Anjali's Food Kaleidoscope

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.




Vegetable Biryani

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It has always been my endeavour to make food with the readily available things . I want that when you read my recipe and it appeals to you , you can make it right away , or at least it shouldn’t  be a herculean task to procure the ingredients. But at the same time there shouldn’t be a compromise on the taste.
   There are many ways of making “Vegetable Biryani” , but I find this method of making “Vegetable Biryani “ by far the easiest and tastiest. This vegetable Biryani uses the most basic spices and herbs , besides the regular vegetables and yet  the outcome is a delicious and aromatic “Vegetable Biryani”
      I guess by now most of you would be familiar with my fetish for one pot dishes. The present way of living demands that we use as little utensils and time and yet get a fab dish to serve the family. This vegetable biryani  uses just one utensil and if you have a “cook and serve pot” nothing like it. So read on and make some “Vegetable Biryani “for yourself and family and friends.

Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani:

1.  One heaped cup  long grain rice
2.  One and a half  cup  of mixed vegetables cut into small cubes (french beans , carrots and  green peas , can use frozen peas also)
3.  One level cup soya nuggets soaked in two cups water ( optional)
4.  One tej patta
5.  One medium onion sliced thin
6.  One tomato chopped into big cubes
7.  Half a cup coriander leaves plucked but not chopped
8.  One or two green chillies
9.  One inch stick cinnamon
10.  Half a teaspoon shah jeera ( please do not use the regular cumin seeds , if you don’t  have shah jeera omit it but do not use anything in lieu of it )
11.  2-3 cloves
12.  2 black cardamoms
13.  One teaspoon ginger garlic paste
14.  One green cardamon
15.  salt to taste or about one and a quarter teaspoon

Method for Vegetable Biryani:

1. Blend the ingredients from number 7 to 14 with a little water to a smooth paste.
2. Take 3- 6 tablespoons of oil in a heavy based pan , keeping the flame on  a little more than medium add the sliced onions and stir fry till they turn a  brown in colour and are slightly crispy.
3. Add the chopped vegetables and give a toss for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Follow by the tomatoes and the soya nuggets and then the coriander paste.
5. Cook uncovered for about five minutes . Meanwhile wash and rinse the rice.
6. Add three cups water and when the water  boils  for about 2- 3 minutes add the rice  and the Tej Patta  and give a gentle stir,  partly cover the pot and let boil on full flame for about 5-7 minutes. you can add salt at this stage. The water can be kept at 2 ½  cups and if need be a little can be added later on.
7. Reduce the flame to low and cook till the rice is done.
8. Garnish with a few coriander leaves .

9. Enjoy with Tomato and Onion Raita


Tropical Fruit Slush

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Fruit slush is a blend of various fruits with a bit of a kick in it. I will add pineapple to achieve that. I  like the tangy sweetness of fresh pineapples and Goa has plenty of the fruit.
     It is advised to have atleast five varieties of fruits in a day and since it might not be possible all the days of the week due to our hectic schedules to take the time off to peel and cut and chop them which is though the perfect way of eating the fruits, but we can sometimes cut corners and always make a “Fruit slush”.


  You can make a “Fruit Slush “ with a combination of the fruit which will give you a delicious blend of a little tang , creaminess and colour. I have used Banana to get a creamy texture , Pineapple for the kick and Mango and Papaya for the sweetness and colour and of course a dash of lemon juice to complete the numero 5 and also to help the bananas retain their colour. Though it is recommended to add a bit of water or crushed ice in the Slush but I prefer to keep it thick so that the goodness of the fresh fruits isn't diluted. You could add some fruit juice instead of water so that it is easy to have the Fruit Slush with a straw , I would rather have it with a spoon.


So here goes the recipe of the  “Tropical Fruit Slush “. Do make your own thing and share the recipe with all of us. Here is how I made “Fruit Slush “ today.

Ingredients for the “Tropical Fruit Slush “

1.   Two large bananas chopped and tossed in one tablespoon of lime juice
2.   One heapful cup cubed papaya
3.   One heapful cup of cubed Mango
4.   One level cup of cubed Pineapple

Method of making “Tropical Fruit Slush”

Chill the cubed fruits for a little while in the refrigerator.

Pile them up into the jar of the food processor.



Then blend till smooth. Serve immediately and enjoy.


Gazpacho

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 We are living in the age of fusion.There is such a harmonious and beautiful fusion of cultures all around the world , be it in the way of life , clothes , how we keep our homes and of course food. It is a delight to see Indian cuisine liked and cooked in many parts of the world . I have come across so many people via Instagram who cook typical Indian food on a weekly basis. I am impressed.
        Similarly in India we have adopted many international cuisines and they have become a delicious part of our routine meals. Take for example this exotic Spanish dish called Gazpacho.


        I have always wanted to serve something chilled , crunchy and fresh to my guests when I call them over for dinner or lunch during the hot summer months. I was looking forward to something which in not deep fried , light to digest and yet a delight to eat. Something which can be prepared a little in advance so that I have enough time to prepare the other dishes and yet have a bit of a time off before the guests arrive. “Gazpacho” fitted the bill so beautifully that its now a must item on my menu list.
        Gazpacho recipes are wonderfully flexible and I am sure all recipes taste great. I like to make “Gazpacho” this way. This recipe, to my mind is enough for four people if you intend to serve small helpings . 


Ingredients for Gazpacho”

1.             300 ml tomato juice ( I prefer using Real or Tropicana)
2.             450- 500 grams fresh tomatoes , plung in hot water for ten minutes , remove the skins and chop coarsely.
3.             One small sized green bell pepper cubed into big chunks
4.             3 spring onions
5.              4 inch long cucumber , remove skin and seeds and chop coarsely
6.             3-4 small cloves of garlic
7.             1 tablespoon red wine vinegar ( an essential ingredient , but sometimes I skip it if its not available)
8.             1 -2 tablespoons lime juice
9.             1 tablespoon olive oil
10.           Salt and pepper to taste.
11.          ½ teaspoon dried thyme or basil if using fresh then use one heaped teaspoon.
12.          For garnishing the Gazpacho – a 4 inch long cucumber , skin and seeds removed and chopped very fine , a tablespoon each of finely chopped spring onions and green bell pepper  and of course croutons , all of the above or even just croutons works fine.

Method for Gazpacho:

1.   Place all the ingredients of the Gazpacho in a food processor and puree to a coarse texture. Take care not to puree the vegatables too fine , they should still be coarse and visible as tiny chunks.
2.   Place the Gazpacho in a glass bowl in the refrigerator for 2 -6 hours. The longer the Gazpacho chills the more the flavours develop.
3.   Garnish with croutons and finely diced cucumber , green pepper and spring onions.

4.   You could serve the Gazpacho in individual glass or china bowls or even in coffee mugs if it suits your style.


Tropical fruit smoothie

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Every recipe needn’t have the exact measurements. Sometimes one just needs to know the ingredients and then according to ones taste or fancy one can decide how much to put of what and each time come up with a unique new taste till finally one gets the right taste which one likes. I feel this rule applies to smoothies in general. Take for example this one.
All you need for this deliciously fresh and yummy smoothie are a can of Coconut cream, some cubed papaya and pineapple and some crushed ice.              
Just give them a whizz in the blender till they are all  smooth and well mixed  and just pour them in your glasses and treat yourself to the goodness of fresh fruits. Yes ,you can even add some chopped  banana (preferably frozen for four hours in the freezer) for a creamier texture and even cubed mango for added sweetness.

             Just go ahead and do your own thing and enjoy this smoothie how you would like it to be.            




I took a can of  chilled coconut cream of 400ml , two cups  each of cubed fresh pineapple and papaya and a cup of crushed ice and blended them and poured them into tumblers and had the chilled smoothie right after an hour’s swim in the pool. 
You could dilute the coconut cream a bit if you want  the smoothie to be of thinner consistency or even add extra pineapple since that is the only sweet thing.




Chilled Tomato Soup

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Steaming hot temperatures need chilled cold soups to keep body and mind cool and calm. The vegetable markets are teeming with fresh tomatoes and thank Goodness the prices haven’t  soared like the soaring temperatures. Its time to make some Chilled Tomato soup with a hint of mint .


This Chilled Tomato soup should be made in bulk as I can promise you that it will finish in no time . I use fresh tomatoes as a rule so this recipe is with fresh tomatoes but you could use canned ones though I can not promise you the same zing thing which you would get with  the fresh tomatoes.











So here is how we will prepare some ‘Chilled Tomato Soup’

Ingredients for "Chilled Tomato Soup":

1.   500 grams fresh tomatoes
2.   600 ml water
3.   ¼ cup mint leaves ( optional)
4.   Salt to taste

Method for Preparing Chilled Tomato Soup:


   1.   Chop the tomatoes into big chunks and place in a pressure cooker along with the water.
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2.   Place on medium flame and give two whistles. When the steam goes off take thelid off  and let the ingredients come to room temperature.








    3.   Pour the contents in a blender or liquidizer jar of your food processor or mixie and blend till smooth.











 4.   Strain and discard the pulp.
















 5. Add salt to taste and chopped or whole mint leaves and store in glass jugs or how ever you find it convenient. But do remember to give a stir before pouring into the glasses for drinking as the thick contents of the chilled tomato soup settle at the base.
           Enjoy the Chilled Tomato soup.



 
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