Friday, May 21, 2010

zucchini daal or a lentil soup with zucchini, a healthy simple desivideshi fusion...


Zucchini is not an Indian origin vegetable and so are potatoes or the tomatoes ...........yes it's relatively new but it does not deter me from loving  it , be it a salad or a stir fry , a savory pancake or even in a cake ......i have always loved this vegetable as i love all cucurbits ( cucumber-pumpkin family )..........many of you will be shrinking your nose i know but i believe in treating a vegetable in a manner it suits you.....it may be possible you don't like the zucchini stirfry , it is not the fault of zucchini ....may be your taste buds are accustomed to a particular type of food n zucchini will be better in a daal for you.......my point is , you can always try n get the optimum taste with any vegetable on earth...try different things n stick to what you like...that's it .......love all vegetables , they would do very good to you.
I have grown zucchini in my garden in the past and have seen how prolific it can be , i remember when there would be too many zucchinis n we we'd try to give them away to neighbors.............ye subzi hum nahi khate ( we don't eat this vegetable).... was the unanimous reply n i ended up making many many versions of zucchini.....

This daal is simple and can be a good soup for dinner or daal roti for lunch......i love anyways ...


ingredients...

mung daal ( split mung beans without skin ) 3 tbsp
zuccini ( i used yelloe n green both ) quartered lengthwise n chopped 2 cups
tomatoes chopped 1 cup
celery stalk chopped 2 tbsp
celery leaves chopped 2 tbsp
spring onions 2 nos. ( bulbs and greens chopped separately)
garlic cloves chopped finely 2 tsp
asafoetida 1 pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp ( or to taste )
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
ghee 2 tsp

procedure...

Pressure cook the mung daal with 2 cups of water , turmeric powder n salt ...taking care not to overcook , it has to be cooked till the pressure builds up and the first whistle blows....keep aside to come to normal pressure.

Heat ghee in  a kadhai and throw in the asafoetida and cumin seeds , when they get browned add the chopped garlic n let it brown too.....add the chopped spring onion bulbs and fry till translucent .

Add the red chilly powder and then the chopped celery stalks and zucchini with salt ( the daal has salt for itself so here it will be just for the veggies) and stir fry , add the chopped tomatoes after a while and cook till half done.

Pour in the boiled daal and let it come to boil....add the chopped spring onion greens and celery leaves  and it's done......the tomatoes will be partially blended with the daal but the zucchini should be firm yet cooked ......cover the lid for a couple of minutes and serve immediately as a side dish or as a soup or just with whole wheat rotis .......i love my daal roti like this...
This daal has a subzi like feel as the zucchini is kept firm n not squishy , it tastes very fresh this way and pairs well with the textured mung dal ( never overcook mung daal ) which has half blended tomatoes in it imparting a sourish flavor ..not to forget the hing-jeera-lasun-laal mirch tempering for the daal ....desi meets videshi celery........do i need to tell more about the flavors of this daal ???

The celery is home grown and i am having a tough time keeping it alive in this scorching heat these days ....parsley has succumbed to heat already.......i love my oregano n basil plants for being so forgiving n being with me in all seasons.....oregano is having cute little flowers and i have dried the surplus leaves for gifting away.........


Do you get the aroma...........i love it.....isn't it the cutest flower ???

Thursday, May 20, 2010

fruit chaat desi style.....a salad with fruits


We rarely make any fruit salad as we always believe in eating the fruits in it's most natural form especially the smaller fruits like apricots, peaches and plums so abundantly available in this season . Even apples and mangoes are preferred as standalone snacks n so are bananas , but still there are some fruits which need to be cut into pieces ...... papaya and melons and the tough nut pineapples................papaya n melons are just chopped and devoured as it is but whenever i buy pineapples it is for a salad ......

I have fond memories of fruit salads we used to have whenever we visited Vaishno Devi .......all along the trek there are many fruit chaat vendors selling yummy chaat with tangy hot dressing , they make a rustic salad with roughly chopped fruits , some boiled n chopped potatoes , kachalu ( a kind of yam which grows abundantly along the trek ) and sweet potatoes ...

though you have to forget about hygiene when having this adventure  .........

more than the fruits i love that dressing and sometimes make that at home whenever i have apples, pineapple , guava and  kachalu or a few of them ...........


Here i have used pineapples ( they impart a very tangy sweet twist to this salad n so i consider them essential for this) , banana , rasbharis ( cape gooseberries) , papaya and a long neglected near comatose apple whose skin was so shriveled i had to peel it ( BAD ) ...any fruits can be used for this salad and i missed having guavas this time.......kachalu n boiled potatoes are good but i don't miss them .....

The dressing is very very interesting as it has a special kind of ajwain seeds ( i bought it from Jammu) , regular ajwain can be used too but this smaller variety of ajawain lends a very unique flavor to this salad........

ingredients for the dressing 

ajwain seeds 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1/2 tsp
thick tamarind pulp 1 tbsp or more as per taste
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp or as required
salt to taste
sugar 1 tsp
a handful of mint leaves crushed in mortar n pestle
 

Mix everything together and whisk till the flavors merge .......mint and ajwain is very strange to think about but it results in a great dressing for tangy sweet fruits ......

Whenever your fruits are not very fresh as sometimes they get neglected in the fruit basket or you don't find time for between the meals snacking , this is the dressing which can lift the taste of any fruit which is well past it's prime..just take care to have at least two of the fruits fresh ..

Pour the dressing over the chopped fruits and the salad is ready.......i am sure you would love it's strange sounding dressing , and if you have had it before at that place i know you are going to make it.........

It is a digestive salad and can be a good lunch option when you want to have something filling and yet light on the tummy ......good for stomach upset too.....a great re hydrating salad with healing herbs.

Fruits and fruit salads should not be accompanied with full course meals due to many reasons and they are best eaten a couple of hours before of after a meal.........why not a meal in itself......it's simply yummy.....a desi chaat more than a salad........

Monday, May 10, 2010

mixed vegetables stir fried with cumin pepper seasoning


I never get bored with veggies , i do not remember a single vegetable i don't like and actually i want to tell everybody that nature has provided us the best nutrients in the form of these colorful gems .......just season them wisely ....according to the season n climate ...and of course your mood .....and see how you fall in love with them.........

It's more important to love your vegetables when you want to feel light n energetic ........throughout the day and want to wake up with a refreshed mind ............it is important to enjoy the vegetables in the lightest preparations , as it will be then that you will be able to include in your daily meals .........i see many people who love to eat heavily buttered or fried preparations as a main course and the stir fried simple vegetable dish is neglected to be on the side .......to top it all , the vegetable side dish is the one who plays the role of extra on the dining table .........the protagonist wins the best performance award and the extras go back to the fridge ( and sometimes worse....the bin)...........SAD.....i detest...

I prefer making a simple vegetable stir fry very very flavorful with a combination of a couple of spices( not too many)........so that it fills my senses with the spice being used .........the spices and vegetables can always be chosen according to mood ( and convenience off course most of the times )........i would prefer a colorful platter with hot spices whenever i am feeling dull and low..........and then my subzi will be the proud protagonist ......not to be overlooked ...to be savored in it's full glory .......the story can have some cameos too  ....... raw salad and plain curds on the side and hot rotis.......i have consciously chosen to eat healthy n simple.........for more than one reasons......


This is the kind of  food which liberates you.........from slaving the stove , form colic and flatulence* , from
the guilt pangs , from counting calories............treats you with occasional liberty to enjoy your chocolate mousse .........

* i mean oily , fried and overly processed food causes such symptoms but sometimes raw vegetable can
cause colic and flatulence too , so seasonings like fennel n ajwain may be helpful in such cases ........... curds is helpful too...

ingredients..

mixed vegetables chopped in small pieces 4 cups
( i used  cauliflowers , carrots n a few beans)
steamed peas 1 cup
a couple of spring onions bulbs and greens chopped separately
cumin seeds for tempering 1 tsp
cumin seeds and black peppercorns for seasoning 1 tbsp each
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp
ghee 1-2 tsp ( or butter )

preparation...

Powder the cumin and peppercorns in a mortar n pestle ( you need freshly pounded)....coarse or fine ..

Heat ghee in a pan and throw in the cumin seeds and let them crackle....put the flame off.

Throw in the powdered cumin n pepper and turmeric powder at once...........be quick and throw all the chopped vegetables except spring onion greens , mix well and add salt .........now put it back on flame and continue cooking....this is to prevent burning of the powdered spices and to preserve the aroma in the ghee.

Cover and cook stirring occasionally , the veggies should be just cooked and not mashed for this stirfry and the aroma of the cumin and pepper should not be allowed to evaporate so keeping the lid on while cooking is good idea........

Serve immediately after cooking and see how do you like it.

As no red or green chilly is being used in this stir fry , you can use more amount of cumin n pepper powders for heat ......more the better n it will result in a darker color finish.......and a burning sensation on you tongue
long after you have finished you meal........i love it that way sometimes...
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What do you think about ghee ??

I think ghee is good for the health , Ayurveda says it heals the inner tract and helps detoxification , i would like to believe this..........my grandmother was a healthy slim active lady who lived more than a century with 40 percent of her hair black and sufficient teeth to enjoy her bhuna chana  ( roasted gram ).........

How were your grandparents without the refined oils and the fancier ( and healthier ) fashionable imports ????

Friday, May 7, 2010

chickpea sprouts in a green salad........conditioning children to eat healthy..


I had posted a black chick pea salad in the initial days of my blog and that remains one of the most visited recipes , many of my friends have adapted that recipe to their taste and i have received many compliments .... actually it is a good way to make children and fussy people eat their fibers and vitamin - minerals .......

Yes , children mostly love the fat and carb laden burgers and sandwiches for between the meals snacking too.... we don't seem to mind as they are active and have fast metabolic rates anyway.............at the same time we , the parents have to make sure they learn healthy eating habits too .... the best way is to be innovative in serving the healthy ingredients in an appealing way and of course in their favorite seasonings.....

Raw onions are one of the healthy ingredients which gets ignored easily ............though it is so easy to incorporate them in our daily meals . I want to emphasize the nutritional value of onions for children as the high levels of Vit. C and iron are so much needed by them .....moreover , more n more children are prone to allergic rhinitis and bronchitis and to asthma now a days ............thanks to the increasing suspended particles in our atmosphere ................onion is very good for those children who become irritable and refuse to eat because of their continued illness.

Children can be made to eat raw onions very easily , it may be surprising to many but children love texture combined with good taste  , the onions may be sharp sometimes for children but onions soak up flavors of lime and even Chinese style dressing quickly........do you get my point....i am sharing my real life experience....

One of my friend's 5 yr old daughter ( asthmatic patient ) was very irritable and refused to eat anything except maggi ...sometime even raw noodles...eeks !!
         When i suggested this salad she liked it and could eat a bowl of this everyday....later i suggested a seasoning made with the maggi taste maker as she insisted to have maggi too........it was amazing to see that she loved this salad with maggi taste maker more than the two minute noodle........the next step towards her conditioning is to move to a homemade chinese dressing ...........everyone is happy with this arrangement .....

Now see what the WHO has to say about onions being therapeutic........
the following excerpt comes from this site...

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
Check out this site too for more info about the nutritious onions....and here for how arugula is a good choice....

The salad recipe is simple and i must say that simple is not always boring.......the texture and the flavor of the food is so important for fussy and picky eaters  ......be sure this salad will be loved by all , i have never found a person ( including children) who doesn't like this salad .........it's flexible recipe too...use you favorite sprouts and your favorite greens , onions and green chillies are a must for the lemon version.........

So for the lemon version you have to make a dressing with 

1 tbsp of  lemon juice ,
salt to taste and green chillies to taste ,
a dash of mustard oil 
and a cup of chopped onions are soaked in the dressing for 15 minutes......later it is mixed with sprouted chickpea and chopped arugula......


For the chinese dressing 1 tsp of vinegar , 
1 tsp of soy sauce , 
1 tbsp of olive or sesame oil 
1 tsp of finely chopped green chillies
and freshly crushed garlic is mixed with a fork ...onions are soaked in it for a couple of minutes and then mixed with the remaining ingredients.......isn't it simply irresistible ?

For me it is a bowl of my daily dose of raw salad ..........second helpings are so very common with this salad....wouldn't you love your children going for second n third helpings of this salad .....any kind of sprouts and any kind of greens......onions are a must and a tangy dressing , that's all you need.

Enjoy good health .

Sunday, May 2, 2010

tofu curry | turmeric soaked tofu and spinach stir fry...




This is a stir fry which bears my signature cooking style in many ways......

it is quick n easy..........

uses very few ingredients.........


super healthy,includes homemade tofu(at least one homemade ingredient is so my kind of thing )....

uses spinach from my garden ........and involves very very low fat cooking ....

It also serves to my requirement of a stir fry being able to be paired with rotis..........

ingredients are few .....

tofu cut in 1 inch long batons 200 gm

spinach chopped 2oo gm

turmeric powder 2 tsp

red chilly powder 2 tsp

mustard oil 2 tsp

nigella seeds 1 tsp

salt to taste

procedure........

Make a thin paste of turmeric powder and chilly powder by adding about 1/4 cup of water ....

Heat oil in a pan and throw in the nigella seeds n wait till they splutter..

Add the turmeric - chilly paste to the hot oil and stir n cook till oil comes on top...

Throw in the tofu and spinach together and keep stirring continuously...the spinach wilts releasing some water and tofu absorbs all the flavors simultaneously........you may need to sprinkle a dash of water to keep the tofu moist if you are cooking at high heat..........

When the spinach is cooked and tofu seems to have soaked everything in , put off the flame and keep the pan covered for a couple of minutes.......the flavors get enhanced in the meantime .......

Serve hot with rotis or with anything you wish.....a great side dish for a bigger spread...

The stir fry is a hot dish ........ high on chillies and turmeric .....so much so that you get to taste turmeric in this dish and you find that tofu reacts well ...very well with turmeric ......especially when it is hot and nigella enhances the flavor........



Isn't it my kind of cooking completely ........... the nigella - turmeric - red chilly combination was introduced to me by this blog and i have adapted it to my taste and my kind of ingredients many times............and it surprises me every time i make it ..........something you want to have again n again...........

Other stir fries made with the same seasonings .....with subtle variations.......

mushrooms with spring onions

prawns in nigella n green chilly sauce

mirchi wali machhli ..a fish fry recipe 

aaloo gobi with flavors of nigella 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

cauli-broccoli paratha ........flat breads stuffed with the florets....


What do you do when you get the freshest of the cauliflowers and broccoli....use them for salads , stir fries , soups and curries....but if it is a north Indian thinking , gobi ka paratha is the ultimate breakfast...or lunch........or dinner............anytime anywhere.....

Why not throwing some broccoli for added color and doubled up flavors.........not to mention the multiplied nutrition..............believe me it was a daily breakfast till my garden produced these white and green wonders ....the husband could have it for all three meals of the day.............i didn't mind having them myself as they are so healthy made with whole wheat flour and ghee .....


Normally the gobi paratha stuffing is made by grating the cauliflowers but i prefer larger chunky bits of cauliflowers n broccoli inside the paratha , it tastes so fresh and the textures are so crunchy as the cauliflower n broccoli bits are half cooked in the process of roasting the paratha..........the seasoning of black pepper , grated ginger , fine chopped green chillies and ajwain seeds complements the flavors of both cauliflowers and broccoli .........i have served this paratha to many of my friends and extended family and they all have converted to this version of gobi paratha.......

 The bigger chunks of broccoli and cauliflowers may be difficult for you to stuff in the flatbread but i'll share a few tips on how to stuff this filling ( in large amounts......i mean the quantity of the filling is double the quantity of dough for each paratha ) ......

I had posted the gobi n broccoli paratha last year too but someone was having difficulty in filling the stuffing n asked for detailed instructions , this post is intended to make the stuffing easier ....i could not click the pictures while stuffing them ....and i am terribly late in posting this too.........BTW these pictures of daal puri being stuffed will make the process clear.......... i am trying to explain the process step by step , read on.......

ingredients...
( for about 10 large parathas)

cauliflowers and broccoli 1 head each
      ( about 6 cups when chopped )
ginger grated coarsely 3 tbsp
green chillies chopped finely 2 tbsp or more
ajwain seeds 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1-2 tsp
salt to taste
whole wheat flour to make a soft pliable dough as much you require
ghee as required
  (1-2 tsp per paratha )

preparation....

Make a dough which is not sticky , it should be firm and pliable .

Chop the cauliflowers and broccoli ....first separate the florets and make pieces the size of soaked white chickpeas , then chop the stems in smaller pieces ...the florets chopped this way gives a very fresh flavor of the vegetable as this is the part which is most flavorful....and you'd love the texture n cruch it provides in this paratha.........this is not a regular gobi paratha mind it..........you'd get a different taste with this kind of chopping done.

Mix the grated ginger , chopped chillies , ajwain n black pepper powder ( chopped coriander leaves are good too ) and keep aside.....do not add salt to this mixture yet......keep the mixture in a wide bowl ....and keep the salt sprinkler handy......


Heat a tawa or flat pan on medium heat and shape the parathas in the following steps..............

 Pinch off a ping pong ball sized piece of dough , roll it between your palms to make it round n smooth ...now make a cup like shape using your thumb to make the depression....as big as a tea cup and about 3 cm thick .

Turn to the gobi mixture and pull out about a tea cup of the mixture to one side of the mixing bowl......sprinkle salt and mix and fill it into the dough cup.....press the filling with your thumb supporting the base of the cup with the 4 fingers ....you may need flour dusting to prevent sticking.........

Pull the edges of the dough cup and seal it taking care not to let any air trapped inside..

Now dust the rolling board and flatten the stuffed ball gently using your 4 fingers....then gently use the rolling pin to flatten it more n make the surface smooth n distributes the filling evenly through the sides...........the gobi n broccoli pieces should get exposed but still held up inside the paratha.......


Lift the rolling board ( chopping board can be used too) with your left hand , invert the board and hold the paratha in you right hand and flip on to the hot tawa.........

Now let one side of the paratha cook , flip and smear with a little ghee and roast both side so that it cooks and red - black spots appear indicating it is cooked through...

Serve hot with plain curds and with some green chutny.........the flaky crisp envelop of the parath and crunchy bits of gobi make this paratha a special one.......i love the bits of ginger n green chilly hitting the taste buds now n then.......it will be worth all this effort .

Making the paratha in large size will be of help as the stuffing process might be difficult for some.....one paratha for one serving is not a bad idea.......or half of it if you have a small appetite.


 A lot of stuffing may get scattered into your plate while eating....there is so much filling stuffed inside.....and you will find yourself polishing off all the bit n pieces........i know you will be a convert once you taste this.......