Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dates and Sesame Poli :: Khajur ki Meethi Roti :: Sweet stuffed Parantha

Lately I have been experimenting a lot with Maharashtrian cuisine, mainly due to the fact that most of my friends here are Marathi… And their love for Shreekhands, Modaks, Thalipeeths, Pithlas etc. have drawn me to explore more of these foods. And also because,  I am falling in love with the simplicity of the meals, and the use of grains in our everyday diet.

Maharashtrian cuisine is an extensive balance of many different tastes and cuisines. You might often find flavours and foods inspired by the states of Gujarat, Goa and South India all across the state. Bajri, wheat, rice, jowar, vegetables, lentils, and fruit form important components of the Maharashtrian diet. Like other coastal states, there is an enormous variety of vegetables eaten, fish and coconuts are common along with nuts like peanuts and cashews.  
To get more information on Maharashtrian Cuisne, click here .. For more Maharashtrian recipes, click here

Coming to the recipe of today, its a  version of the famous Poli ( stuffed Parantha / Chapati / Roti ). Polis are like chapatis with the puran (sweet prepared with lentils) stuffed in it.  It is customary to prepare Poli/Holige during Ugadi/Gudi padwa. The most common version of Poli  is Puran Poli which is made by stuffed Chana Daal. Today I have tried to make a Poli which is stuffed with dates, jaggery and sesame seeds. Together it imparts a rich, sweet flavour and can be eaten as dessert or with Peanut Chutney as a  tradition.


Dates and Sesame seeds, both are known  for their medicinal properties and health benefits. Combining these two superfoods with jaggery brings out the nicest flavours. Do try and enjoy with a cup of Coffee or simply with Sol Kadhi and dollops of Ghee as Maharashtrians love to do  J


What you need? 
For the dough
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
  • ¼ cup warm milk
  • ¼ warm water (  more or less, depending on the flour quality you have used )
  • 1 tbsp ghee

For the filling
  • ¾  cup dates ( khajoor )  - soaked in 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (til)
  • ¼  cup powdered jaggery 

How to make?
For the dough
  • Prepare a soft dough using the flour, milk adding water little by little using only the minimum quantity.
  • Cover it with a damp tea towel ( cotton cloth/ muslin cloth ) and keep aside for a 10-12 minutes. This makes the dough softer and more pliable.

For the filling
  • Toast the sesame seeds over a medium flame, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned. Allow them to cool properly  and then grind coarsely
  • Meanwhile, make a course paste of dates with the milk they are soaked into. Don’t forget to take the seeds out before blending them in.
  • Mix everything together and make a mass lump of the mixture.
  • Divide into 4-6  equal portions and keep aside.

Proceed
  • Roll out one portion of the dough into a circle of 75 mm. (3") diameter and place one portion of the filling mixture in the centre of the circle.
  • Bring together all the sides in the centre and seal tightly. Then roll out again into a circle of 125 mm. (5") diameter using flour to roll.
  • Cook on a non-stick pan until both sides are brown, applying little Ghee both sides.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make 5-6 more Polis.
  • Serve hot with dollops of ghee on top 




Some Notes and variations: 
  • You may use All-purpose flour ( Maida ) to make these polis, or do a half-half of Whole wheat flour and APF. I like it best when its half-half, gives the smooth finish and nice soft texture.
  • If you don’t like the taste of Jaggery, you may replace it with ¼ cup sugar. Brown sugar would work best
  • These polis can be kept at room temperature for 24-30 hours and in fridge for upto 2 days.
  • I also added some roasted peanut powder in half of the filling, and loved the taste. You may try that too as a variation. 


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Daal Ka Paratha :: Punjabi lentil flatbread :: Leftover daal Parantha

I am getting big on Punjabi recipes these days. It’s not intentional at all, just that I do prepare them most of the time and it being Summer time I am getting more chances of clicking photos of what I am cooking. So, here it is – another Punjabi daal recipe from my kitchen ; Daal Ka  Paratha. I always used to believe that this is one of the simplest paratha recipe anyone can ever prepare. But recently while chatting to another blogger friend who happens to be a South Indian, I realised things are always greener on the other side. While I believe preparing a perfectly fluffed Idli is no piece of cake, she assumed the same for this Daal Ka Paratha. So the next time I prepared it, I clicked the pictures so I could post the recipe for her and all those who  get scared by just the name of it. this really is the simplest of all Parathas, trust me on that.

There are two different ways of making Daal ka Paratha, one by the usualy stuffing/filling method. Another one is to knead the lentil into the dough itself with spices. I like both of them equally but since the later one is simpler I often end up making this one for breakfast. It uses the leftover daal so that’s another plus point . I usually tend to prepare Dal-rice on Fridays to keep it lighter, and keep a bowl full of Daal aside to prepare these Parathas the next morning. Although you may use any yellow variety of daal to prepare these, I personally like Urad daal  ( Split yellow lentil ) for this recipe. It results in the softest parathas, with a distinctive taste. Throw in some chopped onion, and spices and you are done for  a wholesome and delicious meal.

I often serve it with dry potato sabzi and raita aside, since that’s for Breakfast. But if you are serving for lunch or dinner, any curry or runny sabzi would go well with it.



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup leftover urad dal ( cooked with 3 cups of water, turmeric and salt )
  • 2 ½ cup whole wheat flour ( atta)
  • ½ cup warm water ( or less, depending on the flour quality )
  • 1 large onion, chopped very fine
  • A handful of coriander leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped very small ( optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsl red chili powder, coriander powder each
  • Oil for roasting 




Method:

  • Transfer cooked Urad dal to a big mixing bowl, add flour to it and fold in together with the help of a spatula or big spoon. Add more flour if it seems too sticky.
  • Once everything start coming together, add onion, green chili, coriander leaves and all the spices and start kneading with the help of warm water.
  • Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. Pinch small dough balls of equal size
  • Roll each dough ball into a circle and roast on a griddle ( tawa) on a medium flame, flipping and applying oil at both sides
  • Enjoy these crispy yet soft parathas hot and fresh, with any curry of your choice and chilled Raita by the side




Notes;

  • You may also add a tbsp. of Kasuri Methi ( dried fenugreek leaves ) to the dough for more aromatic taste
  • Adding red chili powder Is optional and you may add black pepper instead, if you like
  • I sometimes add ½ tbsp. of grated ginger as well to this dough, love the flavour it brings along. 




Monday, 14 April 2014

Punjabi Lassi :: Sweet Lassi

Today is Baisakhi and I wanted to post something which is truly and whole heartedly Punjabi. The first two things that come into my mind when I think of Punjab, Sarso ka Saag and Lassi. Since I have already posted the recipe for  Sarso ka Saag on the blog, its Lassi this time.

There is not much of a recipe for Lassi really… a simple and traditional blend  of fresh Yogurt, sugar and some spices, results in a frothy refreshing drink. Easily termed as the World’s oldest Smoothie, and prized across Indian subcontinent for its great taste & healing Ayurvedic properties. In Punjab, they serve Lassi in those large “Patiala” glasses, adding thick “malayi” layer on  top to complete the serving. You have one glassful, and you are done for next 3-4 hours. Usually its served with the breakfast with Parathas etc. , so as to keep you full yet fresh for a long time.

Although it’s delicious on its own, you may add on some spices or fruits to bring a different flavour each time. Like this Mango Lassi, which is a common fav at my household,. And then there is Rose Lassi, which is my personal fav. I have given more variation in the Notes for your reference.

Some info on Baisakhi:- The Baisakhi festival marks the Sikh New Year, falling on the first day of the month of Baisakhi in the Nanakshahi calendar, usually April 13 or 14. Although originally a harvest festival, the establishment of the Khalsa (pure) order on April 13, 1699 led to it becoming the most prominent festival in Sikhism.



Recipe type: beverages
Cuisine: North Indian, Punjabi
Serves: 3-4 medium sized glasses

What you need?

  • 3 cups cups yogurt/curd, chilled
  • ¼ cup  sugar or more as per your taste
  • 1 cup chilled milk ( I used whole milk )
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 2-3 mint leaves, for garnishing
  • ice cubes for crushing or while serving the lassi



How to make Sweet Lassi ?

  • Blend yoghurt and sugar first in the blender, takes almost a minute to get frothy . you may also blend with a hand blender or use the traditional Mathni/ Madani/ Rai to do the same
  • Now, add milk, cardamom powder and crushed ice cubes and blend again for 2-3 pulses.
  • Serve in glasses and garnish with crushed mint leaves on top.


Notes and variations

  • Variations in Lassi: - you may add saffron, Rooh afza, Kewra water, Rose water,  chopped dry fruits or any fruit like Papaya, Lychi etc.
  • I love having it mixed with Gulkand , to make it Rose Lassi
  • If yoghurt is very thick, you may skip the milk and add water instead.
  • Add the sugar on the basis of how sweet the yoghurt is
  • I always use full fat Yoghurt and milk for  best results, you use skimmed versions if you like. 
  • Adding mint is my Grandma's idea, its not added traditionally but gives a very distinctive flavour when used. 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Health Tips for Working Women ( a guest post by Healthline )

Being and staying healthy can be a challenge for anyone in today’s hectic and demanding world. But a woman who’s working outside the home is often facing an even greater challenge: she needs to stay healthy while also juggling a career, meeting the needs of her family, and managing everyday chores like grocery shopping and maintaining the home.

And she has to do all of it with minimal or no help. What’s a working woman to do? First, let’s talk about what ingredients in life are vital for good health:
  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Play
Include more and more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet

Sounds simple enough. But there’s more than what you see on the surface.

Food
We all have to eat to live. But what we eat is important, too, or we compromise the quality of our health. The foods we choose to eat should be nourishing and provide the energy we need to function without excessive calories, sugar, or sodium. And it should taste good and look good, too, or we won’t want to eat it.
Tip: Keep healthy, tasty foods handy for quick breakfasts on the run or energy-renewing snacks during the day. Stock up on fresh fruit, single-sized servings of low-fat yoghurt and packets of nuts and dried fruit.
Tip: Make the evening meal as simple and nutritious as possible. Plan ahead so you can have fresh ingredients on hand at home during the work week. For instance, a good—and quick—supper could be broiled, lightly seasoned salmon fillet, a baked potato and a salad.

Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is more important than most people realize. It’s while we sleep that the body—and the brain—repair and re-energize themselves. We can’t be healthy without enough rest.
Tip: Get up each morning and go to bed each night at the same time, even on weekends. Shoot for 7-8 hours of lights-out. Your body will get used to the routine and you’ll almost always get adequate sleep.
Tip: Sleep in a cool, dark room without distractions. Leave the television, computer, tablets and phone in the other room so that when you go to bed, there’s nothing stimulating your brain when what it really needs is to relax into sleep.

Exercise
This is a tough one. It’s hard to make time for exercise when your day is already bursting at the seams. But to be healthy enough to handle everything you have to do with flair, exercising your body and keeping it strong is vital. Try for at least a half-hour of some sort of exercise every day.
Tip: Use 15 minutes of your lunch hour for a brisk walk. Breathe deep and walk with purpose. Exercise your facial muscles while you’re at it, too: smile! You’ll be amazed at how combining walking with smiling can lift your spirits.
Tip: Use five minutes two or three times a day to do some gentle stretching exercises at your desk. If you spend your day gazing at a computer, use these small breaks to look into the distance to rest your eyes.
Tip: Look into taking a yoga, tai chi, or other type of exercise class two or three times a week after work. Take another 15-minute walk. Or purchase an exercise DVD and use it at home.

Play
All human beings, whether they’re children, adults or in between, need time each day to stop working, relax and have a little fun. It’s as vital for mental health as it is for physical health. Watch a good movie, play a video game, do crossword puzzles or crochet, but do something that just for you—and that you can do with joy.

For more information about a healthy lifestyle, click here.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer. Under the pen-name “Wren,” she also writes a blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis called RheumaBlog. In her spare time, Vandever enjoys cooking, reading and working on the Great American Novel.

References:
·         Fitness and Nutrition. (2008, June 17) WomensHealth.gov. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved February 27, 2014 from http://womenshealth.gov/fitness-nutrition/index.html
·         Women’s Health. (n.d.) Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics. Retrieved on February 27, 2014 from http://www.eatright.org/Public/landing.aspx?TaxID=6442451995


 By Leslie Vandever

Friday, 11 April 2014

Cashew Chili Paneer :: Indian cottage Cheese with Capsicum in Cashew gravy

Paneer always perks me up. Whether it’s the rich and luxurious Paneer Butter Masala or plain simple Paneer Bhurji,  I love them all.  I have tried quite a few recipes in the past 2 months, mostly because I wasn’t in  a mood to chop the vegetables. And also, because having soft and melting Paneer somehow calms me down. Good Food does work wonders you know ;)

I learnt this recipe from one of my friend and have made it many times since then. With little tweaks and changes every time, and this one is so far the best mix out of all. It serves a perfect meal for a small get together, and is extremely rich and smooth. I tend to add Green peas and capsicum to the curry sometimes which makes it even healthier and of course more delicious. Next time I make it, I am thinking to add fenugreek leaves to it. How do you think it will taste then ? Have you tried it ?

One noticeable quality of this curry is the colour. Since I haven’t added red chili powder, turmeric or any other coloured spices, the colour is shining white due to the cashew gravy. And this is what differentiate this Curry from the rest. The taste and the smoothness is just irresistible. Although this sort of curry doesn’t go very well with plain boiled rice, but with Naans or Paratha. If you are serving it with rice, don’t forget to keep another side dish like a plain potato sabzi or Pickle aside to bring some zest to the whole plate. Or simply serve it with Pulao/ Pilaf etc. 


Another important thing to know about this recipe is , that it uses very less oil. So unless you are willing to add a lot of cream to your bowl, this Cashew Chili Paneer can safely be termed as a healthier alternative to its richer siblings like Kadhayi Paneer, Shahi Paneer etc.




Cuisine: North Indian / Punjabi
Course: Main Course
To be served with :- Naan , Paratha, Pulao
Serves: 2-4 people
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

What you need?
  • 2 cups  Paneer cubes
  • 2 large onions, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp Ginger - garlic paste
  • 1 medium sized  capsicum, chopped small lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 Cup + 2 tbsp cup milk ( Whole milk preferred )
  • ¼ cup water ( or more if required )
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • ½  tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Oil




How to make?

  • Heat a non-stick pan and dry roast Onion till it turn brown. Sprinkle some water over it, and keep it covered during cooking  to avoid sticking at the bottom. When they turn almost brown, turn off and let cool for some time. Blend into a paste, and keep aside.
  • Meanwhile, soak cashews in 2 tbsp warm milk for at least 20-25 min, then blend both together in a paste and keep aside.
  • Keep Paneer cubes in a big bowl full of water, microwave it for 2-3 minutes so the water gets hot and leave the cubes in it till we use them towards the end.  

  • Now, heat oil in a pan and add onion, salt and ginger-garlic paste to it. Sauté this mixture for 7-8 minutes, keeping it covered the whole time and stirring frequently in between to avoid sticking to the pan.
  • Throw in coriander powder and black pepper powder and mix well. Cook for further 2 minutes, stirring frequently 

  • Add the chopped capsicum, mix and cook covered for 3-4 minutes. Lower the flame and add Paneer cubes, water and cashew paste. Simmer for 8-10 min stirring in between.
  • Finally add the remaining milk, kasuri methi and garam masala and simmer for 2-3 more minutes, covered. Turn off the flame and let it sit for a while.
  • Before serving, drizzle some cream on top, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves if you wish. 






Notes and some tips:
  • This curry tends to thicken with time, especially if left uncovered. So if you have prepared the curry beforehand, before serving add more milk to it and reheat.
  • Capsicum should not get mushy, but should maintain just the right texture and shape.
  • You may use any colour capsicum you like,  green ones obviously works the best since the rest of them are sweeter in taste.
  • if you feel the need of making this curry hotter, you may blend a green chili with the onion and then sauté it all together.
  • You may also add a few almonds to the cashew paste, to give it a new flavour. 





If you are looking for more Paneer recipes, try these: 
No onion-garlic Kadhayi Paneer 
Smooth and creamy Paneer Butter Masala 
Methi Malayi Paneer
Paneer Tikka - made in pan, no oven / grill required 

More Cashew recipes;
Kaju Katli - Cashew Barfi  


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Restaurant style Daal Fry recipe:: Dhabe ki tadka Daal :: Moong Daal with Tadka

One thing we order each time we visit an Indian restaurant is Daal fry or Tadka Daal. Whatever be the starter, or  the main vegetable, this  humble Daal Fry  has always maintained the same position on the Dinner Table for us. And am sure tahts the case for most of you guys, unless you are specifically having a regional cuisine like South Indian meal or Biryani etc. There is no fix recipe for Dal Fry... it usually depends on the Restaurant, chef, region, cuisine and your taste. It can be made using any yellow dal, and it will still be called Dal Fry if there is this aromatic tempering on top. The most commonly used lentils for this are Arhar ki Daal ( Pigeon peas ), Chane ki Daal ( Bengal gram ), and Moong ki dal ( yellow split Moong ).Today with this recipe, I have explained the recipe for Tadka dal using yellow Moong and Arhar dal.

Moong daal is one of the most appetising and light meal one can have. And that’s the reason people usually consider it to be an ideal meal during sickness. This factor also makes it an excellent food  for Vegetarians, elderly and pregnant ladies. It is also a great source of dietary fibre, iron, protein and essential vitamins. Being naturally low in fat and cholesterol free definitely add this to my list of super-foods. 



Tadka or chaunk is the Hindi word for tempering. In this technique the spices are fried in oil, thereby releasing essential oils & thus changing the flavours and aroma of the final dish remarkably. Tempering is very much a part of Indian Cuisine, being added to Lentils, Chutneys, Rice dishes and even Raita  in some regions… 

Here in this recipe, I have used a mixture of Moong dal and Arhar dal. That’s my usual combination if I have to prepare it for everyday dinner,which I prefer to keep light. Sometimes I also add red Masoor dal ( split red lentils)  to this combo. Or sometimes plain Moong daal does for me.. it’s a mix and match  thing, which tastes good in each combo you prefer. 


What you need?
For Daal:
  • ¾ cup Yellow Moong dal
  • ¼ up Arharr / Toor Dal ( Pigeon peas)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric

For tempering
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 garlic, crushed lightly
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped small
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • ¼ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 or 2 green chilli – slit ( Or dry red chilies )
  • a pinch of asafoetida (heeng)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee or butter
  • 1 tsp salt ( more or less, as per your taste ) 





How to make?
  • Wash both the lentils thoroughly and soak for 20-30 minutes. Rinse and cook with water, salt and turmeric for two whistles. Turn off the flame and open when the gas ease off.
  • Open the pressure cooker, and mash daal well with the help of a masher or ladle or big heavy spatula.
  • In a pan, heat Ghee and splutter Cumin seeds into it. 
  • Add bay leaves and Asafoetida, fry for 10 seconds. Then throw in green chilies ( or dry red chilies ) , chopped garlic and fry for half a minute. 
  • Add chopped onion and salt, mix well and fry for 1-2 minutes on medium-high flame. It should turn brown. Immediately add red chili powder and Garam Masala and turn off. 
  • Take Daal out in a serving bowl, spread sizzling Tadka on top and keep covered until you serve. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves 




My Notes :

  • Like I said above, this Dal can be made using various combinations. Just keep the method of preparation same and mix and match to see which combo you like most. 
  • You may also add grated ginger along with garlic. Usually it is not used in Restaurants, but most Dhabas prefer it that way. 
  • Green chili or red dry chilies can be used interchangeably.. depending on your taste. Red chilies give better colour and strong aroma. 
  • You may also add 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds along with cumin seeds.
  • Garam Masala is added towards the end, cover the pan/vessel after adding it to dal so that the aroma sinks in well. 




Friday, 4 April 2014

Mooli Ka Raita : Radish Yoghurt dip : Navratri recipes

Comes Navratri, and all sorts of yoghurt recipes start rushing into my thoughts. Most of the food we have during Navratri is warming and starchy, to keep us filled up and going. So to balance it out, we tend to include fruits and yoghurt as sides. Although every home has a different set of rules to be followed for the food items permitted, typically the list consists of Fruits, Potato, Yoghurt,  some non-grain flours and green leaves. The food items which are strictly not permitted are all Non-vegetarian foods, Eggs, Garlic, Onions etc. It really depends on one’s preferences and family rituals.

In our household, it was a norm to have heavy stuff like Pooris with potatoes etc. in breakfast for all 9 days, fruits for lunch and then something cooling and light for dinner. The whole custom was exciting and just used to give me a very different feeling. By the end of the 9th day, we used to crave for normal Dal-Rice and Parathas like beggars and then used to come Mum’s lecture of how we take these foods for granted.  Phew ! So anyway, the idea is to keep your diet balanced and yet enriched with required nutrients as much as possible.

Mum was not that strict with the usage of vegetables, especially for the dinner time. So this Radish Raita was very common sometimes with blanched spinach into it. we used to have it with hot plain roasted potatoes and honestly, what a pleasure it used to be. Since the usage of spices is very mild and limited during Navratri, you actually get to taste the real flavours of the food in its under-cooked/less cooked form. Which is what makes the whole experience very unique and enjoyable.

Usage of Radish was not that common in our home apart from in Parathas. So this was another good way of including this vegetable to the diet. And we totally enjoyed it, so it was worth. Since radish has this pungent aroma of its own which is hard to avoid, some people don’t like to use it in its raw form. And hence I have seen people roasting it first with little oil and spices and then adding to the Yoghurt. But in this recipe, I have just used it raw, shredded and that’s it. So you may try your hands on with this method first and if you don’t like it, you always have an option to roast it and then add to the Yoghurt  J



What you need?
  • 1 medium sized Radish, shredded
  • 1 tsp Salt + extra only if required as per your taste ( Use rock salt / sendha namak , if preparing it for fast )
  • 2 cups yoghurt
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp  chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • 1 green chili, chopped very small ( optional )



How to make?
  • Take grated radish in a big bowl, and sprinkle the slat over it. Mix it well and leave it like that for 20-30 minutes. Radish will release  its water
  • Meanwhile, whisk the yoghurt in another mixing bowl and keep it ready . Do not add any spices yet
  • After radish is done, squeeze the water thoroughly in another bowl. Don’t throw it off, since it can be used  in any other preparation like Chapathi, sabzi etc,
  • Radish should be very dry, if not completely. Little water if remains there, is OK
  • Mix this radish with the yoghurt.
  • In a pan, heat ghee and add mustard seeds. When they sizzle, throw in chopped green chili, curry leaves and black pepper. Fry for half a minute and turn off the flame.
  • Pour over this tadka to the Yoghurt mix, check salt and add more if required. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top
  • Enjoy chilled with hot and fresh Pooris or any side snack 




My Notes and some Tips: 
  • If you are not making it for fast, feel free to add normal salt
  • As I stated above, you may a tbsp. of blanched spinach to this raita  as it tastes really good with radish
  • You may also add cumin seeds to the tadka instead of/ along with mustard seeds. I  do that quite often
  •  Addition of Green chili and coriander is totally optional though, but it brings the best flavours out of radish since otherwise it tastes a bit bland. 
  • Its best to use cold yoghurt since if you make this raita and then refrigerate it, it will get sour in some time. So, plan ahead and keep whisked yoghurt in Fridge and take it out just when you are ready to serve. Throw everything together as per the recipe, and serve. 



Thursday, 3 April 2014

Kuttu ke Aate ki poori - Buckwheat flour Puri

I am not a fasting person at all, but I love all the food which is being prepared during this time anyhow. Buckwheat Or Kuttu Flour is consumed usually in northern parts of India during the 9 auspicious days of Navaratri every year. During this time, people tend to give up having grains (rice/wheat/Lentils etc.)  for one week to worship Goddess Durga . The idea is to learn and  praise the importance of grains that we eat every day, and thus to pay their respect, people eat anything other than grains. Since most of the breads are made up of grains’ flours,  several other kinds of flours are being used to prepare breads like Buckwheat, Chestnut, Amaranth etc. Out of all these, Buckwheat is my favourite because of its nutty and earthy flavour.

What is buckwheat flour?
With its non-wheat status, buckwheat is safely a gluten-free seed. Buckwheat and wheat are, come to find out, actually from completely different botanical families. Derived from the seeds of a flowering plant, buckwheat is not considered a grain or a cereal. Buckwheat, in all of its gluten-free glory, is actually closely related to rhubarb. In addition, it is an excellent source of fiber and nutrients. Some health benefits of Buckwheat are listed below:

  • Best source of high-quality, easily digestible proteins: This makes it an excellent meat substitute.
  • The high level of rutin is extracted from the leaves for medicine to treat high blood pressure.
  • Non allergenic: Buckwheat hulls are used as pillow stuffing for those allergic to feathers, dust, and pollen.
  • May help diabetes: Buckwheat may be helpful in the management of diabetes
  • Great for the digestion: “The properties of buckwheat are: Neutral thermal nature; sweet flavour; cleans and strengthens the intestines and improves appetite. Is effective for treating dysentery and chronic diarrhoea.” 
  • Chemical free: Buckwheat grows so quickly that it does not usually require a lot of pesticides or other chemicals to grow well.
  • Buckwheat is a warming food: It is classified by macrobiotics as a yang food. It is great for eating in the cold winter months.
  • It is gluten free and can be used as a good alternative to wheat and other grains. 






Since Buckwheat Flour is gluten free, it does not bind to make sticky smooth dough. You may use mashed boiled potato or boiled taro root (Arbi) as binding agent,  or both together in the same recipe. Depends on your taste and availability, I have only used potatoes here. The method to make kuttu ki Poori is similar to rolling out  makki ki roti, both being non-starchy flours. Adding the starch in the form of potatoes or taro root makes these poori heartier and filling.

Apart from making Poori/ Chapathi or Parathas, this flour can also be used in making of aalu Pakoda. I am hoping very soon I will make these and post the recipe on the blog. We dont need fasting days to have goodies, do we ? :)




What you need?
  • 2 cups Buckwheat flour ( Kuttu ka aata )
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves ( chopped fine )
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1-2 green chilies, fine chopped or minced
  • A pinch of Black salt
  • 1 tsp Salt ( Rock salt for fasting purpose )
  • Oil for frying the Poori 





How to make?
  • Boil the potato till its overly cooked, and then peel it while its still warm ( not hot, just warm ). Mash it well, without a trace of solid left in that.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except oil and bring everything together gently. Add little water at a time ( around 1 tbsp ) and knead to make a firm dough. Do not make it too soft or moist, else it will break while rolling . No need to keep aside, instead use immediately.
  • Meanwhile, keep the oil ready for frying heated on a medium flame  and then start rolling these Pooris as method explained below 

  • Pinch a small dough ball and place on a flour dusted Board. Gently tap it with slight pressure from you palm and fingers to flatten it in a rough shape. 
  • Cut the round shape out using a cookie cutter ( or just a sharp edged bowl or cap/ lid ). Its not only done to give a nice shape and look, but also prevents the poori to break while frying. 
  • While lifting, if it sticks to the board then use flat spatula. Never lift it using hand or it will break into crumbs 

  • Place this Puri gently in the hot oil to sizzle and fry tapping gently with the ladle. Once done from one side , flip and let the other side cook. Don’t overcook it or it will burn, one poori usually takes 1- 1 ½ minutes to get fried at the right temperature of oil
  • Drain on a paper towel and prepare all the Pooris this way.
  • Crunchy, crispy pooris ready. Serve them with any side dish of your choice, usually served with Dahi aalu or Ras waale aalu tamatar





My notes and some tips:
  • if this method of rolling on a floured surface doesn't work for you, you may also use a moist cheese cloth/ muslin cloth or just a clean cotton cloth. A lightly oiled plastic zip lock bag or simply plastic sheet can also be used to roll these pooris. its really hit and trial, just use the method you prefer. 
  • Since Buckwheat generates heat in the body (and esp. given the level of heat and humidity in India), it would be advisable to pair it with Yogurt. So you may serve the complete combo of Kuttu poori, with aalu tamatar and a raita of your choice
  • You can also prepare  Kutti ki Roti or Paratha using the same method. For making rotis, you roll it slightly thin and for making parathas  it’s a tad bit thicker.
  • You can also use a mix of kuttu ka atta and singhare ka atta to make these  Pooris. They taste delicious too
  • Kuttu ki Poori can be served with many other fasting Sabzis, like  dahi aloo, arbi masala. dahi arbi, vrat wale aloo or kaddu ki sabzi. I should be posting the recipes of these very soon and update this post.
  • If you are not preparing these  just for fasting purpose, you may play a little with the spices. like I added a pinch of turmeric and carom seeds as well in the dough to make it more appetising and it has also given this a nice colour. 



Some more Navratri recipes: 

Banana halwa : Kele ka Halwa 
Potato Halwa : Aalu ka  halw
Sabudana Khichdi
Batata chi bhaji - Maharashtrian style Potato sabzi 
Ras wale Aalu tamatar ki sabzi 


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Angoori Rasmalayi - Baby rasgullas floating in sweetened milk

Rasmalayi (or Rasmalai) is everybody’s favorite Dessert ! It’s like Gajar ka Halwa, everyone loves to have at least one bite. Of course, not those few unfortunate who can’t have it for medical reasons. I have a friend who is lactose intolerant and she is the only one I have ever seen saying no to this amazing dessert.. the soft, succulent balls floating in thick Rabdi/ Basundi with nuts and saffron on top.. Mmmm !! that’s really something !

I remember, I made this Angoori Rasmalayi last year some time nearby Ramadan, around October. And I am posting it now.. yes , that’s how much lazy I am ! I have almost 50 recipes lying in the draft waiting to be finished up and published. If only I had the best Management tricks..  sigh ! Anyway, but since I was having those craving to have it again lately I looked for the recipe in my drafts and quickly prepared it for the Weekend dinner.

You would ask why is there this word “Angoori” against good old Rasmalayi. Well, the only difference between Angoori Rasmalai and regular Rasmalai is the size. Angoori Rasmalai is tiny sized, spongy cottage cheese dumplings soaked in milk pudding,  whereas the other one is bigger sized and flatten. You can check the recipe for the Plain “Rasamalayi” here.

The name Angoori Rasmalai probably came from the word 'Angoor' that means grape in English. This Angoori Rasmalai is also called simply Rasmalai at many sweet shops or 'Indrani' as they say in some places of West Bengal. But as Shakespeare said, what’s in a name ! always tastes heavenly!! :)

Rasmalai is believed to have originated in Odisha. It is one of the most famous desserts in that region and is likely based on the rosogulla, which is a close variation from West Bengal. 

I got this very interesting article while I was reading about the History of Rasogulla and Rasmalayi, here. It says that During 1868, Nobin Das, who belonged to Kolkata, modified the recipe of the rasgulla as he wanted to extend the life of the sweet which was originally highly perishable. As a result of his modification, the rasgulla became a lot spongier than it originally was but it remained non-perishable for quite some time.

Whatever be the history, we are only concerned about the great taste and heavenly pleasure this dessert imparts when you have it. so let’s move to the recipe quickly. And let me assure you, although the recipe looks very lengthy and time consuming, its very easy and simple when you try it. Most of the steps described below are to make Chhena/Paneer from scratch.


What you need?

For making Rasgullas: 
1 Ltr.  Whole Milk
1 tbsp  Lemon juice - a big lime and mix it with 2 tsp of water
½ tbsp. All-purpose Flour  ( Maida )
1 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Cardamom powder

For making Syrup:
5 cups of  Water
3 cups of  Sugar
A pinch of  Cardamom powder

For the Basundi or Sweetened Milk base:
1 Ltr  Whole Milk
¾ cup Sugar  - Adjust as per your requirement
¼ cup chopped nuts ( Pistachios, almonds, cashews etc. )


How to make?

First prepare Chhnea/ Paneer/ Rosogullas : 
  • Boil the milk in a pan, stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame, pour in half the lemon juice . Keep stirring, milk will start curdling.
  • Pour in the remaining lemon juice, keep stirring until the milk solids get separated from the water completely i.e. gets curdled completely . Turn the flame off and leave the chhana / cottage cheese in this condition for next 5-7 minutes.
  • Put it over a soft cotton cloth / cheese cloth / muslin cloth and let all the water drain away in another big bowl. ( See notes here ** )
  • Put the sides together of the cloth to hold the Chhena, and  run it under cold running water for 2-3 minutes to remove the smell of lemon.
  • Now wriggle this cloth tight to squeeze any extra water remaining and hang the Potli/  cloth pakc on the kitchen tap / faucet for 45 minutes to 1 hr.
  • Once its done, squeeze the cloth one lats time to check if there is any extra water. Try to get rid of as much water as possible but note that the chhana(cottage cheese) should not get too dry.. It should maintain its smoothness 
  • Now throw the lump of Chhena over a flat surface. Add 1/2 tsp semolina, 1/2 tsp flour, 1 tsp sugar, cardamom powder to it and start kneading
  • Knead them nicely together pressing the dough with your palm continuously for about 5-6 minutes. Once you feel dough is oily  and it starts loosing surface, you know you are done. 
  • Now, from this chhena dough make some big pea sized round balls, approximately 30 to 35 small
  • Take a deep pan with lid. Mix the water and sugar together and bring to boil, let it boil for 2 minutes. Now, place these cottage-cheese balls into the syrup carefully. After one whole batch of about 6-8 balls is in there, cover the pan. Turn to medium and let it cook for 15-20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, open the lid to check. If the balls are about one and half times their original size and spongy, its done. Otherwise cook for 5 more minutes and check again. Don’t cook for more than 30 minutes in total or they will get hard.
  • Once its done, turn off the flame and remove the rasgullas from the syrup, very gently squeeze  the extra water and keep aside in a wide pan/bowl.
  • Meanwhile , in another pan, start heating up the milk and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent it from burning at the bottom. Once it gets half in quantity, add sugar and cardamom powder and cook for further 10 minutes, stirring  continuously.
  • Now drop the Chhena balls very gently in the milk . Don’t stir after adding these balls.
  • Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, check the sweetness and turn off the gas. Your Angoori Rasmalai is ready!!
  • Serve cold with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and other nuts.



My Notes and some tips:
  • The water that you have drained out of curdled milk, is very nutritious and contains lots of whey goodness. Don’t throw it all away. Instead use that in cooking for – Kneading dough for chapathis, cooking rice, lentils, curries etc.
  • You may use the same recipe to prepare usual Rasmalayi where the cheese-balls are bigger in size. Before dropping these into the sweetened milk, gently flatten them between your palms to give there right shape.
  • When dropping and picking syrup dipped balls, be very gentle and careful else you may break them
  • You may use condensed milk to prepare Milk base, adjust sugar as per your taste in case you do
  • You may use semi-skimmed or semi-toned milk as well for making Chhena, but whole milk works best. Rather use all the Malayi/cream you have from the Milk to make it smoother and creamier. 


   

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