Tuesday, December 7, 2010

chickpea chaat for breakfast or for a meal ..

Garbanzo beans or the white chickpeas are great heart healthy and diabetic friendly food . A good source of soluble and insoluble fiber , good quality proteins and trace minerals .... also the tryptophan , the precursor molecule of serotonin ... the feel good molecule ..

The name of Chhole ( hindi n punjabi name of this bean )itself is a feel good exercise for the desi punjabis .... you would agree if you have tasted the chhole bhatoore or chhole kulche even once .....chaats are not uncommon and the chaat idea I am posting here is a favorite of many people around here.

I keep some boiled chickpeas in the fridge whenever i make any kind of chhole . These are used for making a quick hummus or a chaat like this one , just thrown in some assorted chutneys and a wholesome snack is ready and if you are liberal in portion size it can be a filling meal too ...

Most of the times we like it with a few paapdi ( a white flour fried cracker ) spread out over the chaat platter and that is where i have improvised . This papdi is made with whole wheat flour and without any shortening . Whole wheat four is kneaded using a little lemon juice and water , along with some ajwain seeds ... Rolled out and cut in thin squares and then fried in hot oil . It doesn't absorb much oil this way and is crisp and nice for this chaat.

Apart from the papdi , we used a red tamarind ginger chutney called sonth ki chutney , a green coriander chutney  some fresh curds , some chopped onions and some chaat masala as the main ingredients.

The sonth ki chutney used here is an instant one .

To make sonth ki chutney I used 2 tbsp of ready made tamarind pulp , 1/2 cup of water 4 tbsp of grated jaggery , 2 tsp of dry ginger powder , 1 tsp of red chilly powder and 1/2 tsp of my special garam masala ..... all the ingredients are mixed and cooked till a thick saucy chutney is ready ... i microwaved them all for 3-4 minutes , taking breaks after every minute to avoid spilling .

For the green chutney i used a bunch of coriander leaves , 5-6 cloves of garlic , an inch piece od ginger 5-6 green chillies and a tbsp of roasted peanuts . Added salt to taste and some lemon juice and whizzed them all in my trusted mixie.

Mix the chaat masala in boiled warm chickpeas , toss to make the chaat masala well absorbed well into the cracked chickpeas .... and then ladle out chickpeas into serving plates and top with chopped onions , the crushed papdi and the chutneys and curds ........

 Coriander leavas are optional as there is enough coriander flavor in the green chutney ... this chaat is an excellent example of different flavors and textures mingling together to give a satisfying experience ......

A sprinkling of red pomegranate seeds gives another dimension to the taste and texture of this wonderful chaat ........ actually a desi chickpea salad . How many of you would like to have it for a meal ???

For me it can be anytime meal , snack or just anything something ......... anything something .... when the family says they want to eat something ...anything ...this is one such option and if we keep any kind of boiled beans in the fridge this is the anytime anything ready in a jiffy...

Thai red curry cooked with an Indian twist and a citrus zest...

I love Thai red curry with chicken but sometimes I add a few Indian spices for a comfort meal. Most such experiments have been good although I love Thai curries a lot in their authentic form too. Adding some whole spices along with the usual Red curry ingredients makes this chicken dish very very flavorful ...

Sometimes I hesitate in posting a recipe whose pictures are not great, which happens frequently when I make something for dinner. But the last chicken recipe herbed chicken with roasted cashew was tried by many friends within a couple of days of posting it despite poor picture quality and I am glad that I got great complements for that one.

That post has ensured that a recipe needs to be good and convincing and not the pictures. Although I believe that most of the healthier stuff should be presented in an appealing way so that people get inspired to cook and eat that dish. I am talking about the steamed and salad type recipes as well as stews and curries. If these look great on the blog it serves the purpose of motivating the people to eat healthy.

I assure you here, even though the pictures are not great the chicken was yummy and we enjoyed it with plain whole wheat kulcha and not rice. The true fusion way...


chicken 400 gm ( mixed pieces on bone )
kafir lime leaves 2 nos ( I used grapefruit leaves )red chilly powder 1 tsp ( optional )
lime juice 1-2 tsp ( optional )
coconut milk 1/2 cup ( i used from a carton )
oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste
tomato ketchup 1 tbsp

to make a paste ...

small red onions 5 nos .
thai bird chillies 3-4 nos.
galangal 1 inch piece
fresh turmeric root 1/2 inch piece 
lemon grass bulb 1 no.
green coriander stems only 2 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
coriander seeds 1 tsp
zest of two Indian limes

tempering spices ..

black peppercorns 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
coriander seeds 1 tsp
black cardamom 1 no.
cinnamon stick 1 inch long

procedure ..

Make the paste of specified ingredients..

Heat oil in a wide thick base pan or kadai and throw in the tempering spices, wait till the spices splutter a bit then add the paste made in the first step and fry the mixture till a faint aroma starts emanating, no need to wait for the oil to separate .

Add salt and the chicken with the lime leaves and keep cooking on medium heat, stirring once in a while. Keep covered while cooking as the chicken needs to cook in this dryish mixture. Add little water to keep it moist while cooking.

Add the coconut milk and let it boil once. Add the tomato ketchup and adjust seasoning at this moment as the flavors may need some fine tuning before finishing the dish. Adding red chilly powder and lemon juice is optional and do it at this stage if you need. I added both red chilly powder and lemon juice and the result was awesome. Cook covered on very low heat for a couple of minutes and serve hot with rice, roti or anything you like.

Remove the lime leaves before serving.

Hot, tangy and a teeny bit sweet curry with the muted heat of the spices takes the usual red curry to the next level, the lemony aroma due to the zest and the leaves is unmistakable and blends so well with the coconut milk-masala gravy. Do not go by what the pictures look ...

I have already repeated the recipe for a gathering of guests and this has been liked by one and all ...It's great with rice and roti equally ...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

soup dinners : cabbage and peas soup with seasonal herbs

Cabbage soup is that perfect one pot meal that I sometimes cook when I want a light meal but loads of vegetables too. One of the soup meals that brings us back to discipline after a bout of festive eating or travel eating. This cabbage and peas soup has always been a comforting warming soup for me as I love the combination of cabbage and peas, a patta-gobhi matar ki subzi (cabbage and peas dry curry) has been a childhood favourite. But this cabbage and peas soup has completely different flavours that the curry I mentioned.

This cabbage soup is my own recipe and I had once made it when I wanted a creamy cabbage soup with the sweetness of the fresh peas in season, a soup to be eaten actually,bits of cabbage and celery and whole peas cooked to perfection. I had fresh aromatic Celery growing in my garden and this soup used it beautifully. Later I tried this cabbage and peas soup with fresh coriander leaves (with stems) and some green garlic shoots too and this soup did not disappoint me. So any herbs of choice can be used in this soup but avoid any dry herbs and fresh seasonal herbs add rich base to this cabbage based soup.

You can use any kind of cabbage for this soup or a mix of cabbages too. The soups tastes great with bok choy as well.

(3-4 meal servings depending on how you serve it)
cabbage 1/2 of one medium sized head (4-5 cups packed)
celery two sticks (1/2 cup chopped)
(or use a mix of coriander greens and green garlic shoots)
fresh green peas 1.5 cup ( tender fresh green peas will be better )
rolled oats 2 tbsp
one small onion or 2 bulbs of spring onions
green chillies 2 nos.
cumin powder 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
sugar 1 tsp
ghee (or any oil of your choice) 1 tsp
white butter or cream 2 tsp to serve


Chop the cabbage, celery and onions finely . I usually chop the onions, green chillies and celery sticks together in my chopper attachment of hand blender. Or mince the cabbage and other vegetables and herbs really fine.

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Throw in the chopped onion, celery and green chilly mix. The spring onion, green garlic shoots and coriander stems will be added instead of these if using those.

Stir fry on very low flame as there is less oil and it may stick to the pan.

Add the green peas, cumin powder, salt, pepper and the sugar, stir fry for a while, add the celery or coriander leaves (keeping a few for garnish if you wish) and cook covered till the peas are cooked. Add a spoonful or two of water if needed. I did not need as the peas were fresh and tender. Use boiled peas if using frozen.

Add the chopped cabbage, stir fry for a while till the cabbage collapses a bit. Add water or stock (I usually add water), add the oats and let it come to a gentle boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes till the soup looks creamy in texture due to cooked oats.

Pour into soup bowls and serve right away, topped with some fresh cream or white butter. With home made white butter or fresh cream this soup tastes so good you might forget you are eating a soup made with cabbage.

The cabbage becomes soft and mushy and still retains the freshness as it is not cooked too much. The peas are sweet and tender and make a nice mouthful together. This is one of the few soups both of us love to have apart from the tomato based and sweet corn n basil soups.

See how yummy it is in every spoonful. You could blend the soup smooth if you like creamy kinda soups. I am always for the chunkier soups so this is perfect for me.

Cheers to the warmth of winter nights.....