Monday, April 29, 2013

sama ke chawal ka dhokla | vrat wala dhokla | a healthy fasting recipe that can be a regular snack too

sama ke chawal ka dhokla

Dhokla used to be my go to snack few years ago when I would steam an instant dhokla every other day. It was always for our evening tea or when my brother came who loves dhokla. And then our evening tea changed as we started having early dinners. So the evening tea was just tea and nothing else with it most of the times.

I had bought some 2 kilos of sama ke chawal (Barnyard millet) during navratri a couple of weeks ago and have been using the millet for my breakfast or dinner sometimes. And then I was reminded of the dhokla I used to make of this millet. I couldn't stop myself and steamed a plate of sama ka dhokla, later I realised the husband had forgotten about a white dhokla. But he loved it all over again. Yes, I am telling you grudgingly because I got way too less than I wanted to have for myself :-(

This recipe of sama ka dhokla was suggested casually by a senior of mine during my research days and I used to be my experimental best regarding cooking in those days. So I played with this idea of a recipe and made a significant change. Instead of using whole sama ke chawal as suggested by her, I made it into a batter and the dhokla turned out much better. I like the sama ki idli steamed with whole soaked millet.

sama ke chawal ka dhokla

for the dhokla..
sama ke chawal (Barnyard millet) 1 cup
sour buttermilk or sour yogurt diluted with equal amount of water 3 cups
salt to taste

for the tempering...
green chilies 3-4 slit length wise
dry red chilies 1-2 broken
rai seeds (small mustard seeds) 1 tsp
hing (asafoetida) a pinch
curry leaves 3-4 springs
peanut oil 2 tsp
sugar 1 tbsp
lime juice 1 tbsp or a little more
water 1.5 cup


Soak the millets in the buttermilk and salt overnight, but keep it refrigerated if you are using sour curd in summers, it could get too sour for your liking. But if you like khatta dhokla, you would like it really sour. Go with what you like. Also, this soaked mixture can be refrigerated for up to week if you are a bad planner. It happened with me so I thought I should add it to your convenience.

Make a batter of the soaked millet by blending it in mixie or food processor when you are about to steam the dhokla. Add 1/2 tsp pf soda bi carb to the batter, mix well and pour into a greased plate or steaming vessel. Steam till set and cooked. I used an opal ware plate and microwaved it for 5 minutes covered with a dome lid. Let it cool completely. Then cut in desired shapes.

sama ke chawal ka dhokla

For the tempering, heat oil in a pan, tip in the hing and rai seeds and let them crackle. Add the chilies and curry leaves and stir them to let them cook and release their aroma. Pour water and add the sugar, let it come to a soft boil.

Take off the heat, add the lime juice and pour over the steamed dhokla. Let the sweet and sour water soak in, it will all disappear within 5 minutes. The dhokla will swell up so make space for them by removing a few from the plate.

sama ke chawal ka dhokla

Serve at room temperature.

Soft and spongy, hot, sour and lightly sweet and completely bursting with flavors of the tempering. This makes a very pleasant snack or meal, or part of an elaborate meal. You just can't stop at a couple of these. This millet has a nice nuttiness to it when cooked and that comes out really nice with this dhokla tempering. Those fried and then boiled chilies become so yummy I gobble them all up.

We had it with our evening chai as I mentioned. But the chai was given a royal ignore as the dhokla took center stage  I had to reheat the chai later to finish it. The dhokla is that good.

sama ke chawal ka dhokla

 Vrat ka khana or fasting food can be fun if you use the ingredients to full potential. I keep cooking these ingredients whenever possible as all alternate grains do taste great and provide a good opportunity to bring variety to my meals every day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kerala style shrimp curry : prawns or shrimp curry in coconut milk...

Since I love coconut milk based curries and cook my prawns almost all the time in one or the other coconut milk recipe. Be it the bengali chingri malai curry or the kerala style prawn curry. This coconut milk based shrimp curry inspired from Kerala nadan chemmen is enjoyed by both of us and whosoever has tasted it till now. The spice content is toned down from the authentic version as I have burned my hands with a good purist recipe once. It was so high on spice level that the delicate coconut milk and shrimp flavor got lost. I have mellowed down the spices since then for this particular curry.

I am using the names prawn sand shrimps interchangeably, but both are different species. In the lot I got this time had both of them. I don't find the taste too different so use the name interchangeably.

Getting the prawns or shrimps whole is the best way to start with them. The shells make a great stock to cook the peeled shrimps. If you get frozen, don't worry, you still get great tasting curry.


large sized prawns/shrimps 400 gm
coconut milk 400 ml ( I used 4 heaped tbsp of CM powder)*
curry patta 5-6 mature springs
broken dry red chilies 3-4
whole black peppercorns 1-2 tsp
fennel seeds 1/2 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
4 cloves
an inch piece of cinnamon crushed
4 green cardamoms lightly crushed
one small black cardamom lightly crushed
turmeric powder
salt to taste
roughly chopped onion 1/2 cup
grated ginger 1 tbsp
coconut oil 1 tbsp
chopped coriander greens for finishing


Clean the shrimps, discard the dorsal vein but reserve all the heads and shells. I prefer retaining the tails attached to the shrimps. Some of the heads too as it gives a nice taste in the curry.

Smear all the cleaned shrimps with salt and turmeric powder.

Simmer all the shells of shrimp and heads with a liter of water for an hour or more. Decant or sieve the stock and reserve. About 500 stock will be made.

Make a smooth paste of ginger and onion, keep aside.

Heat coconut oil in a deep pan or kadhai, add the curry patta, the whole spices and onion and ginger paste and fry for a minute or so. No need to brown this paste. Just cook it lightly.

Tip in the shrimps and toss it for a couple of minutes till they start turning pink but not cooked. Pour the stock at this time and simmer the mix for 5 minutes. If using coconut milk, add at this stage, half the quantity diluted with water or the thin extract. The thick extract or half the coconut milk will be added after five minutes of boiling.

Add a slurry of coconut milk powder and simmer for a couple more minutes.

Serve hot with plain boiled rice, garnished with chopped coriander greens.

Very delicately flavored, richly coconut and very very fragrant. Mild whiff of fennel and green cardamom, very faint hint of fenugreek and the peppercorns are a teasing kick.

This is something you would look forward to leftovers and still wont have. The dish will be polished off however you plan for leftovers. That good.

The spicing has been adjusted to my liking after 3-4 trials of the authentic recipes and may be the purists find it too mild. I suggest to try this this proportion of spices if you are having this curry for the first time. Adjust to your taste after the first trial. The stock adds a lot of flavor so try and do that if possible.

I am sure you would love this flavorful classic curry. Do let me know if you try.

Vegetarians can cook a mix of vegetables in this curry or just potatoes and baby onions.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

sama ke chawal aur moongphali ki kadhi | Fasting recipes for Navratri....

 Jeera rice made using sama ke chawal or Barnyard millet is as tasty as jeera rice cooked with any short grain rice. You have to try it to believe it. And if it is served with a kadhi, it becomes a comforting meal that is light on the system. The kadhi I am talking about is made using peanuts. Fasting foods are made using a limited number of ingredients but that doesn't mean it has to be boring and bland, or repetitive by any means.

So now you can enjoy kadhi chawal during fasting days as well, this recipe of peanut kadhi makes yummy kadhi and the tempering doesn't make you realize it is not the real thing. You would end up slurping the last bits believe me.

Recipe of sama ke chawal ka jeera rice...

(2 meal servings)
3/4 cup sama ke chawal
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp or more black peppercorns
pinch of salt
1 tsp ghee
1.5 cup hot water


Heat the ghee in a pan and add the cumin and black peppercorns. Add the pinch of salt and the washed and drained rice. No need to soak the rice.

Dry fry the rice just for about 30 seconds stirring constantly, add the water, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. It gets cooked quickly.

The sama looks slightly sticky at this stage, is al dante too, cover and let it cook further in it's own heat after taking the pan off heat. After about 10 minutes you can fluff up the rice using a folk. It fluffs up nicely with each grain looking separate. Khila khila as we call it.

Do start with the kadhi as soon as you cover the lid to simmer this jeera rice.

recipe of the peanut kadhi....

(for 3 servings)
3/4 cups soaked peanuts (I used sprouted)
2 green chilies
an inch piece of root ginger
salt (pink salt or sendha namak) to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 cup very sour yogurt

Tempering to be done to finish the kadhi.. 
1 tbsp ghee, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp red chilly powder.


Make a paste of the kadhi ingredients without adding any water, no need to peel the peanuts.

 Pour this paste in a kadhai or deep pan. Add 3 cups of water and start simmering on medium heat, stirring all the while till the first boil comes. Lower the flame to very low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

For tempering, heat the ghee in a ladle or small pan, add cumin and wait till the cumin splutters. Add the red chilly powder and take the pan off heat. Pour the tempering ghee into the cooked kadhi.

This would make a yummy meal for navratri, vary satiating and filling and yet light on the system, detoxifying and cleansing in properties.

I served it with a quick stir fry of potato wedges, carrot batons and zucchini slices that I cooked while the kadhi was simmering. Just with a seasoning of salt and pepper.

I have won accolades for these two recipes and for this particular meal. Have served it on non fasting days too and people have ended up taking third and fourth helpings.

The leftovers reheat well if you are wondering how you will manage if you are fasting alone. Make it for 2-3 days refrigerate in portions, reheat in microwave and serve with different vegetable stir fries on the side. This is what I used to do when I was in research eons ago.

Hope you enjoy having kadhi chawal for your fasting days. I am enjoying a few fasting recipes though I am not fasting and have been eating my fish fries on the side...

Please do let me know if you try the recipe.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

sama ke chawal ki tehri for vrat ka khana | fasting recipe for navratri...

Sama ka chawal or Mordhan as this grain is called in Hindi, the botanical name is Echinochloa colona . A very tasty grain that can replace rice for those who want to eliminate grains from their diet or for fasting days. A tehri is a fried rice or pulao/pilaf like dish that is mildly spiced and requires a side dish like raita and a curry or chutney etc.

This sama ke chawal ki tehri is made with grated carrots. You might like to add some grated coconut as well to add to the taste and texture.

(2 servings)
sama ke chawal 1 cup (soaked for 3 hours or overnight)
grated carrots 1 cup (you can use grated cabbage or even spinach etc)
dry red chilly broken to taste
cumin seeds 1 tsp
curry patta 10 springs
black pepper powder 1 tsp
sendha namak or pink salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
water 2 cups

Fresh lime juice as required (optional, I didn't use)


Heat the ghee in a thick base kadhai or pan or pressure cooker pan (not to be pressure cooked, but the cooker pan is a good utensil to use otherwise too) and tip in the broken red chilies and cumin seeds. Let them splutter. add curry patta and immediately add the grated carrots as well. Add any other vegetable if using.

Stir fry for a couple of minutes or till the carrots wilt. Add salt and the drained sama ke chawal. Add the measured amount of water, mix everything well and cook covered on low flame. It cooks just like rice so check after 5-6 minutes and turn off the heat if the grains have absorbed all the water and have become al dante'. Keep covered for a while as it cooks on even after taking the pan off the flame.

Serve with raita and any curry or chutney on the side. Add fresh lime juice if required.

 I served it with zucchini raita and a quick paneer methi malai which is a fasting recipe too. I also had a little angoor ki chutney on the side. It was a yummy satisfying meal, full of varied flavors. Fasting food doesn't need to be boring and dull. You can always cook it interestingly.

Cheers for the new year and Navratra...

Monday, April 15, 2013

kuttu ki khichdi lauki tamatar ke saath | buckwheat khichdi with bottle gourd and tomatoes...

Kuttu ki khichdi is more like a stew that you can cook in about 20 minutes if all the vegetables are chopped. So technically it may be a buckwheat and bottle gourd stew with some bits of paneer for protein in the meal. A khichdi should have a grain and a lentil or more than one grain and lentils if we talk about authentic khichdi, but buckwheat groats can become almost khichdi like in consistency when cooked with a little extra water. Though it cooks like a pilaf as well.

Anyways, this dish is more like a one pot stew that can make a complete meal. We had it with a fish fry on the side as we are not into Navratri fasting anymore, but a large serving of raita or buttermilk will complete this meal if you are fasting.

You can use any gourd family vegetables to make this stew, sponge gourd and ridge gourd work well and zucchini also can be used for a good texture and mild taste that does not mask the nutty flavors of buckwheat. I used a soft bottle gourd of the round variety and some home grown tomatoes..

Buckwheat groats can be cooked with just the double amount of water volume wise to cook like pilaf and if the cooking liquid is more, the texture of the resultant dish is more risotto or stew like.

(2 meal servings with a side dish or raita)

chopped bottle gourd 5 cups (400 gm)
chopped ripe tomatoes 1.5 cup (150 gm)
finely chopped root ginger 1 tbsp
whole dry red chilly one broken
finely chopped green chilies to taste
curry powder (everyday curry powder) 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
ghee 1.5 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp

buckwheat groats 3/4 cup
paneer 100 gm chopped in small cubes


Heat ghee in a pressure cooker pan (or a normal stockpot type pan) and tip in the cumin seeds. Let the cumin splutter before you add the red chilly broken and then the chopped ginger. Once cooked and fragrant, add the powdered spices and immediately add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook this mixture till the tomatoes cook well and look like a chunky sauce.

Add the chopped bottle gourd (lauki), toss well and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Stirring it all once in a while. Add 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. 

Add the buckwheat groats, mix well and cover the lid and pressure cook till the first whistle  If cooking in a stock pot, let it simmer covered till the buckwheat gets cooked. Add water if required to adjust consistency.

Add the cubed paneer and let it come a boil once again. Or just mix and cover if you want the khichdi  on the dry side.

Add finely chopped green chilies and coriander leaves if using.

Serve hot with raita or buttermilk on the side. The meal might look drab in color but the flavors are really good. Use the vegetable of your choice if you don't like bottle gourd but this meal becomes a detox type meal with bottle gourd used. Zucchini or pointed gourd (parval) would also be the same but any other vegetables would change the temperament of the meal a little.

Not to worry, all vegetables have their own benefits, so go ahead and cook this with spinach or a mix of bell peppers if you wish. Just take care not to mask buckwheat if you like the nuttiness of buckwheat.

This could be a daily meal during Navratri with changed vegetables and seasoning every day. Do let me know if you try this recipe.

Cheers and wishing you all a wonderful Hindu new year...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

rasse wali paneer bhurji | a curried paneer scramble that can be your dinner soup...

Paneer bhurji is a scramble cooked quickly using paneer and some onion, tomatoes and herbs. I have done Amritsari paneer bhurji from a cookbook and keep scrambling paneer all the time for convenience.

Basically a quick fix meal or a side dish or even a sandwich filling. Every home has it's own recipe of paneer bhurji with additives like bell peppers, spinach, green peas  or sometimes kasoori methi or fresh methi greens thrown in. I myself depend on such combinations many times when I have to stir up a simple and quick lunch box for the husband.

The dry version can be made using regular store bought paneer or homemade fresh paneer that just gets ready while you are chopping and stir frying your onion and tomatoes etc. It is the gravy version of paneer bhurji that requires a little different approach. The paneer in this case, is not sieved like home made paneer, but just collected from the whey and directly put into the cooking bhurji. The result is a perfectly creamy half curdled paneer into a rich and flavorful curry.

Read on, this is a pictorial step by step recipe so you would know how to go about it exactly the way I did...


full cream milk 1 Liter (to make paneer)
yogurt 1 heaped tbsp to curdle the milk

diced red onions 1 cup
sliced ripe tomatoes (preferably desi tomatoes) 2.5 cup
finely chopped garlic 1 tbsp
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp
finely chopped green chilies to taste
kashmiri red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
coriander powder 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1/2 tsp
ghee 1.5 tbsp


Heat the milk till it reaches just about to the boiling point, add the yogurt and stir. Take the pan off the flame and let it stand. The milk curdles partially and keep curdling till you prep up the other ingredients.

Now heat the ghee in a deep pan (kadhai) and tip in the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies and red onions ...

Stir fry these till the onions get translucent, add the powder spices and salt to taste and mix well for about a minute. Then add the sliced tomatoes ..

Cook till the mixture looks like this...

Now sieve the curdled paneer and add to the cooking mixture, without waiting for the whey to drip, this way some of the whey is also added to the curry ..

The curry turns a little watery, mix well and simmer till it reaches the consistency you like...

Garnish with freshly chopped coriander greens...

Serve hot with chapati and some salad...We had this mooli ka acchar with this meal...

This rasse wali bhurji makes a truly soulful food, it can be served with plain parathas or like a hearty soup if you wish. I would love some garlic bread with this bhurji as well.

It makes a good curry for a large crowd too, in that case you would like to use freshly made regular paneer, crumbled nicely and added to the curry along with some fresh milk to make it soft while it cooks further.

Add some green peas if you have them fresh and nice. No frozen peas please.
You could add some kasoori methi as well if you love it that way.
It is the melt in the mouth type paneer that makes this recipe special  seasoning and other flavors can be adjusted to suit your taste.