Tuesday, March 3, 2015

spinach khichdi recipe | detoxing after all the travel food

I have been traveling back to back so much that now I want to be home for some time. It doesn't mean I don't love traveling but the food becomes a bit too overwhelming. Even if I choose the right food I don't find enough fresh greens in my food whenever traveling for some reason. But to tell you the truth, much of it is psychological as I love the simpler home cooked food much more comforting for my system.

Earlier I was in Banaras tasting all the wonderful food both home cooked at our parents' homes as well as the street food. We did a street food trail of Banaras this time to trace the connection between royal cuisine of banaras and the street food. Then I went back to work at Te Aroha, training the chefs, fine tuning the menu and creating recipe cards etc. It was an action packed week there as well. Food in such times become overwhelming when you have to taste 7 types of breakfasts 5 types of lunch and so on. I used to end up having boiled vegetables or khichdi at the end of the day sometimes.

Coming back home I was so glad to see my patch of spinach in the garden greeting me with green abundance. There are a few coriander plants flowering in the patch and Nasturtiums have started making inroads into it too, but spinach is happy with this coexistence. Few Solanum nigrum (black nightshade) plants have come up too and will be used later for cooking.

All I could think of was a plain runny khichdi with spinach once again. Yes this khichdi with spinach is a favourite and I even included this khichdi in the all day menu of Te Aroha. I am revamping the whole menu at Te Aroha, training the chefs and making recipe cards for the kitchen. During trials of the all day menu this spinach khichdi became an instant hit and there were requests to share the recipe. So this post is intended to share it with those who wanted that spinach khichdi recipe too.

Note that this khichdi is made with blanched spinach (dipped in boiling water for a minute and drained immediately to retain colour) which is minced finely after getting cold. I preserve all my surplus spinach this way as it becomes smaller in bulk to be refrigerated or frozen.

Spinach khichdi recipe...

(for 2 servings)

mung daal (split mung skinned) 2 tbsp
masoor daal (skinned red lentils) 2 tbsp
short grained rice 2 tbsp
blanched and minced spinach 1.5 cups
water 3 cups
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
minced garlic cloves 1 tsp
hing (asafoetida) 1 pinch
dry red chillies 3-4 broken
ghee 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
tejpatta 3-4


Cook the washed and rinsed lentils and rice together with 3 cups of water, salt and turmeric till done. I pressure cook this mix till the pressure builds up and the whistle blows. The lentils should get cooked and mushy at the end of this. It will be cooked a little more after spinach being added.

Heat ghee in a pan (iron kadhai in my case) and tip in the hing and cumin seeds followed by the broken red chillies and tejpatta, keeping the pan away for flame for a while to prevent burning of the meager spices. Let these get aromatic before you add the minced spinach and stir fry it for a minute or so.

Pour in the cooked lentil and rice mix and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes or till everything gets homogenized. You may want to add a bit more water to adjust consistency of the khichdi as required. Adjust seasoning and serve hot with your choice of khichdi accompaniments. Be it pickles, bharta, potato fries, papad, dahi or raita.

We enjoyed it with a few fried potato wedges and roasted papad, washed it down with fresh buttermilk.

And there is more spinach in the garden. Will be back with more of the garden gems really soon. There is some more travel, more work to be finished but yes I am cooking my meals and all those recipes will be shared here ultimately. Despite short breaks in between.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

101 alternative flours : jowar methi paratha | flat bread made with sorghum flour and fenugreek leaves | how to cook millet flours

Jowar flour is gluten free, a millet that grows all over India, even in arid and semi arid regions, but since wheat and rice have become major staple grains owing to the yield supported by fertilisers and irrigation facilities, the millets have taken the beating and very few farmers still grow it. Thankfully we can still get sorghum flour in the markets during winter months and now I even know a farmer who grows these millets organically. Thankfully more people are realising and coming back to millets. Let's learn how to cook millets now.

I had visited Aiyor Bai farm in Hyderabad recently if you remember, and had met Madhu Reddy who left a promising career in the US and came back home to grow organic food at her farm. She had sent some sorghum flour my way through a friend and some aromatic fresh methi was growing in the garden, I made this jowar methi paratha and shared multiple times on intagram and facebook. A few friends wanted to know how to make such perfect looking jowar methi paratha as most people experience very brittle and dry flat breads when they cook with jowar or other millets. I had promised jowar methi ka paratha and here it is, along with the instructions regarding how to make the jowar flour more suitable for flat breads.

I had done a post about how to use ragi flour to make perfect flat breads and this is next in the series.

Note that some traditional folks have mastered the art of making jowar rotis just by hand and that is the best roi I have ever had. Jowarichi bhakri is a hand patted flat bread slow cooked on an Iron skillet and served with traditional curries. But that skill is not easy to come by so we resort to innovation.

How to make flat breads (roti and paratha) with jowar (sorghum) flour...

Since jowar flour is gluten free and has complex carbs and lot of fiber in it, the dough is not sticky and cannot be managed easily. The best way is to knead the dough using hot water for a longer duration so the starches release and make the dough sticky enough to roll well if you are making the traditional jowar ki roti or jowarichi bhakhri. But this method still requires some skill.

The other way is to use a binding agent to the flour that is not too starchy, doesn't alter the Glycemic index of the flour and adds softness to the dough as well.

#I have experienced cooked rice flour into a slurry works well and I had used a red rice flour that was available at Aiyor Bai fam when I cooked the jowar mooli paratha there. Just cook 2-3 tbsp of rice flour with water to make a slurry and knead about 2 cups of jowar flour with it. You can add some grated vegetables of chopped greens to the dough as well. Cook roti or paratha as required.

Here is a methi paratha I made using rice flour slury as the binding agent to jowar flour.

This was about 4 months ago when water chestnuts were in season and I was adding them to most of my stir fries. These methi parathas we love with a spot of amla chutney on the side.

#You can use leftover cooked rice to knead the flour too. Just add some water, cook the rice once again to make it mushy, blend if required and use this slurry to knead the dough.

#The other easy way is to peel, cube and pressure cook a large potato (150 gm) with a cup of water, puree it to make a slurry and use this slurry to knead about 2 cups of jowar flour dough. You can add grated vegetables or chopped greens to this too, along with some seasonings, herbs etc.

#If you don't want to cook a slurry and to add any more starches to the jowar flour, You can add besan (chickpea flour) to jowar flour (1: 3 ratio) and knead a dough using warm water. I use this method quite a lot but the cooked roti or paratha gets dry when cold with this method. It is good only when served really hot. 

Here is one jowar gobhi pyaz paratha with besan as a binding agent. I use grated cauliflowers and chopped onions, chopped coriander greens and some grated ginger in this paratha. Omum seeds (ajwain) is generally used in these parathas to make them easily digestible.

I served it with plain yogurt and amle ka achar (Indian Gooseberry pickle). The jowar paratha with besan feels a little heavier than the other variants.

Recipe of jowar methi paratha

(6-8 parathas enough for 3-4 meals, jowar parathas are heavier than wheat parathas)

jowar flour or sorghum flour 1.5 cup
leftover cooked rice 2 tbsp
finely chopped methi (fenugreek leaves) 2 cups packed
ajwain (omum) seeds 1/2 tsp
anardana powder (dry pomegranate seeds powder) 1 tsp
chilly powder 1/2 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp
water 1/2 cup
ghee 1 tsp for each paratha


Cook the leftover rice with 1/2 cup water till very mushy. I did this in microwave, for 3 minutes.

Mix all the other ingredients except ghee and massage them together so most of the water from methi greens comes into the flour. Add the ricr gruel into it slowly and knead a soft dough. Make 6-8 portions and smoothen them into balls.

Roll out each ball using a rolling pin and flip the flat bread over to a hot griddle, preferably an iron griddle. Cook both sides till small patches appear. Brush with ghee and cook till the brownish patches enlarge and the paratha gets crisp and flaky.

Serve hot with curry or chutney, pickle and yogurt.

Leftover parathas can be reheated and had with tea or coffee as a snack. I sometimes fall for this kind of snacking ans skip the next meal because these parathas are quite filling.

Jowar methi ka paratha or jowar gobhi or mooli paratha will not be too difficult to make now. Parathas are made for breakfast all over north India and is had with a dollop of white butter or fresh clotted cream (malai). Arvind loves such parathas with malai and it makes a complete meal for him many a times. I love these with malai too but then such a breakfast keeps you going till evening. This is one of those meals that would have kept a hard working farmer active through the day.

So keep active and eat good food even though it is a bit rich by skewed modern standards. Eat plenty of vegetables and hydrate well to balance. Practice intuitive eating and see how you never over eat and balance out over the course of the day.