Anjali's Food Kaleidoscope

Lauki sabzee / Bottle gourd Sabzee

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I have sweet memories associated with this simple and humble vegetable. This vegetable reminds me of hot summer days when my mother wouldn’t feel like cooking an elaborate lunch and neither would we have the appetite for a heavy meal. We would just quickly chop this vegetable into big chunks and pile it in the pressure cooker along with  onions and tomatoes , some ginger and garlic , green chillies  and a little oil or better still home made butter. It would take a few minutes to cook and we would have it with rice and wash down the whole meal with a chilled glass of minted buttermilk. Somehow I have never made Bottle gourd any other way except this one. I like the light green chunks of the vegetable , cooked yet firm , with little dots of tomatoes and of course the green specks of freshly chopped Coriander leaves .The home made butter gives it a delicious flavor though oil or ghee are equally good. The best thing about piling the vegetables in one go is that one can cook with very less    oil / ghee .

Ingredients:

1.           One medium sized about  500              -750 grams Bottle Gourd
2.           One medium onion sliced long and        thin
3.           Two medium fresh tomatoes                chopped
4.           One or two green chillies chopped fine
5.           ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
6.           One teaspoon ginger garlic paste /        one teaspoon each chopped                ginger and garlic
7.           1- 3 tablespoon home made                butter / cooking butter / Ghee / any refined vegetable oil
8.    Salt to taste
9.           ¼ teaspoon Garam masala
10.           Two tablespoon fresh chopped coriander leaves

        Method:



Pile all the ingredients from 1 to 8 in a pressure cooker . 











Give a good toss to evenly distribute the vegetables and spices.

 Give one or two whistles on medium flame till the vegetables are cooked but not mashy. Garnish with coriander leaves and Garam masala. Goes best with rice , but rotis is a good choice too.

Methi Muthia / Fenugreek Slice

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Methi Muthia is a delicious snack from the state of Gujarat, India. Tiny leaves packed with nutrients and minerals, kneaded with flour and then either steamed and seasoned or deep fried……that’s Methi Muthia or as some would like to call it ….Fenugreek slice.
Though Methi Muthia / Fenugreek Slice tastes best when served fresh , but what I like most about this snack recipe is that it can be prepared as and when one has the time and also the fresh ingredients and eventually season the Methi Muthia right before serving which freshens up the recipe and makes it taste as good as  if made right away.


I usually make Methi Muthia the night before my kids have to go to school and then season it in the morning and put it straight into their school Tiffin boxes. Or if I am expecting some guests and I happen to have Fenugreek leaves in my refrigerator then I quickly prepare the Methi Muthia and season it while I am making the tea for the guests. So basically the point I am driving at is that in this age of modern and hectic schedules, one can do a bit of planning here and there and manage to give healthy and nutritious snacks to kids going to school and also serve homemade low calorie but absolutely delicious and finger licking snacks to the guests.


There are many different proportions for making Methi Muthia , but I have come to use these proportions as I find this one tasting the best so far. The beauty of an age old traditional recipe lies in their being so versatile that they can be altered and changed many times over but they taste great always. So here is how I make Methi muthia for my family and friends:


Ingredients for making the Methi Muthia

1.  Two cups Plucked , washed and finely chopped Fenugreek leaves , loosely packed and  then measured in cups
2. One cup whole wheat flour (Aata).
3. One cup gram flour (Besan).
4. One tablespoon fine Semolina.
5. Two teaspoons sugar.
6. Two tablespoons refined oil (I prefer Sunflower Oil).
7. One fourth teaspoon turmeric powder.
8. Half a teaspoon Coriander Powder.
9. One level teaspoon roasted Cumin seed powder.
10.         One tablespoon grated Ginger.
11.         One green chilli finely chopped or more if you like it spicy.
12.         Salt to taste or one and a quarter teaspoon.
13.        Two three tablespoons of curd / yogurt to bind the dough , even water can be used.

For Seasoning the Methi Muthia

1. Three to five Tablespoons of refined oil.
2. Half a teaspoon of mustard seeds.
3. Seven to ten curry leaves.
4. A generous pinch of Asafoetida.
5. One tablespoon of white sesame seeds.

Method of making Methi Muthia / Fenugreek slice

1. Place all the ingredients from one to twelve in a flat basin .













2. Mix the ingredients and then knead with the water or curd.
3. Keep aside while you prepare the vessels for steaming the Methi Muthia.













4. Take a large vessel and place the perforated plate in it and fill up approximately 600 ml of water and keep on medium flame.
5. Grease an aluminium tin big enough to fit into the large vessel.









6. Divide the dough into two and shape into cylindrical pieces and place in the aluminium tin.













7. When the water begins to boil, lower the tin into the vessel and cover and let cook on a little more than medium flame for about 18 – 20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in the dough comes out clean.












8. When the Methi Muthia is cooked, remove the tin from from the vessel and let cool to room temperature.














9. Cut the Methi Muthia into about half an inch thick slices. At this stage the Methi Muthia can be refrigerated to be used later.







For Seasoning the Methi Muthia

10.              Take oil in a heavy based pan and let it get warm on medium flame.











11.              Add the mustard seeds and the moment they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves, asafoetida, sesame seeds and then the Methi Muthia slices one by one.






12.              Toss the Methi Muthia so that the seasonings get coated nicely to all the slices and serve immediately or pack them for school Tiffin or picnic meals.










Palak Dal Bhaji / Spinach and mung beans curry

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In Indian cuisine , Spinach is a very versatile  green leafy vegetable . These bundles of greeny goodness are used in both vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes to impart a delicious tangy twist to the routine preparations as well as in many exotic Gourmet dishes. I mean , you could  add it to a chicken curry and get a scrumptious Palak Chicken  , its added to mutton  recipes , lentils and kneaded in the dough to get brilliant green pooris.
      I have a particular liking for this recipe of Spinach and lentils because there is such a visual appeal in the dark green softened leaves bespeckled with golden grains of lentils just firm enough to stand out yet soft enough to chew. And then it is a one pot recipe and by now most of you who have been following my blog regularly must have realized that I have a fetish for one pot recipes and if the whole dish can be prepared in one go….wow that’s an extra bonus.
      This proportion of the recipe is enough for a family for four , and since it is neither a thin curry nor a dry vegetable preparation it can be enjoyed with either rice  , rotis pooris or even with dinner rolls . 


Ingredients for Palak Dal Bhaji:

1.    125 grams split mung beans
2.    250 grams preferably fresh spinach leaves , otherwise even frozen and thawed are fine
3.    3 - 5 tablespoons of ghee / refined sunflower or groundnut oil
4.    One teaspoon cumin seeds
5.    One medium onion chopped fine
6.    One tablespoon finely chopped garlic
7.    Half a teaspoon ground coriander
8.    One fourth teaspoon turmeric powder
9.    One level teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or  one green chilli chopped fine
10.  One fourth teaspoon Garam masala
11.  Salt to taste

Method for Palak Dal Bhaji:

1.    Soak the mung beans in cold water for about two hours.
2.    Heat the Ghee / oil in a heavy based pan on medium heat.
3.    Add the cumin seeds and as soon as they change colour , add the onions and garlic and stir for 3 – 5 minutes till the onions become soft.
4.    Add the spices beginning with the coriander powder , turmeric and then the Kashmiri Red Chilly Powder , stir for a few seconds and follow up with the drained mung beans.
5.    Stir fry the mung beans for 2- 3 minutes , then add 150 ml of water along with any of the water left in which you had soaked the dal.
6.    Turn the flame on high and when the water begins to boil , reduce the flame to low , cover and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. Check in between and give a stir , add a little water if necessary and let the mung beans cook till  just about soft yet firm and retaining their shape.
7.    Meanwhile chop the spinach holding the leaves one over the other and then making a pipe , so that you get long and flat leaves about a centimeter in width.
8.    When the mung beans are ready as mentioned in step 6 , turn the flame on high and add the chopped spinach leaves and the salt  and keep stirring till the spinach leaves have shrunk and the excess moisture has evaporated. The curry as mentioned above is thick and not thin or watery. Season with Garam Masala and give a stir.

9.    Enjoy it piping hot with Long grain or Basmati rice , Rotis , Plain Paranthas or even Dinner Rolls . A crunchy salad of  mixed chopped Onions , tomatoes ( seeds removed ) and cucumber dressed with fresh cilantro and a dash of lime juice goes well with this dish.

Methi / Fenugreek Paranthas

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Methi Paranthas or Griddle Fenugreek Flat bread is such a delicious blend of the pleasantly bitter taste of Fenegreek leaves kneaded in Whole wheat flour with a few spices added not just to enhance the flavor but also to act as efficient digestive aids . Though The Methi Paranthas can be had as a complete meal with yogurt and pickles in the afternoon as a Lunchtime  meal ,   but it is ideal to have the Methi Paranthas  smeared with a generous amount of butter with a piping hot cup of sweet and spiced tea for Breakfast.
             I add a grated Carrot to the dough as the sweetness of the carrot tones down the bitterness of the fenugreek and also adds a delicious crunch to the  Methi Parantha. The dough of the Methi Parantha can be kneaded by using water , but I prefer Yogurt to make the Fenugreek Paranthas softer and tastier.
   Methi Paranthas taste best when right out of the Hot griddle / Tava , but they also make an excellent outdoor , picnic or a travelling snack. There is a special charm of rolling up  the Methi Paranthas and have with Chai while chatting with the travel companions.

Ingredients  for about a dozen Methi Paranthas:

1.   Three cups of plucked , washed and chopped Fenugreek leaves
2.  Two cups whole wheat flour / atta
3.  Half cup Gram flour / Besan
4.  One medium carrot grated ( optional)
5.  One inch ginger grated
6.  Half a teaspoon of bishop seeds / Ajwain
7.  Half a teaspoon of  roasted cumin seeds powder
8.  Two level teaspoons salt
9.  One green chilli finely chopped or more if you like it spicier
10.  Half a cup of thick yougurt / plain curd at room temperature
11. Refined Sunflower or groundnut oil to fry the Methi Paranthas.

Method for making Methi Paranthas.

1.  Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl preferably a flat based one.



2.  Mix all the dry ingredients and then knead them with the yogurt / curd .















3.  Keep aside for about fifteen minutes to let the flavours of the herbs and spices  infuse and blend. But avoid keep the prepared dough for a long time as the dough will tend to become loose and unmanageable.











4.  Keep the iron griddle on the gas , keeping the flame on medium. And get all the things ready.

5.  Divide the dough into 12 - 13 balls .








 6.  Roll out the dough to less than half a centimeter thickness and dab some oil on it, fold from one side , another coat of oil , and so on till you get a square.






7.  Roll out the square dough  into half a centimeter thick flat shape and put it onto the hot  Gridlle or tava. Turn it over within half a minute and smear this side with a teaspoon or less of the refined oil.


8.  Turn over again and smear the other side with a teaspoon of oil and let one side cook to a golden colour with a few blothches of brown which give a delicious grilled Tandoor flavor and adds to the visual appeal of the Methi Parantha

.9. Since the Methi Parantha takes a while to cook on each side you could roll out the next one and keep it ready.
10.  This dough will yield about a dozen Methi Paranthas , you could halve or double the quantity according to your requirement.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour with some plain Yogurt or Onions raita , or maybe just a dollop of butter.





Upma

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Upma , as simple to make as it to pronounce the name . It’s a typically South Indian Dish made in a variety of ways , each differing slightly from each other but all of them getting a delicious outcome .
        There is a kind of a climax which builds while the Semolina is getting slow roasted in the pan , with a slight aroma coming up and one knows that very soon there is going to be a light , healthy and delicious meal on its way. The spluttering of the Mustard seeds , the fragrance and the swishing sounds when the curry leaves are added to the hot oil , all build up the expectancy which is quite thrilling.
   I have  sweet childhood memories of Upma. My mother would make it often for breakfast or for our School tiffin meals and she would cleverly add a lot of vegetables not just to brighten up the Upma but also to make sure that we have a nice helping of the daily  quota of veggies. In case you do not want the vegetables , they can be absolutely omitted or replaced by peanuts or cashewnuts.
      I have always enjoyed Upma  just as it is though many people feel that a coconut chutney or a spicy pickle  as an accompaniment enhances the taste .



Ingredients for Upma:

1.  One cup semolina / rawa / suji
2.  Two cups water
3.  Two  - three tablespoons oil  (Sunflower oil , Coconut  oil, Ghee or Groundnut Oil )
4.  Half a teaspoon mustard seeds
5.  5-6 curry leaves
6.  One teaspoon each of Chana dal (  Bengal Gram Dal ) and Split Urad dal ( Split Black Gram  )
7.  One medium onion chopped fine
8.  One green chilli chopped fine or more according to your taste
9.  One small carrot cubed into half an inch cubes
10.  Half a cup of green peas ( fresh or frozen )
11.  One tablespoon chopped Coriander or Cilanro Leaves
12.  One tablespoon Lemon Juice to sprinkle ( Can be Omitted )

Method:
1. Take a heavy based pan and dry roast the semolina on low flame , stirring in between , taking care that the semolina roasts evenly to  just about one shade dark, take care that the colour doesn't change to even a light brown. This takes about 5- 7 minutes.
2. While roasting the Semolina you could assemble the other ingredients of the Upma viz,  line up the things in the following order , mustard seeds , followed by the curry leaves , Dals , chopped onions , green chilli , and finally the chopped carrot and the peas.
3. Transfer the roasted Semolina into a bowl and pour the oil of your choice into the same pan.
4. Place the pan on the medium flame and as soon as the oil gets warm that would take about a minute , add the mustard seeds , they will begin to splutter , follow up soon with the curry leaves and then the dals /Lentils .
5. As soon as the lentils change colour to a light golden brown, take care not to make them too brown as they will become too hard to chew and spoil the taste. Add the chopped onions and green chillies. Stir fry the onions for about a minute just enough to soften them a bit .
6. Tumble in the chopped vegetables , give a toss and cover and let the vegetables cook on medium flame till just about half cooked. The Upma tastes best if the vegetables are cooked but yet a bit crunchy.
7. Add two cups water and salt to taste , I suggest about one level teaspoon is enough.
8. Increase the flame to full  and let the water come to a boil , reduce the flame to medium and now while gently stirring the water , slowly add the semolina in a slow flow. You will notice that the Semolina begins to swell and absorb all the water. Keep stirring , and when all the water disappears , turn the gas off and cover .
9. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and a teaspoon of lemon juice and gently break off any lumps to get a even and fluffy Upma.
Enjoy the Upma with a freshly prepared Coconut Chutney , Pickle or simply as it is.




 
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