Thursday, June 22, 2017

Masur Dal With Roselle Leaves

Masur dal with roselle leaves

In the garden of my childhood, one small portion was set aside for the roselle plant. The tart leaves usually went into dal and with the red fruit. I remember my mother making jelly. And so beautiful it was with the red so vibrant. Since the plants were always in our backyard, during its season, roselle was treated like any other locally available greens. I was surprised to see it termed as one of the super foods by Rujuta Diwekar, India's leading nutritionist, in her book Indian Super Foods.
Rich in folic acid and iron, it also helps in stimulating the stomach and cleans the intestines. During the rainy season, leaves are a breeding ground for micro-organisms. However, the roselle remains unaffected and it makes it safe for us to consume it. I remember once my help refused to have cooked vegetable fern during this season. He told me that certain leaves are not eaten during the rainy season because leeches lay eggs on them. Yikes!
In my mother tongue, we call it theklou. In Assamese, it's tengamora. Ambadi in Maharashtra and gongura in Andhra. The list goes on. In fact one of the most famous roselle dishes must be 'gongura pachadi'.

Dal with roselle leaves:
1/3 cup masur dal
Water as needed
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
One bunch roselle leaves. washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 dry red chillies, snapped off in the middle
A quarter tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp mustard oil
You can add more spices here if you want. But I kept it simple and it was still good!

Wash and soak the dal for about 10 minutes.
Put dal and water in a pressure cooker. I used my smallest cooker. 
Add turmeric powder and salt.
Cook till one whistle goes off.
Let the steam go off.
In a pan, heat the oil. When it comes to smoking point, throw in the cumin seeds and the chillies. 
Remove the chillies if you like. They can be added again later,
Add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown.
Add the chopped roselle leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.
Pour the hot dal into the pan and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
Switch off the flame and transfer the dal to a serving bowl.
This goes well with rice and one or two more accompaniments.


Some of the leaves will be added to fish curry but the other day, I used some tender ones in mint chutney. Mint chutney needs a souring agent and we usually use lemon juice or tamarind pulp or tender mangoes (when in season) but using roselle is another option. What do you say?
Other roselle posts on my blog:

Roselle Chutney
Life Would Be Bland Without Chutney

Thank you so much for stopping by today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mango Panna

Mango panna

One of the most refreshing drinks to beat the heat is this drink made from unripe green mangoes. It's almost the end of the season for green mangoes and the markets are already getting flooded with ripe ones. A vegetable vendor came selling mangoes and a whole lot of leafy greens yesterday and the first thought that came to my mind was, aam panna. The mangoes were about to ripen which is why the drink looks more yellow than pale green. 

Ingredients:
4 unripe mangoes
Rock salt/kala namak
Toasted and powdered cumin seeds
Sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Plenty of mint
Ice cubes
Mango panna
You can use regular ice cubes but I wanted to infuse more flavour in the drink. So I ground a bunch of mint and added some water, pepper, toasted and powdered cumin and rock salt, This mixture went into an ice tray to be turned into minty ice cubes.

Method:
Wash and cook the mangoes with very little water in a pressure cooker. I used a small cooker and waited till the third whistle.
After the steam goes off, take the cooked mangoes out, discard the water and let them cool down.
Once cooled, peel off the skin and take out the pulp. Discard the seeds.
Place the pulp in a blender and blend till smooth.
Transfer the pureed mango to a large bowl/jug and add the sugar (I used sugar syrup that I had in the fridge), salt, cumin powder, pepper powder.
I have not mentioned the quantity of these ingredients as it's to do with personal preferences. For the sweetener, you could use honey or jaggery also.
At this point you could add water and serve in individual glasses or store in the fridge so that the mix is ready and the drink can be made by adding water as and when required. I made mine thick so four mangoes (medium-sized) produced only six glasses of juice.
Add the ice cubes and enjoy! Add more fresh mint if you like.
Mango panna

The minty flavourful ice cubes took the drink to another level. And when the ice melted, the drink took a greenish tinge, more like the colour that we are accustomed to when we think about 'aam panna'.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Purslane Pancakes With Tomato & Apple Chutney

Purslane pancakes

It's that time of the year when weeds thrive in the garden. And some are edible. Like the common purslane/Portulaca oleracea. And because they are acidic, only a small amount is needed, whether they are added to other vegetables or to dal. Purslane is said to contain more Omega 3 acid than any other leafy vegetable. It is also rich in antioxidants. The only caution needed to be taken is that because of its high presence of oxalic acid, people who are already suffering from kidney stones should avoid it.

This image that I had used in one of my purslane posts earlier sums up this season. The sunset bells have started to bloom and this is when the edible weeds sprout in nooks and crannies with its many-stemmed and succulent leaves. Because of its mucilaginous quality, it is used in soups and stews. Sometimes when I get help in weeding I usually ask my helper about how they eat/cook commonly available food. Most of them have the same answer...added to dal and other vegetables.
Other purslane posts on my blog.
Fish & Purslane Fritters
Purslane & Corn Salad
Surfing the internet for more purslane recipes, I came across these pancakes here. I made my own adjustments.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
A small bunch of purslane, washed and chopped
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
Dash of pepper
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Pinch of baking soda
Vegetable oil to fry
Purslane

Method:
I mixed the egg and milk together. In another bowl I mixed flour with baking soda, pepper and salt. Then water was added and mixed. When no lumpy bits remained, this was added to the milk/egg mixture. To this, the chopped purslane was added.
This was beaten well and fried in a non-stick pan. I used a ring mould for the pancakes to hold their shape. When one side was done, it was flipped over and cooked till done.
From this batter, I got four mini pancakes.
To go with the pancakes I made a hot and sweet chutney. I could have used chillies in the pancakes but since the chutney was intended to be hot, I only added a bit of black pepper to the batter.
This is like the regular chutney that is popular in our part of the country. I added an apple to make it slightly different.
Tomato & Apple Chutney

3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped and drizzled in a bit of lemon juice
10-15 raisins, soaked in warm water
7-8 dates, pitted and sliced
A few cashew nuts
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Demerara sugar as per taste
2 tbs mustard oil
1/2 tsp panch puran

Heat the oil in a pan and when it comes to smoking point, throw in the panch puran.
Add the chopped apples and tomatoes and continue to cook.
Add the chilli powder and turmeric,
Cook till the apples are soft and the tomatoes turn mushy.
Then add the dates and raisins.
Add the sugar and cook till it melts. That's when the chutney will look good.:)
Add the nuts, give it a good stir and remove from the flame. Transfer to a serving dish.
Optional: Toasted and ground cumin and coriander powder can be added. Another souring agent like tamarind pulp, dried roselle, or more lemon juice can be added.
The lemon juice I used to drizzle the apples was good enough for me. The balance of sweet and sour was taken care of.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Jackfruit Rendang

Jackfruit rendang

One of the best curries in the world is, no doubt, rendang. I have used chicken, pork and mutton on separate occasions for this dish. But yesterday I used unripe jackfruit for rendang.
Ingredients:
700 grams jackfruit
1 star anise
1-2 tejpatta
1 stick cinnamon broken into two (I had to make do with cinnamon powder as I realized I had run out of cinnamon sticks)
10 dried chillies, soaked
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 cm piece galangal, chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
7-8 garlic cloves
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tender turmeric leaf
6-7 lime leaves
2 tbs curry powder (I used a mix of toasted and ground cumin and coriander)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coarsely grated pepper
2 tsp thick soya sauce
Salt to taste
1 tsp brown sugar
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
1 tbs tamarind pulp
3 cups water
Half a cup of dried coconut
1 cup thick coconut milk (This was freshly squeezed from 1 coconut)

With jackfruit, cutting it is a little messy. I prefer to use a banana leaf to do the needful by placing it on my work top. It is easier to scoop up the discarded portions later. Newspapers can be used instead of banana leaves. Since the fruit oozes a gummy latex when cut, it is best to oil your hands and even your knife. The hard portion right in the middle needs to be removed and the thick rind peeled. Then the fruit is cut into bite-size pieces and boiled till half-done.

Here are some facts from Wiki. 100 grams of raw jackfruit provides about 95 calories and is a good source of antioxidant vitamin C. Jackfruit seeds are rich in protein. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and iron.
Flowers on my galangal plant
Method:
  • Heat a large pan of water. Add some salt and when it starts to boil, add the cut pieces of jackfruit.
  • Cook till almost half done. Drain in a colander and set aside as you start with the spices.
  • Put the soaked chillies, ginger, galangal, lemon grass, garlic and sliced onions in a blender and grind to a paste adding the water from the soaked chillies.
  • Grate about 1/2 cup of coconut. Dry roast till brown. Grind and set aside.
  • Roll up the lime leaves and turmeric leaf and chop them fine.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and throw in the star anise, cinnamon sticks and tejpatta.
  • Add the ground spices and fry till the raw smell goes off.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pepper, curry powder, nutmeg and cloves. Stir.
  • Add the boiled jackfruit and continue to cook till the vegetable is soft but not mushy and well-coated with the spices. Season with salt.
  • Add the tamarind paste and sugar for the balance.
  • Add the soya sauce and stir well.
  • Then add the coconut paste and continue to cook till done.
  • By now the dish will be homogeneous and there will be hardly any water left.
  • Add the thick coconut milk, give it a good stir and remove from the fire.
  • Before serving, scatter some chopped coriander on the dish.
There will be many variations to this dish. After all it is cooked in wide geographical region. Every time I make rendang, I feel that the spices are a bit too much. But adding coconut and coconut milk in the end balances out everything so beautifully. I like it best with rice.
Other rendang recipes on my blog:
Pork rendang
Chicken rendang

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Orange Yogurt Cake


Regular visitors to my space know that I have my limitations with cake and stick to the simplest ones. Here's another one that falls in that category. But when it comes to the taste, it's wonderful. I came across the recipe in Ariana Bundy's book, Pomegranates and Roses.
In the book, she calls it Cakeh Mamani/Grandmother's Yogurt Cake. Lemon zest is added to the mix. I have made that version too but today's post is the orange one. The power went off as soon as the cake went into the preheated oven. It came back after an hour! I thought the result would be disastrous but it was still good. Our state's erratic power supply couldn't beat the love the went into the baking of this cake!!
I made a few adaptations with the measurements.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup caster sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
75 g melted butter+extra for greasing the tin (can be substituted with olive oil or safflower oil)
1 cup full fat yogurt (I strained a 400 g container of yogurt overnight to get 1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Grease a 9" tin with butter. I used a springform tin. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.
A slice of yogurt cake, orange zest/sugar and the tin, ready for the oven

In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the orange zest for a few seconds. This will release the oils from the zest.
Add the eggs and whisk till well-mixed.
Whisk in the butter or oil, vanilla extract and yogurt.
Fold in the flour and mix but do not overbeat.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Take it out of the oven and leave to cool. Don't leave it for long as 'the cake will steam and become gooey'.
Flip the tin over and invert it on a cooling rack.
This is best eaten at room temperature.
Made earlier...with lemon zest
This cake is absolutely delicious! This is the third time I have made it. On two earlier occasions, I had used lemon zest. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mango Shrikhand

Amarkhand/Mango Shrikhand

With mangoes in season, the heat and the humidity is momentarily forgiven!  I have been incorporating a lot of this 'King of Fruits' in my desserts. The most recent one was in shrikhand. This dish comes from the western part of our country and is very popular in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is made with hung curd and the addition of cardamom powder, saffron, sugar and nuts. Where mangoes are added, the dish is called amarkhand. My variation used layers just to make the dessert look more attractive. It's light and very delicious. This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:
400 grams plain curd, drained for about 3 hours
Ground sugar, as per taste
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron
2 ripe mangoes
A few pistachios and almonds, slivered

Method:
Peel the mangoes and chop them. Leave some finer pieces aside for the topping.
Add the powdered sugar to the drained curd and blend.
Transfer the curd to a bowl but leave some in the blender to be mixed with one mango.
Blend one mango with 1/2 tsp sugar and transfer to a bowl.
Blend the second mango with the addition of a bit of sugar. The second mango was darker in colour and sweeter so I used just a bit of sugar.
I wanted a lighter and darker layer in the glasses which is why I went through this process. Regular amarkhand will only need to be blended once. The curd with the mangoes.
Take three serving bowls/glasses.
Place 1 tbs of the pureed mango/curd mixture.
Place a layer of the sweetened curd.
Place another layer of mango and top that with chopped nuts, saffron and chopped mangoes. Chill for an hour before serving.

In this version I used saffron only for the topping. But it can be incorporated in the curd. In that case a teaspoonful of warm milk added to a pinch of saffron and crushed with the back of a spoon will do the needful.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Elaneer Pudding/Tender Coconut Pudding

Elaneer pudding/tender coconut pudding

I had seen recipes of this pudding on blogs but never made it. This dish comes from Kerala, the land of coconuts and is also made in certain areas of Tamil Nadu. The other day as we picked a few tender coconuts from my one and only tree, the thought of this dessert came to mind. I usually use coconut milk and the grated coconut is added to curries and cakes.
The harvest isn't as good as before but I'm glad I can still get a few coconuts from my tree. The dish I made didn't use gelatine or agar agar. This was inspired by Raks Kitchen.
Coconuts on my tree, the reduced milk and coconut water/tender pulp

Ingredients:
1 litre full fat milk
1/3 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup tender coconut pulp
1/2 cup tender coconut water
1 tsp ghee
A pinch of cardamom powder
10-15 cashew nuts
About 4 tbs thick coconut milk

Method:
Pour the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and boil till it is reduced to half its quantity.
In my case I should have stopped a little earlier. The reduced milk was enough for three servings only.
Meanwhile chop up the pulp or put both water and pulp in a blender and grind coarsely.
Set aside a bit of the pulp for decoration.
Add the condensed milk to the reduced milk and give it a good stir.
Add the cardamom and mix well.
Let it come down to room temperature.
Add the coarsely ground mixture to the dish. Chill for a couple of hours.
Heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts till they turn golden brown.
Divide the pudding between three serving bowls. Top with the reserved chopped pulp and scatter the fried nuts.
Take about two teaspoonfuls of thick coconut milk and pour on the surface of the dessert. The coconut milk also came from the same tree.:)

This is best served chilled. And it's best if consumed on the same day.
This is one dish I'll make again. It is so refreshing and I didn't make it really sweet. The combination of milk, a hint of sweetness, the cardamom, and the tender coconut.... is a magical combination.
There are many variations/additions to this dish. The next time I make it, I'll use more tender coconut. I had to make do with what I had at that point of time.

Thank you for stopping by today.