Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice| One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice

It was September 2008. A ‘boy’ had come from Bangalore to our place in Ahmedabad, with his mom and his brother, to ‘see’ me. Well, it wasn’t the first time the boy, his family and I were meeting – a year before their visit, courtesy of my Bangalore aunt, I had already met them. The boy and I had kind of approved of each other but, for one reason or the other of the boy’s making, official talks of our wedding never happened. Then, one fine day, a year after we met, this boy pings me on chat saying he’s had enough and that he’s serious about getting married to me! We started chatting regularly, a lot of doubts clearing, new respect and love building. His family and mine were thrilled that the cogs were finally turning and some progress was happening in our relationship. So, when this boy and his family came over to Ahmedabad to visit, deep, official talks were conducted, as was an unofficial engagement ceremony. And then, in January 2009, this boy became my wedded partner in life. He became my husband, and I his wife. 10 years since, today, together we stand.

Why am I talking about this today? Because I am about to share with you guys the recipe for the first-ever dish I cooked for the husband and his family – Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice or One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice – at my place. From what I knew of the husband’s family, they were a typical non-foodie bunch, used to typical South Indian home-cooked meals. This Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice was my way of indicating that a change in the household’s culinary scene was in order, shortly, yet nothing too jarring or disruptive or disrespectful. πŸ˜€ I served the jeera rice with a simple Dal Tadka, and the combination was quite liked by them.

This is an easy one-pot recipe that gets ready in a jiffy. In just about 10 minutes, it yields supremely flavourful, fluffy cumin rice that makes for just the perfect accompaniment to dal or a gravy-based curry.

Try this out, will you?

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups rice
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 green chillies
  4. 2 teaspoons jeera aka cumin
  5. 2 tablespoons ghee
  6. 3-3/4 cups of water
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander, to garnish

Method:

  1. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep them ready.
  2. Wash the rice a couple of times in running water, draining out the excess water each time. Keep the washed and drained rice ready.
  3. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker bottom. Add in the cumin seeds, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  4. Add in the slit green chillies and the washed and drained rice. Saute on medium flame for a minute, ensuring that the rice does not burn.
  5. Now, turn the flame to high. Add in the water and salt to taste. Mix well.
  6. Allow the water to come to a boil. At this stage, close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on.
  7. Cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  8. When the pressure has entirely gone down, open the cooker. Gently fluff up the rice. Mix in the finely chopped coriander.
  9. Serve hot with a gravy-based curry or dal of your choice.

Notes:

  1. I have used Sona Masoori rice to make this One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice.
  2. It is imperative that you use good-quality cumin, rice and ghee in this recipe, since these are the ingredients that will impart maximum flavour to the Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice.
  3. I used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice.
  4. Some people add in whole spices like bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and/or cloves, as well as caramelised onions and shelled green peas to the One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice. I have skipped all of these ingredients, and used just the most basic ones.
  5. You can use basmati rice in place of Sona Masoori rice, too. In that case, adjust the quantity of water you use accordingly.
  6. To cook plain steamed rice in a pressure cooker, I use 3-1/2 cups of water per 1 cup of Sona Masoori rice. For this Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice, however, since I wanted it to be grainy but well-cooked, I have used 2-1/2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice. So, for 1-1/2 cups of Sona Masoori rice, I have used 3-3/4 cups of water in total. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon the type of rice used and how grainy you want the One-Pot Indian Cumin Rice to be.
  7. Pressure cooking for 3 whistles gives just the perfect output for us. You may want to increase or decrease the number of whistles depending upon the make of your cooker, the quantity of rice you are cooking, and the texture of rice that you are aiming at.
  8. After adding salt to the water in the pressure cooker, taste it. It should be a bit salty. When the rice is added to it, the salt content turns out to be just perfect.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, the participants of this group cook and share recipes for a pre-determined theme.

The theme for this week, suggested by Swaty Malik of Food Trails, is #DownMemoryLane. As the name of the theme suggests, each of us participants have to share a recipe that means something to us, which has memories attached to it. I chose to write about this simple Pressure Cooker Jeera Rice recipe for the theme, as it brings back a rush of several fond memories.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #262. The co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Classic Falafel Recipe| Easy Home-Made Falafel

The husband often visits the Middle East and surrounding regions on work. Much as he loves his rasam, rice and potato roast, he has been brought out of his comfort zone on such work trips. πŸ™‚ Over time, life (and I!) has taught him to explore the local cuisine of wherever he is travelling. He has now gotten acquainted with falafel and kebobs, dolma and pita sandwiches, hummus and baba ganouj, various dips and hand-made Israeli cheeses. He reports it has been a happy change, considering the Middle Eastern cuisine has so much to offer vegetarians, and full of flavour at that. It was his ruminations about the food of the Middle East (still quite exotic, quite unexplored to me!) to try my hands at the cuisine. Today, I present to you the recipe for Easy Home-Made Falafel, one of the husband’s favourite snacks while on the aforementioned work trips.

Falafel‘ refers to deep-fried fritters made using chickpeas or fava beans or a mix of both, with a few herbs and spices added in. The origin of falafel has been linked to Egypt, though today, it is quite a common street food across most Middle-East countries, and is very popular even in India. With time, several versions of the falafel have come up the world over, including a healthier, baked version. Mine, however, is a Classic Falafel Recipe, where the snack is made the traditional, deep-fried way.

Making basic falafel from scratch isn’t a difficult task. Once you have the chickpeas soaked and ready, preparing it is a breeze. All the ingredients that one needs for falafel are easy to find in an average Indian kitchen, too. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, they make for a delicious evening snack, especially on rainy, cold days. They are super versatile – lending themselves easily to make a more filling pita bread sandwich or wrap or burger, which would be just the right party snacks. They are deep-fried, yes, but full of protein, and better any day than snacking on junk food.

Enough said. Now, without any further delays, let us move on to the Classic Falafel Recipe!

Ingredients (makes 25-30 falafel):

  1. 1 cup chickpeas aka kabuli chana
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  6. 1 medium-sized onion
  7. 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  9. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder
  10. 1 teaspoon coriander (dhania) powder
  11. A dash of lemon juice
  12. 1-2 tablespoons maida or gram flour/besan (optional)
  13. Oil for deep frying

Method:

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

2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Transfer the drained chickpeas to a mixer jar.

3. Add the chopped mint and coriander to the mixer jar, along with salt to taste.

4. Peel the garlic cloves. Add them to the mixer jar.

5. Chop the onion roughly. Add to the mixer jar.

6. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder and lemon juice to the mixer jar too.

7. Gently mix up the contents of the mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, a couple of seconds each time. Stop in between to mix up the ingredients. Remember not to make a fine paste – just a coarse mixture. There’s no need to add water while grinding, but do add a spoonful or two if you are finding it absolutely impossible to dry grind.

8. Meanwhile, take the oil for deep frying in a pan. Place on high heat. Allow the oil to get nice and hot.

9. Try to shape small balls out of the mixture you ground earlier. If you are able to form balls that hold their shape, you can drop them – 3-4 at a time – into the hot oil straight away. Then, turn the flame down to medium and deep fry the balls evenly, till they turn brown on the outside. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. However, if the balls crumble when you try to shape them, you might need to mix in some maida or besan. This will help the balls get a bit firmer, post which you can deep fry them in the hot oil.

10. Serve the falafel piping hot, with a dip, sauce or chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Falafel can be made with either fava beans or kabuli chana, or a mix of both. The ancient, traditional versions of falafel were made using fava beans, however the more recent versions use kabuli chana. I have made these falafel using only chickpeas aka kabuli chana.
  2. Traditionally, parsley is used in falafel, for flavour. However, as parsley is not very commonly used in our house, I have used a mix of fresh mint leaves and coriander in the above recipe.
  3. I have served the above Easy Home-Made Falafel with a simple hung curd dip. Here’s how I made the dip – Grind together a handful of fresh mint leaves, 1 green chilly, salt to taste, 2 garlic cloves, a dash of lemon juice and some honey. Mix this into about 1/2 cup of hung curd (curd that has been hung for 2-3 hours to remove all the moisture from it). Mix in some finely chopped coriander, and the dip is ready to serve!
  4. Do not cook the chickpeas. They need to be used raw, in the above recipe, after soaking.
  5. Freshly soaked chickpeas work best in this recipe, rather than canned ones.
  6. Make sure you grind the falafel mixture coarsely. Do not make a fine paste. At the same time, you need to make sure that all the chickpeas have broken down completely – pick out any whole chickpeas that remain after grinding.
  7. Adding water while grinding the falafel mixture is purely optional. If you are able to make a coarse mixture without adding in any water, it’s completely fine. However, I typically add in a couple of spoonfuls of water while grinding – not only does it make the grinding easier, but also makes the falafel softer, I think.
  8. You can use either maida or besan (gram flour) to adjust the consistency of the falafel mixture, and enable you to shape the balls. If you are able to shape the balls as is, there is no need to add a binding agent like maida or besan.
  9. Make sure the oil is nice and hot, before dropping the falafel into it for deep-frying. Reduce the flame to medium while you fry them, which will help in even frying.
  10. The above is a Classic Falafel Recipe, meaning a recipe for the most basic version of deep-fried falafel. There are several variations to the classic falafel – baked versions, those with sesame or beetroot or herbs.
  11. This Easy Home-Made Falafel can be served on its own, with a sauce, dip or chutney of your choice. They can also be used in a sandwich, made using regular bread or pita bread. They can also be used in burgers or wraps, along with hummus, pickled vegetables, sour cream, chopped onions and tomatoes.
  12. The falafel mixture can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a day, to be deep-fried and served later. I prefer grinding the mixture fresh, though, just before frying up and serving the falafel.
  13. Some people include a bit of baking powder/soda in the mixture, to make the falafel soft. I typically don’t use any. Even without the baking powder/soda, the above recipe does yield soft and delicious falafel.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is Levantine Cuisine, wherein members need to present dishes from the Levant region (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordon and Cyprus). This week’s theme was suggested by the very talented Sujata Shukla who blogs at PepperOnPizza – you have to check out her blog for various exotic and traditional recipes!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #261. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Pori Upma| Puffed Rice Upma

Puffed rice, also called Pori or Murmura, is quite a healthy snack in itself. A cup of puffed rice contains very few calories, but has the potential to fill you up. Considering this, puffed rice is great for inclusion in a diet program, even though it doesn’t provide one with a significant amount of vitamins or other nutrients. Today, I present to you the recipe for Pori Upma, a healthy and delicious snack made using puffed rice.

Pori Upma or Puffed Rice Upma is good for a quick breakfast, or for those in-between-meals hunger pangs. There are several different ways to prepare this upma – different families make it with variations of their own. The recipe I present here is the way we typically prepare it in our family.

Here you go!

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 3 heaped cups raw puffed rice (pori or murmura)
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 sprig of curry leaves
  5. 3-4 green chillies
  6. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  7. 1 tablespoon raw peanuts
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  14. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Firstly, we will prep the vegetables we need to make the Pori Upma. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Remove the stems from the green chillies and slit them length-wise. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Keep the prepped veggies aside.

2. Dry roast the raw peanuts in a pan, on medium flame, till they get crisp. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down completely.

3. Heat oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Now, add in the curry leaves, cumin seeds, the dry-roasted peanuts, and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

3. Add the chopped onion and ginger to the pan, along with the slit green chillies. Saute on medium flame till the onion begins to turn brownish.

4. Meanwhile, place the puffed rice in a colander and run some cold water thoroughly over it, for just a couple of seconds. Make sure all the puffed rice gets wet. Drain out the excess water, and add the soaked puffed rice to the pan as soon as the onion gets brown.

5. Keeping the flame on medium high, add salt and turmeric powder to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about a minute. Switch off gas.

6. Mix in finely chopped coriander, fresh grated coconut and lemon juice to the Pori Upma. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. There is no need to roast the puffed rice before using it in making this upma. You can use it raw.

2. Dry roasting the peanuts before using them in the upma keeps them crisp and tasty. You may skip the dry roasting part if you want to.

3. Be careful while adding the salt, as the Puffed Rice Upma does not withstand salt too well.

4. Make sure you don’t let the soaked puffed rice sit around for too long. Add it to the pan as soon as the onions brown, which is what will give you the perfect, non-mushy, delicious Pori Upma.

5. Normally, I don’t add red chilli powder to the Pori Upma, using only green chillies to spice it up. You can add a dash of red chilli powder if you want to, or up the number of green chillies you use.

6. I have used peanuts and fresh grated coconut to liven up this dish. Both of these ingredients are believed to be high in fat content, but I have used them in very little quantities. I believe in eating everything in moderation, fats included. If you want to, you can skip these two ingredients.

7. Finely chopped cucumber, pomegranate arils, chopped tomatoes, grated carrot and a dash of sugar are some other things you can add to this Pori Upma, to make it more delicious.

8. Do not overcook this Puffed Rice Upma, for best results. Also, it tastes best when served hot.

9. If you want the Pori Upma crunchy, you can add in the puffed rice as is, without washing it. I like it both ways.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is #LowCalorieFood, suggested by Sujata Roy of Batter Up With Sujata.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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

Vegetarian Khao Suey| How To Make Burmese Veg Khow Suey

Khao Suey is one of my most favourite things ever. It is the dish I am, almost always, the most drawn to, whenever I visit a Pan-Asian restaurant.

A one-bowl hearty meal in itself, the Khao Suey or Khow Suey hails from Burma (Myanmar). The typical Khao Suey is non-vegetarian, with pieces of cooked chicken added to a flavourful curried coconut milk broth, served with egg noodles. However, with time, as the Khao Suey crossed the boundaries of Burma and became a hot favourite across several countries, vegetarian versions began to emerge. Today, vegetarian Khao Suey is commonly available in high-end restaurants, at least here in Bangalore.

Today, I present to you my version of vegetarian Khao Suey, made using ingredients that are easily available in India. It might not be the most authentic of recipes, as they go, but I can say it tastes quite close to the Khao Suey we have gobbled up in several restaurants and loved. This version tastes equally delicious, and is not too tough to whip up either.

Let us now check out how to make Burmese Veg Khow Suey.

Ingredients (serves 4):

Veggies and paneer:

  1. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  2. 1 small carrot
  3. 1/2 of a small zucchini
  4. 3 large pieces of babycorn
  5. 2 large mushrooms
  6. 3-4 beans
  7. 1/2 of a small capsicum
  8. 2 tablespoons shelled green peas
  9. 2 medium-sized florets of broccoli
  10. A small piece of cottage cheese aka paneer

To grind:

  1. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  2. 4-5 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 small onion
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh coriander stems
  5. 3 dry red chillies
  6. 2 big kaffir lime leaves
  7. A handful of lemongrass leaves
  8. 1 teaspoon sambar powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1-1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  11. 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Other ingredients:

  1. 400 ml coconut cream
  2. 200 grams noodles
  3. 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon of oil
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

For garnishing:

  1. 1 medium-sized onion
  2. 4 tablespoons peanuts
  3. A little oil, for deep frying
  4. 1 lemon
  5. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

We will first prepare the spice paste that will go into the Khao Suey.

  1. Get all the ingredients under the ‘To Grind’ list together.
  2. Peel the ginger, garlic and onion. Chop the ginger and onion into large-ish pieces.
  3. Transfer all the ingredients to a small mixer jar. Add a little water, and grind to a coarse paste. Keep aside.

Next, we will prep the veggies and paneer that will go into the Khao Suey.

  1. Peel the garlic and chop finely.
  2. Peel the carrot and chop into small pieces.
  3. Chop zucchini into small pieces. There is no need to peel the zucchini.
  4. Chop the babycorn into thin rounds.
  5. Chop the paneer, mushrooms and broccoli into small pieces.
  6. Remove strings from the beans. Chop into small pieces.

Let us now boil the noodles and keep them ready.

  1. Take the noodles in a pan. Add in just enough water to cover the noodles.
  2. Add in some salt and 1 tablespoon oil.
  3. Set the pan on high heat. Let the noodles cook till they are al dente (cooked through, but not mushy).
  4. At this stage, pour the noodles into a colander. Let the excess water drain out. Run some cold tap water over the noodles. Keep aside.

Now, we will prepare the broth for the Khao Suey.

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in the finely chopped garlic and saute for a minute.
  2. Now, add in all the veggies that we prepped earlier (carrot, zucchini, beans, broccoli, babycorn, mushroom, capsicum) and the shelled green peas. Add salt to taste. Saute the veggies till they are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch.
  3. Add the spice paste we prepared earlier, to the pan. Mix well, and cook for a couple of seconds.
  4. Turn the flame to medium. To the pan, add in the coconut cream, jaggery powder and turmeric. Add in the paneer cubes. Mix well, but gently, ensuring that the paneer cubes don’t break. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
  5. Cook on medium flame till the coconut milk comes to a boil. Switch off gas. If the raw smell of the spice paste hasn’t gone yet, you can simmer the broth for a minute or so.

Now, we will make preparations to serve the Khao Suey.

  1. Cut the lemon into wedges. Keep ready.
  2. Heat a little oil for deep frying in a pan.
  3. Chop the onion (for the garnish) into thin slices, and fry them in the hot oil till crisp and brown. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.
  4. In the same oil, fry the peanuts till crisp and brown. Ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.

Now, we are ready to serve the Khao Suey!

  1. Drop an equal amount of the cooked noodles into 4 serving bowls.
  2. Ladle a generous amount of the hot broth into each serving bowl.
  3. Garnish each bowl with some finely chopped coriander, fried onions and peanuts, and a couple of wedges of lemon. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. You can use any type of noodles you prefer, to make this Vegetarian Khao Suey. Here, I have used a ready-to-use packet of whole wheat noodles.
  2. I have used paneer here, which you can substitute with tofu.
  3. You can use any vegetables of your choice to make the Khao Suey. Here I have used the vegetables I had on hand at the moment. Ensure that you cut the vegetables and paneer into small pieces for the Khao Suey – it tastes best that way.
  4. Make sure you don’t overcook the vegetables or the noodles, for best results.
  5. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you would like the Khao Suey to be.
  6. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder and salt as per personal taste preferences. Also, sugar can be used in place of the jaggery powder – I prefer the latter.
  7. I have used home-made sambar powder to make the curried coconut broth for the Khao Suey. You can use garam masala instead, too, but I prefer sambar powder.
  8. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. I have used 2 Bydagi chillies and 1 Salem Gundu chilli here, and the spiciness was just right for us.
  9. I have used a 400 ml can of Real Thai Coconut Cream to make the Khao Suey. Coconut cream is quite thick, so I have used about 1 cup of water to make the broth. The coconut cream can be substituted with coconut milk (home-made or store-bought) – just use about 500 ml of thick coconut milk in that case. If needed, you can add in a little gram flour to thicken the broth. Use water if needed, otherwise skip it entirely.
  10. Please do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients for the Khao Suey. It is a very simple dish to put together. Only basic prep work is needed, and then, it is a matter of minutes to get the Khao Suey ready.
  11. Ensure that you keep the flame at medium while adding the coconut cream/milk. Cook the broth on a medium flame to prevent curdling.
  12. The use of store-bought coconut cream and paneer here does not make this the healthiest dish. If you can swap these two ingredients for home-made coconut milk and paneer, you transform this into a (relatively) healthy dish.

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for the week is #FoodMagBest, wherein participants have to cook up recipes that are worthy of the front cover of a magazine. Quite an interesting theme, right?

This week’s theme was decided upon by Seema of Mildly Indian. I chose to demonstrate how to make Burmese Veg Khow Suey, for the theme.

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Classic Sakkarai Pongal| Traditional Sweet Pongal Recipe

Hola, guys and girls!

Warm wishes from our family to you for Pongal, Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Magh Bihu! I hope all of you are enjoying the festivities in your part of the world.

We are getting ready to celebrate Pongal tomorrow, January 15. The bub has Pongal celebrations in her school today, and a holiday tomorrow. I’m all stocked up, with respect to special groceries, all set to make some Pongal-special dishes tomorrow. The husband will be working, but I hope we’ll be able to catch up on at least a bit of the festive fun!

I recently realised I have never posted a Classic Sakkarai Pongal recipe on my blog, the traditional sweet pongal that is a must-have on the festival day. We can’t have that happening, so I decided to share the recipe today for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. I made Sakkarai Pongal a few days back to shoot pics for the blog. We thoroughly enjoyed our Pongal-treat-a-little-ahead-of-Pongal! πŸ™‚

For the uninitiated, Sakkarai Pongal is a sweet dish made with rice and moong daal. Sweetened with jaggery, with loads of dry fruits and ghee added in, it surely is a lovely treat for kids and adults alike. We add some milk to the sweet pongal too, which makes it all the more rich and delectable. Typically, in our family, Sakkarai Pongal is served with Ezhu Thaan Kootu, a traditional Tamilnadu savoury preparation that uses at least seven types of vegetables.

The traditional Sakkarai Pongal, served with Ezhu Thaan Kootu

Sakkarai Pongal is not a very complicated dish to prepare. We make it in a pressure cooker, and not in a pan as is done traditionally, which ensures that it gets done in a jiffy and is still every bit just as delicious! Check out our family recipe below!

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1/2 cup moong daal
  3. 2 cups full-fat milk
  4. 3 cups jaggery powder
  5. 3-4 tablespoons ghee
  6. 10-15 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins
  8. 2 generous pinches of cardamom powder

Method:

  1. Chop the cashewnuts roughly, into large-ish pieces. Keep aside.
  2. Wash the rice and moong daal together under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the excess water.
  3. Pressure cook the rice and moong daal together with 2 cups of milk + 2-1/2 cups of water, for 4 whistles or till they are well-cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
  4. When the pressure has gone down completely, mash the cooked rice and moong daal well, using a masher. Keep aside.
  5. Now, take the 3 cups of jaggery powder and 2 cups of water in a pan, and place it on high flame. Cook till the jaggery is completely dissolved in the water. Turn the flame down to medium when the jaggery syrup comes to a boil.
  6. At this stage, add the cooked rice and moong daal to the jaggery syrup. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, or till all the ingredients are well integrated together. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. While the sweet pongal is cooking, heat the ghee in another pan. Add in the raisins and the chopped cashewnuts. Wait for the cashewnuts to turn slightly brown and the raisins to plump up. Ensure that they do not burn. Switch off gas and transfer the fried cashewnuts and raisins to the sweet pongal cooking in the other pan.
  8. Add the cardamom powder to the sweet pongal. Mix well.
  9. Let the Classic Sakkarai Pongal cook on medium flame for a minute or two after adding the cardamom powder, cashewnuts and raisins. Keep stirring intermittently. That’s it!
  10. Serve the sweet pongal hot, warm or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. I use Nandini full-cream milk that has been boiled and cooled, in this recipe.

2. The quantity of jaggery you will need depends upon its quality and sweetness. For us, double the quantity of jaggery : (the quantity of rice + moong daal) works perfectly.

3. I have used Sona Masoori raw rice to make this Classic Sakkarai Pongal. You may use any other variety of rice you prefer, instead.

4. I have used organic jaggery powder here, which had a deep, brown colour. That accounts for the dark brown colour of the Classic Sakkarai Pongal. The colour of your sweet pongal will, naturally, depend upon the type of jaggery you use.

5. Adjust the quantity of ghee, cashewnuts and raisins you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. The jaggery I use doesn’t have any impurities, so I haven’t filtered the jaggery syrup. However, you might want to filter in case you suspect the presence of impurities in the jaggery you have.

7. Make sure you cook the rice and moong daal till they are well done, and can be mashed well. For us, 4 whistles in the pressure cooker works perfectly.

8. If you are using a block of jaggery, pound it to make powder before proceeding to make this sweet pongal.

9. Edible camphor and/or clove powder are sometimes added to Sakkarai Pongal, to stop the sweetness from becoming overpowering. I haven’t used them here.

10. If you don’t want to use milk, use 4-1/2 cups of water to pressure cook the rice, in the above recipe. The rest of the steps remain exactly the same.

11. I have used a 5-litre pressure cooker to prepare this Sakkarai Pongal.

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 this week is #HarvestHarmony, wherein the participants are cooking special dishes for the Indian harvest festivals of Pongal, Makar Sankranti and Lohri.

Check out the other (not-so-traditional) Sakkarai Pongal recipes on my blog:

Banana Sweet Pongal| Proso Millet Sweet Pongal

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #260. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Menthiyakeerai Thokku| Fenugreek Greens Pickle

We, as a family, are big fans of fresh methi or fenugreek greens (‘menthiyakeerai‘ in Tamil). We make it a point to consume them throughout the year, but the beautiful, big, fat, fresh bunches of these greens that are available right about now simply refuse to be ignored. In winters, I cannot resist picking up a fresh bunch of methi greens whenever I visit the vegetable vendor’s – I love adding them to just about anything I am cooking. We adore the slightly bitter taste of these leaves, the lovely flavour they impart to dishes. The most recent experiment in my kitchen with them was this Menthiyakeerai Thokku or a Fenugreek Greens Pickle, which turned out absolutely, finger-lickingly delicious.

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Methi leaves have numerous health benefits – they aid in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help cure anemia, improve skin health, aid in better breast milk production and help in regulating gastrointestinal issues, among other things. Methi leaves are also a rich source of iron, fibre, magnesium, manganese and protein. This Fenugreek Greens Pickle is a great way of including the greens in our daily diets, a highly delish one at that. And, for those of you who are wondering, no, the pickle doesn’t taste bitter at all! πŸ™‚

Now, let’s check out the recipe for this Menthiyakeerai Thokku aka Fenugreek Greens Pickle!

Ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

  1. 2 tightly packed cups fenugreek greens aka methi leaves
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 6-8 garlic cloves
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. A sprig of curry leaves
  6. 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons of oil
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  10. 2 tablespoons of jaggery powder or to taste (gur)
  11. A small gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind (imli)
  12. 6 dry red chillies (sukhi lal mirch)
  13. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water for at least 10 minutes. When the tamarind turns soft, keep it aside, along with the water it was soaked in.

2. Chop the fenugreek greens finely. Keep aside.

3. Peel the onion, ginger and garlic cloves. Chop roughly. Keep aside.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute on medium heat till the onion changes colour, about 2 minutes.

5. Now, add fenugreek greens to the pan. Saute on medium heat till the greens wilt and shrink, about a minute.

6. Add the softened tamarind (reserve the soaking water for grinding later) to the pan. Also, add the dry red chillies. Saute on medium heat for a minute. Switch off the gas and allow the ingredients to cool down fully.

7. When all the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, jaggery powder and the water the tamarind was soaked in. Grind everything together to a fine paste. Use a little more fresh water if necessary.

8. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan you used earlier. Add mustard and allow it to sputter. Add curry leaves and asafoetida, and turn heat down to medium. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

9. Now, add the ground paste to the pan. Mix well with the tempering. Stirring constantly, cook everything together for a minute. Done! The Menthiyakeerai Thokku is ready.

10. Allow the thokku to cool down completely before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies, salt, jaggery and tamarind as per personal taste preferences.

2. Use very fresh methi leaves, for best results.

3. Gingelly oil works best in the making of this thokku. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other oil of your choice.

4. When stored at room temperature and handled hygienically, this Fenugreek Greens Pickle stays well for about a week. Refrigeration will prolong its shelf life further.

5. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn while frying. Keep the heat at medium.

6. Make sure all the fried ingredients have completely cooled down, before grinding.

7. You may grind the fried ingredients coarsely or to a smooth paste, as per your personal preference. I prefer making a smooth paste.

8. You may omit the garlic if you don’t want to use it. Personally, I would suggest keeping it in, though.

Did you like this recipe? 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 the week is #MagicOfFreshMethiLeaves, suggested by the talented Sasmita of First Timer Cook. Members are required to prepare recipes using the lovely fresh fenugreek greens available this time of the year, for the theme.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #257. The co-hosts this week are Suzanne @ Frugal Hausfraualupinthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Want to check out the other methi recipes on my blog? Here you go!

Bajri Methi Na Thepla| Methi Gota| Methi Nu Shaak| Undhiyu

Butterfly Pea Lemonade| Colour-Changing Magic Lemonade

Today’s recipe is a magic one! Christmas time, the season of Santa Claus and fairies and unicorns and secret gifts and all that, eh? πŸ™‚

Now, this is a simple lemonade recipe at heart, but a magical, colour-changing one! When served, this drink is a pretty, deep blue. Squeeze some lemon into it, and it changes colour to a gorgeous purple! Let me hasten to add that this happens very naturally, without the help of any artificial colouring agents. The secret ingredient here is butterfly pea, a beautiful blue flower that grows in several Asian countries, including parts of India.

Also called Shankapushpam, blue pea, cordofan pea, Asian pigeonwings, bluebellvine, Darwin pea and Aparajita, the scientific name of the butterfly pea is Clitoria Ternatia. The blue flower is used as a natural food colouring in several parts of Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia and Burma. Adding a few of these flowers while cooking infuses the dish in question with a lovely blue colour – it is, actually, quite difficult to believe that such a brilliant blue colour can be achieved in food this naturally, without any chemical involvement at all! The colour of the food further changes to purple or pink, depending upon what ingredients have been added to it.

So, how does this colour-changing happen? It is simple science. Butterfly pea flowers contain a high concentration of something called anthocyanin, a pigment whose colour depends upon the amount of acidity present in its environment. When added to plain water, the pigment makes the water blue. Add something acidic to the water – like lemon – and when the pH level changes, it turns purple. When the acidity increases further – say, the addition of more lemon – the water turns a pretty magenta or pink.

Thanks to being rich in antioxidants, the butterfly pea flower aids in relieving stress, improving blood circulation, bettering eye health, and nourishing one’s skin and hair. This is precisely why the flower is widely used in South Asian countries in various food products as well as skin- and hair-care products.

I was introduced to these flowers for the first-ever time on our recent holiday in Thailand, in our hotel spa. I dropped in to the spa for a massage, and was served a warm blue-coloured tea with a wedge of lemon on the side. I was stunned to see the tea turn purple with the addition of the lemon, and wondered why on earth would they be using something so artificially coloured in a spa that claimed to use only traditional Thai methods and natural ways of healing! It was much later that I came to know that what I was offered was, in fact, Butterfly Pea Tea and that the blue was entirely natural. I had to pick up a packet of dried butterfly pea flowers in a Thai departmental store to get back home (very reasonably priced, I must add) – and good I did that too, for they cost an arm and a leg online!

On its own, the butterfly pea extract does not taste like much. It has a mild woody taste, not unlike green tea. I am not particularly fond of that, but when mixed with something else – like rice or lemonade, for instance – the woody taste gets masked by the other ingredients. This Butterfly Pea Lemonade tastes just like regular lemonade, but is much more healthier thanks to the addition of the flowers. The colour-changing property of this lemonade makes it a perfect drink for parties – especially Christmas parties. Instead of pre-mixing it, serve it with some lemon on the side, and watch your guests’ mouths open with wonder as they see their drink change colour! Just imagine how much kids will love this – mine did, to bits!

Enough said. This wondrous flower needed this long-winded introduction. Now, without further ado, let us check out the proceedure to make this Butterfly Pea Lemonade.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  1. 1 tablespoon dried butterfly pea flowers
  2. 3 cups of water, at room temperature
  3. 6 tablespoons of sugar, or as needed
  4. Lemon halves, as needed
  5. Chilled water, as needed

Method:

  1. Heat the 3 cups of water on high flame, till it comes to a rolling boil.
  2. Add the sugar to the boiling water, and mix well. It will dissolve immediately. Let the water boil for a minute, then switch off gas.
  3. Add the dried butterfly pea flowers to the hot water. Close the pan with a lid, and let the flowers steep in the hot water for 20-30 minutes. By this time, the dried flowers would have let out their colour into the water, which would have turned a bright blue.
  4. Strain out the flowers from the water (you can choose to keep them in, too!). Allow the blue extract to cool down completely.
  5. When you are ready to serve the Butterfly Pea Lemonade, fill up as much of the blue extract as you need in serving glasses. Add some plain chilled water to the glasses, as needed. Taste and adjust quantities. Serve the glasses with lemon halves on the side.

Notes:

  1. For those of you who are interested, I picked up the dried butterfly pea flowers at Big C, a departmental store in Pattaya. The store stocks most traditional and contemporary Thai products, priced quite reasonably.
  2. If you are planning a visit to Thailand or have a friend or relative flying in, dried butterfly pea flowers are something you could ask them to get you. They are also available online, on websites like Amazon, but they are heavily priced.
  3. I haven’t worked with fresh butterfly pea flowers in my kitchen, so I’m not sure how they need to be used. If you have access to them, you may try using them instead, in this Butterfly Pea Lemonade recipe.
  4. In Thailand, these flowers are used in rice-based dishes, cocktails and mocktails, bakery goodies, ice creams and patties, among other things. I have not yet tried any of these things out, but I am simply amazed at the world of culinary possibilities these little butterfly pea flowers have opened up for me.
  5. You may use a healthy sweetener – like palm jaggery, coconut sugar or honey – in this lemonade recipe, instead of refined sugar, too. However, I am not sure how that would alter the pH level of the lemonade, and alter its colour.

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

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is #FlowersAndFruits, wherein members are cooking recipes using fresh or dried flowers and/or fruits. I chose to make this Butterfly Pea Lemonade for the theme.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #256. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

 

 

 

Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding| Steamed Fruit Cake

It’s almost Christmas! I absolutely have to share this Christmas-sy recipe with you – one for an Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding!

Bangalore is extremely beautiful right now. There’s a nip in the air, the weather just gorgeous, the diffused light perfect for photographs. Big Christmas trees, Santa Claus cut-outs, reindeer, red and green bobbles, lanterns, silver snowflakes and golden stars are everywhere. Plum cakes and other Christmas treats have started making an appearance in the bakeries of the city. There are Christmas tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas-special menus galore. Little and big shops, homes, and shopping malls (and food bloggers too!) are getting ready to usher in Christmas.

Our humble little Christmas tree is all set up, but we are yet to decorate it. That will be an afternoon project for the bub and me, one of these days. Did I tell you that the bub’s year-end holidays have started? She is already running amok in the house, wreaking havoc. πŸ˜› This Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding was prepared with her in tow, over the weekend, to keep her from getting into too much trouble. πŸ˜€ Well, I can’t say the pudding served its intended purpose, but I did have loads of fun making it! Also, it did turn out absolutely delicious, a sweet treat just perfect for the holiday season! You can make a sauce to go with this pudding if you want, but you don’t really need one – just dust it with powdered sugar, and it turns into one stunner of a looker!

What do I say about this pudding? The name says it all. It is an eggless dessert, a steamed one made in a pressure cooker. It contains loads of fruit and nuts, cinnamon and cloves, like a Christmas fruit cake. Texture-wise, this is less dense than a fruit cake, a bit softer. Taste-wise, this is an almost-fruit cake.

If you are looking for something different, yet awesome to make for the Christmas season, do try this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding out. The process is a bit time-consuming, but I wouldn’t call it laborious. Put the pudding in the cooker to steam, turn the flame to low, and you don’t need to hover around the stove-top. Not really. The end result is totally, totally worth it, I can assure you of that.

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the recipe for this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lite Bite

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized pudding, serves 8-10):

  1. 2-1/2 cups of mixed fruits and nuts
  2. Juice of 2 oranges
  3. 1-1/4 cup demerera sugar
  4. 1 cup maida
  5. 1 cup bread crumbs
  6. 4 cloves
  7. A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
  8. A small piece of nutmeg
  9. A pinch of salt
  10. 1 tablespoon oil
  11. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  12. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  14. A little butter, to grease the pudding mould

Method:

1. Chop all the nuts (like cashews, almonds) you are using into small bits. Similarly, chop the candied fruit (like oranges, ginger, kiwi, pineapple) into small pieces. If you are using fresh apples, grate them medium-fine. Take all the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl.

2. Squeeze the juice out of the 2 oranges. Pour this over the prepared fruit and nuts in the bowl. Cover and let the fruit and nuts soak for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Pound the cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg using a mortar and pestle. Powder them together in a small mixer. Keep aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place the maida, bread crumbs, salt, the cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg powder, the baking powder and baking soda. Mix together. Keep aside – these are the dry ingredients for the pudding.

5. Place the demerera sugar in a pan, and place it on high heat. When the pan gets hot, reduce the flame to low. Wait till the sugar is dissolved, and switch off the flame – don’t cook the sugar for too long, otherwise it will turn hard. Immediately, pour 1/2 cup of room-temperature water into the sugar and mix well. You should get a dark brown caramel syrup.

6. Pour the caramel syrup into the fruit and nuts, once they are done soaking. Add the oil and the vanilla essence to it, and mix well – these are the wet ingredients for the pudding.

7. Add the wet ingredients little by little to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, ensuring that all the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. The batter should be thick, and not very runny.

8. Grease a medium-sized vessel or pudding mould with a little butter. Pour the batter you prepared (in the step above) into the greased mould/vessel. Cover the mould/vessel with aluminium foil, and secure it with a piece of string. Keep ready.

9. Take 10 cups of water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place it on high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Place the covered pudding mould/vessel with the batter (which we prepared in the step above) into the water. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

10. Let the pudding cook on low-medium heat for 2 hours. It is ready when a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. You can serve this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding warm or at room temperature, dusted with some powdered sugar.

Notes:

1. The mixed fruits and nuts should come to roughly 500 grams. I used one apple (grated), 50 grams of broken cashewnuts, 50 grams of black currants, 100 grams of raisins, 100 grams of candied oranges, 100 grams of candied pineapple and a few chunks of candied ginger.

2. You can use any odourless oil to make this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. I used refined sunflower oil.

3. You can use ordinary white sugar to make the caramel here, instead of the demerera sugar. However, demerera sugar adds a lovely dark brown colour and a beautiful flavour to the pudding, so I would suggest you use that instead.

4. Make sure you don’t burn the sugar while making the caramel. Keep the pan on low heat, and switch off the gas as soon as the sugar dissolves. Add water immediately. If these steps are not done correctly, the sugar might become too hard, making it difficult to prepare the caramel.

5. Stand away while pouring water over the dissolved sugar. It sputters.

6. You can use any permutations and combinations of fruits and nuts, while making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding. However, I would suggest you not miss out on the candied orange and ginger, grated apple, cashewnuts and black currants, for it is these ingredients that add a lovely touch to the pudding. Bananas, candied mixed fruit peel, cranberries, dates, cherries, candied kiwi, slivered almonds, etc. are some other things you might use.

7. Ensure that you place adequate water (10 cups) in the bottom of the pressure cooker while steaming the pudding. Keep checking at intervals, and refreshing the water in case you find it has come down.

8. The time that this pudding needs to get completely steamed would differ, depending upon the make of the cooker and ingredients used. Keep checking after 1-1/2 hours (by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the pudding – it should come out clean), and steam till fully done. Mine took exactly 2 hours to get done entirely.

9. Cover the pudding mould securely with a sheet of aluminium foil, and tie a piece of string around it. This will prevent any water from getting into the pudding.

10. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use any large vessel or pan with a lid to steam the pudding.

11. Allow some space for the pudding to rise, in the mould that you use. I didn’t have a pudding mould, so I used an ordinary steel vessel for the steaming.

12. I have not tried making this Eggless Steamed Christmas Pudding with whole wheat flour yet, but I think it should be doable.

13. I have used store-bought bread crumbs here. You may make the bread crumbs at home, instead, too – just pulse 6-8 slices of day-old bread in the mixer till you get crumbs.

14. Make sure you steam the pudding on a low flame, to ensure even cooking.

15. You can soak the fruits and nuts in the orange juice a day in advance, before you make this pudding. In that case, take the fruits and nuts in a bowl, pour the orange juice over them, and allow them to soak in the refrigerator, covered. I just allowed the fruits and nuts to soak for about 30 minutes, before I started making the pudding.

16. Once the pudding is completely steamed and ready, set it aside for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding and slicing it.

Did you like this recipe? 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 the week is ‘#ChristmasSpecial Recipes’.

I’m sending this recipe for Fiesta Friday #254. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

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.

I’m linking this post to My Legume Love Affair (MLLA) #123, an event conceptualised by Susan and hosted by Lisa.

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.

fb_img_1543382921719-01-0116911840.jpeg
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.