Tuesday, May 25, 2010

bhuni khichri


Khichri has been a mundane kind of a meal for me , a meal cooked in a hurry or a student's sunday lunch when the mess is off , or a bachelor's way of life , food for the sick, a poor man's concoction .... it has always been a dish which we were embarrassed to acknowledge ..........it sounded so boring when everybody used to rave about maggi  and it was khichri that i preferred............i used to love it secretly.

You know a well spread full course meal is not only a meal for most of us , it is more like a statement of our well being , financially........i am talking about the great Indian middle class which some believe has vanished under the heights of super specialty malls n multiplexes......for me , it is very much there , it is just that the middle class can afford a lot more now.....the mind set hasn't change.......khichri was a poor man's food n not fit to be in your favorite food list.

Pardon me for straying from the humble subject , the khichri........which , i recently came to know that , is not a humble dish actually ..........it has traveled to far away places ...........

Kedgeree is the new name ( for me) ........some say the original name ( i disagree that it came to India from Scotland first and then traveled back to Britain to become popular ) .......British were so enthralled by this simple dish that they adopted it for their breakfast , garnishing it with fish , bacon or egg and many more things alien to Indians in the time of Raj ( British empire).....i was even unaware of the fact that it is popular breakfast dish in the good old south  of India), by the lovely name of pongal........i saw all these things only after i started writing my blogs n was introduced to so many blogs on traditional foods .......... kedgeree and pongal both as breakfast was very new for me and to the disgust of any north Indian i'd love to have khichri for my breakfast any day....... it's yet to happen though i have adopted my multigrain soup as a breakfast ( only mine , not the husband's ....he likes sweet breakfasts or stuffed parathas )......

I have some very fond memories of khichri from my childhood when i used to make a thinner khichri sometimes n temper it 3-4 times with different set of tempering to make it super flavorful ........ all of us 3 sisters used to hog like mad on khichri , the brothers still hate khichri and so does the husband.....to my utter dismay..........

But i am clever.....don't you know ?

He loves tahiri and i make khichri n tell him it is tahiri..........and he loves it.......do you have a kid?

This khichri i pass off as tahiri is actually a dressed up version of khichri , the bhuni khichri .......which is prepared more like a pulao and is spicier and drier looking like a biryani.........yes biryani ......to do away with the embarrassing part....:)

This is a tomato masala bhuni khichri or a daal wali tahiri .whatever you like to call it ..........as per your convenience.

Arvind carries a lunch box sometimes and one day i asked if he wants tahiri for lunch , he said yes n i made this khichri........in the evening i was reported that he couldn't get enough of it as the friends raided the lunchbox n he had to make do with other things.........

With a sealed pack of plain curds and any kind of raw salad it is a very good balanced meal and a very good option for lunch box.........i have been getting requests for lunch box suggestions n i hope i am able to post a few more.

ingredients...

rice 3/4 cup ( i used brown basmati rice )
whole mung beans with skin 1 cup
tomatoes chopped 2 cups
ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
chopped green chillies 1 tbsp ( and /or red chilly powder according to taste)
curry patta 4-5 springs
asafoetida powder a pinch
cumin seeds 2 tsp
black peppercorns 2 tsp
coriander , cumin , black pepper n bay leaf powder made using 2:1:1:1 ratio of the ingredients
( this is my everyday subzi masala  but any curry powder will be good )
salt to taste
ghee 2 tbsp

procedure...

Soak the mung beans overnight or for 3-4 hours at least , it will become almost double in volume.

Wash the rice and drain , keep aside.

Heat ghee in a wide thick base pan with tight fitting lid ........throw in the asafoetida and cumin seeds n black peppercorns .let them sputter.

Add the ginger garlic paste, green chillies and the curry patta and stir for a minute , throw in the powder masala mix , fry for a while till the masala gets aromatic , preventing burning .

Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes are mushy .

Add the soaked rice n daal and bhuno , that is , stir fry the mixture for a couple of minutes till you see a slight change in the color of dal n rice......a bit translucent .

Pour 3.5 cups of water and let it come to a soft boil , adjust the flame to the minimum , cover the lid and cook for about 10 minutes........check after 5 minutes to adjust cooking time.....the grains of rice should be firm and the daal should get mushed when pressed , but should retain their shape.

Keep it covered after the cooking for 5 minutes , you get a nice aroma when you open the lid finally......

It's usually a one pot lunch for the two of us , it is a good choice for a filling n non messy lunch box too....dahi ( plain curds) is a must with it and some sliced cucumber , onions and carrots make a perfect accompaniment.

The UP version of bhuni khichri is spicier and laden with ghee , it has bay leaf instead of curry patta and a few cubed potatoes are sometimes thrown in........it is actually a very forgiving dish , very very customizable .........according to your mood , convenience and off course your imagination......not to mention your pocket.......add bacon , anchovies, prawns, boiled eggs or even nuts and be merry with khichri........or kedgeree.


Enjoy...be it Khichri or kedgeree.........

Saturday, May 22, 2010

saboodana vada recipe



Saboodana is sago pearls and it is a popular fasting food during navaratri. Saboodana khichdi and saboodana kheer are as popular as saboodana papad, this saboodana vada is another way to feast during the fasting season. This time I made this saboodana vada with chopped onions as it was for a tea time snack on a weekend a couple of months ago when the heat was not this deadly. Now a days it is mango shake or aam malai or lassi everyday for evening snacking (it might be dinner for you but here we are used to heavy snacking in the evenings) Dinner can be skipped at my place if we had a heavy evening snack, but not the evening snacking ever. Well, mostly it is like this.

Saboodana vada is a high carb dish and you have to be conscious of the fact that you are having a carb- fat combination so it is advisable to have a green chutney with it. he he...

Jokes apart, DO NOT binge on it..

Once in a while it can be enjoyed with self control. Yes you need that in enormous amounts as this vada is very very addictive. Control your portion size or walk some more, do whatever it takes but never miss the opportunity to enjoy good food. Just do not binge on it.

I have added sesame seeds this time for added crunch and a nutty flavor but adding crushed peanuts works well too, both of then can be added if you want it to be very nutty.........

ingredients....
sago pearls soaked overnight * 1 cup
boiled potato mashed 1/2 - 3/4 cup as required
chopped onions 3/4 cup
finely chopped green chillies 1 tbsp or to taste
black pepper powder 1 tsp
sesame seeds 1 tbsp
salt to taste
coriander greens chopped finely 2 tbsp
oil or ghee to shallow fry



*sago has to be soaked in enough water to just cover the surface in a wide bowl, 3-4 hours is enough normally but it should be tested by pressing one sago pearl between your finger tips and it should feel cushiony and should get mashed when applied pressure. I keep the soaked sago in the fridge and it works very well for the vada as well as saboodana khichri, that is the pearls remain intact and cooks well to become translucent. In these vadas the sago on the surface becomes crisp by frying and those in the middle are soft and translucent.

It's yummy and try it yourself if you want more details of how the texture is and how it tastes :)

procedure... 

Mix everything in a mixing bowl and mash to make a binding dough like mixture........


Make balls with the mixture and flatten the balls to make patties .....shallow fry on both side till golden brown in color.......


Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen tissue ....serve with green chutney of mint-coriander leaves and ginger-garlic .........chai is a must .......


For me it is the best vada with my chai. I need just one with my chai as I am finicky that the chai should not be 'disturbed' with too much snacking (still I manage to binge on this vada and that is why I warned you).

I want to enjoy my chai sitting comfortably, that is one big luxury for me sometimes I must add....

It is essentially a vrat ka khana as sago is not a cereal n during fasting it is made without onions and with sendha namak (rock salt), so during fasting it is enjoyed with a meal but otherwise it should be an occasional snack......

Onions provide a different dimension to the vada n sesame makes it even more crunchy on the outside. I am not going to give you any more details as I am already feeling like making it again........:)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

paneer pasanda step by step



Paneer pasanda is as exotic as pasanda kababs or sooley kababs for the vegetarians.......... pasanda is a dish where the meat or paneer is cut in big flat pieces , it is then grilled or shallow fried and then is served like a dry starter or dunked into a rich gravy......

I am not an expert of food nomenclature but i think any kind of paneer cubes cooked in a rich cashew nut gravy is not paneer pasanda ....thin slices of paneer sandwiching a rich stuffing in between is the essence of paneer pasanda.......and this posts intends to describe the assembling of the paneer pasanda , i have taken step by step pictures and the prepared pasanda can be frozen for future use or can be made with different types of gravies.

And as many of you might be aware of ........i am not a stickler of authenticity either......taste and convenience is a bigger priority for me............so while traditionally this pasanda is made with a white cashew gravy , i sometimes change the gravy .....so here it is in a tomato gravy and that too a rustic one.....no boiling-pureeing-straining of the gravy .......when i am cooking for just the two of us i don't have the heart to waste the precious fiber away and i like the texture of the gravy with bits of tomato n onions .......you can always go ahead and strain the gravy after finishing it and then simmer the prepared pasanda in it......

Ingredients for the pasanda......

paneer 200 gm ( a cuboid block of paneer is needed to make slices )
cashew nuts chopped finely 50 gm
mint leaves 1 cup loosely packed
green chillies 3-4 nos.
ginger grated 2 tsp
black peppercorns 2 tsp
salt to taste
cornflour 1 tbsp dissolved in 1 tbsp of water

procedure for assembling the pasanda....

Firstly prepare the stuffing of the pasanda...chop the mint leaves and green chilies very finely and crush the peppercorns , mix together everything ( except cornflour solution as it will be used to seal the sandwiches) ....i add about a tbsp of crumbled paneer to the stuffing to make it easier to stuff and to prevent the paneer pasanda from opening up while frying .....you get a few bits of scrapings of paneer when you cut it into neat slices as it is done here , so it's like using the scrapings too......it should be a loosely binding mixture...


Make neat and thin slices of paneer , preferably triangular ....as thin as you can handle to make a sandwich with a coarse filling....stuff the filling with care , stick a spoonful of the mixture to one slice of paneer first , press to make it flat and then cover with another slice of paneer , seal the edges with cornflour solution and press to secure the filling .............repeat with all the slices and keep aside ....


Dip the pasanda in diluted cornflour solution quickly and shallow fry till lightly browned on both sides , it will be easier to do it in batches ........ drain on kitchen tissue.......

It can be fried like an open sandwich too as i have done here with one of them , whatever way you like it n whatever way it is easier to handle for you........


Keep aside and proceed for the gravy......

ingredients for the gravy..
tomatoes 250 gm
onions 150 gm or 2 large onions
2 fat cloves of garlic
4 cinnamon sticks about an inch long
whole coriander seeds 2 tsp
whole black peppercorns 1 tsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp or as hot you want
salt to taste
tomato ketchup 1 tbsp
butter 1 tbsp
fresh cream 1 tbsp


procedure for the gravy

Make a coarse paste of tomatoes and keep aside ... i used my chopper for this.

Make a coarse paste of onion and garlic separately and keep aside.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the coriander seeds, peppercorns and cinnamon stick and wait till they pop.

Add the onion and garlic paste at once with salt , stir to cook till the paste becomes translucent and shiny.

Add the red chilly powder and tomato paste and cook on medium heat till it becomes a thick sauce....stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato ketchup and the fresh cream to finish , bring to a bubbling boil , add some water if the sauce has thickened to your taste or requirement.

Add the prepared paneer triangles and cover for just a minute .

Serve immediately ...........if you need to serve the dish after a while it will be convenient to dunk the paneer pasanda triangles in the sauce just before serving ....after bringing the sauce to a quick boil .....

The paneer pieces may separate to expose the filling if the sauce is boiled too hard after adding them , so it is advisable to prepare the sauce and the pasanda triangles ahead of time and keep them separately until it is time to serve.


Serve immediately with rotis , naans or parathas........i cooked this dish for dinner so the pictures are not very good , it doesn't matter to me much as the procedure n recipe has to be clear and the pictures are just demonstrative.........better pictures are always welcome but it should not deter me from posting a recipe i think......what say??

Taste wise , you get a strong whiff of mint while taking the first bite into the pasanda , more so if it is made in white gravy...so if you wish to have a mint cashew predominance stick to the white gravy ......this gravy has a cinnamon sweetness combined with sourish hot tomato slush and i like it .........the pasanda tringles are a different burst of flavors with mint-cashew as first notes and ginger and pepper hitting the tongue after a while.....leaving a tingling sensation n i love it....

The gravy is hot with peppers and red chilly so it is essentially a hot dish for me , many people like it blander ...that is cashew and mint being the core players and keeping everything else subtle........it can always be adjusted to your taste and preference  .........i would suggest the white gravy paneer pasanda if you like it blander with cashew as a main flavor and especially if it is being served for a party ........it is essentially a party dish unless you feel like having a feast just for yourself n don't mind spending some extra time on the kitchen platform.........i make an easier version of paneer with essentially the same ingredients n flavors but that doesn't qualify to be called a pasanda ......will post that recipe soon..

Enjoy this pasanda till then......

Friday, May 7, 2010

aam ka khatta meetha achar ..... raw mangoes preserved in hot sweet n sour syrup....


It's mangoes everywhere , green mangoes , yellow mangoes , red tipped mangoes , round mangoes , oblong mangoes....mangoes and more mangoes ....time to eat them now and to preserve them for the coming days ........

This khatta meetha achar is a traditional UP preserve called khatmithhi , gudamma ( gud is jaggery n the name suggests gud + aam ) and paagey aam ( meaning mangoes in sugar syrup).........call it by any other name , it is the hot favorite khatta meetha aam much like a gujrati chhunda and is a must do in this season .......

For the last two years i am gifting a small jar of this to one of my neighbors as she likes it very much n this time when she asked about the recipe i decided to post it here........

You need raw mangoes for this preserve and if you do not find perfectly raw white flesh mangoes , you can go ahead with the yellowish flesh raw mangoes , it should be sour in taste so that khatta meetha ( sweet n sour ) taste is done justice with ...........if the mangoes are very firm n raw it will result in perfectly shaped firm pieces after cooking and if the mangoes are half ripe or slippery while cutting pieces you may end up with a mushy textured preserve...........the good thing is, it does not affect the taste or shelf life of this preserve.......so go ahead with making this preserve with whatever type of raw n sour mangoes are available in your part of the world.


It's a step by step procedure and i think it will be easy even for a first timer to make it perfectly...........

ingredients ...

raw mangoes 2 kilo
sugar 800 gm to 1 kilo ( depending upon if you want more or less syrup)
water 800 ml to 1 L
2 pinches of salt
fenugreek seeds 1 tsp
fennel seeds 2 tsp
red chillies whole 6-8 ( to your taste )

procedure ...

Dry roast the fenugreek , fennel seeds and red chillies in a pan and powder them in the spice grinder ...keep aside.

Peel the raw mangoes with a potato peeler , cut them into 8 pieces and discard the cotyledons , keeping the hard seed coat intact.........

Mix with the sugar and water in a stainless steel pan and start cooking ......


 Keep stirring frequently and keep the flame medium as it may froth up n spill...


It will start frothing n bubbling more n more as the syrup gets thicker........


At this point it needs to be stirred frequently and cooked on very low flame as it may stick to the bottom.....


Dip the spatula in the syrup and drop the syrup in the pan to check consistency....it should fall making a string....one string consistency as we call ek taar ki chaashni ..........


The color should be shiny and translucent and that is the indication that the preserve is ready.......


Add the spice mix and stir to mix properly , so that the spices release their flavor in the hot n sour syrup.....put off the flame and fill the preserve in sterilized bottles.

It can be made thinner ( with lesser sugar ) to consume within a few days as it keeps in the fridge for a week or so............the preserve is quite sticky and is a common accompaniment of a simple daal chawal lunch during this season .......

It is made in bengali families too ( and they call it aamer chaatni ) every family may have their own version but i found one thing very interesting.the sweet chaatni is served in the end of the meal ,just before the dessert ....the chaatni is not eaten along with the meal as it is done in UP families ......some people like it mixed with their dal chawal ( i don't)............

Do you want a bottle for yourself ??

Sunday, May 2, 2010

aloo gobi with flavors of nigella.......



Nigella seeds have become my favorite tempering spice lately...thanks to two of my bong friends.......i have been using this tempering in many ways since i started using it to make hot n achari style preparations.......

First came this fish fry...mirchi waali..

and the prawns in nigella n green chilly sauce..

then came mushrooms with spring onions

and then....turmeric soaked tofu n spinach stir fry

Being quite comfortable with this seasoning now i know how to handle it to develop new flavors..........

When you have cauliflowers this fresh.........right from the plant , you need to do justice to the freshness .....


You guessed right , fresh gobi meets nigella and some more seasonings of course to make this wonderful stir fry........i used the tender leaves and stems of the cauliflower too as they were so fresh and i don't want to waste the produce of my garden....my own hard work.....

I have posted a few recipes with this nigella tempering and turmeric red chilly seasoning earlier too but this one includes some more ingredients and as expected , it takes that seasoning to a new level........the hot spice mix paired with fresh n flavorful cauliflower florets make a stunning burst of flavors......


I made this stir fry about a couple of months back and it was repeated many times , the cauliflowers available in this season are good too ( the end of winter gobi is horrible ) and the stir fry turned well with them too......

ingredients...

to chop..
cauliflowers separated into florets 400 gm
one big onion chopped finely (i used my chopper)

to make a paste...
an inch piece of ginger
5 cloves of garlic
3-4 red chillies
turmeric powder
cumin seeds 2 tsp
black pepper corns 2 tsp

for tempering..
nigella seeds 1 tsp
fennel seeds 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
mustard oil 1 tbsp

preparation.....

heat oil in a thick base pan and throw in the tempering spices..

as soon as the seeds crackle add the chopped onions with  pinch of salt and fry till a few of the onions get browned.......not all of them.

add the paste and fry on medium flame till the oil separates and the spices get cooked and aromatic...

add the stems and tender leaves of the cauliflower if using ......and cook for a couple of minutes........

now add the cauliflower florets , salt to taste ....... mix well and cook on a very low flame ........let the florets get browned and cooked ............do not overcook and it should remain firm and a bit crunchy..........


It can be a side dish or a main dish according to the kind of spread you want..........good with rotis or with dal chawal.......quite a hot subzi and very very different from any punjabi style gobi........has a hint of bengali preparations but not completely bengali..........i loved it and so did everybody else......a balanced blending of flavors .......fusing a punju n a bong gobi subzi.....it was fun.