Mar 29, 2012

Spinach Adai (Rice & Lentil Crepe)

Spinach is a beautiful thing. 

And I'm not even talking about all the wonderful health benefits of this supreme super food. You all should know it by now. If not, Google it today and educate yourself. 

I'm talking about how often the beauty and versatility of Spinach is undervalued. One of the great things about Spinach is that it does not have a very distinct flavor or taste. Which means, it can be easily blended with other foods. And this could be anything from smoothies to soups to lasagnas or to baby food. 
Forget food, there is even a recipe for a glowing and anti aging face mask made with spinach puree. Nature has all the answers - we just need to match those up with our questions. 

I've kind of started making a lot of spinach blended food at home. That recently included parathas, rice, sauces for pasta, and now of course this beautiful and nutritious adai. 

This adai uses rice and two types of daals - channa and toor daal. 

Here are the ingredients -
Rice - 1 cup
Toor Daal (Split Pigeon Pea)- 1/3 cup
Channa Daal (Yellow Split Pea)- 1/3 cup
Fresh Spinach - 1 bunch cleaned thoroughly
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Red Chillies - 3-4
Coriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Fresh Coconut - chopped or grated 1/4 cup

For tadka:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Channa Daal - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - a few

Wash and soak the rice and daal together for about 2-3 hours.

Pick the spinach leaves off the stems and wash the leaves thoroughly.

In a pan, heat up about 1/2 tsp of oil. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red chillies and black pepper. Fry for a few seconds and add the fresh spinach in there. Cook for just a min or two until the spinach kind of wilts and shrinks. Don't overcook the spinach - let's try and keep some vitamins in here.

Here's the soaked rice and daal. The daal will be soft to touch now.

Move the cooked spinach and soaked rice/daal to a blender. Add the 1/4 cup of coconut. You can use grated frozen coconut or can use the fresh one as well. For a change, I had fresh coconut chopped up at home. So,in here they go. If you don't mind spicy food and got no kids complaining about it - go ahead and throw in a couple of green chillies in here. Add salt to taste.

Grind together to a beautiful green batter.

Do a tadka of mustard seeds, curry leaves and 1 tsp channa daal and add to the batter. Mix well.

Use a ladle full of batter and make a thin dosa like crepe. Usually adais are done really thick and they become very heavy to eat. Somehow I like to make them thin - just make sure your batter is smooth enough so you can draw it out thin.

Serve 'em hot.
Coconut Chutney makes a good side accompaniment for this adai. You could also make sambar if you'd like or avial which goes really well with all types of adais.

How can your kids say no to spinach this way? Make use of it! You can also add some grated carrots or finely chopped onions to the batter for a more wholesome adai. Be creative - make it all uniquely yours.

Can we have dinner now? My crispy adais are waiting..

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Mar 19, 2012

Brownie Pops

Lollipops are a girl's favorite thing.

Brownie Pops are her mom's favorite thing. Really.

And that mom is not just me. That mom is you and your friend and her friend and her friend's friend and anybody else who've eaten one of these delicious easy little dessert. 


Cake pops are good. Agree. But brownie pops are better. Simple reason is that brownies are any day better than cakes. Why waste so much air when you can condense that goodness into smaller bites, right? Now you can even condense it further!And somehow it becomes even more good. 

Start off with one of the best boxed brownie mixes - the Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix. I swear, you can feed me a tray of these and I can spill all my secrets as I intoxicate myself with each brownie. By the time I'm done with my last one on the tray, you will know what I did last summer. This stuff is just plain real good. 

Make a tray of this brownie.

I can just finish the post right here with this wrinkled son of a brownie!

But no, I won't.

Since I feel a little lazy today, I'm going with boxed frosting as well.

Some people suggest to put the whole box of frosting to make pops. But unless you want heartburn from sweet, don't do that. That's just way too much sugar. I take a big scoop out of the can - about 1/4 of the frosting in the can.

Microwave the frosting for about 30 seconds or until you can see flowing frosting.

Now mix the brownies and the frosting together. Remember not to add the crisp edges of the brownies. There is a better option you can do with the crisp edges - eat them!

Make little balls out of the brownie frosting mix. Unlike me, you can try and keep them all the same size.
Once this is done, move these balls to the fridge for a couple of hrs. Or you can even do them overnight. Keep em' covered in the fridge so they don't dry out.

Insert lollipop sticks into each ball.

I used Wilton Candy melts - melt them on a double boiler until they are flowy and easy to dip in. Now, you can use microwave as the packet suggests too - but with my experience, somehow microwave melting of chocolate never happens good. I always tend to screw it up and it turns out lumpy for me if I melt them in the microwave. I always prefer to melt chocolate on the stove top.

Pick each stick and swirl them around in the melted candy and gently tap off excess and let them set. Because the brownie balls are cold, it helps the chocolate set easily on top of them.

I found my colander the best place to let them sit to set fully. The holes at the bottom of the colander serve as perfect place holders. You don't need a fancy gadget to do this. Another thing you can use is a steamer - the type that usually comes with your rice cooker - the ones with the polka dot holes.

And of course I need color right? I was making these for a bunch of girls - so picked some purple for them!

Go crazy on the designs. You can use a ziploc bag or a little piping tool to draw lines or designs. Or just polka dots. Or maybe if you're like me in designs, your polka dot might look more like the medieval spear.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun making these.

And let your kids have fun making them too - my little one had a blast drawing all kinds of lines on top of the brownie pops. Don't worry about the mess - just indulge them! Keep a few plain and decorate the others - this provides a nice contrast.

This is actually my favorite picture of them all!

Go ahead. Pick one.

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Mar 8, 2012

Badam Kheer

What are you favorite memories of attending weddings in India? Is it the bride and groom, or the emotional parents, or the throngs of people who visit, or the so called melodious music blaring on loudspeakers, or all the beautiful clothes that everyone wears and of course the jewelry, or that cute boy who stares at you while you are not staring at him, (or so he thinks), or that hideous aunty who surely wants to ask your parents all details about your education and gothram so that she will be the first one to suggest an alliance to her ladies club president for her son who apparently just got his first job with Microsoft.  (of course the cute boy staring at you has no idea and has never been anywhere near Microsoft - but he is cute indeed) Phew. So many complications at weddings.

But there is one simple thing I remember that is worth remembering. The food. Forget the big spread of rice, sambar, rasam, mor kuzhambu, podimas, poriyal, kootu, oorga, appalam etc...skip all that and get straight to dessert. Badam Kheer. Wedding Style Badam Kheer. 

I swear I dream about this stuff at times -this is absolutely one of my favorite desserts to complete a nice South Indian lunch. I've tried to make this many times but end up using a lot of almonds and making it thick and sometime ending up even eating it with a spoon. So, now I learnt the right way to making it as it is done in wedding. Watery, yet tasty and the flavor of almond in every sip. And its got the magic biteable seeds in there - the charoli seeds. I always called it the badam kheer seed - because the only time I used to eat this was at weddings. 

Take about a handful of almonds. Blanch them in hot water.

Peel the almonds and grind it with a little milk until you get a almost smooth paste.

Heat a pan in medium heat and move the paste to the pan. Fry for a min taking care not to burn the paste.

Add 2 -3 cups of milk and mix well. Let this boil for about 5-8 mins.

Add 3/4 cup of sugar for 2 cups of milk. Use this proportion if you are making more.

And here comes the beauty. Saffron. A few strands - a lot of oomph. Dissolve a few strands in a tbsp ok warm milk.

When the kheer is almost done, add the saffron strands in and mix well.

And here's how a regular badam kheer becomes a wedding style badam kheer. Charoli seeds.

Take a tbsp of charoli seeds and fry them in ghee till they turn golden and puff up a little.

Add to the badam kheer and mix well. Can you see the consistency - this way you can drink it out of a cup. And don't even bother to wait for it to cool down - there is a specific pleasure that has to be experienced when drinking super hot badam kheer from a cup. Try it and you'll know what I mean.

Of course, share it with everyone in your family and spread the joy.

I'm all done here - but which one of you is getting married soon? Invite me and I'll be there to taste this in your wedding!

Enjoy. Peace Out!