. It adds enough bite to fill your bowl as well as your tummy.

    Lime - can't do without it!

    Lime – can’t do without it!

    Making the vinaigrette is therapeutic – for me. I love whisking lime juice and extra virgin olive oil. Pounding pepper, sprinkling rock salt, crushing garlic – oh yea! Me loves it. I try to stay away from creamy sugary dressings as it annihilates the entire purpose of me chomping on greens.

    Good to go :)

    Good to go :)

    The recipe –

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup black bengalgrams or kale channe, soaked for at least 7-8 hours
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, slivered
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate
  • For the dressing – juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp pepper powder and salt to taste.

    Method

    Boil the black bengal grams in a big pot of boiling mildly salted water till they are almost done. Drain and keep aside.

    For the dressing – whisk together all of the mentioned stuff.

    Toss all the salad ingredients except the almonds. Mix in the dressing. Toss well. Refrigerate if required for 30 minutes. While serving garnish with toasted almonds. I love the crunch from the nuts so I add loads!

    The good stuff

    The good stuff

    If setting into jars – pour the vinaigrette first. Then layer with boiled bengalgram, cucumber, pomegranate, tomato, onions, lettuce and lastly toasted almonds.
    the pictures show the channa and almonds finishing on the top as I wanted to photograph them that way ;)

    Make this your dinner

    Make this your dinner

    Angie’s Fiesta Fridays is something that I look forward to every Friday. She holds this virtual potluck party for all of us. Its one post where you get sweet savoury, mains, appetizers n gorgeous desserts all under one roof and not to mention a whole lot of wonderful enthusiastic bloggers too! So I’m taking a salad this time. What are you?