Vazhaipazham Sakkarai Pongal| Banana Sweet Pongal

Vazhaipazham Sakkarai Pongal is a lovely twist to the regular sweet pongal that is commonly prepared in South India on auspicious occasions. Adding bananas elevates the taste of the sweet pongal up by several notches, and is a great way to get the goodness of the fruits in. This little touch makes the regular sakkarai pongal more exotic, makes it just perfect to serve guests on parties and other festive occasions.

This is a simple pressure-cooker recipe that can be put together in a matter of minutes. I’m sure it will be much loved by people of all age groups, including fussy kids. My daughter absolutely adores this!

Let’s now check out the recipe for this Vazhaipazham Sakkarai Pongal aka Banana Sweet Pongal, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1/2 cup moong daal
  3. 3 cups jaggery powder
  4. 2 cups milk
  5. 2 pinches of cardamom (elaichi) powder
  6. 2 big Robusta bananas
  7. 10-12 cashewnuts
  8. 2 tablespoons raisins
  9. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee

Method:

1. Take the rice and moong daal together in a wide vessel. Wash a couple of times under running water. Discard the excess water.

2. Add 2 cups of milk and 2-1/2 cups water to the washed and drained rice. Mix well. Pressure cook for 4 whistles on high flame, or till the rice and moong daal are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the jaggery syrup for the pongal. Heat 2 cups of water in a pan, and add the jaggery powder to it. On high heat, allow the jaggery to get completely dissolved in the water. Cook till the syrup comes to a rolling boil.

4. When the jaggery syrup comes to a boil, add the cooked rice and moong daal to it. Cook on medium flame till everything is well integrated together, 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the cardamom powder as well as 2 tablespoons of ghee to the pongal. Chop the bananas into slices and add to the pongal too. Mix well, and cook on medium flame for a minute. Switch off gas.

6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in another pan. Turn the flame to low, and add in the cashewnuts and raisins. Keep them in till the cashewnuts turn brown and the raisins plump up – take care to ensure that they do not burn.

7. Add the fried cashewnuts and raisins to the pongal. Mix well. The Banana Sweet Pongal is ready – serve hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. I have used Sona Masoori rice to make this pongal. You may use any other variety of rice you prefer, instead. You may even reduce the quantity of moong daal you use or skip it altogether, too.

2. Edible camphor (pacchai karpooram) can be added to the Banana Sweet Pongal. I haven’t.

3. I have used 4 tablespoons of ghee in the pongal, in total. You may use more, if you so prefer.

4. Use full-fat milk to make this pongal. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

5. Use boiled and cooled milk to make this Vazhaipazham Sakkarai Pongal.

6. You may skip the milk in the Banana Sweet Pongal too. In that case, cook the rice and moong daal in 4-1/2 cups water.

7. 4 whistles on high heat was just right to cook the rice and moong daal in my case. This might differ, depending on the make of the pressure cooker and the quality of ingredients used. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

8. If you feel there are impurities in the jaggery, you might want to filter the syrup before use. I did not find the need to do so.

9. The amount of jaggery you will really need depends on the type you use. Adjust quantity accordingly. In my case, 3 cups worked just fine. Typically, double the amount of jaggery to the amount of rice + moong daal works perfectly.

10. I have used Robusta bananas here. If you want to use any other variety of bananas, you might want to increase or decrease the quantity accordingly.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week, as suggested by fellow food blogger Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine, is #PotluckRecipes. The participants need to share recipes of their specialty dishes, which they would feel confident carrying to a potluck party. I chose to make this Vazhaipazham Sakkarai Pongal or Banana Sweet Pongal for the theme.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #253. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

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Cocktail Idli Flowers| Beetroot, Carrot & Spinach Mini Idlis

The days are long, but the years are short.”

~ Gretchen Rubin

I think the above quote sums up parenthood (motherhood, in my case) just about perfectly. The countless sleepless nights, never-ending tantrums, spilled food, the tears that seem to come suddenly out of the blue, the endless reasoning and chastising – all of it did seem overwhelming and interminable when I went through it with the bub as a toddler. However, there were also innumerable sloppy kisses, toothless grins, tight hugs, endless cuddling up, reading, visits to the park, baby talk, playing peek-a-boo, dressing up, pretend cooking and what not. These were the good parts, which kind of balanced out the overwhelming bits.

Looking back, I wonder at just how quickly time has passed – the bub is 4 already! I remember a lot of the moments, the memories, we created together, a few of the not-so-good times too. But, really, I wonder, should I have just hugged her, cuddled her, coddled her, a little more, focused a little less on the imperfections? How long will it be before the bub is no longer a small girl, and will no longer want to be held or hugged? 😦

Toddlerhood – the time when a child is between 1 and 3 years of age – is a precious phase. This is the time when kids are at their most notorious, driving their parents up the wall every so often – yet, this is when they are at their most vulnerable and adorable best. This is also when the time when they are exploring the world around them, food included. They are slowly learning to navigate the world, understand what they like and what they don’t and, as parents, it is our duty to help them do just that. In terms of food, toddlers should be exposed to a variety of finger foods – stuff they can easily hold in their little hands and eat on their own. This has a number of benefits, from improvement in gross and fine motor co-ordination and sensory integration to improved bonding with the parents and a deeper sense of ‘home’.

This week, the theme at Foodie Monday Blog Hop is just that – #ToddlerFingerFoods, as suggested by Poonam from Annapurna. For this theme, which is super close to my heart, I decided to prepare pretty Cocktail Idli Flowers, naturally coloured mini idlis arranged into flowers. I have added pureed beetroot, carrot and spinach to home-made batter, to create three different colours of idlis. This has always been a favourite with the bub and when I made it again for her last week, she happily gorged on them all over again.

Cocktail Idli Flowers or Beetroot, Carrot & Spinach Mini Idlis

Let’s now see how to go about making these coloured mini idlis, shall we?

Ingredients (makes about 70 mini idlis of each colour):

  1. 3 cups idli batter, separated
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 10-12 large spinach (palak) leaves
  4. 1 medium-sized carrot
  5. 2 pinches of turmeric powder
  6. 1/4 of a medium-sized beetroot
  7. Fresh coriander, as needed
  8. Capsicum, cut into sticks, as needed
  9. Oil or ghee, as needed to grease idli plates

Method:

1. Take 1 cup of idli batter in three separate mixing bowls. Keep it tick, without adding any water to it.

2. Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly under running water. Ensure no mud or dirt remains on them.

3. Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil, and add in the spinach leaves. Blanch the spinach – let the leaves stay in the boiling water, on high flame, for 1 minute. Switch off gas, and transfer to a colander. Let all the water from the spinach drain away. Allow to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, peel the carrot and beetroot. Cut them into large-ish pieces, separately.

5. Pressure cook the carrot and beetroot separately, with a little water, for 3 whistles. Use very little water. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

6. When the blanched spinach has completely cooled down, chop it finely. Grind it in a small mixer, with a little water. Add the spinach puree to the idli batter in one of the mixing bowls. Add salt to taste. Mix well. Keep aside.

7. Drain out the water from the cooked beetroot. Chop finely. Grind to a puree in a mixer, using very little water. Mix the beetroot puree to the idli batter in the second ball, along with salt to taste. Mix well. Keep aside.

8. Similarly, drain out the water from the cooked carrot. Chop it finely, and grind to a puree using a little water. Add the carrot puree to the idli batter in the third mixing bowl. Add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well. Keep aside.

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When idli batter looks so pretty!

9. Grease mini idli plates with oil or ghee and keep ready.

10. Spoon a little idli batter into each cavity of the greased plate, one colour at a time. Steam for 12 minutes. Allow to cool down a bit and then remove the cooked idlis.

11. Arrange the idlis in the shape of flowers on a serving plate, warm or at room temperature. Decorate them with sticks of capsicum and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.

Notes:

1. Don’t add any water to the idli batter. Keep it thick, since you will be adding pureed vegetables to it later.

2. You may add a little ginger and green chilly paste to the batter too. I haven’t.

3. While chopping the cooked veggies and pureeing them, make sure the colours don’t mix. Do the chopping and grinding one vegetable at a time, washing the knife and mixer thoroughly in between uses.

4. Since we are grinding very small quantities of veggies here, use the smallest jar of the mixer.

5. Add very little water while grinding the cooked veggies, otherwise the batter will become runny and the idlis will not turn out well.

6. You can serve these mini idlis with sambar, chutney or podi of your choice, but they don’t really need any accompaniment.

7. I have used a gas-based mini idli cooker to steam these colourful idlis. It is a time-consuming and laborious affair, indeed, to make them, but the end result is totally worth it. You may use ordinary idli plates with big cavities to steam the idlis instead, too.

8. Don’t steam the idlis for any more than 12 minutes. First, let the water in the idli cooker base come to a boil, then place the plates with the idlis on, and cook for exactly 12 minutes. More than this, and the idlis stand a chance of becoming hard.

9. You may add a couple of pinches of baking soda or Eno Fruit Salt (plain) to the batter, just before steaming. I haven’t.

10. Allow the steamed idlis to cool down slightly before removing them. Otherwise, they’ll be too sticky and might lose their shape.

11. 70 idlis of each colour might seem like a very large number, but I’m talking about very small, ‘baby’ idlis here. An adult can easily have 20 of these at a go, at the very least.

12. Any leftover mini idlis can be made into a stir-fry or upma the next day.

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This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is #ToddlerFingerFoods.

I’m also sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #253. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

Choclo Al Comino| Peruvian Style Corn With Cumin & Lemon

Choclo Al Comino, the very simple recipe that I bring to you today comes all the way from Peru. Peru (officially, The Republic of Peru) is a country in South America that I have always been fascinated by, thanks to its history of many ancient civilisations like the Incas. It is, after all, home to Machu Picchu, that 15th-century Inca place that is one of the seven wonders of the world, and features on most travellers’ bucket list. The same can be said of the Amazonian rainforest that is the pride of Peru, too.

Peruvian cuisine includes dishes cooked by its indigenous people, as well as those brought in by immigrants to the country in later years, such as the Spanish, Italians, Asians, Germans and Africans. Tubers like potatoes and yams, a variety of beans and other legumes, chilli peppers, kiwicha, quinoa and corn are the staples of Peruvian cuisine. The cuisine includes a number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, as well as several desserts. (Information courtesy: Wikipedia)

Choclo Al Comino is a ‘piqueo‘ (a hors d’ouevre or appetiser) in Peru, typically made with Choclo or the giant corn that is native to the country. Unlike the sweet corn that is commonly available in India, choclo does not have a sweetness to it – it should be more like our desi corn, I am guessing. Boiled kernels of Peruvian corn are sauteed in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, with a dash of cumin and lemon, to make Choclo Al Comino. It is quite a simple thing to prepare, but one that is extremely delightful when served hot.

The theme this week at Foodie Monday Blog Hop is #InternationalFeast, wherein members are exploring cuisines beyond the realm of India. I chose to make Choclo Al Comino from Peru for the challenge, with Indian sweet corn in the absence of the Peruvian choclo. Well, it turned out absolutely lovely, a pleasure to tuck into, just as I had expected it would be. Our family has a new favourite way to eat corn now!

Let’s now check out how I made the Choclo Al Comino or Peruvian Style Corn With Cumin And Lemon, shall we?

Recipe adapted from: Peru Delights

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 2 big cobs of corn
  2. Salt to taste
  3. About 4 tablespoons of salted butter
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon pepper powder or to taste
  6. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  8. A dash of lemon juice

Method:

1. Remove the husks and fibres from the corn cobs. Separate the kernels from the cobs.

2. Place the corn kernels in a pan, and add in just enough water to cover them. Add a little salt.

3. Place the pan on high flame and bring the water to a boil. Then, lower the flame to medium. Keep the pan on medium heat till the corn kernels are cooked. Don’t overly cook the corn kernels – they should be just done and retain their crunch. Switch off the gas at this stage. After the water boils, it should take just about 2 minutes for the corn to cook.

4. When done, transfer the corn kernels to a colander and place in the kitchen sink. Allow all the water to drain out.

5. Heat the butter in a pan. When it melts, turn the flame to medium. Add the cooked corn kernels, the sugar, and salt to taste. Saute on medium flame for a minute, stirring intermittently.

6. Add roasted cumin powder and pepper powder to the pan. Mix well. Saute on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.

7. Mix in lemon juice.

8. Serve immediately, garnished with finely chopped coriander.

Notes:

1. Peruvian giant corn, also called choclo, is typically used to make this dish. In the absence of that, I have used Indian sweet corn.

2. Use sweet corn that is fresh, but not too tender. Only then will it be easy to separate the corn kernels from the cobs. You may use Indian desi corn as well.

3. If the corn you have is sweet enough, you can skip adding the sugar. I used it because the corn I had wasn’t very sweet.

4. The original recipe doesn’t call for coriander, but I have used it here. I felt it added a nice touch to the dish.

5. I have used Amul salted butter in this dish. I think using garlic butter instead would have had a lovely result as well.

6. The original recipe calls for the use of 1/3 cup butter. I have used only about 4 tablespoons.

7. To make roasted cumin powder, heat a pan and add a handful of cumin seeds to it. Dry roast on medium heat till the cumin emits a lovely fragrance. Allow to cool, then make a fine powder in a mixer. Store in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

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This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, for the #InternationalFeast challenge.

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #251. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

Mor Keerai| Keerai Mor Kootu

The first of the winter greens have started appearing in the markets, here in Bangalore. It is a soothing sight to see those lush, fresh greens piled up at the vegetable vendor’s. I love playing with leafy greens any day, and winter provides me just the perfect opportunity to cook with a variety of them. Spinach or palak is one of the most commonly used greens in India, and I present to you today a beautiful way to use them. Say hello to a traditional Tamilnadu recipe – Mor Keerai or Keerai Mor Kootu, using spinach.

Here, spinach is cooked and mixed with a freshly ground spice paste (that includes coconut and a few other ingredients), to which whisked curd is added later. The addition of curd is what gives this dish the name of Mor Keerai or Keerai Mor Kootu (‘Mor‘ is Tamil for ‘buttermilk’, while ‘keerai‘ refers to any sort of leafy greens. ‘Kootu‘ refers to the South Indian style of preparing a curry, usually of the runny sort that can be mixed with rice and eaten.)

Mor Keerai or Keerai Mor Kootu can be made using any variety of greens, but I love making it with spinach the most. I adore the combination of spinach and curd, along with the ground coconut and other spices that goes into the making of this kootu. This Mor Keerai is traditionally used as an accompaniment with plain, steamed rice, but I love having it with rotis as well.

Different Tamilian families have their own minor variations to the Mor Keerai, while the basic proceedure to prepare it remains, more or less, the same. The recipe below is the way we prepare it, the way we have always done in our family. Do try out this kootu – a delight to make, considering that it can be put together in minutes, and a pleasure to savour!

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 3 cups finely chopped spinach, tightly packed
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 1 teaspoon oil
  5. 1 tablespoon rice flour

For the tempering:

  1. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  3. 2 dry red chillies
  4. 3/4 cup curd or to taste
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida

To grind:

  1. 3 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
  2. 2 tablespoons chana daal
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 4 dry red chillies
  5. 1 teaspoon oil

Method:

We will first cook the spinach and keep it ready.

  1. Take the finely chopped spinach in a large vessel, along with a little salt, the turmeric powder, and 1/2 cup water.
  2. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked spinach aside.

Now, we will prepare the spice paste.

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan.
  2. Add in all the ingredients to be ground to a paste, except the coconut – dry red chillies, chana daal and cumin seeds. Fry on medium flame till they begin to turn brown, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
  3. Now, add in the coconut, and fry on medium flame for a few seconds, again ensuring that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas.
  4. Transfer all the fried ingredients to a plate, and allow to cool down completely.
  5. When the fried ingredients have completely cooled down, grind them to a fine paste with a little water. Keep aside.

Now, we will temper the cooked spinach and add in the ground spice paste.

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop.
  2. Add the dry red chillies, cumin seeds and the asafoetida (for the tempering).
  3. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Add the cooked spinach to the pan, along with the spice paste we ground earlier and the rice flour. Mix well, ensuring that no lumps remain.
  5. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes, or till the mixture thickens.
  6. You may add in a bit of water, if you think the mixture is too thick. Taste and adjust salt if needed too. Switch off gas.

Lastly, we will mix in the curd.

  1. Whisk the curd till smooth, and add it to the pan, after the gas has been turned off.
  2. Mix well.

Notes:

  1. You can use a tablespoon of fried gram (pottukadalai) or raw rice while grinding the spice paste, which will later help in thickening the Keerai Mor Kootu. If you are using any of these two ingredients, skip adding the rice flour to the kootu.
  2. Finely chopped garlic can be added to the tempering, if you so prefer, as can curry leaves. We usually don’t add either of these.
  3. Use curd that is fresh and not overly sour, for best results. I used home-made curd that was thick but runny. Adjust the quantity of curd you use, depending upon your personal taste preferences.
  4. Coconut oil or gingelly oil works best in the making of this Mor Kootu.
  5. Adjust the quantity of grated coconut as per personal taste preferences.
  6. Chop the spinach (palak) finely, for beautiful consistency of the Mor Kootu.
  7. You can use any other greens of your choice in a similar manner, to make Mor Kootu, instead of spinach.
  8. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies you use in the spice paste, depending upon how spicy you want the kootu to be. I have used Salem Gundu chillies here, which are quite spicy.
  9. Add the curd at the very end, after the greens are cooked and the gas has been turned off. It is okay if the kootu is still hot while you add the curd.
  10. Don’t cook the kootu after the curd has been added to it. If you plan to serve it later, you may lightly heat up the Mor Kootu while serving, but don’t overdo it.

Do you like the recipe? Do let me know, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#SaagSaga‘, wherein members need to prepare a curry using any of the leafy greens of winter.

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #251. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes.

Diwali Marundhu| Diwali Legiyam

Diwali means time to shop till you drop, to dress up to the hilt, to meet friends and family, to exchange gifts, to light lamps and celebrate. It also means time to gorge on a huge variety of sweets and savouries, not just at your own place but also at your relatives’. The festive season is a time of indulgences and excesses. Bloated tummies and indigestion are common ailments around Diwali season, thanks to consuming a whole lot of oily, rich foods. To counter this, households in Tamil Nadu resort to preparing Diwali Marundhu or Diwali Legiyam, a common home-made herbal concoction.

Making Diwali Marundhu (which literally means ‘Diwali medicine’ in Tamil) is an age-old practice in Tamil Nadu. It is typically made the day before Diwali, using a horde of herbs and roots, cooked with jaggery and ghee. On Diwali day, a little of this herbal ‘medicine’ is consumed on an empty stomach, before the feasting begins. Some households continue to consume spoonfuls of the Diwali Marundhu till the festival season ends. It is also offered to lactating mothers, to keep minor ailments at bay and give them strength.

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The horde of ingredients that goes into the making of Diwali Marundhu – long pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, carom seeds, cumin seeds, long pepper root, coriander seeds and the like.

These days, ready-to-consume Diwali legiyam is available in Tamil Nadu stores, but to me, nothing matches the charm of making it at home. Different families make the legiyam with minor variations of their own, the basic ingredients and technique of cooking remaining more or less the same. Today, I present to you my family recipe for Diwali Marundhu or Diwali Legiyam, the way it has always been prepared by our ancestors.

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This season’s batch of Diwali Marundhu at our place

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

For the spice powder:

  1. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds (dhania)
  2. 1-1/2 tablespoons carom seeds (omam or ajwain)
  3. 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (sombu or saunf)
  4. 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (milagu or kali mirch)
  5. 1 tablespoon long pepper (rice pepper, arisi thippili or pippali)
  6. 1 tablespoon long pepper root (kanda thippili or pippali mool)
  7. A small piece of nutmeg (jathikkai or jayphal)
  8. A 1-inch piece of greater galangal (alpinia galanga, sittharatthai or kulanjan)
  9. 2-3 cardamom (elakkai or elaichi)
  10. 2-3 cloves (krambu or laung)
  11. 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds (gasa gasa or khus khus)
  12. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (manjal podi or haldi)
  13. 2 teaspoons dry ginger powder (sukku podi or saunth)
  14. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeeragam or jeera)
  15. A 1/2-inch fat piece of cinnamon (pattai or dalchini)

Other ingredients:

  1. 2-3 tablespoons of ghee
  2. 2 cups powdered jaggery
  3. 2 tablespoons honey

Method:

1. Crush the nutmeg, long pepper, long pepper root, cinnamon and greater galangal roughly, using a mortar and pestle. Place these in a pan, along with all other ingredients listed under ‘For the spice powder’. Dry roast all these ingredients on medium heat, till they begin to emit a lovely aroma. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and keep aside.

2. Take the jaggery in the same pan, and add in about 2 cups of water. Place on high flame, and cook till the jaggery is entirely dissolved in the water. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the jaggery syrup comes to a rolling boil. Keep aside.

3. When all the roasted ingredients have cooled down completely, grind to a powder in a mixer.

4. Strain the jaggery syrup through a fine sieve, to remove any impurities. Add the filtered jaggery syrup back to the same pan, and place on high heat. Allow the syrup to heat up a bit, about a minute.

5. When the jaggery syrup heats up, lower the flame to medium. Add the spice powder we prepared earlier to the pan, stirring constantly, ensuring that no lumps are formed.

6. Cook the mixture on medium flame till it begins to thicken, stirring intermittently. This should take 2-3 minutes.

7. At this stage, add the ghee to the pan. Continue to cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently, till the mixture comes together well and begins to separate from the sides of the pan. This should take another 2 minutes. Switch off the gas when the mixture is still runny, otherwise it will become hard.

8. Mix in the honey at this stage.

9. Allow the mixture to cool down completely before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store at room temperature.

Notes:

  1. Obtaining some of these ingredients might be an issue in certain parts of the world. They are easily available in most ‘naatu marundhu‘ (local medicine) shops in Tamilnadu, though, which is where I pick up my stash from. You may even be able to find a few of these ingredients online. I have tried to include the common Tamil and Hindi names of all of the ingredients used here.
  2. Some families add gingelly oil (nalla ennai) to the Diwali Legiyam, at the time of adding the ghee. We don’t.
  3. Dried turmeric root can be used in place of turmeric powder.
  4. Dried ginger can be used in place of dried ginger powder. Here, I have used dried ginger powder from Kitchen D’Lite, of which I was sent a sample to test and review. I loved the freshness and good quality of the product, an honest opinion of mine, not influenced by anything or anyone. For those of you who are interested, Kitchen D’Lite ginger powder is available on Amazon, as are other products by the brand.
  5. We add honey to the Diwali Legiyam or Diwali Marundhu, because we love the flavour it adds. You may even skip it if you don’t want to.
  6. If you are not able to procure all of the ingredients this recipe requires, you can make a basic version that skips the exotic ones – nutmeg, long pepper, long pepper root and greater galangal.
  7. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder you use, depending upon how sweet you want the Diwali Marundhu to be. The amount of jaggery you will need also depend upon the brand and quality you use. The above measurements work out just perfect for us.
  8. I add in 2 cups of water in the above recipe because I like my Diwali Marundhu to be runny and not too thick. You may decrease the quantity of water you use, if you would prefer the final product to be thicker in consistency.
  9. Make sure you do not overcook the Diwali Marundhu. Switch off the gas when it is still runny, as it hardens further on cooling.
  10. Store the Diwali Marundhu at room temperature. Refrigeration might cause it to crystallise or harden. Use only a clean, air-tight, dry container to store it, and a clean, dry spoon to remove it.
  11. This Diwali Legiyam is meant to be consumed in small quantities only, say, 1 tablespoon every 2 days or so. Over-consumption is not recommended.
  12. The consumption of Diwali Marundhu or Diwali Legiyam is not advisable for children below 5 years of age.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Detox Recipes’. I couldn’t think of anything that would fit the theme better than this Diwali Marundhu, so here I am! 🙂

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

Masala Dosa Recipe| How To Make Masala Dosa

I would have been around 12 years of age when my first real spark of interest in cooking ignited. I don’t remember precisely which grade I was studying in then, but I do remember the particular day when it happened very, very clearly.

We were living in Ahmedabad then – Amma, Appa, me, and my paternal grandparents. I was a studious girl, hugely focused on getting good grades and making a good career for myself. A good career = a good life, to the 12-year-old me. I was never required to cook or even help out around the house. I lived a highly protected life, which some would call privileged. We weren’t uber rich or anything – we were just an ordinary, middle-class family – but I had the freedom to spend my days as I chose, not having to be encumbered by things like grocery shopping, paying electricity bills, taking care of the elderly or cooking. That said, I would help out Amma and my grandmother in the kitchen sometimes of my own free will, small tasks like shelling peas, chopping vegetables, rolling out rotis or making glasses of lemon juice on hot summer days. Never had I cooked a meal entirely on my own, though, till then.

Then, one fine day, my young self found herself face-to-face with temptation. There was no one at home that day; I was alone. Amma had gone out with Appa, to attend to some urgent errands. The grandparents were off to a religious discourse, I think. The dosa batter was thawing on the kitchen counter, and a batch of potatoes had been boiled and were cooling, ready for Amma to get back home and make piping hot Masala Dosas for everyone. I saw this and felt – Why not? Why can’t I make that Masala Dosa myself? Why can’t I give Amma a surprise when she gets back? And that is just what I did. I got busy in the kitchen, wishing fervently that the doorbell wouldn’t ring before I was done with my job. It didn’t.

Making Masala Dosa isn’t a big deal for me today, but back then, it was. It was a huge thing, an achievement! There was no Google at our place then, to turn to for ideas or queries, so I had only myself to rely on. Beginner’s luck or whatever, the potato filling turned out finger-lickingly delicious. I was in the kitchen all of that evening, making Masala Dosas for everyone, in the midst of which I realised that I was quite enjoying myself. I invited a couple of friends over too, to relish my beginner Masala Dosas. Much praising and patting of the back ensued, along with quips like ‘Beti badi go gayi hai!’ (‘The little girl has grown up.’)

This incident set me off. I began suggesting to Amma to mix this flavour and that, to cook this vegetable that way, to make this dish that way. Soon, I was making little dishes on my own in the kitchen. I think the Masala Dosa incident was the catalyst that made me the huge foodie I am today. Here I am today, not in a proper ‘career’ per se, but doing something around food, and loving every bit of it!

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of has ‘#MyBeginnerRecipe’ as the theme this week, wherein we are required to share the recipe for the very first dish we cooked on our own. This has got all of us delving deep into our foodie memories, with more than one skeleton tumbling out of the closet. 🙂 This here is my skeleton, my beginner foodie memory, my tale.

Let’s now hop over to the Masala Dosa recipe, shall we? This is how I made the Masala Dosa when I was 12, and this is how I still make it.

Ingredients (makes about 10 masala dosas):

For the filling:

  1. 6-7 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1 big onion
  3. 3-4 green chillies
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  6. 1 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  8. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  12. About 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
  13. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

For the dosas:

  1. About 10 ladles of dosa batter
  2. Oil, as needed to make the dosas

Method:

We will first get the filling for the Masala Dosas ready.

  1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, and cut each one into half. Transfer to a wide vessel and add in just enough water to cover the potato halves. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  2. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
  3. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
  4. Peel the ginger and grate finely. Keep aside.
  5. When the pressure in the cooker has come down entirely, get the potatoes out and discard the water they were cooked in. Add in some fresh, cold water and allow them to cool down a bit.
  6. When the cooked potatoes are cool enough to handle, discard the water they were cooling in. Peel the potatoes and mash them. Keep aside.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to pop. Add in the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the chopped onion, grated ginger, slit green chillies and shelled green peas to the pan. Cook on medium heat till the peas begin to shrivel and the onion begins to turn brown. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan, along with salt to taste, red chilli powder (if using) and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes, or till everything is well integrated together. You may add a little water at this stage, if you feel the potato filling is too dry. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
  10. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander and lemon juice. Your potato filling is ready to use in the Masala Dosas! Keep aside.

Now, we will make the Masala Dosas.

  1. Place a heavy dosa pan on high flame, and allow it to get nice and hot.
  2. When the pan is hot enough, turn the flame down to medium. Place a ladleful of dosa batter in the centre of the pan. Spread it out quickly, using the back of the ladle. Spread some oil evenly all around the dosa.
  3. Let the dosa cook on medium flame till it turns brown on the bottom.
  4. Now, flip the dosa over to the other side using a spatula. Let it cook on the other side as well.
  5. Transfer the cooked dosa to a serving plate. Place a little of the potato filling in the centre of the dosa and close it. Serve hot, with sambar and/or chutney.
  6. Prepare all the Masala Dosas in a similar manner.

Notes:

1. You can even add finely chopped/grated carrots to the potato filling. I usually don’t.

2. Using the red chilli powder is purely optional. If you think the heat from the green chillies is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

3. A dash of sugar can be added to the filling, for enhanced flavour. I sometimes add it in, I don’t at other times.

4. We like the dash of lemon juice in our Masala Dosa filling, and so, I add it in. You can skip it, as well.

5. You may use butter instead of oil, to make the dosas.

6. Some people add curry leaves to the potato filling. We don’t. You may, if you want to.

7. When you are entertaining, you can make the potato filling in advance and keep it ready. When your guests arrive, you need to heat up the filling, prepare the dosas, add in the stuffing and serve!

8. Here is the recipe for a Basic Coconut Chutney you can serve with these Masala Dosas.

9. Head here to learn how to use the potato filling to make Bangalore’s famous Open Butter Masala Dosa.

10. Have some potato filling left over? Here are some lovely ways to re-purpose it!

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

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘#MyBeginnerRecipe’.

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

Poondu Rasam| Garlic Rasam

Rasam of different kinds often makes an appearance on our dining table. It is comfort food for the bub, the husband and me, and I find it it easy to whip up when I have nothing else planned for lunch or dinner. Garlic Rasam (‘Poondu Rasam‘ in Tamil) is something all of us love to bits, and I make quite regularly.

The health benefits of garlic have been talked about since decades. The root helps in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, aids digestion, and helps combat common cold and flu. Garlic is also a rich source of Vitamin C and B6, as well as Manganese. It also contains a high amount of antioxidants, which aid in the warding off of ailments like Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. It also helps in improving one’s longevity. This notwithstanding, garlic smells and tastes absolutely fab, and I love adding it to all and sundry dishes!

I think Poondu Rasam is a brilliant way to use these filled-with-health-benefits garlic bulbs. The garlic infuses the humble rasam with a whole lot of flavour, taking the dish up to an entirely different level. I grind the spice mix for the Poondu Rasam fresh, as opposed to using ready-made rasam powder, which works its magic on the dish too. Give us piping hot garlic rasam, steamed rice and a dollop of ghee, and we are set – any day, any time! Honestly, this rasam turns out so lovely that it doesn’t even need an accompaniment!

Here is our family recipe for Poondu Rasam aka Garlic Rasam.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

For the spice mix:

  1. 1 teaspoon oil
  2. 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  3. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  4. 4-5 dry red chillies (lal mirch)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (sabut methi)
  6. 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  7. 6-7 cloves garlic, peeled

For the tempering:

  1. 1 teaspoon ghee
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  3. 2 generous pinches asafoetida (hing)
  4. 6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and pounded with a mortar and pestle

Other ingredients:

  1. 1/4 cup toor daal
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh curry leaves
  3. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  4. 2 big tomatoes, finely chopped
  5. Salt, to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the toor daal a couple of times under running water. Drain out all the excess water. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the toor daal, and place it in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. When all the pressure has come down, mash the cooked toor daal and keep aside.
  2. Soak the tamarind in boiling water for 10 minutes. When it cools down enough to handle, extract a thick juice out of the tamarind, adding very little water at a time. Keep aside.
  3. Now, we will make the spice mix needed for the garlic rasam. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in the 6-7 cloves of garlic, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies, black peppercorns and fenugreek. Fry on medium flame till the ingredients begin to turn brown, taking care not to burn them. Transfer the fried ingredients to a plate, and allow to cool down completely.
  4. When the ingredients for the spice mix have entirely cooled down, grind them to a powder in a mixer, without adding any water. Keep aside.
  5. Now, we will proceed to make the garlic rasam. Heat a little water in a pan, and add in the finely chopped tomatoes and the curry leaves. Add in a little salt and turmeric powder. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes begin to turn mushy.
  6. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  7. Add the cooked toor daal to the pan, along with the spice mix we ground earlier. Add in about 1-1/2 cups water. Mix well. Let everything cook together till the rasam begins to boil. Turn down the flame at this stage. Check and adjust seasonings, if needed.
  8. Let the rasam simmer for just a minute, then switch off gas.
  9. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the garlic rasam. For this, heat the ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Add in the asafoetida and the crushed garlic, and let them stay in for a couple of minutes. Switch off the gas, and add this tempering to the rasam.
  10. Add the finely chopped coriander to the rasam. Cover the pan in which you prepared the rasam, and let it sit like that for at least 15 minutes. Serve the garlic rasam hot with steamed rice, ghee and curry of your choice.

Notes:

  1. The last step of covering the prepared rasam with a lid and letting it sit for 15 minutes is crucial. Don’t miss it. This helps in infusing the flavour of the garlic beautifully into the rasam.
  2. I prefer using ghee to make the tempering for garlic rasam. You can use oil instead, if you so prefer.
  3. Increase or decrease the number of dry red chillies and black peppercorns, depending upon how spicy you want the rasam to be.
  4. Adjust the quantity of toor daal and water you add to the rasam, depending upon how thick/watery you would like it to be.
  5. Don’t cook the rasam too much after adding the spice mix. Just simmer for a minute or so and switch off the gas.

Did you like the recipe? Do try out this Garlic Rasam, and let me know your thoughts on it!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is ‘Rooting for Roots’, wherein members are cooking dishes using various root vegetables except potatoes.

I’m sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #249. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

 

 

Edible Rice Flour Lamp Or Maa Vilakku Recipe| Making Adhirasam From The Leftovers

The tradition of Maa Vilakku for Purattasi Sani

Purattasi, the sixth month as per the Tamil calendar, is considered highly sacred. The entire month of Purattasi is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara aka God Vishnu, and is considered highly auspicious. The month of Purattasi more or less coincides with the Navratri celebrations in India every year and, hence, the two are indistinguishable in my mind. This year, Purattasi falls between September 17 and October 17.

Saturdays during this month (known as ‘Purattasi Sani‘ in Tamil) are considered all the more important, a day on which several Tamilians observe a fast. Many Tamilian households have the custom of lighting Maa Vilakku or lamps made from rice flour on the occasion of Purattasi Sani.

Maa Vilakku or edible rice flour lamps from Tamilnadu

The significance of Maa Vilakku in Tamilnadu

Maa Vilakku‘ in Tamil literally translates to ‘lamps made from flour’. Lamps or diyas made from rice flour, sweetened with jaggery, are considered hugely auspicious in Tamilnadu. They are prepared on special occasions like Purattasi Sani, Thai Velli (Fridays in the sacred Tamil month of Thai), and Karthigai Deepam (a Tamil festival that is celebrated after Diwali). These Maa Vilakku or rice flour lamps are also believed to be a favourite of Mariamman, the very powerful Goddess. When diseases like chicken pox occur in a family, these lamps are prepared with great sanctity and offered to the Goddess, as a means to appease her.

In the olden days, these lamps were made from freshly hand-pounded rice flour, using a mortar and pestle. If you visit the ancient temples of Tamilnadu, you will still come across women pounding rice in huge mortars with huge pestles, to prepare Maa Vilakku. This is a charming sight, indeed, something from a bygone era. Click here to see an example.

In today’s times, though, many households use a mixer to grind soaked rice and then proceed to use the same in making the lamps. Some even use store-bought rice flour to make these lamps.

Different families have different ways of offering these rice flour lamps to God. Some offer a single lamp, while some make two big ones. Some place the lamps on a banana leaf, some place them on a silver plate or tray. Some place flowers around the lamps, and some deck them up with kumkum (vermilion) and manjal (turmeric). The basic ingredients used in the preparation of these lamps and the method, more or less, remain the same. Traditionally, a cotton wick is placed inside these lamps, which are lit using ghee and not oil.

Since Maa Vilakku or rice flour lamps are typically prepared as an offering to God, they are prepared without tasting. Once the lamps are done burning and are cool enough to handle, the residual rice flour is consumed.

Edible rice flour lamps or Maa Vilakku recipe

Let’s see how to make Maa Vilakku or edible rice flour lamps, the traditional way.

Ingredients (makes 2 big lamps or several small ones):

To make the lamps:

  1. 1 cup raw rice
  2. 3/4 cup powdered jaggery

Other ingredients you will need:

  1. Cotton wicks, as needed
  2. Ghee, as needed to light the lamps

Method:

  1. Soak the raw rice in just enough water to cover it, for about 30 minutes.
  2. When the rice is done soaking, transfer to a colander. Drain out all the water from it.
  3. Spread out the soaked and drained rice well on a cotton towel/napkin, and place it in direct sunlight or under the fan for a while. Pat dry using another cotton towel/napkin. In 15-20 minutes, the rice should be damp but not soaking wet – that is when it is ready to use in making the lamps.
  4. Now, take the damp rice in a mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, for a couple of seconds each, stopping in between to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar with a spoon.
  5. Now, add the jaggery powder to the mixer jar. Again, pulse 3-4 times, for a couple of seconds each, stopping in between to scrape down the sides of the mixer jar with a spoon. At the end of this process, you should get a slightly coarse powder resembling rava, a good mix of the rice and jaggery. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl.
  6. Knead the rice-jaggery powder gently with your hands. This will make the jaggery melt slightly, and the powder will come together to form a sort of dough. If you think the dough is too dry, you may add a bit of water/milk at this stage.
  7. Shape the dough into two large lamps (diyas). If you want, you can make several small diyas out of the dough. Place the prepared lamps on a tray/plate/banana leaf.
  8. Fill each lamp with ghee, as required. Place a cotton wick in each lamp, and light them.
img_20181005_101015305442721.jpg
Pictorial representation of the making of edible rice flour lamps or Maa Vilakku recipe. Move from left to right, first the top row, then centre and then the bottom row.

Notes:

  1. I use regular Sona Masoori or Wada Kollam rice to make these Maa Vilakku.
  2. Once the lamps stop burning, the wicks are removed, the residual ghee in the lamps (if any) is mixed into them, and the dough is consumed as prasadam. However, consuming too much of it can lead to a stomach ache, as it is raw rice flour anyway.
  3. The quantity of jaggery you will need depends upon the type and quality of jaggery you use. I use store-bought jaggery powder and the above measurements work out perfectly for me.
  4. After lighting, the Maa Vilakku dough can be kept at room temperature and consumed little by little. It stays well at room temperature for 3-4 days. Refrigeration will prolong the life of the dough further, but might make it slightly hard.
  5. Make sure all the kumkum (vermilion) and flower petals are scraped off the lamps, before you store the residual dough or consume them.
  6. Edible camphor (pacchai karpooram), dry ginger powder (sukku podi) or cardamom (elaichi) powder can be added to the dough, for extra taste. We usually skip these.

Making adhirasam from leftover Maa Vilakku dough

Don’t want to consume the leftover dough after lighting the Maa Vilakku, as is? You can use the residual dough to prepare Adhirasam, a beautiful, beautiful sweet dish!

fb_img_1538906171601-011861410768.jpeg
Adhirasam made from leftover Maa Vilakku dough

Adhirasam or athirasam is an old-time sweet dish from South India. In Tamilnadu, this is commonly made for weddings and poojas and on festive occasions like Navratri and Diwali. Traditionally, to make the adhirasam, a syrup is made with jaggery and water, to which coarse rice flour is mixed to form a dough, which is then formed into discs and deep-fried. Adhirasams are a delicacy, beautiful things that aren’t easy to get right. It is tricky to get the jaggery syrup right, and making discs that don’t disintegrate while frying is a huge task. Using leftover Maa Vilakku dough is an easier, short-cut method to make adhirasam, which more often than not yields great results, even for a beginner to Indian sweets like me.

Here’s how you can make Adhirasam from leftover Maa Vilakku dough.

Ingredients (yields 8-10 small adhirasam for the above Maa Vilakku measurements):

  1. Leftover sweet maa vilakku dough, wick removed, flower petals and kumkum scraped off
  2. Oil, as needed for deep-frying
  3. Ghee, as needed to grease palms

Method:

  1. Heat oil for deep frying in a thick-bottomed pan, till it reaches smoking point.
  2. In the meanwhile, grease your hands with a little ghee. Use your hands to make small discs of about 1/4-inch thickness from the leftover dough. If you have been refrigerating the leftover dough, bring it to room temperature first before proceeding to make the discs from it. Keep aside.
  3. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium. Drop in a couple of the discs into the hot oil and fry evenly, till they get brown on the outside. Drain out the oil and transfer to a plate. Take care to ensure that the discs do not get burnt. If the oil is too hot and the discs are rapidly frying up, you might want to reduce the flame further to ensure even frying.
  4. Deep fry all the discs in the same manner. The adhirasams are ready! They can be consumed straight off the stove or at room temperature. At room temperature, they stay well for 4-5 days.

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

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Navratri Special’.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #247. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Mug Nu Pani| Moong Bean Soup

Growing up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Mug Nu Pani or a thin soup made with whole green moong beans used to be the antidote to any and every ailment.

Feeling weak? Have Mug Nu Pani.

Broken bones? Give some Mug Nu Pani to the infirm.

Recovering from a fever? Nothing like Mug Nu Pani to bring back the lost strength.

Suffering from a broken heart? Some Mug Nu Pani will comfort him/her like nothing else.

You get the drift, right? No wonder Mug Nu Pani spells out comfort food, heartiness and recovery to me!

I love Mug Nu Pani, sick or not. A Gujarati neighbour of ours taught me how to make it, years ago, and I have been hooked to it ever since. It has saved my soul several times over, growing up, and still continues to do so.

To the uninitiated, a thin moong bean soup might sound very meh and uninteresting. Let me quickly assure you that this soup is anything but meh. At least, the Gujarati style of preparation makes this soup far from bland and dull. Mug Nu Pani is, in fact, quite a delicious soup, one choc-a-bloc with nutrition. It works wonders for the aged and infirm, growing children, and those who need a pick-me-up on a gloomy day. It isn’t very difficult to make, either.

Now, let’s check out the recipe for Mug Nu Pani aka Moong Bean Soup, the way that neighbour of mine taught me to make it.

Ingredients (makes 4-5 servings):

  1. 1/2 cup whole green moong
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1 teaspoon black pepper powder, or to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1 teaspoon coriander (dhania) powder, or to taste
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera) powder, or to taste
  7. Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  8. 1 tablespoon very finely chopped coriander leaves
  9. 1 teaspoons ghee
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  11. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  12. 2 generous pinches asafoetida (hing)
  13. 4-5 cloves of garlic

Method:

1. Soak the moong beans for at least 8 hours or overnight, in just enough water to cover them entirely.

2. When the beans are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Add in enough fresh water to completely cover them, and pressure cook them for 4-5 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, chop the coriander finely, and keep aside. Peel the garlic and chop very finely. Keep aside.

4. When all the pressure from the cooker has gone down, get the cooked moong beans out. Mash them well with a masher.

5. Add a little fresh water to the vessel. Use your hands to mash the cooked moong beans further, extracting the flesh from them.

6. Again, add a little fresh water. Mash the cooked moong beans and extract the flesh from them. Repeat this process 3-4 times, until all the flesh from the moong beans has been extracted.

7. Now, discard the spent cooked moong beans. Strain the residual liquid using a fine strainer.

8. Take the liquid in a saucepan and place it on high heat. Add in salt and pepper powder. Allow it to come to a boil.

9. While the liquid is coming to a boil, we will prepare the tempering for the soup. For this, heat the ghee in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add in the cumin, finely chopped garlic and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this tempering to the soup when it is about to come to a boil.

10. Add coriander powder and cumin powder to the soup at this stage. Mix well.

11. When the Moong Bean Soup comes to a boil, reduce the flame to medium. Let the soup simmer for a minute, and then switch off the heat.

12. Mix in lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Serve the Moong Bean Soup hot.

Notes:

  1. To make the cumin powder, dry roast some cumin seeds in a pan on high flame, till they begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that they do not burn. Let them cool down entirely, and then grind into a powder in a mixer. Store in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed. I make this powder in small batches every two weeks or so and use as and when I need it, in my daily cooking.
  2. To make the coriander powder, dry roast some coriander seeds (dhania) on high flame in a pan, till they begin to emit a nice fragrance. Ensure that they do not burn. Allow the coriander seeds to cool down completely, then grind into a powder in a mixer. This powder too can be made in small batches, and used in day-to-day cooking, as and when needed.
  3. This soup is supposed to be watery, not too watery, but definitely not thick. Use a fine strainer to remove any residual boiled green moong solids, for best results.
  4. Adjust the quantity of salt, black pepper powder, coriander powder, lemon juice and cumin powder you use in the soup, as per personal taste preferences.
  5. You may omit adding the finely chopped garlic to the soup, if you so prefer. Personally, though, I love it in the soup – I think it adds a lovely touch to it.
  6. To make the black pepper powder, just grind black peppercorns to a powder, using a mixer.
  7. Mash the cooked moong beans while they are still hot, just out of the cooker. This way, you will be able to extract maximum flesh out of them.
  8. After mashing the cooked moong beans once, you need to add fresh water to them little by little a little, 3-4 times, mashing the beans with your hands, extracting more flesh from them. In all, you’ll be adding about 1 cup of water at this stage. More than that, and the soup might get too watery.
  9. Some people pressure cook the moong beans, let them cool down, then blitz them in a mixer or hand blender, then strain the water and go on to prepare the soup as above.
  10. After extracting all the flesh from the cooked moong beans, all that remains is the husk, which you would be discarding. Hence, you need not worry about any loss of nutrition by doing so.
  11. Haven’t soaked green moong beans, but still want to make this soup? Well, you can. Just add about 1-1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup whole moong beans, pop them in the pressure cooker, and give them 12-15 whistles – basically, blow them to smithereens. Once the pressure comes down entirely, mash the cooked moong beans and proceed to make the soup as above.

Did you like this recipe for Mug Nu Paani? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Bean Power’, wherein the members are cooking delicious recipes using different types of whole beans.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #247. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

 

Multi Millet Lemon ‘Rice’

Today, I present to you the recipe for Multi-Millet Lemon ‘Rice’ – the same old traditional South Indian dish, but made with mixed millets instead of rice. This lemon ‘rice’ tastes just as delicious and is just as simple to prepare, but is a whole lot healthier.

The popularity of millets is on the rise, these days. They are full of nutritional benefits, and versatile enough to lend themselves easily to various preparations, from cakes and breads to traditional dishes like bisi bele bath, tomato bath, and curd ‘rice’. Let me hasten to add that this is a not a fad, not a modern trend that you should hastily dismiss. The people of India have been using millets for ages – especially in regions like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In the course of time, millets began to be labelled as ‘poor man’s food’, and more and more people stopped using them. In today’s world, millets, with the many wonderful properties they possess, can play a significant role in reversing various lifestyle diseases. They are no longer ‘poor man’s food’, rather ‘the need of the hour’. Attending this workshop on millets by the Government of Karnataka opened my eyes to the world of millets, and I started including them in our monthly shopping list, our day-to-day cooking. I am thrilled to say that our diet is no longer heavily rice- or wheat-based, but is a good mix of different grains.

Firms like Pristine Organics’ make the usage of millets simple for the consumer of today. They offer products like millet flour, multi-millet flours and millet flakes, which make life easier for the present-day cooks. A while ago, Pristine Organics sent me a hamper including various millet-based and other products, to test and review, and I have been thrilled with their quality and ease of use. Take for instance, Pristine Organics’ Millet Organica, the multi-millet mix that I have used here, to make this lemon ‘rice’. It was so convenient to use – a mix of different types of millets, broken down into little granules, making it super easy to cook and use in a variety of dishes!

Now, without further ado, let us check out the recipe for multi-millet lemon ‘rice’, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 cup Pristine Organics’ multi-millet mix
  2. 1 tablespoon oil
  3. 1/4 cup peanuts
  4. 4 green chillies
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  7. 1 teaspoon mustard
  8. 2 pinches asafoetida
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Juice of 1-1/2 lemons or to taste
  12. About 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (optional)

Method:

1. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

2. Wash the multi millet mix a couple of times under running water. Drain out all the water. Pressure cook the mix with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles, on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.

3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Separate the curry leaves. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.

4. When all the pressure has gone down, remove the multi millet mix from the cooker. Let it cool down completely.

5. Once cooled entirely, fluff up the cooked multi millet mix. Keep aside.

6. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard and allow it to pop. Add the roasted peanuts, asafoetida, chopped ginger, curry leaves and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a few seconds.

7. Now, add the cooked multi millet mix to the pan. Lower the heat to medium. Add in salt to taste and the turmeric powder. Mix well. Let everything cook together on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas.

8. Add finely chopped coriander (if using) and lemon juice to the pan. Mix well. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

  1. I have used Pristine Organics’ Millet Organica, their multi-millet mix, to make this lemon ‘rice’. It is a mix of different types of millet such as kodo millet, proso millet, amaranth, barnyard millet, little millet, foxtail millet and finger millet. You can choose to use a multi-millet mix from any other brand, too.
  2. I pressure cooked 1 cup of the multi-millet mix with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles, as specified on the package. I did not soak the millets as they were broken down into little granules, and the package did not ask me to do so either. I then allowed the cooked millets to cool down completely before fluffing them up and using them to make the lemon ‘rice’. If you are using a different brand of multi-millet mix, do carefully check the package for instructions on how they need to be cooked.
  3. Adjust the quantity of lemon and green chillies you use in this multi-millet lemon ‘rice’, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  4. I always dry roast peanuts before using them in any preparation. This lends them a nice, crispy texture.
  5. Gingelly oil or coconut oil works best in the making of this multi-millet lemon ‘rice’.
  6. Make sure you allow the cooked millets to cool down completely and then fluff them up, before using them in making the lemon ‘rice’. Otherwise, there are chances of the lemon ‘rice’ getting mushy and tasteless.
  7. You can pressure cook the millets beforehand and keep them ready, then make the lemon ‘rice’ just before serving.
  8. I received a sample of the multi-millet mix, along with some other products, from Pristine Organics to test and review. However, the views expressed herein are entirely my own, not influenced by anything or anyone.

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is ‘A Lemon Affair’, wherein members will be creating various lemon-based recipes.

I’m sending this recipe to Fiesta Friday #241. The co-hosts this week are Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.