Friday, July 31, 2009

vegetarian dalcha and plantain bhujia


Dalcha is a lentil based curry cooked traditionally with mutton and is a hyderabadi specialty. I have seen an oriya version too and both of them taste awesome. You can choose from the mutton dalcha if you prefer non vegetarian meals, but both versions of dalcha are equally tasty.

Here I am giving a recipe of vegetarian dalcha which is a very good way to include some not so tasty vegetables into your meal. Yes I have used guar (cluster beans) and brinjals for this dalcha as these are the veggies my husband is not very pleased with. Also as most of my recipes, it is a simple and quick one and saves your time because you don't need any side dish with it.....

to prepare dalcha...
(2-3 large servings...)
prepare a masala paste which is the actual taste maker ( this masala has to be made fresh and can be kept in the freezer for further use)......you need to grind together...half a star anise, 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of black pepper corns, 2 whole red chillies, 4 cloves of garlic and half an inch piece of ginger...make a coarse paste using little water and keep aside.

apart from this you need
you can use any vegetables available but don't replace the tomatoes and potatoes.

a cup of chopped guar fali (cluster beans)
one medium sized brinjal cubed
one big red tomato cubed
2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
3 tbsp of red lentil (masoor daal) washed and soaked for 10 minutes
1 tbsp of mustard oil ( you can use you choice of oil)
asafoetida 2 pinches
fenugreek seeds 1 tsp
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp

to proceed....heat oil in a pressure cooker...throw in the asafoetida and fenugreek seeds and as soon as they splutter, dunk in the cubed potatoes.....after just a minute add the masala paste and stir to fry the masala n potatoes together.....after a couple of minutes add the beans....stir for 2 more minutes and the dunk in the brinjals and tomatoes....toss to mix ...add salt and turmeric powder ........now add the washed and soaked daal to the cooker .......pour 3 cups of water................cover the lid and cook til 2 whistles........open the lid when pressure releases and serve hot with plain boiled rice.............

if you want it to be a bit sour, add little amchoor powder or tamarind paste to your taste..........it's absolutely yummy and you forget that you are eating those most hated veggies.........the flavors of cumin and star anise make this dalcha very very flavorsome ........you will repeat this one recipe i am sure......though the pics are not very tempting but you can trust me on the taste......it is super healthy.............

I like it with plain boiled rice and nothing on the side but A wanted some sabzi, so I served it with a quick kele ki bhujia ...which is a simple stirfry made with sliced plantains (with skin) .....

To make this kele ki bhujia....you need to heat 2 tbsp of mustard oil in a kadhai, temper with a few fenugreek seeds( gives a very aromatic flavor to this stirfry) , dunk in the sliced plantains.....fry till golden brown.....then add a tbsp or more of garlic and green chilly paste, salt to taste and a bit of turmeric powder........with a splash of water.........cover and cook till water is absorbed and a tempting bhujia is ready...takes about 8 minutes if using 2 plantains........this is not a low cal sabzi so keep a tab......presence of the skin makes sure it is nutritious n plantain is not a very high cal veggie but it uses more oil to fry....


I like the dalcha in the form of a soup too and always use the leftover as a one bowl meal for myself.


You can always add a little boiled pearl barley to it and make it a more filling meal if you wish. I wouldn't mind some boiled eggs with this meal too.

Enjoy...

Monday, July 27, 2009

lemon chicken



sometimes i get in the mood to make something with chicken which has no masala in it....though i have done it many times and the recipes are here in my archives....but this time i wanted to use my lemons....yes i am getting too many lemons from my garden and am finding ways to make more lemony treats.......so guys....this lemon chicken was my experiment with the humble chicken which turned out to be an instant success.......



i had to make it low fat and it had to be quick...you know these two criteria are so much my kind of cooking...he he...

to make it..... ( for about 350-400 gm chicken , 2 servings) i made a marinade which was more like a salad dressing.....
grated zest of one big lemon ,
juice of the same lemon ,
a tsp of freshly crushed black peppercorns,
salt to taste
and a coarse paste of 4 cloves of garlic, an inch piece of ginger and 5 green chillies.....
a spring of fresh oregano ( you'll need one more spring of oregano later)
dry oregano can be used too

that's it....just mix and whisk al the ingredients together with a tablespoon of oil ( any oil) and keep aside.

now make slits into the fleshy parts of chicken ( most disgusting part for me) and toss into the marinad ...just as you would toss a salad in dressing ( i am surely going to use it that way too).


keep this aside for an hour.

after the marination time, pour everything into a thick bottomed pan ( no further addition of oil is needed ) and proceed cooking on very low heat ...because it is low fat it has to be cooked on low heat.....you can do it otherwise too....keep covered and toss and stir after every 5 minutes or so...when it gets cooked , it gets a nice crust and the inner meat is tender....


arrange on to a plate and it is ready to serve...with chilled bear.....and some crackers.... but wait......make it more interesting ....make it suitable to be had with chapatis....he he...rotti to khani hi padegi....

when you take out the prepared chicken from the pan , a lot of dressing..er...marinade is stuck to the pan because it has been cooked in very less oil......to get that flavorful stuff , pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan along with a spring of oregano and juice of one more lemon... give it a good boil ( if you want to make the dish shiny and satiny you can add a tsp of cornflour dissolved in a tbsp of water)....now the flavorful sauce is ready, pour over the chicken pieces and serve immediately with chapatis....



enjoy....i am happy that i do such good experiments with my food.

Friday, July 24, 2009

mixed vegetables poha recipe cooked in microwave or steamed


Poha (rice flakes) is a very popular breakfast in many parts of India. Since rice was a traditional crop almost everywhere, poha was also made to use rice as an instant food. Yes poha is one of those instant Indian cereals that doesn't need cooking. you can just soak it in milk or yogurt and enjoy your breakfast with added fruits or nuts. Chiwda dahi is a popular breakfast in eastern UP, Bihar, Jarkhand, Bengal and dadpe pohe of Maharashtra also used soaked raw poha.

Poha can be cooked briefly along with some tempering and cooked potatoes, onions etc to make a quick hot breakfast but the way it is made traditionally is healthy but too high on fats sometimes.

Banarasi Chiwda matar is a healthy but rich dish, Indori poha is loaded with fried sev, the Maharashtrian poha can also become heavy if one is not careful. Even in our house it was made in lots of ghee and the taste used to be really good. Each of these variants of poha can be made healthier with a little care. But the recipe today is a very different take on the traditional versions.

This mixed vegetables poha is loaded with seasonal vegetables and tastes so good that one can really eat a lot of it without worrying much of calorie count.

mixed vegtables poha recipe

to make the mixed vegetables poha

You just have to chop your favorite vegetables, the ones which remain firm after cooking, like beans, cauliflower, baby corns, and some onions and green chilies for preparation. You can use broccoli, carrots, spring onions, sweet corn, peas and knol khol etc.

ingredients 
(2 servings)

3/4 cup of poha (thick variety)
1/2 cup cauliflower cut into small bits 
1/4 cup beans chopped really thinly
1/4 cup baby corn chopped in small bits
1/2 cup diced onions
minced green chillies to taste
rated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice to taste
1 tsp ghee

procedure 

Rinse the poha quickly with filtered water and drain the water. Mix everything along with the rinsed poha, keep in a glass or ceramic bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, stir once and microwave again for 3 minutes. Take out, add ghee and mix thoroughly. Add the lime juice if required and chopped coriander leaves, mix and serve immediately.

If you are planning to steam it just keep the bowl in steamer pot and steam for 5 minutes. Add the ghee, lime juice and coriander leaves, serve hot with ginger chai or buttermilk.

mixed vegtables poha recipe

Sometimes I serve the poha with a little tomato peanut chutney. Blend one large ripe tomato with 1 tbsp roasted peanuts and salt and the chutney is ready. You can even top this poha with some crushed roasted peanuts for added crunch.

In any case this will be the most easy and quick breakfast recipe you would come across and I am not talking about instant cereals.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

daliya oothappam



this is my healthy breakfast cheela which is absolutely healthy variation of the plain besan cheela.....i call it oothappam here cuz i learnt the word recently, reading about it on many other blogs of my friends....:D:D......we called a basic rice and urad batter thick oothappam , the uttapam, as it is called in this part of India .........so in this recipe , since it is thick n has a south Indian feel to it due to currypatta, i call it oothappam.......when you learn a new word , you get hooked to it....:D:D...

Healthy as it is , it is conveniet to make it in the busy mornings too , especially if i do some preparation in the previous night.........i keep telling my working friends and sisters and SILs.....not to skip the breakfast in a hurry.........all the recipes made using a 'batter' , are so much easy in the morning and can be taken care of when you are brushing your teeth and taking bath.........i'll tell you how.......it's so easy to grab a healthy breakfast on the run........

ingredients

daliya or broken wheat 1 cup , soaked in a cup of buttermilk ( done in the previous night n kept in the fridge)
onions chopped 1 cup
currypatta chopped finely 1 cup
green chillies chopped 2 tbsp
ginger chopped 1 tbsp
( all the chopping done in the previous night and kept in the fridge in an airtight wide container so that you can proceed in the morning in the same container) besan or chickpea flour 1/2 cup or more
salt to taste
black pepper powder 1 tbsp or more
oil to fry the cheelas ( 1.5 tsp for each one)
( you can mix all the ingredients in the night itself , apart from the oil to fry.....becomes easier)

procedure

now that 90% of the work has been done already...you just have to adjust the consistency of the batter ( thick pouring) ... i made the batter in the morning, only the daliya was soaked overnight.....



heat a heavy bottomed tawa or flat bottom griddle on medium flame......smear 3/4 tsp oil on it and pour 2 ladlefuls of the batter on it ( 2-3 ladlefuls,as big you want for you)........and spread a thick layer of it....



now cover it with an appropriate lid , lower the flame to minimum and go to do something you may need.......you have around 8-10 minutes...



after you come back flip it and cook uncovered for 4-5 minutes on the other side..........it's ready......


serve immediately with tomato peanut chutny ( made the previous night or fresh as i make it).....this cheela can be carried for lunch too as it tastes good even when cold and the batter also keeps well in the fridge for 2 days......



to make tomato peanut chutny....though the recipe i have given earlier on this space too0.......chop 2 big tomatoes in halves and microwave for 1 minute( or cook on gas stove with a dash of water till mushy).........now grind it in the chutny jar of mixie with 2 tsp of roasted or soaked peanuts ( i used peanuts soaked overnight ...gives a creamier texture and doesn't cause flatulence) , 2 fat cloves of garlic ( optional as you may not want to leave house with a garlicky mouth) and 2-3 whole red chillies and salt to taste ......no need to add any water to it as the tomatoes are quite watery..........enjoy...

( you get the lycopene of tomatoes after cooking them and it is absorbed in the presence of fat, here coming from peanuts......also, the liberal use of curry patta ensures you are sticking to your wt. loss goal as it is considered to help in it when used in liberal quantity...besides giving all it's Vitamins n minerals..)

enjoy...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

macaroni n baby corn in a fresh basil tomato sauce



this one i make mostly for a quick evening snack as dear hubby returns home really hungry.......the fresh ingredients are the key to this recipe, as for us this kind of a fresh n crunchy
( due to baby corn) snack lifts up the energy levels in the evening....

to prepare

boil a cup of macaroni (whole wheat) in lots of salted water till al dante' and drain.........

meanwhile slice about 6-8 baby corns diagonally

chop an onion and 2 fat cloves of garlic finely

chop 2 big red tomatoes in the chopper or in the chutny jar of the mixie......

now heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and throw in the garlic first,then the sliced baby corns and the onions after a minute ....

after a couple of minutes dunk in the chopped or pureed raw tomato with 2 tsp of red chilly flakes , salt to taste and cook covered for 2 minutes..

now throw in the cooked macaroni , stir to mix and tear about 20 leaves of fresh basil leaves with hands and throw them into the cooking mixture........turn off the flame, cover and let it sit for 2 minutes till the flavors infuse.......


serve hot topped with grated cheese of your choice ....i serve it mostly without cheese.....the fresh basil alone is enough to make you drool.....and if you like corn, nothing like this.

enjoy..

Friday, July 17, 2009

eating my grains in a plate....not in a bowl this time.



when you decide to eat the same grains daily, you need to change it to suite your mood and the ingredients available.......anyway i can't eat the same thing daily...i need some change and i keep experimenting and believe me if you have a little bit of imagination and a knack to combine the flavors well, you are always winsome....regarding your food at least....

i want to continue on my multigrain soup till i am able to loose a few more kilos.......though i reachesd a plateau again as i am not doing any exercise now a days, summer season is stretching long and i am very uncomfortable in this season....don't even feel like going out for a walk and i know as soon as i resume on my exercise i will get my goal.....though i don't want to become stick thin...a little chubbiness i like n suits me..

so as i said the healthy whole grains are in my diet almost everyday n i keep changing the way they appear in my plate ( or my bowl for that matter)......this time i just boiled a mix of bajra ( pearl millet) , jau (barley) , and whole wheat gains in a pressure cooker with just enough water to cook it ( double the amount of soaked grains) and some salt...like this..i spread the boiled grains on a plate ....


and topped it with chopped n microwaved poi saag , some kale chane ki ghugni ( chana masala) and some chopped onions.......some lemon juice and salt n pepper to finish and the healthy meal is ready to devour........


it was tasty as the hot masala from kaale chane ki ghugni made it spicy, the whole grains provide a nice bite and you have to chew the food a lot to eat it...it is good as you get satiety sooner this way ....i washed it off with a tall glass of buttermilk and it was a good meal ...something i would like to repeat often...
and lastly i would like to show you the photo of poi saag ( also called as malabar spinach) which came fresh from my garden...the leaves do not need to be chopped here ...as they are small but the larger leaves are the size of a half plate n are to be chopped before cooking.....poi saag can be cooked like spinach though has a different taste n texture.....


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

barley in a khichri



This is my multigrain soup in a khichri avatar. Barley khichdi with loads of vegetables. Creamier in texture and has that distinct flavor of asafoetida and garlic fried in ghee...something which is sure to satisfy an Indian soul...

I made this khichri quickly in a pressure cooker.

Dunked 1/4 cup of soaked barley, 1 tbsp of whole green mung , 1 tbsp of masoor daal, chopped veggies....french beans, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and onions almost 1/4 cup each. Everything goes into the cooker along with salt and turmeric powder and boiled up to one whistle.

A tadka to do after it cools down. Just heat a tsp of ghee with a small pinch of asafoetida, a tsp of cumin seeds and 2 cloves of garlic chopped.....till the garlic turns pink...........remove from heat,add half a tsp of red chilly powder, wait for a moment till the chilly gets mixed up.

Now pour this into the cooked khichdi and serve immediately........and yes ..this recipe of khichri is enough to serve two...


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

fish cutlets or fish cakes the Indian way



Some of the healthiest dinners we enjoy are the ones when we make chicken or fish cutlets (shallow fried) and have them with loads of salad on the side. This happens mostly on Friday evenings when both of us are a bit relaxed and enjoy a drink to go with the relaxed simple dinner.

This fish cutlet or Indian fish cakes are repeated quite frequently. More so because we don't get good fish in our neighborhood and whenever we buy fish from the faraway markets we bring loads of fish and freeze portions of it. Thawing the frozen fish in the microwave for a bit longer and making quick fish cakes is easy and works well even if the fish has been frozen for a long time. For fish curries and fish stews I prefer cooking the fish within 2 weeks of freezing.

Now coming to the fish cutlet recipe which is a very simple healthy recipe and completely gluten free if you don't coat them with crumb. If you dredge the cutlets in crumb they definitely get a nice and crisp coating and can be deep fried easily, but of everyday meals I prefer not coating the cutlets and let them shallow fry on low flame to brown them well on both sides.

When cooking these fish cutlets for a crowd you must dip them individually in whisked eggs and then dredge in bread crumbs of semolina , panko and deep fry on high heat.


ingredients
(to make 6 cutlets)

250 gm fish fillets or pieces of any muscular fish with skin (use tinned tuna if you don't get fresh fish)
minced ginger, garlic and green chillies 1 tsp each or to taste, I use a bit more ginger and lesser garlic
3-4 tbsp finely chopped coriander greens
salt to taste
1 tbsp black pepper powder
one boiled mashed potato
1 tsp lemon juice
oil to shallow fry (I used a little more than 1 tbsp mustard oil to fry six cutlets)

procedure

First of all poach the fish pieces with a little amount of water in a covered pan. I just microwave the fish as it is so much easier and you use lesser pans.

Now debone the fish pieces when cool enough to handle and mix the flesh with all the other ingredients except oil.

Shape cutlets in whatever shape you like and press each of them on a greased plate to make the surface flat.

Heat oil in a flat bottomed pan or cast iron griddle and arrange the fish cakes. Let one side get nicely brown and crisp and then turn and fry on the other side till perfectly crisp and brown. Take care not to brown them too much as any spot of burnt fish doesn't taste too good.

Serve with green chutney or any chutney of your choice if serving as an appetiser, or just with onion rings and some tomato slices if it is a part of main course.


The texture of these fish cutlets is flaky and the mild bite of the ginger, garlic and green chilli etc makes it quite a flavour bomb in the mouth.

If making these fish cutlets or fish cakes for a continental or mediterranian meal, replace coriander greens with parsley and omit ginger and green chillies in the mix. You can add more garlic, some roasted red chilli flakes, replace lime juice with sumac or even add some thyme to the mix to flavour these fish cakes differently. Serve with a tartar sauce if you wish.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

tofu scramble in pita pockets



this is a quick breakfast if you have ready pita bread in your fridge...i usually make a large batch and keep in the fridge for 3-4 days...whole wheat pita pockets........it makes the breakfast easier in the mad mornings.....:D.

the tofu scramble is simple and quick,with this home made tofu, it is healthy for sure and you can make it hot and spicy.......or hot and sour ...as you wish in the morning........

we guzzle down a few large mugs full of green tea in the morning ......and that is the only relaxed time....almost forcibly squeezed out time...........to rustle up the breakfast fast ...really fast has become a habit.......though i feel lazy sometimes..........recipes like this help me a lot and i keep experimenting......

to stuff four halves of pita, to serve two, you need around 3/4 cup of cubed tofu , a large onion chopped roughly , green chillies chopped as much you like ,a large red tomato chopped roughly, a tbsp of black pepper powder and salt to taste and a tsp of ghee........


to make the preparation really quick i heat the ghee in pan and without waiting it to heat properly , dunk in the green chillies, onions and salt ....mix and cover on low flame ......................

meanwhile, cut the pita into half , induce pockets into it and microwave to warm them........

till now the onions get almost caramelized ( gives a nice flavor to it)....so now dunk in the tofu and tomatoes and stir till the tomatoes are mushy ..sprinkle black pepper and mix well...........it is very simple and a dash of chopped green coriander is a very good addition but in the mornings i keep the chopping minimal..........

divide mixture into four portions and fill into the pita pockets.......we eat this with some more green tea or sometimes darjeeling tea..........



isn't that yummm......

the tofu and spinach scramble also is a yummy filling to these pita pockets , i make it that way whenever there is leftover paalak tofu bhurji in the fridge........but ideal combo of paalak tofu is thin fluffy chapaatis....

tofu and palak bhurji


tofu scrambled with spinach, or a simple tofu palk ki sabzi it's healthy and tasty at the same time..............

bhurji in the North of India is something scrambled and stirfried , usually making a combination with parathas or chapatis....can be a good stuffing in a grilled sandwich or inside a pita pocket..........we had it for dinner with chapatis.......tofu is the best soy product i like.....i make the soy milk myself following this recipe........ the bean curd and tofu too and keep using these in my cooking........have already posted dahi aalu in the past and there are many tofu and beancurd recipes in my drafts..........i'll post all of them now as i noticed it now that i have been partial with it......this palak tofu bhurji is regular in my kitchen for two basic reasons....it is quick to make and it is tasty.......moist and spicy with plain chapatis........good choice for a low cal meal.......


the recipe is simple..........you just need a few simple ingredients........

tofu cubed 1 cup
spinach blanched 1 cup
green chillies chopped finely 2 tbsp
ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
coriander, cumin and black pepper powders 1 tsp each
salt to taste
chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup
thinly sliced onions 1/4 cup
ghee 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1tsp

to proceed .......heat ghee in a pan or kadai like the picture.....throw in the cumin seeds and let them crackle.......throw in the green chillies and onions......fry a bit till lightly browned on low heat as you are using very little ghee..add salt to make it quicker.......now the masala powders, ginger garlic paste and the chopped blanched spinach in that order.......keep stirring for 2-3 minutes........tomatoes and tofu goes in together......stir for a while till the mixture is almost dry and mushy.......extra black pepper can be added for extra kick........i do it that way.....serve hot with chapatis....