Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vrat ka khana | kuttu ki tikki or buckwheat savory pancakes

Another fasting recipe for navaratra brings me here today, the kuttu ki tikki or savory pancakes with buckwheat flour and grated zucchini(or use any gourds). Kuttu or Buckwheat is a grain which is a popular health food all over the world, this is the grain behind soba noodles and they can be cooked whole to make khichri or tahiri. However this time I could not get hold of any whole buckwheat and had to make do with this flour which is called kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour)......

Most of the people make kuttu ki poori or kuttu ke pakore for fasting. I love those preparations too but they are better to be had occasionally. When on a nine day fast you need to have lighter meals, kuttu ki tikki (savory pancakes) will be a better option for you too.

I have been buying whole buckwheat as it gets powdered very easily in the mixie, the taste of the freshly ground buckwheat flour is far more superior that the store bought kuttu ka atta. I try and get whole buckwheat if possible and get it powdered freshly whenever required.

Another interesting fact is that the flour gets quite sticky when mixed with water and makes a very adhesive batter, needless to say it is easier to spread on the pan and it easily incorporates any grated veggies.

For this simple recipe I grated a small yellow zucchini and a small green on. I used zucchini as I had plenty of them from here, grated bottle guard, pumpkin or grated cabbage work very well too, and if you are not fasting try using chopped onions and make a batter with curds instead of water. That makes it taste almost like a vada. Will share that recipe sometime soon.

I added grated ginger and finely chopped green chillies to taste and a handful of chopped coriander leaves, salt n pepper to season and just a little water (curds can be used too) to make a thick batter, the grated vegetables release water after adding salt so be careful while adding water...

Heat a pan with a little ghee and shallow fry like pancakes. Drop spoonfuls over the pan and flip when one side is cooked. Let it brown on the other side too and serve hot with any green chutney. Mint or coriander chutney is great with it.

This pancake tastes really good with a cucumber raita or tempered yogurt. Even a coconut chutney makes a nice pairing with it. You see it is a versatile recipe, can be adapted to many versions with many vegetables and many accompaniments.

Cheers for fasting.........

Saturday, March 20, 2010

vrat ka khana | sama ke chawal ki idli | barnyard millet idli

sama ke chawal ki idli

Sama ke chawal ki idli or sama ki idli is one of the most loved meals at my place, fasting or no fasting. Navratri makes it easier as this grain (actually pseudo grain) starts appearing in the stores around this time, more than ever.

Navaratri is a nine day (actually nine nights) period when Devi Durga is worshiped with utmost devotion. I am not sure if I have that devotion towards any God but I have been fasting all nine days of navaratri for 12 years barring the last three years when I could not manage doing the stuff. On the 8th day of navaratri we invite young girls and considering them the embodiment of devi (Goddess), we wash their feet, offer them prasad of halwa puri and kala chana  which is a symbolic worship of devi, the female God (woman power to me).

This particular ritual has been my favorite thing to do during Navaratris as Mithi used to be very happy to see all the kids around, it used to be a picnic time at my place and many kids would refuse to go home after that. How I miss that time....

Another highlight of Navaratri is the food. The fasting food. It is more of feasting than fasting for the people who observe this fast as fried pakoras and pooris made with kootu ka atta (buckwheat flour) and singhare ka atta (water chestnut flour) and lots of potatoes fried in different ways becomes a staple for most of the people. Some people eat nothing during the day and eat these fried savories and ghee laden halwa of nuts for dinner. That is very unhealthy and one should try to consume some fruits, smoothies, lassi and juices during the day and some steamed or shallow fried preparation for dinner. Fasting is meant to detoxify, not to overburden the system..

I had some requests for healthy fasting recipes and I bought the sama ka chawal and some kuttu ka atta. Even though we are not fasting it was not a bad idea to have some sama ke chawal ki idli.

Sama ka chawal is a wild grain and it has a mention in the history too (if the life and times of  Krishna is history and not folklore). Sudama the childhood friend of Krishna was carrying this grain Sama in his potli (cloth pouch) when he arrived at the kingdom of Krishna, not sure in his heart if Krishna would recognize him. And when Krishna hugged him he snatched his potli of sama and enjoyed eating this humble grain as Sudama was treated with the finest delicacies of the palace.

As I talked to my elders about this story of Sudama and Krishna, I am told it could have been Kodo (another millet, Paspalum scrobicilatum) or Sama (Barnyard millet or Echinochloa).

sama ke chawal or barnyard millet

The procedure of making a steamed idli is very simple as many of us make rawa idi by soaking the rawa in curds for a while and steaming in the idli steamer.

Just soak a cup of sama grains in 1.5 cup of diluted curds or buttermilk with salt to taste for at least 3-4 hrs. The longer it is soaked the better is the taste and texture of the idli. After the soaking time you'll see the grains do not absorb all the liquid, unlike rawa which absorbs the buttermilk and a smooth batter is formed, that is all right for this grain as it is a tougher grain and the liquid will be absorbed during steaming...

the ingredients all in one place...
(for 5 medium sized idlis )

sama ke chawal 1 cup
diluted curds or whey (the remaining liquid after making paneer at home) 1.5 cup
salt to taste (rock salt or sendha namak is used during fasting )
ghee to grease the molds

sama ke chawal ki idli


Soak the sama ke chawal in whey or buttermilk. Since I make this idly frequently, I took pictures with both.

Here is how it looks with whey...

sama ke chawal ki idli recipe

And this is how it looks with buttermilk or diluted curds...

sama ke chawal ki idli recipe

Now spoon in the batter into idli moulds (each portion including some of the soaking liquid too) and steam till a skewer comes out clean.

I steamed it in microwave using greased ceramic soup bowls. It works out neat for me as I need just two large idlis to be steamed for the both of us. One 100 ml sized idli needed 1.30 minutes to be cooked. It should be cooked covered.

You need to run a spoon or a knife around the steamed idli to ease it out of the bowl. Check out how I steam rawa idli in glass or ceramic

sama ke chawal ki idli recipe

Serve hot with any chutney of your choice. I made a chutney with 2 ripe tomatoes steamed in the microwave, 2 tbsp of broken cashew nuts, salt and red chilly powder to taste.

You'd notice that the texture of sama grains stands out in this idli and it's amazing. It has a wonderful soft bite. Larger grain size makes it a little crumbly and it soaks the chutney like a sponge.

You have to try it to believe it...

sama ke chawal ki idli recipe

Hoping to come back tomorrow with another vrat / fasting recipe ....cheers...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thanking you all with a sunny sweet corn curry | sweet corn on the cob curried with tomato concasse

Banaras ka khana has been silent for a couple of months now but I am back with tons of thanks for all of you who dropped in a line for me here, it meant a lot to me. The way you all connected with me and the way it made me realize that I should come back to this space as soon as possible.

Both Arvind and me are trying to enjoy the small little things in life, while keeping Mithi alive in our hearts for ever. It is such a paradigm that she was our child but we both are feeling like lost children in her absence. But...but we are trying everything we can do to bring our life back to track. Yes, I have been cooking and occasionally taking pictures too and I am back with one of those recipes I made during this time.

Sweet corn kernels cooked in tomato concasse, simple yet so flavourful you nave want it to finish. Juicy corn cobs to be sucked and chewed, soaked with all the goodness of a home made pasta sauce.

sweet corn on the cob curried in pasta sauce

I had seen a sweet corn curry at Nags blog long time back and I knew Arvind would love it as he likes sweet corn very much, the idea of currying the corn on cob like this was new for me while I have been chopping sweet corn like this and shallow frying in butter with salt and pepper for a quick evening snack.

That buttery sweet corn fry has been a favorite for a long time but I knew that this curry will be loved for its rich tomato gravy too, especially the way it has to be torn and sucked off the cob, with all the juices of the sauce soaked in the cob.

As I was not checking out blogs these days and I could not check her original recipe I had just one thing in mind that the gravy was a rich onion-tomato sauce. I thought of a tomato concasse which is always there in my freezer and gets frequently used in my kitchen.You can use any other tomato based pasta sauce for this recipe.

sweet corn on the cob curried with tomato concasse

Chopping the sweet corn cobs was not a problem with me as I have very nice knives and my wooden chopping board is quite sturdy. Did I tell you I made the chopping board myself?  Actually when the doors of my in laws' house were being installed I picked up the leftover planks and made a couple of sturdy chopping boards for myself, using those tools by my own hands.

The chopped pieces are shallow fried in minimum oil so they absorb all the richness of the tomato based pasta sauce. 

sweet corn on the cob curried with tomato concasse

Add the tomato concasse as much as you want, dilute with some water and adjust seasoning. Simmer till the sauce reaches desired consistency and the sweet corn is cooked through.

sweet corn on the cob curried with tomato concasse

Serve hot with chapatis, parathas or with any kind of bread you wish. The sauce is rich in flavor, sweet, sour and hot and aromatic with fresh herbs, good to be wiped off using a crusty bread.

I know it can be a quick party dish as the pre cooked tomato concasse makes it easy to assemble at the last moment, or it can be a quick dish when unexpected guests arrive.........