For this week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop, the 103rd edition, the theme is ‘steamed dishes’. I decided to try out something I have always wanted to – Mixed vegetable idlis! And they turned out so, so good!
Mixed vegetable idlis might be a common breakfast dish in a lot of homes, but that is not so in our case. We end up making the good ol’ plain idlis over and over again, serving them with a variety of chutneys and sambar. Now that we have tried and loved the mixed vegetable idlis, I am pretty sure we will be making them more frequently.
These idlis have the goodness of urad daal and veggies in them, and are a nice, welcome change from the regular idlis. They taste delightful, and can be served as is – they don’t really need an accompaniment. What’s more, they are steamed and, therefore, super healthy, too. This is a great kid-friendly breakfast or snack dish, a lovely way to sneak veggies into their diet, I think.
Here’s how I made the mixed vegetable idlis.
Ingredients (for about 12 idlis):
3/4 of a medium-sized serving bowl idli batter
Salt, to taste
A 1-inch piece of ginger
1 green chilly
A small piece of cabbage
1 medium-sized carrot
A few florets of cauliflower
1 small onion
1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum
A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
2 tablespoons shelled green peas
A pinch of asafoetida
Red chilli powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon oil + a little more to grease the idli moulds
First, let us prep all the veggies. Chop the cabbage, cauliflower, onions and capsicum finely. Remove the strings from the green beans and chop them finely too. Peel the carrot and chop it very finely or grate it. Chop the coriander finely.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add the chopped cabbage, cauliflower, onions, capsicum, beans, carrot and the shelled green peas, along with the asafoetida. Stirring intermittently, let the veggies cook on a medium flame for a minute. Now, add turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste. Mix well. Sprinkling a little water if needed, cook on medium flame for a minute or two more, stirring intermittently. Switch off the gas. The veggies should be cooked, but not overly tender – they will be steamed later, with the idli batter, anyway. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Keep aside and allow the vegetables to cool, while you make the other preparations.
Grease the idli plates using a little oil, and keep them ready.
Add salt to taste to the idli batter.
Peel the ginger and chop it into small pieces. Chop the green chilli into small pieces. Grind the ginger and green chillies into a paste, in a mixer, using a little water. Add this paste to the idli batter.
When the vegetables cool down completely, add them to the idli batter. Mix well.
Now, pour a ladleful of the batter into each of the moulds in the greased idli plates.
Place the plates in a pressure cook and steam them, on high flame, for 10-12 minutes. Do not place the pressure cooker weight.
When done, remove the mixed vegetable idlis from the plates, using a spoon. Transfer them to serving plates. Serve hot, as is or with sambar or chutney of your choice.
You like? I hope you will try out these healthy and tasty mixed vegetable idlis too!
The 25th and 26th of July, 2017, saw a beautiful workshop on millet foods being conducted at the MS Ramaiah campus in Matthikere. This workshop – Workshop On Millet Foods For Dieticians And Chefs – was organised by the Government of Karnataka, in association with MS Ramaiah Institute, with the intention of spreading more awareness about millets and millet-based foods. This is an extension to the #LetsMillet campaign being vigorously undertaken by the Government of Karnataka, an attempt to reach out to the masses after the hugely successful Organics And Millets Mela held in April 2017.
I am thankful to have been offered an invite to attend and cover the workshop which, I think, was just as successful as the Organics And Millets Mela. It was met with a wonderful, enthusiastic response from chefs, dieticians, students, home cooks and various dignitaries from the worlds of food, nutrition and politics.
To say I am overwhelmed and enlightened by the experience of attending the workshop would be an understatement. I’ve learnt so much in these two days; watched so much of magic being unravelled; life in my kitchen is never going to be the same again, I’m sure.
Some of the most commonly asked questions about millets were answered, this first day of the workshop. Here’s a glimpse of all that happened on Day 1 of the workshop, and the key take-aways, for your viewing and reading pleasure.
We’ve been hearing about this ‘millets’ thing day in and day out. But what are they, really?
Millets are actually grasses with tiny seeds, something that has been cultivated in India since ages. They are hardy crops that can be grown with little investment and little usage of water, and hold immense nutrition within their tiny selves.
If they are so good for us, why aren’t we using more of millets?
Once upon a time, millets were consumed in generous quantities by Indians, and were extensively used to feed cattle as well. However, with advancing times and the increasing influence of Western culture, millets began to be looked down upon. They began to be called ‘poor man’s food’ or ‘cattle feed’, and our diets changed to include primarily wheat- or rice-based products. Our consumption of millets has gone down drastically, both in urban and rural areas, so much so that it is negligible. People have forgotten how to use these ancient powerhouses of nutrition aka millets.
Today, when global warming is a scary reality that we are slowly waking up to and water conservation is the need of the hour, millets can be of great help. Growing 1 kg. of rice consumes about 4,000-5,500 thousand litres of water, while growing a kg. of millets needs just about 20% of that.Moreover, millets can be grown even in bad weather conditions, in poor soil conditions.They are sturdy crops that aren’t usually infested by insects or diseases and, hence, require little or no pesticides and fertilisers. Therefore, the cost of growing millets is much, much lower than that of cultivating wheat or rice.
Sadly, though, there is little demand for millets today. Today, millets are grown only by those farmers who are unable to grow anything else, because they are extremely pressed for money or have land that has extremely poor conditions. Millets are good for the farmer in a lot of ways.So, if you begin to include more millets in your daily diets, you are actually helping the poorest of farmers, saving them from a life of misery.
By buying millets, you also contribute to environmental good health, by reducing the stress on already stressed-out water resources. You also help in cutting down the use of fertilisers and pesticides. Millets are, therefore, good for the environment, too.
This is not all. Millets are good for our health, too.Today, non-communicable or lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol are rampant in rural and urban India. Many of these diseases occur because of our sedentary lifestyles, increasing stress levels, and an unbalanced diet (read: increasing use of junk food and drinks, a high level of wheat- or rice-based foods, and a lack of inclusion of different types of fruits, grains, vegetables and other ingredients). Thanks to their high nutritional content, the inclusion of millets in our daily diets can be one of the ways out of this situation. It is rather sad that people today are turning to foreign grains like quinoa and oats for their nutritional values, but ignoring our very own millets, which are far superior to these foods (even to rice and wheat, in case of most nutrients).
What’s this #LetsMillet thing? Who are the various stakeholders?
The Government of Karnataka is presently on a mission to propagate awareness about millets through workshops like this one, to encourage people to use more of them, and to teach them different ways in which they can do so. Check out the #LetsMillet hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to take a look at the considerable work that has been done in this regard.
Chefs, dieticians, food bloggers and other social media influencers have an important role to play in contributing towards this end.
So, millets can be used just to make stuff like ragi mudde, right?
Millets can be used in a variety of dishes, traditional and contemporary, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Also, people take millets to mean just ragi (finger millet) or bajri (pearl millet), while that is so not the case. These are just two types of millet – there’s a whole millet family out there, for you to explore and get the benefit of. Pearl millet, kodo millet, little millet, proso millet, finger millet, barnyard millet.. there are so many varieties of millets! Most people today don’t even know what these grains look like!
Further, these grains can be used to make anything from gobi manchurian, dosa, idli, curd rice and bisi bele bath to risotto, ravioli, cakes and breads. For the last two years or so, chefs, home cooks and food bloggers have been experimenting with different types of millets, and there is now a wealth of recipes to be explored. So, millets does not translate into just stuff like ragi mudde.. almost anything can be made from them! They can be used in place of wheat and rice in all the dishes you commonly consume today, like curd rice or sambar rice, and they can be made into delicacies like payasam and kesari bath, too. That said, millets possess certain qualities that are inherent to them, and a chef should work around them while trying to develop dishes with them.
Should I use millets just because my ancestors used them?
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture ended his speech with a request to everyone to consider increasing the use of millets in their daily diets. He stated that he does not solicit people’s co-operation because increasing consumption of millets is a political agenda, or because our ancestors used these grains, but because they are good for us in so many different ways, a fact that has been backed up by a whole lot of systematic scientific research.
What are the various nutrients that millets possess?
They are high in dietary fibre, so they fill you up with lesser portion sizes. Therefore, they are helpful in weight management. They also help in lowering constipation.
They possess a low Glycemic Index (GI), and are thus useful in controlling diabetes.
They have anti-tumour and anti-carcinogenic properties too.
They are low in sodium, so they are helpful in the management of hypertension.
They help in the lowering of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
They possess a highly alkaline nature, thereby helping in preventing and lowering the effects of irritable bowel syndrome, acidity, gallstones and stomach ulcers.
They are rich in anti-oxidants.
They possess hypo-allergenic properties and, hence, help in preventing allergic reactions.
They are rich in iron, thereby helping in the prevention of anaemia.
They are useful in the prevention of liver disorders.
They are completely gluten-free.
Millets are far superior to wheat and rice and even quinoa, as far as various micro-nutrients are concerned.
They are quite high in protein, and hence, play a crucial role in a vegetarian diet, wherein protein sources are limited.
If millets are so high in nutrients, should I be switching over to an all-millet diet then?
No, that kind of extreme switching over in diet is not advisable, not recommended by dieticians or nutritionists. Yes, millets are very high in nutrients, but they do need to be supplemented by wheat, rice, pulses, vegetables, milk, meat, eggs and a variety of other foods, so as to provide complete health to a human being.
What is advocated, really, through campaigns like this is an open mind, an acceptance to trying out different kinds of millets, at least a basic introduction of millets in your daily diet. All meals/snacks that you consume in a day need not be millet-heavy, but it would be great if at least one of them is.
Also, millets are not a miracle cure for all your ailments. The increase in lifestyle diseases in today’s times in not just a product of an imbalanced diet, which can be cured by the introduction of millets in your diet. There are other steps that need to be taken, too, to curb this, such as lowering overall stress levels, incorporating more physical activity in our lives, etc.
What are the things that I should keep in mind while introducing millets in my daily diet?
Millets can be used by people of all age groups, from a 6-month-old baby to a geriatric person, irrespective of their health condition. However, millets are believed to be goitrogenous in nature (i.e. they can enlarge one’s thyroid gland) and, hence, it would be advisable to consult a doctor before beginning to consume millets if you have a thyroid condition. If you have any other chronic ailment, too, you should ideally consult with a doctor to check on how much of millets you should consume in your daily diet, and in what form.
Soaking millets and throwing away the water, sprouting, cooking, roasting and fermenting are some techniques that are recommended to reduce the negative goiterogenous properties of millets.
Do not get carried away when you are just beginning to introduce millets into your daily diet. Do not go overboard. Introduce them slowly, little by little, into your diets, and wait and check whether they suit you. To start with, you may consume just one type of millet for a while, mixing it with rice or pulses, about twice a week, to see how they agree with you. Slowly and gradually, you may increase the quantity of millets you use.
Since millets are non-glutinous, baking with them can be tough. You might have to mix whole wheat flour or maida to them, to get good results.
There might be a slight difference in texture, when you substitute millets for rice in a dish known to you. For instance, pongal made with barnyard millet or proso millet might be grainier in texture as compared to that made with rice. That is something you should keep in mind while using millets.
Well, that’s how Day 1 of the workshop ended. I hope you enjoyed reading the post, and found it informative!
Last weekend, I was invited to be a part of a workshop titled ‘The Power Of You’ at the famed Parsi eatery SodaBottleOpenerWala, on Lavelle Road. The workshop promised to touch upon things spiritual and emotional, including the healing power of food, how to choose the right ingredients for your food, and how to be the best version of yourself. The person conducting the workshop was none other than Anaida Parvaneh, pop star of the 1990s, a highly unlikely suspect for such a thing.
I had a lovely time at the workshop, where I felt Anaida spoke my mind about food. I returned with my faith in the power of food and cooking renewed. This post is all about my experience at the workshop.
About Anaida Parvaneh
Many of us still remember the pretty Anaida crooning to Oova Oova, back in the ’90s. She was a rage back then, after all, as we were growing up, singer of many more such groovy hits. What most of us don’t know (yet) is that there is a whole other side to the beautiful Anaida – Anaida Parvaneh (yes, that’s her last name!) is an Iranian by descent, someone who loves the food of her homeland. OK, she is a foodie at heart, who loves food in general. She is also a healer, writer and consultant for the entertainment and hospitality industry. I hear her workshops on yoga, meditation and overall wellness are extremely popular, the world over.
SodaBottleOpenerWala (Bangalore) is presently running a food festival called Persian Pop-Up Kitchen, wherein Anaida will be acting as Chef and whipping up some lovely heirloom recipes that have been handed down through generations of her family. Interesting, right? This workshop is an extension of the food festival.
Major take-aways from the workshop
The workshop began with Anaida speaking about the immense healing power that food possesses, of how it can be used to heal your mind, body and soul. She spoke of how, consequently, the person who cooks has a great responsibility – he/she is nourishing a whole being, and hence, needs to do the act with great love, caution, respect and patience. This is something I have always believed in, too.
Then, she went on to speak about how it is critical to choose the right ingredients for your cooking. The ingredients pass on their energy, their nutrients, to you, through your food, and it is, hence, important that you choose them with great care. Use fresh and seasonal ingredients that haven’t undergone undue stress (read: unhygienically grown crops, unethically raised meat, or extremely processed food). She also talked about how one needs to be aware of the different properties that various ingredients possess, and to use them wisely – most of the medicines you require for your small and big ailments are already present in your kitchen, she believes, and I vouch for the same too.
She suggested showing gratitude to food, to the ingredients that have gone into it, thanking the Universe for providing nutrition to you, thanking all those whose efforts have gone into putting your food on your table. Once you become mindful of this, she says, you cannot not eat right and stay healthy. I heartily agree, and strongly believe in the same.
She also spoke about how food per se does not make you fat, but it is the kind of relationship that you share with food that determines whether it is healthy or unhealthy for you. If you eat in a hassled way (read: paying no heed to your food, seated in front of a television, or emotional bingeing because you are upset or happy), you will tend to veer towards the wrong foods or overeat, ultimately negatively impacting your health. On the contrary, if you build a good relationship with food, if you love and respect it, you will automatically begin to eat just as much as you need. So, it is not the rice or the ghee or the kheer that makes you fat – do include them in your diet, too – but the lack of being mindful with them that does.
Anaida then went on to tell the participants about how food need not be elaborate or have too many ingredients for it to be comforting and nourishing. The foods that comfort you, that heal you, are, more often than not, simple ones. So true, right? These comfort foods are different for different people, and you need to figure out your own. It is you and you alone who can pinpoint the exact things that bring you comfort and happiness from deep within.
For the benefit of the participants, Anaida demonstrated one of her favourite comfort foods – something she calls her Magic Soup. She believes this soup – loaded with vermicelli, turnip, coriander, carrots, corn, mushrooms and mixed sprouts, among other ingredients – has healing properties and that it can help anyone who is feeling under the weather. The soup, indeed, was simple, yet beautiful – I tried out the vegetarian version.
At the workshop, we also had the pleasure of meeting Sourav Sachin of the Flipkart fame, who spoke about how all the power that you need to lead your life is right within you. It is your attitude that determines whether others are fair or unfair to you, he stated. It is your way of looking at things that makes life good or bad for you, he added. When you stop looking outside, and start looking deep within, your light will shine, he concluded.
Both Anaida and Sourav’s words resonated with me, struck chords within me. The workshop felt like a reiteration of beliefs that I have always held. Deep inside, I think, all of us know all of this, but we often forget to be mindful in the chaos of everyday life.So, here’s to being more mindful, more slow, more accepting and aware of ourselves and what we really need!
This week’s theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, the 102nd edition, is ‘No Fire Recipes’ or dishes that are cooked without the use of the gas. The theme does allow the use of barbecue grills, electric toasters and sandwich makers, as well as OTG and microwave ovens, as these appliances run either on fire or electricity and not on gas. But then, I wanted to make something for the blog hop that is absolutely ‘No Cook’, which just needs assembling and no cooking at all, neither on the gas nor on a grill or oven. So, I decided to put up a simple recipe – Dahi Kela – that we have been making, in our family, for ages now.
Dahi kela is a very easy thing to put together, a task that needs barely 5 minutes. This sweet yogurt and banana dish makes for a lovely accompaniment with rotis and parathas, a saviour on days when you do not have anything else to serve them with or when you are too lazy or tired to whip up something else. It can be a dessert, too, if you so please. What’s more, this is a healthier alternative to many oily, masala-laden side dishes. And, like I said earlier, it requires absolutely zero cooking. Do you need any more incentive to try this dish out? 🙂
I’m not sure of the origin of this dahi kela recipe, but I have had it often as part of Gujarati thalis back when I was living in Ahmedabad. I have also often seen this dish being prepared at the Brahmakumari’s centre that my grandparents used to frequent, on festivals and other auspicious occasions. As far as I know, Gujaratis believe the combination of curd (yogurt) and sugar, which this recipe involves, to bring good luck to the eater. Amma began to make the dahi kela at home too, because I love it, and then, in time, I began to make it too.
Now, let’s look at the recipe for the dahi kela, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 cups curd (yogurt)
Palm sugar, to taste
2 medium-sized bananas
Cardamom (elaichi) powder, to taste
Take the yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently, adding a little water if you think it is too thick.
Cut the bananas into rounds and add them to the yogurt.
Add sugar and cardamom powder, to taste.
Mix well, but gently.
Serve immediately, or after chilling for a while in the refrigerator. You can serve this with rotis or parathas, as an accompaniment, or on its own, as a dessert.
I use Robusta bananas to make the dahi kela, because I simply love them. You could use smaller bananas like Yelakki too, but you might want to use more of them in that case.
I use home-made curd that isn’t very thick, to make this dish. If you are using store-bought curd that is very thick, use slightly more water. However, do ensure that you do not make it too watery – the dahi kela is supposed to be reasonably thick in consistency.
You could omit the cardamom powder if you so please, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Personally, I think it adds a beautiful fragrance to the dish.
If you are making the dahi kela well in advance before you plan to serve it, it would be a good idea to store it in the refrigerator till serving time. This will ensure that the curd doesn’t get overly sour, as it is prone to do at room temperature, especially in the hot months of summer.
Use fresh curd that isn’t very sour, to make the dahi kela, for best results.
I use palm sugar to make this dish, to make it (relatively) healthier. If you don’t have it, you could use ordinary refined sugar instead.
You could add dried fruits, other fresh fruits, saffron and nuts to the dahi kela, too. I usually avoid these things, because I like keeping this dish clean and simple.
Do you make dahi kela at home too? What is your version like?
If you have never tried it out before, please do! Don’t forget to tell me how it turned out!
This month’s theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Facebook group is ‘Chutneys’. All the participating bloggers were challenged to whip up a chutney that makes use of the two secret ingredients their partner assigns them with.
I have been paired with Kriti Singhal Agrawal, the talented blogger who writes at Krispy Kadhai, this month. She assigned me ‘curd’ and ‘any fresh herb’ as my secret ingredients. I decided to make Dangar Pachadi, a long-lost heirloom recipe from Tamilnadu, that uses curd, roasted urad daal, coriander (the fresh herb!) and, sometimes, curry leaves. Well, technically, this is a raita and not a chutney, but then, anything ground and mixed into curd will inevitably become a raita, right? So, I decided to let that be.
Like I was saying earlier, dangar pachadi is a traditional recipe from Tamilnadu, particularly the Tanjore region, which has been lost somewhere in the chaos of modern life. There is another variation of this raita too that used to be prepared back in the olden days – a version that used roasted urad flour instead of urad daal – called dangarma (colloquial for ‘dangar maavu‘) pachadi. ‘Dangar maavu‘ here refers to ‘urad flour’.
This pachadi has a very interesting history associated with it. Apparently, there was once a section of Brahmins from Maharashtra residing in the South Indian district of Tanjore, called the Tanjore Marathis. It is these Tanjore Marathis who are believed to have invented the dangar pachadi. ‘Dangar‘ is the Marathi word for ‘the dough used to make papads‘, i.e. uraddaal flour. A variation of this recipe was popular among traditional households in Maharashtra as well.
Dangar pachadi is something that my mother has grown up eating frequently, a dish I’ve heard her talk about often, but something I haven’t had too many times. I have never tried making it before. Amma was more than happy to teach me how to make this raita, for this challenge, and that is how this post happened. The raita turned out delectable, the smell of roasted urad daal in it heavenly. I served the dangar pachadi with Gujarati-style bajri-methi na thepla, and I am pretty sure it would go wonderfully well with any kind of parathas or as a side dish for rotis. Traditionally, this raita would be served with rice-based dishes.
Now, let’s learn how to make this beautiful raita, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
1 cup curd
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons urad daal
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 green chillies, slit length-wise
2 pinches of asafoetida
A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
Dry roast the urad daal in a pan, on medium flame, till it emits a lovely fragrance. Transfer to a plate and keep aside to let it cool down completely.
In the meantime, whisk the curd well. Add salt to taste.
Add the finely chopped coriander leaves to the curd.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Turn down the flame to medium. Now, add the asafoetida and split green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, and then add to the curd mix.
When the roasted urad daal has completely cooled down, use a mixer to pulse it to a coarse powder. Add this powder to the curd mix.
Mix everything well, ensuring that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together.
Serve with parathas, rotis or any rice preparation.
I used home-made curd that wasn’t too thick. If you are using very thick, store-bought curd, use about 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup of water.
Increase the quantity of urad daal, if you think you’d like it that way.
Make sure you roast the urad daal lightly, till it emits a good fragrance. Take care to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
Increase the quantity of green chillies, if you would like the raita to be slightly more spicier.
You need to just coarsely crush the roasted urad daal, and not make a fine powder.
Curry leaves can be added to the raita, too, but I skipped them.
If you aren’t planning on using the dangar pachadi immediately, you should refrigerate it until use so that it doesn’t turn too sour.
You like? I hope you will try this dish out too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!