Dal Makhani| Healthy Dal Makhani Recipe

I love the creamy deliciousness of well-made Dal Makhani. I love how it literally melts in your mouth and slides down your throat. I love how simple, how unassuming, it looks but how it manages to surprise you with the burst of flavours that it is. Well-made Dal Makhani is a joy to eat, and absolutely not a difficult thing to get right at home.

Dal Makhani has always been projected as this dish that needs hours and hours of slow cooking, perfect technique and measurements to get right, something that is very difficult to achieve in a home setting. However, that so isn’t the case. A good Dal Makhani is, at its heart, very simple. You can pare down the ingredients to a minimum – even cut out the cream, which is considered a must – and still get an awesome, awesome Dal Makhani. Considering this, it is actually a highly nutritious dish, especially so if you can manage to use home-made spice powders. Just think of all the protein packed into that black urad that goes in there!

I have seen a number of celebrity chefs prepare Dal Makhani on television, seen several home chefs and my very own house help make it several times over. Somewhere down the line, I started making it myself, going on to develop a simple style that perfectly suits my family’s taste buds. We rather prefer this home-made version of Dal Makhani to the cream- and calorie-laden version that is typically served in restaurants.

Today, I share with you the way I make Dal Makhani at home. I will very occasionally use cream in it, that too just a teeny bit for garnishing. I cook it for 20-25 minutes, which is enough to give it a silky smoothness and gorgeous taste. As opposed to the traditional method of making Dal Makhani on a wood fire, I cook it in a pan. There is no smoky fragrance in the Dal Makhani I make – my family and I aren’t big fans of it, anyway. Ok, maybe my Dal Makhani isn’t the most authentic version there is, but it surely is delicious and healthy!

Let’s now check out my Healthy Dal Makhani Recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup whole black urad dal (sabut udad)
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  5. 1 medium-sized onion
  6. 1 tablespoon butter
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  9. A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
  10. 2-3 cloves
  11. 2-3 green cardamom
  12. 1 medium-sized bay leaf
  13. 1 black cardamom
  14. Salt to taste
  15. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  16. 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder or to taste
  17. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  18. 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
  19. About 1/2 teaspoon of kasoori methi
  20. Cream, as needed to garnish (optional)
  21. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander for garnishing

Method:

1. Wash the whole black urad well under running water. Drain out all the water. Add in enough fresh water to cover the washed and drained urad, and let it soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. When the urad is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer it to a wide vessel and add in just enough fresh water to cover it. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook the urad for 5-6 whistles on high flame or till it is well cooked, soft and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Chop up the tomatoes roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic together in a mixer to a fine puree. Keep aside.

4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, remove the cooked urad dal from it. The urad should be super soft – there should be no give to it.

6. Heat the butter in a large pan. Add in the cumin and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add in the cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, bay leaf, cloves and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the onions begin to brown.

8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree to the pan. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, or till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away. Stir intermittently.

9. Add the cooked urad dal to the pan, along with the water it was cooked in. Add about 1/2 cup of fresh water or as needed to adjust the consistency. Cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes or till the dal begins to thicken.

10. Add garam masala and amchoor powder to the pan, and more water if you feel the dal is getting too thick. Adjust salt and other spices. Mix well.

11. Continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas.

12. Crush the kasoori methi roughly with your hands and mix it into the Dal Makhani. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander too.

13. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, garnished with a dollop of fresh cream. This Healthy Dal Makhani can be served with rotis, parathas or steamed rice – some of these pickled onions would make a great accompaniment!

Notes:

1. You can use a mix of rajma and whole black urad to make the Dal Makhani. I have not used rajma here.

2. Butter works best in the tempering for Dal Makhani. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences. I have used Amul salted butter here. You may use ghee instead, too.

3. Make sure the urad dal is very well cooked and soft, before adding it to the pan. There should be no crunch to it.

4. The whole spices used in the tempering – cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom, green cardamom and bay leaves – add all the zing that the Dal Makhani needs. If you don’t have any of these spices, though, you can omit it. The cumin is a must, though.

5. The slow cooking of the urad dal is what gives this Healthy Dal Makhani its creaminess. You can add in a tablespoon or so of fresh cream after the Dal Makhani is cooked and done, for more richness, but that is entirely up to you. Skip the fresh cream altogether if you are not comfortable using it, and your Dal Makhani will still be creamy and lovely. Here, I have used Amul fresh cream only for the purpose of garnishing the Dal Makhani.

6. Some people add coriander powder, fennel powder and/or roasted cumin powder to Dal Makhani. I don’t. I have used only a very little quantity of garam masala here.

7. Add the garam masala towards the end of the cooking, so it does not lose its flavour.

8. Kitchen King Masala, Dal Makhani masala or Chana Masala can also be used in place of the garam masala, in the above Healthy Dal Makhani Recipe.

9. Add the kasoori methi at the very end, after the Dal Makhani has finished cooking.

10. I like adding a bit of amchoor powder to the Dal Makhani. You may omit it if you don’t want to use it.

11. You can skip the onions, ginger and garlic if you want to.

12. Use Kashmiri red chilli powder in this recipe for best results. It imparts a very mild spiciness to the Dal Makhani, without making it overly hot, just the way it is supposed to be. It also adds a lovely colour to the Dal Makhani. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

13. Dal Makhani is traditionally slow-cooked on a wood fire, which infuses the dish with a smoky fragrance. The above recipe is not a slow-cook version – it is cooked for 20-25 minutes as opposed to the hours of simmering the traditional Dal Makhani is subject to. There is no smoky fragrance in this version, though that can easily be achieved using a little piece of charcoal.

14. A few minor changes can help you make this dish vegan and gluten-free.

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This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. Every month, the food bloggers in the group pair up, and each pair exchanges secret ingredients. Then, the bloggers go on to use these secret ingredients to create a recipe from a particular Indian state’s cuisine.

The theme this month is Punjabi cuisine, food from the Indian state of Punjab. Punjabi cuisine is known the world over for being robust and supremely flavourful, with a number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes on offer. Makke Di Roti, Sarson Da Saag, Dal Makhani, Chana Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, Rajma Masala, Kadhi Pakode, Pindi Chhole, Atte Ka Halwa and Malai Lassi are some examples of the delicious vegetarian food and drink from this state.

My partner for the month is Mayuri, who blogs at Mayuri’s Jikoni. She assigned me two secret ingredients – cream and Kashmiri red chilli powder – and I decided to showcase this Dal Makhani recipe using them. I gave Mayuri the two secret ingredients of paneer and tomato – check out the absolutely scrumptious Paneer Butter Masala she has dished up using them!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #282. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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Gujarati Steamed Carrot Muthia| Gajar Na Muthiya

Are you looking for a delicious snack that you can enjoy without too much of guilt? If your answer to this question is ‘Yes’, these Gajar Na Muthiya or Carrot Muthia I tried out recently would be right up your alley. I’ll also add here that this is a super simple snack, an easy-peasy thing to whip up. Perfect for everyday days and occasions!

Speaking of occasions, it was the husband’s birthday recently, and we had a quiet little family celebration at home. I sent him an online birthday card from Paperless Post at work to make the day all the more memorable, and he absolutely loved it. I have been having fun playing around with the huge variety of fun, quirky, classy, stylish online stationery that Paperless Post has on offer. There’s something for every occasion, something for everyone – birthday and anniversary cards, Christmas cards, party invites, fun cards and what not. Have you checked out the website yet? You definitely must!

Coming back to the Gajar Na Muthiya now. For the uninitiated, ‘Muthia‘ refers to a Gujarati snack that can be either fried or steamed. The fried one is commonly used in vegetable curries and other delicacies, while the steamed one is tempered and consumed as a snack in itself. The latter, steamed and tempered, version of muthia is what I am about to present to you today.

Steamed muthia can be made using a variety of flours and binding agents – wheat flour, gram flour, oats, millets and semolina, for instance. A number of permutations and combinations of these ingredients are possible – go as far as your imagination takes you! I’ve seen some really unusual flours being used in muthia so, really, only the sky is the limit. In these Gajar Na Muthiya, I have used the combination of ingredients most commonly used in Gujarati households – whole wheat flour, gram flour and semolina.

In Gujarat, muthia are traditionally flavoured using green chilli-ginger paste and coriander-cumin powder (dhana jeeru), sometimes a bit of garlic and/or garam masala. Jaggery or sugar is usually added in, as well as lemon juice or amchoor powder to give them a little tartness. A variety of vegetables can be added to make the muthiya more nutritious – bottle gourd (doodhi), fenugreek greens (methi), spinach (palak) and cabbage (kobi) are some of the most commonly used ones. I had some beautiful orange Ooty carrots lying in my fridge, and so that is what I used in my muthia. The Gajar Na Muthiya turned out absolutely, lip-smackingly delicious, if I may say so myself.

Let us now check out how to make the Carrot Muthia.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 3/4 cup gram flour (besan)
  3. 1/4 cup fine sooji (rava aka semolina)
  4. 1-1/2 cup grated carrot
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  7. 2-3 green chillies
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  13. 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  14. 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
  15. 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
  16. 1 tablespoon amchoor powder
  17. A little oil to grease the steaming vessel and your palms

For tempering:

  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  4. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Take the whole wheat flour, gram flour and sooji in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add in salt, asafoetida, sesame seeds, turmeric powder, jaggery powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and amchoor powder.

3. Peel the carrot and grate finely. Add the grated carrot to the mixing bowl.

4. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly. Grind the ginger, garlic cloves and green chillies together to a paste, adding a little water. Add this paste to the mixing bowl.

5. Adding water little by little, bind the ingredients in the mixing bowl to a soft dough. It should be a bit more squishy than roti dough.

6. Grease the bottom and sides of a colander with a little oil. We will use this greased colander to steam the Carrot Muthia. Keep it ready.

7. Using your greased hands, shape 3 logs from the dough. Keep aside.

8. Heat 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand over the water, then place the greased colander on top of the stand, ensuring that no water enters it.

9. Place the dough logs you prepared earlier in the greased and heated colander, without overcrowding.

10. Close the pressure cooker. Don’t put the weight on. Steam the logs on high flame for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of them comes out mostly clean.

11. Allow the logs to cool down for 10-15 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut them into slices.

12. Now, we will do the tempering. Heat the oil for tempering in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add the sesame seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Now, reduce the heat to medium, then add the slices to the pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring gently, for about 10 minutes or till the slices get crisp on the outside. Switch off gas. Your Gajar Na Muthiya or Carrot Muthia are ready for serving.

13. Transfer the Carrot Muthia to serving plates. Serve hot, garnished with finely chopped coriander and fresh grated coconut.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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This post is in collaboration with Paperless Post. The views about the service expressed in the post are completely honest and entirely my own. I have whole-heartedly enjoyed using Paperless Post, and would love to take this opportunity to introduce the website to you guys too.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #282. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Instant Khaman| Easy Khaman Recipe

Having grown up in Gujarat, it is but natural that I have a soft corner for the state’s cuisine. Give me a plate of Gujarati food any day, and I’ll get a goofy grin on my face. It speaks directly to my soul. Choosing just one favourite from the vast ocean that Gujarati cuisine is would be an impossible task for me – I love most of the foods the state has to offer. However, I can safely say that khaman ranks high up there, among the top things I love from amongst them. I’m here today with a recipe for Instant Khaman, an easy version of khaman that doesn’t require any prior soaking of lentils.

There are a couple of different varieties of khaman made in Gujarat – the Vati Dal Na Khaman made using soaked chana dal, for instance, and this instant variety, made using gram flour aka besan. Different families have slight variations in the making Instant Khaman, while the basic ingredients remain more or less the same. I share the simple recipe that I learnt from a Gujarati family friend of ours, years ago, tried and tested a countless number of times.

This Instant Khaman recipe yields beautiful results – pillow-soft, fluffy pieces, the perfect mix of sweet and sour and spicy, extremely delicious. This khaman is steamed in a pressure cooker or steamer, with only a little amount of oil used in the tempering. Citric acid and Eno Fruit Salt are the secret ingredients in this recipe, those that work behind-the-scenes to create spongy khaman.

This is an entirely plant-based dish, one suitable for those following a vegan diet. If you simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, this Instant Khaman recipe can be made gluten-free as well.

Let’s now check out the proceedure for making Instant Khaman.

Ingredients (yields about 15 pieces):

  1. 1 cup gram flour aka besan
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 2 generous pinches of citric acid
  6. 1-1/2 cups water
  7. 1 teaspoon Eno Fruit Salt (plain)
  8. A little oil for greasing the steaming vessel

For tempering:

  1. 1 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  4. 2-3 green chillies
  5. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

For garnishing:

  1. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  2. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Take the gram flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the salt, sugar, turmeric powder and citric acid.

2. Add the water to the mixing bowl and whisk all the ingredients well, until they are properly combined together. Make sure there are no lumps. You should get a batter that is neither too runny nor too thick. Adjust water/gram flour accordingly. Taste and adjust salt and/or sugar accordingly too.

3. Take about a cup of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand inside it. Keep the cooker on high flame and let the water come to a boil.

4. In the meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of a large, wide vessel with a little oil. Place the greased vessel over the stand, in the pressure cooker, and allow it to get hot too. Make sure water doesn’t enter the vessel.

5. When the water in the cooker is boiling, add the Eno Fruit Salt to the batter. Mix thoroughly. Pour all of the batter immediately into the hot greased vessel inside the cooker.

6. Close the pressure cooker. Do not put the weight on. Steam the khaman on high flame for 12-15 minutes.

7. When the khaman is done steaming, let it sit for a few minutes before opening the cooker. Then, remove the khaman.

8. Sprinkle the fresh grated coconut and finely chopped coriander evenly over the khaman.

9. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, chopped green chillies and curry leaves and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Pour this tempering evenly over the khaman.

10. Cut the khaman into pieces using a sharp knife. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Notes:

1. Citric acid, commonly available in several departmental stores, works best in the making of Instant Khaman. This is an industrially manufactured substance, but considered to be quite safe when used occasionally in small quantities. Read this article by Healthline for more details.

2. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits like lemon. Therefore, lemon juice can indeed be used as a substitute for citric acid in the above recipe. However, it doesn’t yield the beautifully light and fluffy khaman that you get by using store-bought citric acid.

3. The time taken for the khaman to get steamed differs on the basis of various factors – consistency of the batter, make of pressure cooker, etc. However, anywhere between 12 to 15 minutes works in most cases.

4. Steam the khaman till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean. Do not over-steam the khaman, as this might cause them to become hard.

5. Eno Fruit Salt is typically used in Gujarati households for the batter to rise, which goes a long way towards ensuring that the khaman turn out spongy-soft. Make sure you use the plain version, without any flavouring added to it.

6. Add the Eno Fruit Salt at the very end, just before the batter goes into the pressure cooker for steaming.

7. Use a fresh packet of Eno Fruit Salt, every time you make Instant Khaman. Also, do check its ‘best before’ date. Fruit salt that has been open or lying around for some time or past its ‘best before’ date might not work very effectively in the above recipe.

8. For best results, use fresh besan aka chickpea flour which is free of any odours or pests.

9. Baking soda can be substituted for the Eno Fruit Salt, as far as I know, but I have never tried that out.

10. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences. Ideally, khaman batter should be a good mix of sweet and sour.

11. The khaman batter should neither be too runny nor too thick. Sticking to the ratios of ingredients provided above helps arrive at just the right batter consistency.

12. Sesame seeds can be added in while tempering the Instant Khaman. I haven’t, here.

13. Don’t overdo the citric acid in this recipe. Use only two good pinches for the above quantities of ingredients, and that is enough. More citric acid would make the khaman too sour.

14. In Gujarat, khaman – instant or otherwise – is traditionally served with Papaya Nu Kachumber and/or a sweetish version of gram flour chutney, called Kadhi Chutney.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of this group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop is #JamvaChaloJi, suggested by the very talented blogger Mayuri, who writes at Mayuri’s Jikoni. All of us are showcasing recipes from Gujarat, for the theme.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #282. The co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Home-Made Kala Khatta Syrup| Java Plum Syrup

If you’ve grown up in India, particularly in the north, I’m sure you have fond memories associated with Kala Khatta. I am no exception. As a chikd and then as a teenageer and young adult, I used to adore the sweet and sour Kala Khatta, which typically had a hint of spice to it. I still have a soft spot for it. 🙂 Kala Khatta ice golas and sherbet were among the things most looked forward to by the kids of the 80s and 90s in their summer holidays, and I remember rushing to have my fill of these the minute my final exams were done and dusted. However, did you know that the Kala Khatta is traditionally made using jamuns aka java plums?

It is the season for jamuns now, and markets all over Bangalore are flooded with the lovely, purple-black fruit. It is a pleasure biting into a ripe jamun, the slightly sweet, slightly sour flesh meeting your tastebuds. We usually love eating jamuns on their own, but this season, I tried using them to make some Home-Made Kala Khatta Syrup this season – an immensely successful experiment that I’m so very glad I undertook.

Java plums are chock-full of health benefits as, probably, a lot of us already know. I’m not sure how many of these health benefits are retained in the Kala Khatta syrup but, oh my God, it’s brilliant! Also, making it at home ensures that you know exactly what is going into it. A bit of mindful indulgence once in a while doesn’t hurt, eh?

I followed Sunanyna Gupta’s recipe for the Home-Made Kala Khatta Syrup, with a few little variations of my own. We have been treasuring the bottle of syrup I made a while back, relishing it in various forms, from sherbet to popsicles. I love just how versatile it is!

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the proceedure for Home-Made Kala Khatta Syrup or Java Plum Syrup.

Ingredients (makes about 250 ml of concentrated syrup):

  1. 15-18 plump java plums
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 cups water
  4. Black salt to taste
  5. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or to taste
  6. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste

Method:

  1. Wash the java plums well under running water. Drain out all the water.
  2. Place the dried java plums in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze them with your hands to get all the pulp out of them. Discard all the seeds. You should get about 1 cup of java plum pulp.
  3. Puree the pulp in the mixer. Keep aside.
  4. Take the water in a large pan, and place it on high flame. Add the sugar to it. Cook on high flame till the sugar is completely dissolved in the water, and the syrup comes to a boil. This should take 4-5 minutes.
  5. At this stage, reduce the flame to medium. Add the java plum puree to the pan. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the syrup slightly thickens. Switch off gas.
  6. Add in the black salt, roasted cumin powder and lemon juice. Mix well.
  7. Let the syrup cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated.

Notes:

1. Instead of pureeing the pulp in the mixer, you can squeeze out all the juice from it, adding a little water. That’s the procedure I followed while making this grape squash.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar, black salt, lemon juice and roasted cumin powder as per individual taste preferences.

3. You can strain the pulp before cooking it. I didn’t.

4. Don’t overcook the sugar syrup, as it will become overly thick then. Just let the sugar get completely dissolved in the water, and then come to a boil. You should add in the java plum puree to the pan at this stage.

5. Stored hygienically and refrigerated, the Home-Made Kala Khatta Syrup stays well for at least a couple of months. However, for the sake of freshness, I prefer using it up within 10 days or so.

6. This Kala Khatta syrup can be used in various ways. Chilled water can be mixed to it to make Jamun Sherbet. It can also be used as a topping for ice cream and other desserts. It can be slightly diluted, poured into popsicle moulds and frozen. It can also be poured over ice shavings, to make home-made gola.

Do try out this Home-Made Java Plum Syrup too, while the fruit is still in season! I’m pretty sure you will love it.

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I’m linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #281. Do hop over to see the other interesting recipes there!

Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala| Kidney Beans Curry

Growing up, I was never a fan of Rajma Masala. It would be prepared occasionally at home by Amma then, with some very South Indian flourishes. 🙂 I wouldn’t mind it per se, but I didn’t really take to the dish till the husband introduced me to the Delhi version many years later. The city’s love for Rajma Chawal caught on to the husband too, and it became comfort food for him the many lonely days he spent in Delhi. I would accompany him on some of these work trips, and the cook at the office guesthouse taught me the proper North Indian version of Rajma Masala. Over the years, I have made it many, many times, falling in love with it a little more every time. Slowly, my own style of Rajma Masala emerged – a relatively simpler, easier and healthier one that perfectly suits my family’s tastebuds.

Today, I present to you my Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala recipe, which yields a hugely delectable result. I don’t use many whole spices in it, nor cream. All the flavour in it comes from the country tomatoes that go into it and the chana masala that I usually use in it. Once you have the rajma soaked and ready, the rest is a breeze, considering this is a one-pot recipe.

Kidney beans aka rajma is a legume full of health benefits, as I’m sure many of us are already aware. This curry is a delicious way to use them! It turns out just the right amount of thick and super flavourful. The husband likes this Rajma Masala with plain steamed rice, while I prefer it with rotis, parathas or pooris. These pickled onions are just the perfect accompaniment to it, I think.

The next time you consider making Rajma Masala, I hope you will try out this pressure cooker version. Do share your feedback!

Let’s now check out the recipe for Pressure Cooker Rajma Masala.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1 cup Kashmiri rajma (small red kidney beans)
  2. 1 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 4 large tomatoes
  6. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 large onion
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 1 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
  13. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the rajma for 8-10 hours or overnight, in enough water to cover it.

2. When the rajma is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer the soaked rajma to a wide vessel and add in just enough fresh water to cover it. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for about 5 whistles or till the rajma is cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic to a fine puree without adding any water. Keep aside.

4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has entirely gone down, get the cooked rajma out. Retain the water it was cooked in.

6. Dry the pressure cooker you used to cook the rajma. Heat the oil in it. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the chopped onions to the cooker. Cook on medium flame till they start turning brown.

8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree to the cooker, along with a little salt. Cook on medium flame till the puree loses its raw smell. This should take 3-4 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently.

9. Now, add the cooked rajma, along with the water it was cooked in. Add salt to taste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, chana masala and jaggery powder (if using). If you feel the gravy is too thick, you can add in a bit of water at this stage. Mix well.

10. When the rajma begins to simmer, close the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

11. When the pressure has gone down completely, stir the Rajma Masala gently. Sprinkle chopped coriander over the Rajma Masala. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. Adjust the time for pressure cooking depending upon the type of rajma you use. Different types of rajma take different times to cook, as do different makes of pressure cookers. I use the small Kashmiri rajma from Popular Essentials, and make this in a 5-litre pressure cooker. The above cooking times are just perfect for me.

2. Make sure the rajma is well cooked, but not mushy, when you pressure cook it for the first time. Only then you should add it to the onion and tomato gravy and cook it further.

3. Kitchen King Masala, garam masala or rajma masala can be used in place of chana masala. I love using chana masala in this recipe.

4. If the Rajma Masala turns out a little watery, you can simmer it for a bit after the pressure has gone down fully.

5. You can add in a bit of amchoor powder or lemon juice to the Rajma Masala for extra tanginess. Alternatively, you can mix in a little curd into the Rajma Masala, at the very end. I don’t use any of these ingredients typically.

6. You can mix in a little cream and/or crushed kasoori methi after the Rajma Masala is done. I usually omit the cream, and add the kasoori methi once in a while.

7. Ghee or butter can be used for the tempering in the Rajma Masala, instead of oil.

8. You can add the tempering at the very end too, after the Rajma Masala is fully cooked and ready.

9. You can make the Rajma Masala in a pan too. I prefer making it in a pressure cooker as it is easier and the flavours get better absorbed this way.

10. Skip the onions, ginger and garlic if you plan to make a Jain version of this Rajma Masala.

11. You can also grind the onion along with the tomatoes, ginger and garlic, to a puree. I sometimes use chopped onion in Rajma Masala, and sometimes puree it with the tomatoes. Both methods yield an equally delicious outcome.

12. Country (nati) tomatoes work best in this recipe. They add a lovely tart flavour to the Rajma Masala.

13. Whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and dry red chillies can be used in the tempering. I prefer keeping my Rajma Masala really simple, though, and using only cumin in the tempering.

14. Using the jaggery powder is optional, but I would highly recommend it. It doesn’t make the Rajma Masala sweet, but helps round out the other flavours beautifully.

15. This is a completely plant-based, vegan and vegetarian recipe. It can be easily made gluten-free as well, if you only omit the asafoetida used in the tempering and use chana masala that is free of any ingredients that include gluten.

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Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

I’m sending this recipe to My Legume Love Affair #129. This is a monthly event started by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, the legacy carried forward for a long time by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. This month, My Legume Love Affair is being hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds.

I’m also linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #281. Do hop over to see the other interesting recipes there!

Pineapple Kesari Bhat| Pineapple Rava Kesari

Celebrations are in order!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of has turned 200! Quite a big achievement this is, #200NotOut, an occasion that warrants a special recipe. So, here’s presenting to you – Pineapple Kesari Bhat aka Pineapple Sheera or Pineapple Rava Kesari.

I’m sure you guys would have noticed me presenting a new recipe every Monday, based on a certain theme. Well, that’s the way the Foodie Monday Blog Hop works. I joined the group when the group had just reached the milestone of 100 weeks, and have absolutely loved journeying with the other fellow foodies in the group, this far.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop bloggers surely are a talented bunch, and we have creative themes coming up every week. Over the years, we have talked, discussed, shared ideas, suggested tips and tricks, exchanged recipes, critiqued, met and shared food, bonded. And through it all, I have grown.

The group has stretched my horizons, helped me better my cooking from different cuisines around the world. My photography has definitely improved, from where I started out from. I structure my posts better now, and this group has played an important role in that. Learnings – big and small – have been manifold.

For the 200th episode of the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, we members decided to cook from each other’s blogs. I was assigned Renu’s blog, Cook With Renu, which is a beautiful collection of many recipes from around the world. Several interesting bakes feature therein as well. I chose this recipe to recreate from her blog, because all of us at home love Pineapple Kesari Bhat to bits, including the bub.

Pineapple Kesari Bhat is a version of sheera redolent of ghee and fruit that you will come across in several restaurants across Bangalore. I have also encountered it at a few places in Madras, and have been served this sweet treat during meals at weddings and other festive occasions. It surely is a gorgeous thing, something you must definitely try out, especially so if you love pineapple.

Let’s now check out how I made the Pineapple Kesari Bhat, with a few variations to Renu’s recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 3/4 cup fine rava (sooji or semolina)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 10-12 cashewnuts
  5. 1-1/2 cups water
  6. 3/4 cup sugar
  7. 1 heaped cup chopped pineapple, cores and thorns removed

Method:

1. Grind the pineapple pieces to a coarse puree, in a mixer. Keep aside.

2. Chop up the cashewnuts roughly. Keep aside.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pan. Add the rava to the pan. Roast the rava, keeping the flame medium, till it attains a consistency like wet sand and becomes fragrant. This should take 1-2 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.

4. Transfer the roasted rava to a plate. Keep aside.

5. Heat the water in the same pan, on high flame, till it reaches boiling point.

6. Now, turn the heat down to medium and add the roasted rava to the pan, a little at a time. Stir constantly, to avoid lumps forming.

7. Add the sugar to the pan, along with the pineapple puree. Mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till it starts to thicken. Stir intermittently.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in another pan. Add the cashewnuts and raisins to the ghee. Fry on low heat till the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Add the ghee along with the fried cashewnuts and raisins to the mixture in the other pan. Mix well.

9. When the mixture has thickened up but is still a bit runny, switch off the gas. The Pineapple Kesari Bhat thickens further on cooling. Serve the kesari hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Use a ripe, juicy, sweet pineapple for best results. However, make sure it is not overly ripe.

2. Make sure all the cores and thorns from the pineapple are removed, before using it in the sheera.

3. Grinding the chopped pineapple coarsely ensures that you get little bits and pieces of the fruit in your mouth while eating. Considering everyone in my family loves that, I keep the puree coarse. However, you may puree it smoothly too if you so prefer.

4. Use fine sooji or rava in this Pineapple Kesari Bhat recipe, for best results.

5. Use good-quality ghee, adjusting the quantity as per personal taste preferences. The above quantity of ghee worked out just perfectly for us.

6. Adjust the quantity of water, depending upon how runny you want the Pineapple Rava Kesari to be. You can also cook the kesari in a mix of milk and water.

7. I have used raisins and cashewnuts in this Pineapple Rava Kesari. You may even add in almonds.

8. Make sure you are stirring constantly while adding the roasted rava to the boiling water in the pan. This is important to ensure that there are no lumps.

9. The Pineapple Rava Kesari thickens on cooling, so make sure you switch off the flame while it is still on the runnier side.

10. Food colour is sometimes added to Pineapple Rava Kesari to give it a pretty golden yellow or orange hue. I haven’t used any here.

11. Jaggery can be used in place of sugar here, but it alters the taste of the dish. I like this version with sugar, as does everyone else in my family, so I prefer this. And it’s a once-in-a-while indulgence anyway.

12. It is not uncommon to add a pinch of salt or a few cloves to kesari, too stop the sweetness from getting too overwhelming. I don’t use these.

I hope you will try out this recipe! Do share your feedback, in your comments.

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I’m linking this recipe to Fiesta Friday #281. Do hop over to see the other interesting recipes there!

Jaisalmeri Kala Chana| Rajasthani Black Chickpeas Curry

Thinking about the state of Rajasthan conjures up mental images of caravans of camels walking through the arid desert, the most gorgeous of old-world havelis, serene lakes, bazaars filled with colourful goodies which would bring joy to any shopper’s heart. I’ve never had a chance to visit, but I’ve dreamt about it oh, so many times. I’ve also had the pleasure of trying out many of the wonderful indigenous dishes Rajasthan boasts of, here in Bangalore, and can’t wait to explore them in their homeland itself. This Jaisalmeri Kala Chana is one such dish exclusive to Rajasthan, which hails from a place called Jaisalmer.

Thanks to the extreme weather conditions in Rajasthan most part of the year, the state’s cuisine comprises of a number of dishes using sun-dried fritters (vadi), gram flour (besan), sour curd, dried pulses and lentils. This Jaisalmeri Kala Chana recipe is also one such – dried black chickpeas are cooked and then simmered in a sour curd gravy, thickened with besan, to make this delicious confection.

I recently prepared Jaisalmeri Kala Chana for lunch, and it went on to be hugely appreciated by the family. It is a very, very simple thing to make, but utterly delish and comforting, a lovely side to rotis and/or steamed rice. Full of the nutrition of black chickpeas too!

Let me now tell you how to go about making this beauty of a thing.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup black chickpeas (chana)
  2. About 2 cups thick sour curd
  3. About 2 heaped tablespoons gram flour (besan)
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Red chilli powder to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 4-5 dry red chillies
  5. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  7. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves (optional)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

For the garnishing:

  1. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the black chickpeas in just enough water to cover them, for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, discard the water they were soaked in. Transfer them to a wide vessel and add in just enough water to cover them. Place in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for about 4 whistles or till the chickpeas are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meanwhile, take the thick sour curd in a large mixing bowl. Add in the gram flour,salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala. Whisk well to ensure that all the ingredients are well combined together and that there are no lumps. Keep aside.

4. Take the curd mixture in a large pan and place on medium flame. Add in the cooked black chickpeas too, along with the water they were cooked in. Mix well. Cook this till it comes to a boil, stirring intermittently. This should take 3-4 minutes.

5. Now, turn down the flame further and allow the mixture to simmer for about 2 minutes.

6. In the meanwhile, prepare the tempering. Heat the ghee and oil together in a small pan. Add in the cumin seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Turn flame down to low. Add the dried red chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves and fenugreek seeds to the pan. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Switch off gas, and immediately add in the 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder for the tempering. Mix well.

7. Immediately pour this tempering into the curd mixture simmering in the other pan. Mix well. When the curd has simmered for the requisite 2 minutes, switch off gas.

8. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Jaisalmeri Kala Chana is ready. Serve it hot with rotis or plain steamed rice.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of curd you use, depending upon how thick you want the Jaisalmeri Kala Chana to be.

2. Use thick curd that is sour but not overly so. I have used home-made thick curd here.

3. Make sure the black chickpeas are well cooked before adding them to the pan.

4. The curd mixture should be cooked on medium flame to ensure that it doesn’t curdle.

5. I have used a mix of refined oil and ghee for the tempering. You may use only oil or only ghee instead, too.

6. The garam masala is optional. However, adding it to the Jaisalmeri Kala Chana is indeed a nice touch.

7. Do not overcook the Jaisalmeri Kala Chana after it comes to a boil. Just simmer it for a couple of minutes after that, and it’s good to go.

8. Adding the curry leaves in the tempering is optional. I added them because I love them in tempering in a curd-based dish.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

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This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group that I am part of. Every month, the food bloggers in this group pair up, and then the pairs cook from each other’s blogs.

My partner for the month is Rafeeda, who writes at The Big Sweet Tooth. Her blog is a huge repository of recipes, including several desserts and baked goodies. I zeroed in on this Jaisalmeri Kala Chana recipe, though, and made it with a few variations of my own.

Check out what the other members of the group have prepared, for this month’s recipe swap.

Pineapple Chutney|Sonth Chutney/  Bitter Gourd Roast|Butter Biscuits|Broken Wheat Upma| Lobia Vada|Balti Sauce|Garlic Bread Sticks| Cuca de Banana|Beaten Rice Mix

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #280. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Quick Pickled Onions| Pickled Red Onions

Pickled onions are an important constituent of a meal in a few parts of India, especially so in the north. One cannot imagine a meal of, say, butter naan or roomali roti with palak paneer or paneer butter masala without some pickled onions on the side. These onions, however, are pickled in vinegar to impart a delicious tang to them and to increase their shelf life. Today, I bring to you our family’s simple recipe for Quick Pickled Onions, red onions soaked in lemon juice instead of vinegar, and every bit as delicious.

These natural Quick Pickled Onions or Pickled Red Onions are one of my all-time favourites. Especially during the hot days of summer, I love tucking into a plate of curd rice with this simple pickle. Oh, yes, they do make a wonderful, wonderful pair! My little one loves these onions just as much as I do.

Mom has been making these Quick Pickled Onions for ages now, and I grew up with them. It never occurred to me to put out a recipe for these onions on my blog – wasn’t it something that everyone everywhere already knows about and does? No, as it turns out. Every single guest I have served this pickle to has raved about it, marvelled at its simplicity, but has claimed never to have sampled it before. So, after a long deliberation, here I am with our family ‘recipe’ for Quick Pickled Onions or Pickled Red Onions.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 2 medium-sized red onions
  2. Salt to taste
  3. Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

1. Peel the onions and chop them finely.

2. Take the chopped onion in a bowl. Add salt to taste and the lemon juice. Mix well.

3. Let the pickle rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes:

1. I prefer using big red onions in the making of this pickle. However, you can even use the small ones, also called sambar onions.

2. I use rock salt to make this pickle.

3. Make sure all the hard parts of the onion are removed.

4. I prefer chopping the onions finely for this pickle. You can even chop them length-wise if you so prefer.

5. It is important to let the pickle sit for at least 30 minutes, for the onions to soak and absorb the salt and lemon juice.

6. I typically make this pickle in the morning and we finish it over the course of the day. I think it can be stored, refrigerated, for a day more. Any more than that, and the smell begins to get too strong.

7. These Quick Pickled Onions make for a lovely accompaniment to curd rice. They can also make a wonderful side for a full-fledged thali meal or parathas, or be used as a topping on pizza, burgers, rolls and the like.

8. You may add one or more green chillies to the pickle, if you want to. We don’t.

If you have never tried this out before too, please do. I’d love to know how you liked it!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #280. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram| Healthy Finger Millet Snack

I’m sure all of us are aware of the many health benefits contained in ragi aka finger millet. I myself have waxed eloquent on this subject several times over, on this blog. Rich in fibre, iron and calcium, among other nutrients, low in calories and easily digestible, ragi is an excellent food for weight-watchers, healthy eaters and diabetics, as well as babies, toddlers and growing children. Today, I present to you the recipe for a delicious, healthy snack made using ragi – Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

Roasted ragi porridge was the very first food we fed the bub, when she was ready to take solids. She still eats the porridge for breakfast every once in a while. I, however, didn’t grow up consuming ragi, and was not very fond of it per se, to be honest. Life in Bangalore and parenting acquainted me with the many delicious things that can be made using ragi, and I am now quite in love with some of the dishes we use it in at home often. This Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram, for instance.

With the sour buttermilk, curry leaves and green chillies that go into them, these Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram are supremely delicious. They are quite easy to make too, and make for just the perfect snack when you are looking for something healthy but delish and filling.

This dish can be easily be made gluten-free too, if you only skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Check out the recipe for the Instant Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram!

Ingredients (makes about 28 pieces):

  1. 2 cups ragi (finger millet) flour
  2. 4 tablespoons rice flour
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 cup sour curd
  5. 2-4 green chillies
  6. A handful of curry leaves
  7. About 2 teaspoons Eno Fruit Salt
  8. 1 teaspoon oil + more as needed to make the paniyaram
  9. 2 pinches asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

1. Take the ragi flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rice flour, salt to taste and sour curd.

2. Chop the green chillies into large pieces and add to the mixing bowl.

3. Tear the curry leaves roughly with your hands and add them to the mixing bowl too.

4. Heat the oil in a small pan, and add in the mustard. Let it sputter. Add the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this tempering to the mixing bowl.

5. Mix the contents of the bowl well to a thick batter, similar to idli batter. You may add a bit of water while mixing. Ensure that there are no lumps in the batter.

6. Heat up a paniyaram pan on high flame, and add some oil in each of the cavities.

7. You will be making the paniyaram in four batches or so. Take the batter for the first batch in a separate bowl, and add in about 1/2 teaspoon Eno. Mix well. Pour the batter into the greased cavities of the paniyaram pan, till about 3/4. Cook covered on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until they fluff up into balls and are well done on the bottom. Then, use a fork to turn the balls over. Drizzle a little oil around the balls and cook, covered, till they are done on the other side too – about 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked paniyaram to a serving plate.

8. Make paniyaram using the rest of the batter in the same way, in three more batches. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice.

Notes:

1. I have used store-bought ragi flour here.

2. For best results, use curd that is quite sour.

3. Add just enough water to make a thick batter. Too much water will make a runny batter, resulting in imperfect paniyaram.

4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Eno Fruit Salt in each batch of the batter, just before it goes into the paniyaram pan. This is critical. Adding all the Eno at one go will not yield fluffy paniyaram.

5. Use 2 fresh packets of Eno Fruit Salt, for best results. Do not use old packets.

6. Use regular, unflavoured Eno Fruit Salt.

7. Baking soda can be used in place of the Eno too. I have not tried it out yet, though.

8. Finely chopped onions and other veggies can be added to the paniyaram too. I haven’t.

9. I prefer cooking the paniyaram covered, so they are done evenly and are crisp on the outside.

10. I use ordinary refined oil in these Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

11. I have a small pan that makes 7 paniyaram at a time. So I have divided the batter into four parts, cooking one batch at a time. If you have a larger pan, you can reduce the number of batches you cook the paniyaram in. Adjust the quantity of Eno you use accordingly, in that case.

12. A simple coconut chutney goes beautifully with these Ragi Kuzhi Paniyaram.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop that I am part of. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers get together to present recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #RagiTales, suggested by Poonam of Annapurna. Poonam’s blog is something you must check out, for her very well-explained recipes from around the world. For the theme, we are all showcasing dishes made using the very versatile ragi aka finger millet.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Malaysian Nasi Lemak Recipe| How To Make Vegetarian Nasi Lemak

I am here today to share with you how to make vegetarian Nasi Lemak, an utterly delicious Malaysian dish.

I love Asian food. Period. I absolutely adore the way simple, regular ingredients find their way into dishes from Asian countries like, say, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore. I’m in awe of the riot of flavours most Pan-Asian dishes prove to be. While I make Thai food quite often at home, I tried my hands at Malaysian cuisine for the first-ever time, recently, making the famed Nasi Lemak.

Nasi Lemak is believed to have originated in Malaysia, though one will also come across versions of the dish in neighbouring Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. It is, in fact, considered to be the national dish of Malaysia. For the uninitiated, Nasi Lemak refers to rice cooked with coconut milk or cream, with pandan leaves and lemongrass added in for fragrance. In Malay, ‘Nasi Lemak‘ actually translates to ‘creamy rice’, which is served with a spicy, tangy and slightly sweet sauce, called sambal. Chopped carrots and cucumber, fried fish, eggs, pan-fried tofu and/or peanuts are some of the things that accompany Nasi Lemak, which is typically served in a banana leaf. What I present to you today is a vegetarian version of the Malaysian Nasi Lemak recipe.

I have sampled Nasi Lemak at a few Pan-Asian restaurants in Bangalore and loved it. When I saw this vegetarian Malaysian Nasi Lemak recipe on Poonam’s blog, I jumped at the chance to make it at home. Poonam has got an authentic recipe, which she learnt from a Malay friend of hers – how lovely is that?!

I prepared the dish for dinner recently, with only a few minor variations to the original recipe. The result was brilliant – the Nasi Lemak turned out finger-lickingly delish and went on to be a huge hit at the family dining table. It’s not at all tough to make this flavour bomb of a thing, too!

This is an entirely plant-based, vegan dish, when you aren’t using cottage cheese (paneer) or fried eggs as accompaniments. It is completely gluten-free as well.

Here’s how to make vegetarian Nasi Lemak.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

For the rice:

  1. 1 cup jasmine rice
  2. 1 cup thick coconut milk
  3. 1-1/2 cups water
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 2-3 strands of lemongrass
  6. 2 pandan (screwpine) leaves or 1/2 teaspoon pandan essence
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger

For the sambal:

  1. 10 dry red chillies
  2. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  3. 2-3 strands of lemongrass
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 5-6 shallots or small onions
  6. 2 tablespoons oil
  7. A small piece of tamarind
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  10. Water, as needed

For the accompaniments:

  1. 2 small English cucumbers
  2. 2 small carrots
  3. 4 tablespoons peanuts
  4. 1/2 tablespoon oil

Method:

We will first prepare the ingredients for the sambal.

  1. Soak the dried red chillies in water for at least 15-20 minutes.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and the shallots. Chop them up roughly. Keep ready.
  3. Chop the onion finely. Keep ready.
  4. Chop the lemongrass strands for the sambal, roughly. Keep ready.
  5. Soak the tamarind in hot water for 15-20 minutes.

Next, we will prepare the rice for the Nasi Lemak.

  1. Wash the jasmine rice a couple of times under running water, draining out the water each time. Transfer the drained rice to a wide vessel.
  2. Add in the thick coconut milk, water and salt to taste.
  3. Knot the pandan leaves (if using) and the lemongrass strands to form a ball, and add it to the vessel. If using pandan essence, add it to the vessel.
  4. Peel the ginger, and chop it roughly. Add it to the vessel too.
  5. Mix all the ingredients in the vessel gently, and place it in a pressure cooker.
  6. Cook for 4 whistles on high flame or till the rice is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

Now, we will get the sambal ready.

  1. Drain out the water from the soaked dry red chillies. Add them to a mixer jar.
  2. Add the chopped garlic cloves and shallots to the mixer jar.
  3. Add the chopped lemongrass strands to the mixer jar.
  4. Grind the soaked dried red chillies, garlic, shallots and lemongrass together to a paste, using a little water. Keep aside.
  5. 5. When the tamarind is done soaking, extract a thick juice out of it. Keep aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan, and add in the ground paste to it. Cook on medium flame for a minute.
  7. Now, add the tamarind paste to the pan, and a little more water to get the consistency you desire.
  8. Also add salt to taste and jaggery powder, along with the chopped onions. Mix well.
  9. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the onions and tamarind goes away. Switch off gas. The sambal is ready to be used.

We will now get the accompaniments ready.

  1. Heat the 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan, and add in the peanuts. Fry them on medium flame till they are crisp, ensuring that they do not burn. Keep aside.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Keep aside.
  3. Similarly, peel the cucumbers and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Keep aside.

The Nasi Lemak is now ready to be served.

  1. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, remove the rice from it. Fluff up the rice gently. Pick out the lemongrass and pandan leaves (if using), and the ginger.
  2. Use a small cup to shape the rice and invert it on a large serving plate or banana leaf.
  3. Place some of the sambal on the rice.
  4. Arrange the chopped carrots and cucumber and the fried peanuts around the rice.
  5. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. Nasi Lemak isn’t the same without the fragrance of pandan aka screwpine. Since I couldn’t find fresh pandan leaves anywhere here in Bangalore, I used some of the pandan essence I picked up on our holiday in Thailand. You can use either of the two ingredients, depending upon what you can get your hands on.

2. You can use coconut cream to cook the rice, instead of coconut milk. I have used undiluted store-bought coconut milk from Dabur Home-Made.

3. I picked up the jasmine rice on our holiday in Thailand too. It is critical to use jasmine rice in this recipe, but in a pinch you can use basmati rice instead too.

4. I have cooked the rice in a pressure cooker instead of using a pan, as is traditionally done.

5. Adjust the quantity of coconut cream/milk and water, depending upon the texture of rice that you require. Allow the pressure cooker to whistle accordingly too.

6. Adjust the quantity of dried red chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the sambal to be. I used 5 spicy Salem Gundu red chillies and 5 of the less spicy Bydagi red chillies to make the sambal.

7. I served the Nasi Lemak with only chopped cucumber and carrots as well as fried peanuts. In hindsight, I think pan-fried tofu or paneer would have been a beautiful addition.

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This post is for the Recipe Swap Challenge Facebook group that I am part of. Every alternate month, the food bloggers who are members of this group pair up, and the pairs then go on to cook from each other’s blogs.

This month, I was paired with the very talented Poonam, who blogs at Annapurna. Poonam’s blog is a treasure trove of recipes, Indian and international. I chose this Malaysian Nasi Lemak recipe owing to my love for Asian food.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!