Milk Pulao| How To Make Milk & Vegetable Rice

A while ago, Amma told me about an interesting recipe that she had seen on a cooking show on television – a recipe for a simple rice cooked entirely in milk. The show’s host had said that the rice would be surprisingly flavourful in spite of having just a few ingredients in it. ‘It looked so good!’, Amma told me. ‘I am pretty sure you’ll like it; you must try it out,’ she quipped. And so I did, and loved it to bits, exactly the way Amma had known I would. Ammas are so good at this sort of thing, no? 🙂

I went ahead and made a few changes of my own to the original recipe. I cooked the rice in a mix of milk and water as the original recipe suggested (not coconut milk, but plain milk, mind you!). I also added in a few veggies, some fried onions, raisins and nuts. I put in a few slit green chillies, in addition to the whole spices that the original recipe calls for. In my humble opinion, I think this version is so much more colourful, healthier and tastier, making for a fuller, more wholesome meal.

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Milk pulao or milk & vegetable rice

For the life of her, Amma cannot remember which show this recipe was shown on, or which TV channel aired it, but it has, sort of, become a regular fixture on our dining table. I have come to associate this dish – I call it Milk Pulao or Milk & Vegetable Rice – with celebrations. This is the dish I turn to on festive occasions, on festival days when I want to make something special, without it being too complicated. It helps that this pulao is so very easy to make, and that the family loves it just as much as I do.  So, for this week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop – the theme being ‘Festive Recipes’ – it is only natural that I present to you this latest festive dish crush of our family.

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Now, let’s check out the proceedure for making my version of the milk pulao, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 1 cup rice (I use Sona Masoori rice)
  • 1-1/2 cup milk (boiled and cooled)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil + more for frying the dry fruits and onions
  • 4 green chillies or to taste, slit length-wise
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and chopped into batons
  • 1 small capsicum, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 7-8 beans, strings removed and chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • A handful of green peas
  • 1 large onion, chopped length-wise
  • About 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 6-7 whole almonds
  • 6-7 kernels of walnuts
  • 6-7 whole cashewnuts
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 4-5 cloves
  • A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 4-5 pieces of cardamom (elaichi)

Method:

  1. Wash the rice under running water a couple of times. Place in a colander, and drain out all the excess water.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pressure cooker bottom. Add in the cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves and cardamom. Let them stay in for a second or two.
  3. Now, add in the chopped carrots, beans and green peas, along with the washed and drained rice.
  4. Add in 1-1/2 cups of water and 1-1/2 cups of milk, along with the slit green chillies, sugar and salt to taste. Mix well.
  5. Close the cooker, and put the weight on. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.
  6. In the meantime, fry the onions, raisins and nuts and keep them ready. For this, take oil for frying in a thick-bottomed pan,  and set it on a high flame. When the oil reaches smoking point, turn the flame down to medium. Drop in the cashewnuts, and fry till they become slightly brown, and remove onto a plate. Now, fry the almonds till they become darker in colour, and remove onto the plate. Fry the walnuts till they turn slightly darker, and transfer to the plate. Fry the raisins till they plump up, and then remove onto the plate. Fry the onions till they caramelise and turn dark, and transfer onto the plate too. Take care to ensure that none of these ingredients get burnt.
  7. Once the pressure has completely gone down, mix in the fried onions, raisins, walnuts, almonds and cashewnuts into the rice, gently.
  8. Serve hot. This pulao doesn’t really need an accompaniment.

Notes:

  1. If you don’t like the idea of adding whole cashewnuts, walnut kernels and almonds to the pulao, you can chop them into slivers after frying.
  2. I think veggies like carrot, peas and beans go really well with this dish. That said, do feel free to add other veggies too.
  3. I use about 3-1/2 cups of water to cook 1 cup of rice, normally. For pulao and other rice-based dishes, I reduce the quantity of water slightly. To make this pulao, I have used 3 cups of liquid in total (1-1/2 cups of milk + 1-1/2 cups of water) for 1 cup of rice + a few veggies.
  4. Increase or decrease the quantity of milk and/or water as per personal taste preferences and depending on how grainy you want the pulao to be.
  5. You could even mix in some finely chopped coriander, once the milk and vegetable rice is cooked and ready.
  6. You could use basmati rice in place of Sona Masoori rice as well.
  7. This pulao turns out fragrant and mildly spiced. Increase the quantity of green chillies if you want to up the heat a bit.
  8. Skip the sugar entirely, if you so desire.

You like? I hope you will try out this milk pulao too, and that you will like it as much as we did!

Mixed Vegetable Idlis| Healthy Steamed Snack Recipe

For this week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop, the 103rd edition, the theme is ‘steamed dishes’. I decided to try out something I have always wanted to – Mixed vegetable idlis! And they turned out so, so good!

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Mixed vegetable idlis might be a common breakfast dish in a lot of homes, but that is not so in our case. We end up making the good ol’ plain idlis over and over again, serving them with a variety of chutneys and sambar. Now that we have tried and loved the mixed vegetable idlis, I am pretty sure we will be making them more frequently.

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Mixed vegetable idlis – healthy steamed snack

These idlis have the goodness of urad daal and veggies in them, and are a nice, welcome change from the regular idlis. They taste delightful, and can be served as is – they don’t really need an accompaniment. What’s more, they are steamed and, therefore, super healthy, too. This is a great kid-friendly breakfast or snack dish, a lovely way to sneak veggies into their diet, I think.

Here’s how I made the mixed vegetable idlis.

Ingredients (for about 12 idlis):

  1. 3/4 of a medium-sized serving bowl idli batter
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 green chilly
  5. A small piece of cabbage
  6. 1 medium-sized carrot
  7. A few florets of cauliflower
  8. 6-7 beans
  9. 1 small onion
  10. 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum
  11. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
  12. 2 tablespoons shelled green peas
  13. A pinch of asafoetida
  14. Red chilli powder, to taste
  15. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  16. 1 tablespoon oil + a little more to grease the idli moulds

Method:

  1. First, let us prep all the veggies. Chop the cabbage, cauliflower, onions and capsicum finely. Remove the strings from the green beans and chop them finely too. Peel the carrot and chop it very finely or grate it. Chop the coriander finely.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add the chopped cabbage, cauliflower, onions, capsicum, beans, carrot and the shelled green peas, along with the asafoetida. Stirring intermittently, let the veggies cook on a medium flame for a minute. Now, add turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder to taste. Mix well. Sprinkling a little water if needed, cook on medium flame for a minute or two more, stirring intermittently. Switch off the gas. The veggies should be cooked, but not overly tender – they will be steamed later, with the idli batter, anyway. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Keep aside and allow the vegetables to cool, while you make the other preparations.
  3. Grease the idli plates using a little oil, and keep them ready.
  4. Add salt to taste to the idli batter.
  5. Peel the ginger and chop it into small pieces. Chop the green chilli into small pieces. Grind the ginger and green chillies into a paste, in a mixer, using a little water. Add this paste to the idli batter.
  6. When the vegetables cool down completely, add them to the idli batter. Mix well.
  7. Now, pour a ladleful of the batter into each of the moulds in the greased idli plates.
  8. Place the plates in a pressure cook and steam them, on high flame, for 10-12 minutes. Do not place the pressure cooker weight.
  9. When done, remove the mixed vegetable idlis from the plates, using a spoon. Transfer them to serving plates. Serve hot, as is or with sambar or chutney of your choice.

You like? I hope you will try out these healthy and tasty mixed vegetable idlis too!

Dahi Kela| Sweet Yogurt And Banana No-Cook Recipe

This week’s theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, the 102nd edition, is ‘No Fire Recipes’ or dishes that are cooked without the use of the gas. The theme does allow the use of barbecue grills, electric toasters and sandwich makers, as well as OTG and microwave ovens, as these appliances run either on fire or electricity and not on gas. But then, I wanted to make something for the blog hop that is absolutely ‘No Cook’, which just needs assembling and no cooking at all, neither on the gas nor on a grill or oven. So, I decided to put up a simple recipe – Dahi Kela – that we have been making, in our family, for ages now.

Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Dahi kela is a very easy thing to put together, a task that needs barely 5 minutes. This sweet yogurt and banana dish makes for a lovely accompaniment with rotis and parathas, a saviour on days when you do not have anything else to serve them with or when you are too lazy or tired to whip up something else. It can be a dessert, too, if you so please. What’s more, this is a healthier alternative to many oily, masala-laden side dishes. And, like I said earlier, it requires absolutely zero cooking. Do you need any more incentive to try this dish out? 🙂

I’m not sure of the origin of this dahi kela recipe, but I have had it often as part of Gujarati thalis back when I was living in Ahmedabad. I have also often seen this dish being prepared at the Brahmakumari’s centre that my grandparents used to frequent, on festivals and other auspicious occasions. As far as I know, Gujaratis believe the combination of curd (yogurt) and sugar, which this recipe involves, to bring good luck to the eater. Amma began to make the dahi kela at home too, because I love it, and then, in time, I began to make it too.

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Dahi kela, a beautiful no-cook sweet yogurt and banana confection. Hand model: Amma 🙂

Now, let’s look at the recipe for the dahi kela, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 2 cups curd (yogurt)
  2. Palm sugar, to taste
  3. 2 medium-sized bananas
  4. Cardamom (elaichi) powder, to taste

Method:

  1. Take the yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently, adding a little water if you think it is too thick.
  2. Cut the bananas into rounds and add them to the yogurt.
  3. Add sugar and cardamom powder, to taste.
  4. Mix well, but gently.
  5. Serve immediately, or after chilling for a while in the refrigerator. You can serve this with rotis or parathas, as an accompaniment, or on its own, as a dessert.

Notes:

  1. I use Robusta bananas to make the dahi kela, because I simply love them. You could use smaller bananas like Yelakki too, but you might want to use more of them in that case.
  2. I use home-made curd that isn’t very thick, to make this dish. If you are using store-bought curd that is very thick, use slightly more water. However, do ensure that you do not make it too watery – the dahi kela is supposed to be reasonably thick in consistency.
  3. You could omit the cardamom powder if you so please, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Personally, I think it adds a beautiful fragrance to the dish.
  4. If you are making the dahi kela well in advance before you plan to serve it, it would be a good idea to store it in the refrigerator till serving time. This will ensure that the curd doesn’t get overly sour, as it is prone to do at room temperature, especially in the hot months of summer.
  5. Use fresh curd that isn’t very sour, to make the dahi kela, for best results.
  6. I use palm sugar to make this dish, to make it (relatively) healthier. If you don’t have it, you could use ordinary refined sugar instead.
  7. You could add dried fruits, other fresh fruits, saffron and nuts to the dahi kela, too. I usually avoid these things, because I like keeping this dish clean and simple.

Do you make dahi kela at home too? What is your version like?

If you have never tried it out before, please do! Don’t forget to tell me how it turned out!

 

Sago Fritters, 3 Ways| Healthy No-Fry Sabudana Vada

I’m so thrilled to be associated with this amazing group of food bloggers, as part of something that is called the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. These ladies decide upon a theme every week, cook something based on that theme, and each one posts her dish on her blog the coming Monday! Foodie Monday Blog Hop completed 100 weeks the last week, and I am so excited to have joined this group of very talented bloggers now, at the milestone of the 101st week. 🙂

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The theme for this week’s Foodie Blog Hop is ‘vrat ka khaana‘ or ‘food that you can eat while fasting’. Soon, the month of August will set in, and the festive season will begin in India. With the onset of the monsoons, a lot of people fast on various festive occasions, and a whole lot of delicacies are cooked up then. I don’t really have much experience with fasting, but I do have some basic knowledge of the ingredients that are commonly ‘allowed’ during these times.

For this week’s blog hop, I decided to post about a fasting food that my family and I love having at any time – Sago fritters aka sabudana vada. Here, I have included three different ways to prepare sabudana vada – the traditional deep-fried version, the shallow-fried version for the calorie-conscious, and the appam pan version for those who don’t want to compromise on either health or taste.

Now, let’s check out how to make sabudana vada, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 4):

1. 1-1/2 cups of sago (sabudana)

2. Rock salt (sendha namak), to taste

3. 6 medium-sized potatoes

4. 3-4 tablespoons sugar

5. A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves

6. A 1-inch piece of ginger

7. 2 green chillies

8. Red chilli powder, to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. 1/2 cup raw peanuts

11. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)

12. Oil, as needed to make the fritters

Method:

Get the batter for the sago fritters ready first, and then proceed to make them whichever way you want.

For the batter:

  1. Soak the sago in just enough water to cover it, for about 2 hours. Then spread it out in a colander and let the excess water drain away. Keep the sago this way, covered, till you use it.
  2. Cut each potato into two, and pressure cook the pieces, for 4 whistles. When the pressure releases completely, run cold water over the potatoes and peel them. Mash the potato pieces. Keep aside.
  3. Chop the coriander leaves finely. Keep aside.
  4. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame, till they are crisp. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Pulse them for a second or two in the mixer. You need to just coarsely crush them and not make a fine powder. Keep aside.
  5. Peel the ginger, and chop it finely. Chop the green chillies finely too. Crush the ginger and green chillies using a mortar and pestle, and keep the paste aside.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add in the mashed potatoes, roasted peanuts, crushed ginger and green chillies, salt and red chilli powder to taste, chopped coriander, and turmeric powder. Mix well.
  7. Now, add in the soaked sago to the mixing bowl. Mix well, but gently.

Now, you can use this batter to make sabudana vada, as little or as much guilt-free as you want it to be!

To make the deep-fried version

The deep-fried sabudana vadas will be beautifully crispy on the outside, yummylicious inside. This is my most favourite way to make sago fritters but, of course, it comes with guilt associated to it, thanks to the deep frying.

  1. Heat enough oil to fry the sago fritters, in a heavy-bottomed pan, over high flame.
  2. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to low-medium.
  3. Make rounds, fritters or flat cutlets out of the batter and fry them in the hot oil, a couple at a time. Fry them until crisp and brown on the outside, turning them gently now and then, to ensure that they are well cooked on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
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Left: Deep-fried, crispy sabudana vada, Right: Shallow-fried, not-so-crispy, but still delish sabudana vada

To make the shallow-fried version

This version of sabudana vada is equally tasty, but not as crunchy on the outside as the deep-fried ones. However, it consumes a lesser amount of oil as compared to the deep-fried version.

  1. Heat a dosa pan on high flame, till drops of water dance on it.
  2. Spread a teaspoon or so of oil on the pan. Reduce the flame to low-medium.
  3. Make flat patties out of the batter and place a couple of them on the pan. Drizzle some oil around them.
  4. Let the patties cook on low-medium flame till the bottom gets browned.
  5. Then, flip over and cook on the other side, adding a little more oil around the patties.
  6. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.
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Left: Healthy, no-fry sabudana vada being made in an appam pan, Right: The finished product, straight out of the appam pan!

To make the healthier appam pan version

Did you know that you can make healthy, no-fry sabudana vada in an appam pan? The vada made this way are just as crispy and delish as the deep-fried version, but use just a fraction of the oil!

  1. Heat an appam pan on high flame till water droplets dance on it.
  2. Turn down the flame to low-medium.
  3. Form small balls out of the batter and place one each in each cavity of the appam pan.
  4. Drizzle some oil around each ball.
  5. Let the balls cook, covered, till they are crisp and browned on the bottom.
  6. Then, flip them over to the other side, and drizzle some more oil around them.
  7. Cook again, covered, till they turn crisp and brown on the other side as well.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Sendha namak or rock salt is typically used in dishes during fasting in India, in place of table salt. If you plan to make these sabudana vada on a casual day, and not for the purpose of fasting, you can add regular table salt instead.
  2. On a non-fasting day, sabudana vada can be served as is, or with tomato ketchup or spicy green chutney. Here‘s how I make the spicy green chutney – You can make it without onion and garlic, if you are making it for the purpose of fasting.
  3. We, as a family, have never really fasted, so I am not very sure of the kinds of ingredients that can be used to cook ‘fasting food’. Moreover, the ingredients that are ‘allowed’ to be consumed during fasting differ from one region to another, one family to another. Here, I have tried to use ingredients that I have seen other families, other people, use during fasting. If you plan to make these vadas for the purpose of fasting, please do check on the ingredients as per your family’s guidelines.
  4. We like the hint of sugar in our sabudana vada – they taste a lot like Gujarati sabudana khichdi. You may avoid adding the sugar, if you don’t want to.

You like? I hope you’ll try out each of three versions of sabudana vada too! When you do, please don’t forget to tell me how they turned out!