Thursday, January 19, 2017

sagpaita recipe | urad dal aur palak ka sagpaita

Sagpaita is simply a dal cooked with winter greens. As I mentioned in the bathue ka sagpaita recipe, dals are rarely cooked without greens in winters. Many times the dals are replaced by the various nimonas and sometimes people even replace the everyday dal with rajma or chhole to be had with plain boiled rice. Those are some of the comfort foods for many of us and rajma chawal, chhole chawal, nimona chawal or sagpaita chawal kind of meals bring back the memories from childhood till date.

Urad dal (black lentils) are consumed a lot during winters for all traditional recipes of khichdi, dals and of course the badas and badis of different types.

urad dal (split  black beans)

Mung and masoor are the easily digestible dals chosen for summer meals while chana dal and urad dal are common winter foods. Other dals also keep featuring in various permutation combinations and there are various names for all the dals we eat. A cook's prowess is often measured by how well he/she cooks a dal and there are many old kahavats (sayings) featuring the humble dal, it can be such a homely dish that can be adapted to just about anything.

We used split urad dal with skin for this recipe of urad dal ka nimona and the common greens used for this are spinach, bathua of chenopodium, or a mix of all seasonal greens, each one imparting a new dimension to this sagpaita. I often add a handful of tender carrot leaves or spring onion greens to add more flavour to the sagpaita.

urad dal ka sagpaita

Feel free to add any greens you like but spinach or bathua taste the best with a little added carrot leaves, spring onion, dill leaves or even a bit of fenugreek leaves.

(3-4 servings)

1/3 cup split urad dal with skin (as shown in the picture above), rinse and let it soak for 15 minutes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
2 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach leaves (about 300 gm)
3/4 cup of chopped spring onion or dill leaves or fenugreek leaves ( I used spring onion here)

for tempering
1 tbsp ghee or a little more if you wish
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (preferably desi, I don't use tomatoes many times)
1 tsp everyday curry powder
red chili powder to taste


Pressure cook the split urad dal with salt, turmeric powder, ginger and a cup of water. It takes about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Lower the heat after the first whistle to let the dal cook. Let the pressure release on its own.

In the meanwhile prepare for the tadka and you can cook the rice etc to go with the dal.

Open the lid of the pressure cooker and add all the chopped greens, mix well and place the lid back. The greens will get cooked in the remaining heat.

For the tadka, heat the ghee in a pan, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, garlic and onions in that order, waiting in between to let the aromas infuse in the oil. Brown the onions lightly.

Add the curry powder as soon as the onions brown, mix quickly and dunk the chopped tomatoes in it. Add a little salt and cover to cook the tomatoes thoroughly on low heat. This takes about 4-5 minutes.

Now pour the dal and greens mix to the tadka pan, mix well, add some water to adjust consistency and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

urad dal ka sagpaita

This sagpaita tastes really good with plain boiled rice and makes hot comfort food in winters. I always remember eating hot dal chawal in a bowl and I still do that. Now I have huge breakfast mugs that I use for me soup meals o dal chawal meals, sagpaita and chawal meals also come in the same category. You really don't need anything else with this sagpaita and rice meal but the traditional bhujias, roasted papad and raita etc are pleasant additions always.

Sometimes I add lot of tomatoes and some green peas too in the tadka and cook them thoroughly before adding to the sagpaita. Variations always feel good in such everyday recipes and sometimes leftover dals can also be turned into sagpaita with just the tadka and some tomatoes and winter greens added.

urad dal ka sagpaita

It always feels good to cook something our grandparents have been eating and most certainly their grandparents ate the same too. It is in the last 2-3 decades that our food habits have changed so much that many of us have forgotten cooking from scratch, using real ingredients and not sauces, mixes and blends.

My motive is to bring back the food wisdom on the table everyday. We need to realise that simpler foods are the tastiest and stay in our memory for ever. A curry loaded with a hundred spices gets lost in the memory lanes. Try recollecting your food memories and you will know what I mean. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

recipe of shakarkandi ki kheer : a rich creamy dessert with taste of roasted sweet potatoes

Shakarkandi (sweet potato) ki kheer is a recipe I don't cook much but whenever I do I make it a point to do it the way I like. Yes I don't eat desserts much but if a dessert has some character that has imprinted in my mind I keep reviving my memories at least every few years if not every season.

In the case of shakarkandi ki kheer it is the roasted flavour of the shakarkandi that I love and I found a trick many years ago to bring the roasted flavour to the kheer. It is simple and yet makes a world of difference from the regular shakarkandi ki kheer.

shakarkandi ki kheer

The shakarkandi ka halwa is not my favourite but shakarkandi ke roth I love since childhood. This kheer made of shakarkandi has been much preferred over shakarkandi wali rabdi which is a lighter rabdi, although I don't make desserts everyday. Sweet potato hash browns are my type.

Also I prefer desserts that don't use much sugar or use a bit of jaggery and preferably made with sweet fruits or sweet potatoes as in this case. If you reduce milk slowly the subtle sweetness is enough along with the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes in this shakarkandi ki kheer.

I suggest you try this recipe without using any sugar and see how the rich multilayered natural sweetness of the ingredients shines through in the absence of sugar. If we add sugar it overpowers the subtle sweetness of milk and sweet potato combined. If you feel like adding sugar you can always keep some thick syrup ready to be added in the last moment. I bet you wont need that if you really like the roasted flavour of the sweet potatoes..

sweet potatoes

(2-3 servings, depending on portion size)

one medium sized sweet potato (about 150 gm)
500 ml milk (full fat, I used 7% fat)
some chopped nuts for garnish


Simmer the milk in a thick base pan till it reduces to about 200 ml.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato using the thin side of the grater. Place the grated sweet potatoes in another thick base pan, sprinkle with 1 tbsp water, cover and cook on very low heat for about 7-8 minutes or till you get a roasted sweet potato aroma.

You will find the grated sweet potato sticking to the bottom of pan and getting reddish brown, that is a desirable step of the recipe as it brings in the much desired flavour. This is the trick to get that roasted sweet potato flavour in the kheer, let it stick to the bottom of the pan in a controlled way and see how it makes a difference.

Take care to use a really small pan for such a small quantity as a large pan may alter the cooking time. Using cast iron or anodised Aluminium pan works better.

By the time the sweet potatoes are cooked and aromatic the milk will be reduced suitably, add the cooked sweet potato to the reduce milk and let it simmer for a couple of minutes together or till you get a desired consistency.

shakarkandi ki kheer

Chill and serve with chopped nuts on top. You will not need any sweetener in this recipe I promise.

Do let me know when you make this shakarkandi ki kheer, and whether you liked it.

I have seen even kids loving it without realising it is a dessert without sugar. The roasted flavour of the sweet potato is a great help in bringing out the natural sweetness of the ingredients.

Caramelisation of the natural sugars in food they say.