Semolina Pudding

A very light and tasty pudding – this pudding is very easy to make. It’s called kheer/payasam in India. There are many varieties of this which can be made with sago, vermicelli, nuts and even bread. Most of them are milk based and it usually accompanies a traditional lunch or dinner.

Most Indian desserts have cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. This pudding also has edible camphor. A very little of it goes a long way. The taste that this camphor imparts to Indian sweets is very unique.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

  • !/2 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup cashewnuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A small pinch of edible camphor
  • ¼ cup+6 tbsp ghee
  • A few strands of saffron (optional)

Instructions

Heat a large wok or pan and add the 6 tbsp ghee. When it melts, add the semolina and saute it until it just starts to change colour. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashewnuts. When they turn a light golden brown, add the raisins. When the raisins swell up, remove immediately and set aside.

If using saffron, take the strands in a small cup and pour about 1 tablespoon of hot water or milk on it. Using the back of a spoon, press the strands until the colour oozes out. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat the sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar has melted. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and add the fried semolina very gradually, stirring all the while. Do not allow it to form lumps. Cover and cook until the semolina is soft. Add the cardamom powder, saffron (if using) and the fried nuts and raisins. Remove from heat and cool. If it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk. I added another cup of milk and a little extra sugar. This can be served hot or cold.

Sweet Coconut Dumplings

These rice flour dumplings or ‘modaks’ as they are called in India are specially made during the Ganesh festival. There are many fillings that can be made, both sweet and savoury. However, they taste so good that I make it often. The one featured here contains coconut and jaggery.

Jaggery is a traditional cane sugar consumed in India. It is loaded with antioxidants and minerals, contains iron and folate, activates the digestive enzymes and acts as a detox.

The most important thing is to knead and portion the rice flour when it is hot and the dough should be kept covered with a damp cloth until all the dumplings are formed and is ready for the steamer. Rice flour from an Indian grocery store will be ideal for these dumplings.

The mould for the dumplings is available on Amazon. You can also roll it out into a circle and fold into a semi-circle after the filling is placed. Use a little water to dampen the edges and seal the edges with a pizza cutter.

This recipe makes about 20 dumplings.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling

  • 2 cups coconut, grated
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

Heat the jaggery with the water in a pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Strain the liquid and put it back on the heat. When the mixture begins to boil and becomes frothy, add the grated coconut and stir until the water is absorbed and the filling becomes sticky. Add the cardamom powder and set aside to cool.

To make the rice flour covering, bring the two cups of water, salt and ghee to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the rice flour. Mix well. Cover and set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. When the mixture is still hot, knead it until you have a smooth dough, using a little water if necessary. Divide it into 20 portions, rolling each portion into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth.

Oil the mould with a little ghee and stuff the rice ball into it. Spread it around the mould evenly and allow some of the dough to stick out of the mould. Place a tablespoon of the coconut stuffing inside. Seal the dumpling with the extra dough that is available. Make all the dumplings in the same manner, keeping the dough and the dumplings covered with a damp cloth until they are ready to be steamed.

Bring water to a boil and place the dumplings in a steamer for 10 minutes. Remove the steamer from the heat and let the dumplings sit for a while before taking them out of the steamer. Enjoy!

Split Mung Pancakes

A very satisfying comfort dish – this is a traditional recipe from the state of Andrapradesh in India. The Indian name for it is ‘pesarettu’.  It is one of the many varieties of ‘dosa’ or pancakes. Each region in India has their own version of the dosa. Since it’s made from split mung beans, it is very high in protein and it’s also completely vegan.

It’s the perfect way to start the day and keeps you going till lunchtime. You can soak the lentils overnight and grind it in the morning. I usually make it for lunch.

Traditionally, dosas are quite large but this version fits in nicely with a household pan. Stir the batter well before making each pancake. It should be served immediately.

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PREP: 4 hours COOK TIME: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups split green mung
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • Curry leaves, chopped finely
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Coconut Chutney

  • 2 cups coconut, grated
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted/puffed chana dal
  • Few curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Wash the mung dal and add water to just cover it. Soak for about 4 hours.

Grind to a coarse consistency with the green chillies, coriander, cumin and ginger in a blender or food processor. Do not add too much water while grinding. The batter should fall easily from the spoon but it should remain thick. You can add a little water if it’s too thick.

Heat about 2 tbsp of oil and saute the onions until they are half cooked. Add the curry leaves and remove from heat. Add this to the ground batter.

Heat a large frying pan, spoon ladles of the batter in the centre and using a flat based ladle, spread the batter across the pan starting from the centre using a clockwise movement. Spread it as thinly as possible and pour a little oil around the edges of the pancake and in the centre as well. Cook until the edges are crisp and golden brown. Flip the pancake and cook for a few minutes on the other side. Turn it back on the original side and fold over into a semi-circle or roll it starting from one edge (as pictured).

For the coconut chutney, grind all the ingredients together with just enough water in a blender to a fine paste. Add more water if required. Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds when it becomes hot. When they stop popping, add the split lentils. When they turn golden brown, add the curry leaves and remove immediately from the heat. Garnish the chutney with this dressing.

Serve the pancakes with the coconut chutney. This quantity makes about 10-12 pancakes.

Baked Cauliflower

Cauliflower is the star of the culinary world right now with recipes like pizza crusts, rice, etc. It’s one of the best substitutes for a low-carb diet. It’s naturally high in fibre and B-vitamins, has antioxidants and phytonutrients that fight against cancer. It also has choline which is important for learning and memory and lots of other nutrients.

This veggie has a sweet, nutty flavour and is so versatile. It adds smoothness to sauces and texture to other dishes. The recipe that I have chosen is a very old one and it is very popular in North Indian cuisine. It’s called Gobi Mussalam – which literally translates to Whole Cauliflower. The entire cauliflower is marinated with spices and baked.

The result is superb – a tender, moist and spicy cauliflower that just melts in the mouth.

This recipe appeared in the Washington Post and the link is given below.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/baked-cauliflower-gobi-musallam/16830/

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PREP: 30 minutes  COOK TIME: 50 minutes  SERVES: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower, washed
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup ghee+2 tbsp
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger
  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 1″ piece cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp almonds
  • 1/4 cup coconut, grated
  • 4 tbsp yogurt
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Grind the green chillis, garlic, ginger, chilli powder and garam masala. Mix lemon juice and salt to this paste. Keeping the cauliflower whole, insert this paste between the florets. It’s easier to do this by turning it over and inserting the paste between the florets. Smear some paste on the top as well. Bring water to a boil in a steamer and steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes or until it is half cooked. Try to keep it in a vertical position. If that’s not possible, then you can gently turn it over after 5 minutes and steam it on the other side for 5 minutes.

Grind all the ingredients for the marinade except the garlic, onions, tomatoes and yogurt.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large pan and add the garlic. Add the onions and cook until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the ground paste and salt. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring constantly adding the yogurt one tablespoon at a time. Remove and cool.

Cover the cauliflower with half of the ground paste, dot with ghee and bake for about 15 minutes until it is browned on top and the cauliflower is evenly cooked. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining paste over it. Bake for another 10 minutes more.

Garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Serve with steamed rice.

 

Green Pepper and Peanut Curry

I have been making this curry for the last 20 years. It’s very easy to prepare once you have the ingredients. It is absolutely delicious besides being very good for your health and also vegan.

In the Indian Ayurveda system, it is recommended that every food that we consume contains the tastes of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. This curry comes very close to fulfilling all these tastes. it’s definitely a must try recipe.

This curry is traditionally called Capsicum Kairus in India. It’s a specialty of a region broadly known as the Konkan which is a rugged section of the Western coastline of India. It comprises of various places in India like Maharashtra, Goa, etc. This region is famous for mouth watering food, great beaches, seafood and delicacies with coconut and local spices.

Jaggery is a traditional cane sugar made from sugarcane juice and can vary in colour from a golden brown to a dark brown. It’s used extensively in Indian sweets and cooking. You can substitute it with brown sugar or palm sugar.

Urad dal is actually split and dehusked black gram lentils. It is white in colour. It is usually used to season Indian food along with mustard and curry leaves. These three ingredients are the standard seasoning used for most Indian recipes.

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PREP: 20 minutes  COOK TIME: 30 minutes  SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 green peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp urad dal
  • 1 ½ tsp yellow split peas
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 6 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp jaggery/palm sugar/brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Roast

  • 1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp urad dal
  • 4 red chillies
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

Dry roast the coriander seeds, 2 tsp urad dal, fenugreek seeds and red chillies separately. Grind to a fine paste with the coconut and turmeric powder.

Roast the sesame seeds and powder. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, yellow split peas, curry leaves and peanuts. Add the green pepper, tomatoes, ground paste, sesame powder, tamarind paste, salt and 1 cup water. Cook until the peppers are tender. Add the jaggery/brown sugar and simmer for five minutes. Serve with steamed rice or chapattis.

 

 

 

 

 

Curried Sweet Potato Rice

The health benefits of eating sweet potatoes are widely known. The people on the island of Okinawa in Japan apparently eat them everyday and their long lives are attributed to this diet along with some other foods.

I wanted to use the sweet potatoes with rice and I was quite pleased with the results. In India, pulao is a dish made with a combination of Basmati rice with other vegetables, meat, etc. and spices. Instead of using the traditional spices normally used with pulao, I just used some curry powder. It paired very well with the sweet potatoes and brought out the flavour of the veggies.

Make sure that the Basmati rice is fragrant. The rice should be fluffy when cooked but the grains should be separate. You can add a teaspoon of lime juice, which also helps to keep the rice grains separate. The rice should be cooled before adding the vegetables.

This is a very quick and easy recipe – a real comfort food. It can be served with plain yoghurt, sliced onions, fried/roasted poppadums and lime/lemon wedges.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 25 minutes SERVES: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, cubed
  • 2 onions, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tsp Madras Curry powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup cashewnuts
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander

Instructions

Soak the Basmati Rice in 2 cups of water and 1 tsp salt for 15 minutes. Cook until the rice is cooked but the grains are still separate. (A rice cooker works very well).

Heat the ghee and fry the cashewnuts to a golden brown. Reserve a few for garnishing and empty the rest into the rice along with the ghee. Mix gently and set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a large wok and add the onions and sweet potatoes and saute on a medium heat, until they are lightly caramelised and the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Reserve some onions for the garnish. Add the chilli powder, curry powder and enough salt and mix well.

Mix the rice and the sweet potato mixture gently without breaking the rice. Garnish with the remaining onions, cashewnuts and coriander. Serve immediately.

Hot Lentil Rice Dish

This dish is a favourite from the Southern state Karnataka. It is called Bisi Bele Bath, a spicy rice dish with lentils. This is a very unique dish from the Kannada cuisine and this recipe is very tasty.

This rice dish is different from the Sambar Rice prepared in Tamilnadu.

It’s important to dry roast the ingredients for the spice mix and blend to a fine powder. If dry coconut is not available, you can dry roast some fresh coconut until it is dry and use that instead. Tamarind paste can be substituted for fresh tamarind.

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It’s very essential to use ghee for seasoning the rice. I usually fry the cashewnuts in the ghee. There’s nothing that can replace the aroma and taste of ghee.

I have used peas but you can substitute it with any vegetable of your choice – carrots, potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower. It is a really wholesome dish and can be prepared for breakfast or lunch.

Hot Lentil Rice Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup yellow toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt to taste

For the spice mix

  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp urad dal
  • 6 red chillis
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 6 tbsp dried coconut (copra)
  • ½ tsp shahjeera
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

For Seasoning

  • ½ tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 10 sambar onions (shallots)
  • Curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 gms cashewnuts (split)
  • ½ cup ghee

Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice mix and blend to a fine powder.

Cook the rice and dal in a rice cooker with 8 cups of water. It should be well cooked. Add the tamarind paste, salt and the spice mix and mix well. Allow to cook for a few minutes more.

Heat the oil for the seasoning, and add the mustard. When they stop popping add the dal. When the dal is golden, add the curry leaves and onions. When the onions are cooked, add the seasoning to the rice and dal mixture. If it is dry, add a cup of hot water. Add the frozen peas and mix well.

Heat the ghee and add the cashewnuts. Reserve a few for decoration and add the remaining with the ghee to the rice. Mix well.

Serve hot, garnished with fried cashewnuts.