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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 sautรฉ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

    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?

    Spinach Indian Flatbread or Palak Parathas with Potato Saute

    You don’t really appreciate something unless it makes its presence felt in a loud clamoring manner.

    Color was never that important to me until my daughter was born. Fascinated by pink, attracted to red, intrigued by green.. colors are a very essential component of my little girl’s life.

    I was amazed how intrinsically she attributes her varied emotions to colors. Red is when she is in foul mood, yellow when feeling good, orange is funny and pink when happiest. Black and white are boring for the 6 year old, so they are never mentioned. There is no particular reasoning for her specifics… they just are.

    Palak ke parathe and sukhe alu ki sabzi

    Palak ke parathe and sukhe alu ki sabzi

    So along with crayons, dresses, shoes, furniture and other paraphernalia, we make sure the food is well colored too. Well, not one to use synthetic colors in our daily diet, we mothers usually satiate the child’s fancy in alternative ways. Nature is abundant, giving and generous.

    Green is in

    Green is in

    The color of the day was green so spinach it was! I made beetroot pink parathas some time back and the recipe was surely a winner. Similar but not same, these spinach or palak(in Hindi) parathas are soft, nutritious and yes Green ๐Ÿ™‚

    Soft Perfect Rolls

    Soft Perfect Rolls

    Team it up with a simple potato saute and you are so good to go. A dry potato saute used to be a big hit in my mom’s house. It still is. Mother makes it with just some simple spices, boiled potatoes and lime juice! I could never replicate it.

    How good does that look?

    How good does that look?

    Spinach Parathas:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup whole wheat flour or atta
    • 1 bunch of spinach, washed and blanched
    • 2-3 green chilies – optional
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tsp ajwain or carrom seeds
    • less than 1/4 tsp sugar – I mean very little
    • 2-3 cloves of garlic – optional
    • curds or yoghurt – if required
    • ghee/oil/butter for roasting the flatbread or parathas

    Method

    Blanch spinach. Grind it using no water with green chilies, garlic, salt and sugar. The paste should be smooth and fine. Not coarse.

    Take the flour in a big mixing bowl, make a well in the center, add the spinach puree along with salt for the flour and carrom seeds. Knead into a soft pliable dough. Chances are you will not need water or anything else to get the flour together. The puree will be enough, but just in case you do, try using spoonfuls of yoghurt or curds. Once done, knead well. Keep aside, covered for 30 minutes.

    Ready to be rolled

    Ready to be rolled

    Heat a flat griddle or tawa. Grab handfuls of the dough, roll them out into thin rounds. Place on hot tawa/griddle, and using very little oil/ghee/butter, roast from both sides.

    Serve with potato saute or caramelized onions or any vegetable curry and a bowl of yoghurt.

    A complete healthy meal

    A complete healthy meal

    Some important pointers –

    • Spinach is best blanched in wilting the leaves in hot water for 3-4 minutes, then immediately running them in cold water. This retains the fabulous color.
    • Sugar while grinding the blanched spinach helps in masking the slight bitterness of the green when grounded.
    • Curd/Yoghurt in your dough will yield soft melt in the mouth parathas.
    • These parathas are ideal for lunch-boxes or as take aways.
    Sukhe Alu

    Sukhe Alu

    Potato Saute:

    In a wok, heat a tbsp of oil( yes, a little more than required), splutter 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, add 1/4 tsp of asafoetida/hing, 3-4 curry leaves, 1 split green chili, a cup full of chopped boiled potatoes. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp of red chili powder(or as required), 1/2 tsp amchur powder(dry mango powder), 1/4 tsp garam masala. Mix well. Switch flame off. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

    Serve with parathas or rice or even bread. Great when you are traveling or for lunch-boxes and tiffins.

    Good to go

    Good to go

    I don’t see Milee’s color enchantment ending anywhere soon, so till then we mothers will keep inventing, experimenting, exploring and trying.

    Beetroot Poriyal/Stir Fry

    The one which your mom and grandmom goaded you to eat. The one which your doctor prescribed you when your iron dropped low. The one which health articles glorify n coax to adopt in your diet plan. The one where your friends misled spinning tall tales of cheeks turning red if you eat the root.
    A vegetable that is an antidote for anemia, fatigue, stamina and cancer is naturally a must include in your daily diet.

    That. That plain old humble Beetroot is what we are talking about.

    Beetroot Stir Fry/Poriyal

    Beetroot Stir Fry/Poriyal

    My love for South Indian Stir fries must be familiar to you(no? well.. you know it now ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Simply sauteed veggies in minimal oil, seasoned with curry leaves, lentils and garnished with loads of coriander and coconut – I DIGGG!

    If you are not a fan of Beet’s earthy taste, you will be surprised how just 1-2 cloves of garlic and some curry leaves can camouflage the rawness and infuse amazing flavors to the dish.

    Almost a Salad

    Almost a Salad

    This stir fry is very versatile. Husband likes tangy rasam, ghee and soft white rice with it, where as the child relishes the vegetable with her curd-rice. Me? Well, I had mine plain(I’m trying to lose some weight…shhh)

    Grated Beetroot

    Grated Beetroot

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups grated beetroot, depending on the size, you may need 2-3.
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small tiny piece of ginger, grated
    • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
    • 4-5 fresh green curry leaves
    • 1 tsp oil
    • 1 tsp urad dal
    • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds mixed
    • 2 tbsp grated coconut, or as much as you desire
    • salt to taste
    • juice of 1/2 a lime
    • coriander leaves to garnish.

    Method

    In a wok, heat oil. Saute the urad dal. Once reddish, splutter the cumin and mustard seeds. Throw in the garlic, ginger, green chili and curry leaves. Fry just for a minute or so. Quickly add the grated beetroot. Add salt. Now stir fry on medium flame for not more than 5 minutes. Switch the flame off. Mix in the coconut and lime juice. Garnish with coriander leaves.

    Thats it.
    Serve hot or cold.

    Enjoy it with rice or rotis or simply as a salad, your call.

    Simple, healthy and delicious

    Simple, healthy and delicious

    Not a fan of garlic? Skip it, and add asafetida/hing when tempering. My mom tells me not to mix garlic and asafetida ever. If you are using garlic, then skip the hing and vice versa. Don’t ask me why though.
    They all(mom’s grandmom’s) have amazing age old tips which work although most refuse to give any proper rhyme or reason.

    Gone in no time!

    Gone in no time!

    Losing weight sure is a monumental task. It makes me think of food all the time.. just so defying the idea of avoiding food… Ah! And they say when you are hungry, everything tastes good.
    So here I polished my bit in no time, so does it mean the saute was actually not that yumm as I believed it to be?
    Well, you try and let me know.