Dec 5, 2012

White Pumpkin and Garbanzo Kootu

Gosh I miss this space so much! Its been a long time since I've been here and updated you with what's cooking in my kitchen. If any of you want to give me a good Christmas gift, give me a clone of myself so I could make that one post a recipe every other day. 

The holidays are already here and I still can't believe the year is almost up. Where did the time go? 
My little one turned one last month and it seems like she was just born. She is completely mobile you can imagine how my life has become. She seems to be climbing on everything and everywhere. Anything that is inside a cabinet at her level is thrown out all the time. She seems to especially love the noise with which metal hits the wood floor. Yes, my life is noisy and messy but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. 

This recipe is for a simple side dish to go with rotis or even to mix with rice. My mom makes this quite often for us. If there's a veggie that can be made into a kootu, we'd have kootu that day. Some kootu's have cooked daal in them and some don't. This is of the latter variety. And that make this an easy recipe with not much prep work needed. 

Start with some white pumpkin - I miss the fresh cut wedges that are available back in India. This is how we get them here. Little blocks wrapped in plastic with a bar code and price on top.

Remove all the seeds and cut the veggie into small chunks.

Also, get the channa ready. I used a canned version which does not require any soaking. If you are using the dried version, it will need to be soaked and pressure cooked first...which makes this a little more difficult recipe.. all I use to measure difficulty is to see how many dishes you'll have to clean at the end of cooking!

In a small pan, add about 1 tsp of oil and let it heat up. When the oil is hot, add 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds and a few fresh curry leaves.

Add the chopped pumpkin pieces in and fry for a min. Then add a pinch of turmeric and salt and then add water enough to cover the veggies.

Add the soft garbanzo to the pan along with the pumkin. Mix well and let this cook together until the pumpkin pieces are tender and soft.

While that is cooking, let's make the seasoning paste. This is what is going to add all the flavor in the kootu.

Dry roast all these ingredients below until the aroma wafts out and then add them to a mixer to make a paste.

Channa Daal - 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 2 tsps
Methi Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/4 tsp
Red Chillies - dried - about 2-3
Grated Coconut - about 1 heaped tsp

Grind everything together with a little water to make a smooth paste.

Once the pumpkin is cooked tender, add the paste to the kootu and mix well.

Let this cook in simmer for about 5 mins.

To top off with a tadka, add a tsp of ghee and when its hot, add some Shah Jeera or regular jeera to the ghee and 1 or 2 red chillies and 1/4 tsp of whole urad. As soon as it sizzles, pour on top of kootu and mix well.

And its ready for you now. Are you ready for it?

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Sep 25, 2012

Ragi (Finger Millet) Roti

Ragi or Finger Millet is a power filled and protein rich food. This is many times made as a breakfast porridge. If you travel to remote villages in India, the farmers have this for breakfast so they have a whole bountiful of energy to get through farming and walking all day in the fields. I've also heard from the wise old people that eating this regularly helps in maintaining strong knees and legs. So, if you're planning to get old and wise, start eating this now. 

Ragi roti, is an easy recipe to start with if you are new to this grain. These are just flat breads, spiced up with flavorful seasonings. I don't even need a side dip or dish to eat this with. Just love to bite them and  chow them down. 

Start with about 2 cups of ragi flour. Add about 1/2 cup each of regular atta and 1/2 cup of rice flour. The rice flour helps to make the rotis crispy.

Here's all these seasonings that go in the roti.

Chopped Onions - 1 cup
Chopped green chilli - about 2-3 chopped finely
Chopped Ginger - about 2 tsps
Chopped Cilantro - a small bunch (you can only see a little on my chopping board ..please take a little bit more than this)

In a small pan, add about 2 tsps oil. When the oil is hot, add all of these following ingredients -

Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chopped green chilli
Chopped ginger
Chopped onions

Saute the onions till they are cooked and turn soft.

Mix all the cooked onions and the other seasoning to the flour mix. Add salt to taste.

Finally add the chopped cilantro and mix well.

Adding water, a little at at time, make a stiff dough out of the flour.

Take a small portion, roll it into a ball and flatten it on a greased ziploc sheet. Ragi could get sticky and so you don't want to do it on a rough surface and have a big mess.

Apply a little oil on your hands and press down the flour into a round shape...well, almost round in my case.

Heat both sides on a tawa till the dough is cooked. Add a few drops of oil on top (not a lot, remember - we're trying something healthy here!)

And then...wait..we're done. Nothing else to do. Except eating of course. I don't think you'll need my help with that.

This would go great with a side of chutneys or even daal. Try some spicy tomato thokku with this. What are your favorite sides to go with this if you are a ragi regular. Let me know. 

Enjoy making it and enjoy a healthy meal. Give it to your kids as well and they would not even know how much goodness they are eating. 

Enjoy. Peace out!

Sep 11, 2012

Pudina (Mint) Paratha

Hello to all my friends out there. I missed you all much. And hope you did miss me too. 

I just came back from a crazy hectic vacation in India - traveled to almost 9 cities across India with a 9 month and a 7 year old and of course my hubby dear. But we all enjoyed every bit of it - I wish it was a longer trip and I could have done so much more and met so many other friends. To all my friends that I could not meet - so sorry..will make it up next time! And even without you asking, yes, I did eat a lot of wonderful food across all the cities. Will write a post dedicated to some of my favorite foods in India - at least the ones I was able to take pictures on. 

Meanwhile, here's a recent favorite recipe of mine. Actually recent meaning, when the fresh mint plant started growing crazy in my backyard, this dish presents itself quite often in our house. It takes just a few minutes to make. And sometimes when I'm extra lazy, i don't have to make a side to go with this. This tastes great by itself or with achhar (pickles) and yogurt. 

Ingredients Required - 

Atta - 2 cups
Fresh ground Cumin and Coriander Seed powder - a couple of tsps
Green Chillies - 2 finely chopped
Ginger - about 1/2 tsp grated finely
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Boiled and grated potatoes - 1 big potato or 2 small ones
Fresh mint - 1 big bunch chopped finely.
White Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Water - to make the dough

Start with regular atta. Add all the seasoning above. Finally cut the mint into small bits and add to the atta. I add oil to the dough itself - it helps in keeping the parathas soft for a long time - also, this way I don't need to add a lot of ghee or oil while making the parathas. 

Boil a couple of small potatoes separately and grate them to small bits. Add this to the other ingredients.

Here's the fresh mint just plucked from my backyard. Wash the leaves thoroughly and then pluck out just the leaves and discard the stems. Hint: if you have a sink erator at home, discard some of the tender stems and run the motor - your whole sink would smell fresh and nice! No fancy chemicals needed. 

Once you've added all the ingredients, either using your hand or a electric motor, add water a little at a time and make a soft dough out of it.

Doesn't the dough look pretty itself?

Take medium sized balls of the dough and roll out into a not too thick- not too thin paratha.

Heat the paratha on both sides until cooked. Add a couple of drops of oil on top of the paratha before you flip it over. For richer parathas, add ghee. Theres' no stopping you eating all of them then. Don't blame me.

Enjoy some warm and full of goodness pudina parathas!

Next time you find good fresh mint leaves, you know what to do.

Enjoy. Peace out!

Jul 31, 2012

Zuka (Choco-La) - Pondicherry

You all know how much I love chocolate. I wish I can live in a place filled with chocolates. I wish I can dig my hands deep into chocolate and carve out beautiful things out of them. I wish I can stay around chocolate all day and always smell chocolate. I wish I can make a statue of liberty with chocolate and just stare at her beauty. I wish all my love for chocolate will make me so happy that I'll be ok to actually share it with others.

I just wish all this.

But I have a friend who loves his chocolate a little more than me...and he really lives this life I only talk about here. He has his own beautiful place filled with chocolates. He and his chocolate lab friends dig deep into their chocolate and create marvels out of it. He gets to stay at this chocolate place all day - laughing and smiling and smelling choocolate. And yes, he actually has made a Statue of Liberty and he and everyone else got to stare at it all day( I got to stare at it on FB too). And he is so nice coz he even shares all his chocolate. If my chocolate dream had a name, it probably will be Srinath Balachander, the young and vibrant owner of Pondicherry's Zuka (formerly called Choco-La)

Go visit him and he'll welcome you with chocolate flowers.

And maybe with some more chocolate.

Here's his beautiful store at Pondicherry. A must stop destination if you ever visit Pondicherry. And if you happen to live there, just go right away and get some chocolate. Its a tough choice to pick a favorite. But maybe give it all a try.

Try some pastries.

Or just super pretty little somethinssss...

Or maybe a big whole Taj Mahal. (Hint to all men your wife's shahjahan and at least get her this...)

If you don't want to eat chocolate, do drink some. How about a spiced up chilli chocolate drink - I heard this is quite famous here.

Maybe so famous that it attracts the biggies...look who came to eat some chocolate..

Can you guess...He's gorgeous even when you can't see him really.

Dhoni of course....Thank God he is much handsomeness should never be wasted without the whole world seeing it. Can you imagine, sitting with Dhoni and sipping on some hot chilli chocolate - that would be my Super lotto win.

Well..this bought him there. All made with Chocolate of course.

Even Dhoni will have to pay his respects to this little Universal Wonder below. Thalaiva.. Vanakkam.

Who says fruit cake is boring? Look how much fun they have making fruit cake. 

If this were me, the spoon would be at another angle - one facing my mouth.

His updated place Zuka now serves spicy and savory fare in addition to all this gorgeous sweetness. From Enchilladas to Sandwiches and Wraps..oh I wish I could show up there for lunch everyday. 

What are you waiting for? If you live in Pondicherry, just go over now. If not, just take the train and go over there now.

Let's meet there for a cup of chocolate. I mean, literally.

Srinath - wish you the very best in your labor of love. Hoping I can visit you soon and enjoy all this!

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Disclaimer: All the above pictures are not taken by me. These are all pictures shared on Srinath's Facebook Page and have been copied with his permission.