Saturday, February 26, 2011

beetroot greens saag with makki ki roti




Winters bring makki ki roti and sarason ka saag in the north of India . Although it is a childhood favorite(my mother used to make the best makki ki roti-sarson ka saag ) I could not make it for the last three winters. This winter I made it some 4 times and took pictures to share here. I made the saag with beetroot greens too and it was quite good.... the saag looks brownish , partly due to my hasty photography , there were specs of greens and reds in the bowl of yummy saag , to dunk the makki ki roti and slurp.We had aloo methi on the side , do you think that is too much greens ?

I often use beetroot greens with daals too , not the yellow lentils but the skinned varieties like whole mung , balck lentil or sometimes with rajma . The beet greens boiled and blended to a smooth paste make a nice addition to these daals , I have taken a few pictures of those daals but as the color or appearance of the daal doesn't look different , so I think it's not worth posting here. The taste of the dal remains almost the same too , as the spicing masks the taste of beet greens which in turn provide a nice thickness to the daal.

If the beet greens are from my garden , I use them in my salads too , but I didn't plant them for the last two seasons . Using the market beet greens for a salad is not a good idea as they are likely to carry some contamination. Pressure cooking is a good idea , or at least steaming or microwaving , before adding the leaves to a stir fry or daal . They make a very nice stir fry made this way...

I use all the leaves with the stem , chopping them finely and boiling them with some chana daal for this saag. For sarson ka saag too I do the same , some people like adding corn meal ( makki ka atta) for thickening , even my mother used to do the same. later I saw a sardaar ji adding chana daal while boiling , liked it and it became my way too from then on....


This boiled mix is blended coarsely . Some people like it smooth and you can do whatever way you like. If you like the saag smooth you should blend all the other ingredients smooth too. Mine is all coarse . Heating the mustard oil ( or ghee if you wish ) , adding cumin and coriander seeds ( coriander seeds give a nice flavor in the seasoning ) , letting them splutter and then the coarse paste of onion,ginger, garlic and green chillies. All of them to taste. A detailed recipe of the saag can be followed seeing this one...


Bhuno frying for a while and then goes the everyday curry masala ( a mix of coriander , cumin , black pepper and bay leaves powder in 4:2:2:1 ratio) and garam masala to it...bhuno a bit more and then add the tomato paste...

Add the paste of boiled beet greens , a handful of roasted kassori methi powder, mix well and cook for a while . Serve hot with or without butter on top with makki ki roti and any side dish of your choice . Or even without any sides , with makki ki roti it is a complete meal in itself.


Most of the times I boil the greens and freeze them ... it becomes easier at the time when you need to cook this meal . Making makki ki roti needs a bit of skill , you can see the stepwise procedure here.

Our Desi food is so healthy in all the ways possible that I don't see the need to abandon carbohydrates from my diet . Using more greens , salads and whole grains has worked for me . Any body who has a tendency for high uric acid cannot afford to stay away from carbohydrates . Whole grains is the answer .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

broccoli and barley ...my perfect dinner ideas ....


Last year I had so many broccoli in my garden that I devised many new combinations with this vegetable. Many people around me do not like the taste of this green wonder but I love broccoli and whenever I get them fresh in the market , just load my bags with it. Last week I bought 2 kilos , usually a kilo a week is enough for me considering it's only me who eats this vegetable most of the time , unless it is paired with pasta. This year my crop of cauliflowers and broccoli is pathetic , the size is exactly like marigold flowers and they are bolting like anything . These recipes are made with the market broccoli , my last year broccoli pictures can be seen here and this year pictures are yet to come on this blog :) let them bolt and revolt....

With pasta they are most welcome for the husband . He loves anything except daal-chaawal , roti-subzi , stereotype North Indian meals . So the pasta he wants is always loaded with some vegetables and he likes it this way . Broccoli remain crunchy , soaked with the flavors of garlic simmered in extra virgin olive oil , accentuated with fresh herbs , oregano and basil ( dried herbs work very well too ).


The pasta is made mostly like this one in the picture . I am talking about the barley recipe today which off course is a descendant of this pasta recipe and is liked just because of this reason . Similarity to pasta , that is. So if you are going to introduce broccoli in your family this way , it will be better to make it with pasta first and then move on to barley ( which tastes much like al dante pasta , giving you the same bite) . Starting with barley will be perfect if you are a health food freak like me. My friend tasted barley cooked this way for the first time and asked for the recipe , it's wonderfully yummy .... health food is not always 'tasting healthy' take my word for it.

The recipe...

Boil some barley in pressure cooker or any way you like , in salted water till they are plump and soft , having a bite like pasta.
Boil some fresh peas, I did it in microwave for convenience.
Chop an onion ( I used white onion here) , the stalk and florets of barley separately and lots of garlic ( as much as you like , I like loads of it)......

Heat extra virgin olive oil and some butter ( as much or as less as you want ) in a pan and throw in the chopped garlic , let it simmer and get aromatic , add red chilly flakes .

Throw in the chopped onions and chopped broccoli stems first , stir fry till they turn soft , adding salt to taste . Now add the broccoli florets, boiled peas and the boiled barley , grate some nutmeg ( a pinch for one serving roughly) ..


I added a tbsp of cream for three servings to finish while the dish is still on the stove . Adding the water in which barley has been boiled makes it creamy too. The broccoli has to be crisp but stirred and mixed enough so that it soaks the flavors well . The florets soak like sponge... and the outcome is just yummy...

The quantity of the cooked vegetables is just double the quantity of boiled barley , making it the right high fiber meal fit for a macrobiotic plan. Oil and butter can be controlled , I made this one with a bit generous quantities according to my standards , about 2 tbsp for 3 servings.


 You could add any thing you like in this dish which is appropriate for these flavors . Like small cubes of paneer will be very good , I love mushrooms too . I made barley with mushrooms the other day, the recipe is coming soon.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

apple granola crumble for a quick breakfast.....



 This is the kind of breakfast when you are craving for a good apple pie and want it quick and healthy. It will be great if you have some kind of granola mix handy but do not worry even if you have to start from scratch.

I used rolled oats here and toasted them in the microwave till they become crunchy and pink . While microwaving the oats , take care to stir them after every 30 seconds , a cup of rolled oats should take about six rounds in the microwave 30 seconds every time...

Add chopped almonds, raisins and a little flax seed meal to the toasted rolled oats and microwave once again so that the almonds get aromatic too . Toasted almond flakes will be good if you have them. Sometimes i make this mixture and add some brown sugar to this and keep it in an airtight container . My simple granola mix with everyday ingredients. It is very convenient to have it topped on a nice fruit salad , for snacking or for a breakfast.

Now if you have the oats granola mix ready and a few apples in your fruit basket get going for a fancy breakfast or any time snack or meal....

Chop the apples and heat butter in a pan , be generous with butter if you wish . Let the butter brown a bit on low flame , add the apple cubes , increase the flame and saute them just so they become mushy at the corners . Add cinnamon powder , chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and take the pan off heat . Toss everything to get coated , add the granola mix and some honey to coat the mixture if you wish and serve warm.........

This is such a versatile recipe that you can have it even without sugar , or even honey .... the naturally sweet raisins and apples will be enough if you like it mild. you can keep the textures mushy or crunchy , adjust the quantity of chocolates , almonds or anything in it...the combination of these flavors is what works... you decide how much of what...the ingredients are typed in bold letters , i hope it will not be a deterrent for you to try this ...i know it is so tempting that anybody who likes these flavors will be in right at the moment...

Amazingly aromatic as the browned butter treats the apples very well and the cinnamon does complete justice to the soft apples and crunchy oats bits . A healthy mix of textures for that 'eating well' feeling , it's my personal feeling that a variety of textures in one dish give you more satisfaction for a meal.

I used a dark chocolate with orange  flavors , it was out of this world taste ...resulting in unexpected complements for this 'healthy' sounding dish....... What more...you can even dress it up like a dessert...can you imagine a dollop of whipped cream on top...?


With milk and some boiled eggs , this is a common breakfast for us whenever the tug of war between sweet or savory breakfast is given a break .... do you know that i like savory and the husband likes sweet breakfast .... if you are a regular reader of this blog.......... this is one of the few breakfast when the tug of war is given a rest...

What do you like for your breakfasts .... ?

I will be posting  more breakfast recipes as i have many requests for them . also there will be a series of broccoli recipes too as three of my friends want them here :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

making marmalade...in the microwave....

 Not one , not two , I made three jars of marmalade of different fruits. In three consecutive days using the same borosil bowl in the microwave and peeling and segmenting a new fruit each day . Limes , grapefruits and oranges . It was fun . Then  got bonkers photographing them .


Now look at this one...



I loved it while making these beauties and i am loving it looking at the pictures now and writing about them . Just now we had the orange one smeared generously over two butter cookies and microwaved for 30 seconds ...the marmalade beautifully glazed over the cookie and felt like having an orange tart :)

If you are making a small quantity of the marmalade, it's as easy as making coffee a few times a day. The microwave makes it easy for you . Dunk in some segments of the citrus fruit with water and cook till soft . Add sugar and keep cooking for a couple of minutes whenever you go to the kitchen . The cooking mixture will bubble up and each time it will thicken a bit . Also,when you are away and the cooking syrup is cooling down , it is evaporating copiously making the marmalade thicker even when you are away and the MW is off. MWs make evaporation of water quicker and that helps us here.

Starting with the grapefruit , because this is the biggest fruit and the pictures of the segments and the membranes are clear to understand....

separate the segments and the membranes and keep the membranes in a microwave safe mug . Boil the membranes and seeds with water and keep it aside . I did not use the grapefruit skin , with oranges and limes the skins are to be boiled with the membranes too . These parts have pectin and boiling lets the pectin extracted in the water.


 Now strain the liquids and add to the borosil or pyrex bowl . You would want to extract every last bit of pectin from the seeds and membranes mush so press it harder and use a muslin cloth if needed . Add the segments too and get started .


Microwaving for a couple of minutes will result into this...


 Add sugar and keep microwaving this syrup for a couple of minutes every time you are in the kitchen , or till the time you are working on something else....multitasking.

The same sequence for the oranges and the limes...I quartered the oranges and the limes both lengthwise and then sliced them thinly....

Orange seeds and some skin and the membranes , as much as can be separated from the sliced fruit ..... to be boiled to extract pectin...


And the sliced oranges in the pectin extract ...


 The lime slices in the pectin extract ....


After cooking for a couple of times , 2 minutes every time , the syrup gets thicker...

Keep cooking the syrup till it thickens and a shiny glaze appears on it . Fill in sterilized jars as soon as the marmalade thickens .

I used 4 limes , 2 oranges and one grapefruit to make about a jar full of these three glistening beauties...

Included the skin of the lime and oranges but with grapefruits i was apprehensive of the skins as the skins are strongly bitter and very thick . They made very nice candied peels though...

You can see the thin strips of skin in the lime and orange marmalade but the crimson colored grapefruit marmalade doesn't have any skin in it , still the taste is quite awesome.....Making a grapefruit marmalade was my achievement as it was my first time with grapefruit marmalade . Lime and oranges of different types i had worked for making bottles of marmalade...but that was on gas stove . In a microwave it was much more fun.


Now a recap of the quantities used . I used 4 limes and 1.5 cups of sugar for the lime marmalade . 2 oranges and a cup of sugar for the orange one and one whole grapefruit without skin and 1.5 cup of sugar for the grapefruit marmalade...

Also, i started with approximate quantities of sugar . The trick is , as you keep boiling or microwaving the syrup , it should get thick and should get frothy . At this stage if you see the frothy liquid is not getting shiny , add some more sugar and watch till it cooks , froths and becomes shiny . While cooling a bit it gets a glazed skin formed quickly . It is the time to bottle it . Do it fast and place the cap when the bottle is cool.

Easy ... Every day , for three days , i cooked a marmalade through the day . Microwaving for 2-3 minutes about ten times during the day and emptying the bowl in the evening . Next day another fruit was cut , peeled and cooked in the same bowl without washing, minimizing a lot of work.... I made them about 2 months ago and they were looking sad as i had kept them locked up for so long... Now they look so happy ...all of them...



I am using them a lot ..


The lemon marmalade is being used for a few yummy stir fries too .....stay tuned for the recipes...


Saturday, February 12, 2011

multigrain dosa with two healthy chutneys ....



Eating whole grains can be tricky for many people for so many reasons , I am talking about the millets which are low on Glycemic Index . The most common is that the whole grains , specially millets not being very tasty to be included in the meals regularly , secondly we find it time consuming to process these millets in our busy schedule .... another reason is that our desi recipes use a lot of ghee and butter to serve bajra and jowar rotis so if you are trying to minimize these fats from your diet you don't even want to think about the bajra churma or jowar pooris .

Fortunately and to my great pleasure , the audience of this blog is vastly informed and health conscious but at the same time i keep getting requests from new (read nervous) cooks , young girls who are trying to incorporate healthy food into their daily routine and a few busy people who want to maintain weight and eat healthy . My opinion is , you don't need to eat corn flakes and oats porridge daily for your breakfast . Satiating the taste buds goes a long way in keeping you happy and fit. 

Multi grain dosa can be a great solution and i know what are you thinking . Grinding the batter is so time consuming you might think , but when you use flours of the millets it becomes so easy . Now a days we find organic flours for many millets like ragi , jowar , bajra and jau ( barley ) and they can be put to great use . If you can find the flour of urad daal ( black gram ) too it will be an absolute pleasure to just mix them and get going . I use the soaked urad daal made into a paste and then i add the millet flours to ferment them further. If you are using all the powders ( flours ) you can mix them and ferment them till bubbles appear or you can make a batter with sour curds and add some soda bicarb in the batter to make instant dosa , but do keep in mind that the fermentation adds nutrient value.

ingredients....

( this amount is enough for 6-8 dosas and the batter can be kept in the fridge for a week)

Urad daal 100 gm soaked and made into a paste
or urad daal flour 100 gm
jowar atta 1 cup
bajra atta 1/2 cup
jau ka atta 1cup
sesame or flax seeds powder 1-2 tbsp ( i used sesame powder)
salt to taste
1-2 tsp oil for a couple of dosas

procedure...

Mix all the flours and the urad daal paste ( or flour if using ) adding enough water to make a batter of flowing consistency ( a bit thinner than pancakes) . Keep overnight for fermentation (sometimes i add yeast in the winter months) . A nice fermented aroma indicates good flavors in the batter and after mixing it up it can be used to make thin pancakes on a nonstick dosa griddle .



The dosa griddle is smeared with oil first and after a quick sprinkle of water , pour a ladleful of batter and spread with the ladle in concentric circles .. making it as thin or thick as you wish ...


Ease the dosa from the sides and flip to brown it on the other side too...repeat to make more such dosas and serve with any chutney you wish. The chutneys featured here are devoid of any added fats and high on antioxidants .

This is a soft dosa and not crisp and papery like the conventional rice dosa , so it suits well for lunch boxes as well .

A very nice amla and peanut chutney with fresh ingredients . Soaked peanuts are great for this ( roasted peanuts are good too )... some green chillies, garlic pods and some green coriander leaves....everything ground into a paste with salt to taste , the chutney can be kept in the fridge for a week too.


 he other chutney is a simple tomato chutney , the tomatoes chopped and cooked in microwave and then pureed with some red chilly powder and a couple of garlic cloves and salt to taste.




 A healthy platter to start your day or any other time of the day. As i said this is a soft dosa , lightly crisp when served hot from the griddle . This is soft and nice even when cold so it could be a good lunch box option for many . Small airtight boxes for chutney is all you need to carry this to your work place.

A tall glass of buttermilk with it for my breakfast and i am done for hours.... with tingling taste buds as i make the amla chutney really hot...

With three whole grain low GI dosa recipes in a row i kept a promise i had made to someone . Some more healthy breakfast recipes are on the way...stay tuned...

ragi dosa and two quick chutneys...



We get very good organic ragi flour at Navdanya outlet in Dilli Haat as well as at the Mother's school outlet . I pick up a few organic flours and nuts etc. whenever i visit these two places , other organic products ( like fruits and vegetables are not easily available and are damn costly ) are out of my reach most of the times . I make good use of this ragi flour to make dosas , dosas being favorites of the husband and the whole grains being favorites of mine , it is a winning combination in my household. This quick ragi uttapam is a lazy recipe but equally yummy...

The most important thing in ragi dosa is that they are just like the conventional rice dosas , perfectly crisp when made thin and the taste is great after fermentation . This is a brown dosa compared to the white rice  dosa as is brown bread to white...got it?

ingredients...
( enough for about 8 dosas and the batter can be kept in the fridge for a week )

Urad daal ( split black gram ) soaked and made into a paste 100gm
or urad daal powder 100gm
ragi flour 200-250 gm
salt to taste
oil or ghee 1-2 tsp for a couple of dosas

procedure...

As you make other dosas , make the batter by mixing the daal paste or powder with the ragi powder , add salt and let it ferment till frothy . Adding yeast in winter days may be convenient as i do it most of the times.

When the batter is fermented , mix well and pour ladlefuls on a greased dosa griddle (non stick is quite convenient) and spread thinly for crisp dosas . Repeat the process to make more dosas .


Serve hot with chutneys of your choice .


I made two quick chutneys . The green one is a coconut , curry patta and roasted peanut chutney with green chilies and garlic cloves . Everything made into a fine paste with salt to taste and some lemon juice.
The red one is a tomato and tamarind chutney with red chilly and garlic cloves .Tomatoes and a small piece of tamarind microwave cooked till soft and then blended with garlic cloves , red chilly powder and salt to taste . If the chutneys are prepared in advance this breakfast is super quick , i make them fresh most of the times and the breakfast takes about 20 minutes to get ready.


Make the dosa thin if you like it crisp and a bit thicker if you like it a bit soft or you need to pack them for a lunch box.

This is one of those breakfasts which keeps your blood sugar under control being a low Glycemic food and keeps our tummy full for hours without dipping your energy levels.

ragi and soy yogurt uttapam ....

Eating healthy is easy . Simple wholesome non fussy food is the answer . Whole natural food . Look out for your ingredients and stock them for your convenience .

There are benefits of buying and storing healthy ingredients for your kitchen and that benefit is more pronounced when you are alone and have to cook for yourself. Tell me how many times you cook just for yourself and not get into a bread and butter trap or an apple for lunch and a few crackers or chips to justify that i took just an apple for lunch today. I fall in that trap too and the only thing which can drive me away from a few mugs full of coffee ( that's my alone time indulgence ) is a few transparent jars of some healthy ingredients who remind me ...hey you bought me for yourself..... ragi flour is placed in a strategic place........you get it.


I make a quickest and healthiest of breakfasts in a jiffy . Using my thick base cast iron kadai , a griddle will be more convenient to some people.

A trip to the garden to pluck some curry leaves , chopping an onion mixing it with the soy yogurt ( or plain yogurt or even buttermilk ) and ragi flour ......some salt and lots of pepper .......green chillies chopped .................whip everything up and make a chilla or pooda or call it uttapam if you please. A lot of ragi dosa recipes are available on the net and this is not much different ... the only difference is that it can be savored without any chutney , the soy yogurt makes it very flavorful and the extra dose of seasoning makes it a perfect quick snack or whatever you intend it to be...

Just to remind you to store the healthy ingredients in a strategic place and use it , cook it , eat it.