Saturday, June 12, 2010

tofu in a tomato soupy gravy


Going by the number of tofu recipes on this blog anybody can guess that tofu is something i love cooking ........that too in it's simplest form .....in the form of curries mostly , indianized curries .

A while back i was talking to a good friend whom i have inducted into making soy milk and soy curd and various uses of both these in an essentially Indian  kitchen and she told me that she has introduced soy curds into the recipes discreetly as family members may be skeptical even in trying the dishes if they know that it is made with soy milk or curd ...........i see that the recipes were successful in her family but there is still a reluctance over tofu , mainly because the husband tasted the tofu dishes in a foreign land and could not develop a taste for it......once a picky eater always a picky eater......the cook has to become smart....

Soy is healthy choice is something we all know....but it can be a great healthy substitute to paneer in an Indian kitchen we rarely realize . Paneer is a very healthy ingredient no doubt , especially if it is homemade .... but just read the fine print on the back panel of any brand of packaged paneer and you will realize that it has 25% fat in it to make it soft in your gravy.....which is rich n creamy nonetheless. Just think about it when you are on a weight loss diet and want to eat your normal khana , you can't afford to eat that paneer with 25% percent fat (trans) , or when you are ageing , fighting cholesterol or fighting blood sugar......

I suggest making paneer at home with toned ( skimmed ) milk , just when you need to cook the dish , as it is as soft as the high fat packaged paneer when it is fresh ( high fat in paneer ensures it remains soft even when it is kept in the fridge for a fortnight , ie, longer shelf life ) ...........at the same time all of us know that paneer is not the same when it is frozen ..........you must be wondering why i am going on n on for paneer in a post with tofu in it..........i want to emphasize that tofu can be a better choice for these few practical reasons ...........you get your nutrients plus the taste and stick to your diet plan at the same time  .........one thing to remember though is that paneer has higher calcium content that tofu for sure , if both are homemade.....sometimes commercial tofu has high calcium as calcium salts are used to solidify it , so you know it can be at par with paneer in that area too...

100 gm of tofu contains 76 Kcal , 350mg of calcium (35% of RDA) ,5.4 mg ( 43%RDA) of iron  while the same amount of paneer gives you 350 Kcal and 208mg of calcium ....vitamins and minerals are good in both tofu n paneer.

Enough good reasons to choose tofu over paneer, if you are on a weight loss diet........ at least a few times whenever you want those white cubes in your curry.....and make the curry yummy ...that is something you have control over ....may be not your hormones or your stress or your cravings....

The curry in question here is a tomato based gravy and i like it a bit watery with fine chunks of tomatoes n onions in it , if you like a thick and smooth gravy you can go ahead and blend the cooked gravy n strain like a soup and then add stir fried  cubes of tofu ......this way it will be more photogenic for sure and you may find it fit for a get together.......i like it this way n have seen people appreciating it profusely......

ingredients...

tofu 200 gms ( for two large servings )
tomatoes 400 gm blended raw to make a coarse paste
onions chopped fine in a chopper 1 cup
garlic chopped fine 1 tsp
nigella seeds 1 tsp
turmeric powder 2 tsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp or to taste 
mustard oil 2 tsp
chopped coriander greens to finish

procedure...

Heat oil in a thick base kadai as low fat cooking can be messy in a regular kadai.

Throw in the nigella seeds and as soon as they splutter , add the garlic n onions , fry for a couple of minutes and then add the red chilly powder and the turmeric powder....mix well n fry for another minute or so.

Add the tofu pieces , mix and stir fry till tofu looks slightly pinkish as it absorbs the flavors from the other ingredients.....it is an aromatic mix without any curry powder.


Add the tomato paste and stir well ...


Cook some more and add water and salt , cover and cook till it boils vigorously......open the lid and sprinkle the chopped coriander greens , mix and cover the lid ......take off from the flame and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

Serve with hot chapatis or any kind of flat breads or bread rolls as it is enough soupy to be enjoyed like that .


Tofu is quite porous and absorbs flavors like a sponge , especially when it is fried ......that is the reason i stir fried the tofu with the onion garlic chilly mix so that it soaks the flavors while frying , the tomato gravy gives it a tangy zest enhanced with fresh coriander leaves and it is way better than any creamy paneer curry .......you know it well when you are going the macrobiotic way......

I find tofu very easily in Delhi these days and that too at very affordable prices , earlier it was quite pricey, soy milk is still very very costly and i always prefer making all of it at home ....with tofu being so easily available in my neighborhood store i have tried that too a few times n find it as good as my homemade tofu....so go ahead and buy some tofu if you have been shying away till now.

Other interesting tofu preparations which may be great first time trials for an Indian household.

turmeric soaked tofu n spinach

tofu n veggies in a hot peanut sauce

tofu with lemon n basil

tofu scramble

tofu n palak bhurji

dahi alu in bean curd

Saturday, June 5, 2010

horse gram uttapam and a refreshing chutny



The uttapam and the chutney both are special in this post , the uttapam is actually a cousin of the punjabi besan ka pooda and the chutney is a very very refreshing and aromatic tangy concoction you'd love with something like this pooda or any other kind of uttapam-dosa family of savory pancakes....

Horse gram is a very popular health food , fit for weight loss , recommended for water retention and iron deficiencies....it is grown and eaten in many parts of India but unfortunately i am the one who has not grown up eating this..........

Known as kulith , kulthi , gahat , hurali etc. ....I adopted this legume later in life when i saw it in Jharkhand , it is a part of the tribal culture n cuisine there and they know about it's health benefits ....they make soup like daals and badis with this legume and when i wanted to experiment with this legume i first mixed it with whole masoor daal to make a spicy mixed daal makhni style.........it was a successful experiment and i got confident about using this daal in many other ways...........later on i made parathas and sprouts and many more things with this legume just to pat my own back regarding my health conscious cooking...

Later on i learnt that it is a popular daal in other states too , the southern states and the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand , himachal and J&K ...they make a very interesting dumpling soup with it and many more recipes ...there are many Himachali recipes to choose from if you want to include this wonderful legume in your food............not to forget many many recipes from the southern states ......rasam n sambar style.............just search for it n you get a thousand options ......make whatever suits your style .....

I wonder why horse gram is not a part of daily food in the central Indian states , it was not known in my house and even in my in law's house ....as soon as i introduced this to our daals and poodas , it is a much appreciated food now.....legumes are loved anyways and this one for it's immense health benefits.


I found organic horse gram from Navdanya outlet at Dilli Haat after a long time
( now that i have started going out this is one of the rewards ) ........
i made many recipes with this legume and hopefully i will be posting them here , i have been so irregular with my posts that i feel like a fat couch potato ...if the couch potato was a humanoid ......i feel like one with all it's appendages ....all the faculties withdrawn ......to become round....and still motionless........needs a loud kick to start rolling again .......

I have started a healthy routine of long morning walks and that was after a major health scare i got some time back......the body always reminds you to take care of it ...to get rolling and kicking......:)


For this pooda- uttapam , i used whole kulith with skin , it would have been a less cohesive batter if i used the horse gram only , so i added some split yellow peas to it to make it more easily workable and to make the taste better too.

Soaked over night , the 50/50 mixture of these legumes is all ready to be made into a paste.....with ginger- garlic-green chilly -salt n pepper for seasoning , the paste can be made ahead of time and can even be frozen for future use........i made some other recipes with this paste too and they will be appearing here very soon......


To proceed , chop some onions and green coriander leaves and some fresh curry patta , mix with the batter and it's ready to hit the frying pan............spread it on the hot flat based pan , as thick or thin you want and cook with minimal oil ....both sides till it gets golden brown and crisp ..........ready to serve....


This uttapam/pooda is very crisp on the outside and very soft inside if you make it a bit thicker as i did , yellow split peas make it really tasty as if it is made with just the kulith it tastes a little more earthy ....i found this combination of legumes great for a pooda and to top it all .......the earthy flavors of the pooda with hints of curry patta n the onions which get caramelized while the pooda is fried , mingle very well with the aromatic chutny.......the best uttapam chutny combo i have tried so far..........

And the green refreshing chutny is a gem.......this chutny is the perfect healthy way with raw antioxidants.........see how..

fresh basil leaves 1 cup
fresh mint leaves 1/2 cup
fresh coriander leaves 1 cup
spring onion greens and bulb chopped 1 cup
green chillies 5-6 or to taste ( i added a pinch of red chilly powder too )
garlic cloves 5-6 nos.
raw mango chopped 1 cup
salt to taste

Whiz all of it into the grinder or any kitchen gadget you use to pulp things up.......and the fresh aroma of this chutny will make your day ......

Keep the ingredients ready in the fridge and liquidize when needed , though it keeps well for a couple of days but it is best fresh ....with hot savory pancakes of your choice ........even with parathas or anything you fancy....this is very very versatile...........


I find this chutny very very healthy and in a way it is my version of a green grasshopper or whatever it is called.......the spinach and fruit smoothie many people take for the breakfast , of course with all the health benefits...........i could never get to have that green smoothie .........this is my savory answer to green monster/grasshopper..........i love to have a big bowlful of this with a small pooda or even with a sandwich/pita bread breakfast.............

A fresh way to kick start the day..........

enjoy.