Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's a radish...another radish and walnut recipe..

Mooli in hindi and Daikon in Japanese , the pictures in the last post are actually not of a fruit and Bikramjit was pretty close with answers like turnip or shalgam.  Radishes are not some boring white vegetables as i had seen them growing up. The cherry belle, the red rounded one appeared much later in the scene, and were much loved for the flash of color they provide to the salads. Cherry belle is easier to grow in the garden too and i have had them in the past years. But this one was a teaser for me when i saw it at the IARI sales counter where we get our organic vegetables and fruits sometimes. The round radishes are common but a green upper part was unusual so i bought it immediately thinking it would be easier to grate for mooli parathas...i never imagined i am to be surprised in a spectacular way.

                            This picture shows the Cherry belles and the Red flesh tricolors.

Cutting the first slice of this Red flesh tricolor was a teaser , my smile widened as i went on to cut more slices and then i had to look for it on the internet...got to know about Mantanghong radish which is even more brightly colored. This one is 'Red flesh' mild tricolor radish, check out this place for more varieties of radishes, there is one with purple black skin and white flesh called 'Hilds blauer herbst' and a black skin and white flesh called 'Black Spanish round' . Amazing.

Apart from this i have seen some giant radishes too, can you imagine a radish 3-4 Ft long and about about 10 inches in diameter? Here are some more radishes you can grow in your garden if you like.

Nutrition wise we all know radishes are tonic food for liver disorders and they have a lot of vitamin C . A trace mineral molybdenum is found in radish globes and they are a good source of potassium and folic acid too.Daikons have some copper and all radishes are rich in calcium too , the leaves have much more calcium than the roots though. Easily absorbed by the human gut as it has vitamin C to facilitate this. Like all crucifers, radishes also have cancer fighting properties. The sulfer based constituents help increase the flow of bile in the body, helping to maintain a healthy gall bladder, liver and digestive functions. Radishes are great food for constipation. One thing to take care is that the radish greens have more nutrition (about 6 times the calcium, protien, Vit C etc.) than the roots and fresh roots and leaves have more available Vit C than the cooked roots or leaves.

And now the recipe i made using the gorgeous Red flesh tricolors....

This is a spread or dip made with hung curd and radish. I had it over a home baked whole wheat bread with lots of flax seed powder in it. It was a yummy meal for me over warm slices of bread.

Whip 3/4 cup of thick fresh yogurt , fine chop or grate one tennis ball sized 'red flesh tricolor' radish , or any other variety of radish for that matter, and chop some walnuts . That is all you have to do for this creamy tangy nutty bread spread or dip . Season with salt and pepper , i added a pinch of red chilly powder too.

What lovely colors ... this variety of radish is sweeter than the more peppery varieties. So if you are using some other variety of radish, use it accordingly. The red Cherry belles are perfect for this spread too. You can grate the radish if you like finer texture and increase the amount of yogurt if the radish is more peppery.
Chopping the walnuts in small sizes would ensure it's even distribution in the spread and would give you a nutty bite in every morsel. I loved my lunch today...yes i made it today and am uploading the pictures in record time..... just too much for a lazy bug :)

A creamy consistency of this spread with chunks of radish was just perfect. I used yogurt hung for only half an hour. You can use Greek yogurt if that is available in your part of the world or use home made hung curd or just a thick curd out of a tub. I have read a lot of good things about labneh too and this spread should be great with labneh i guess...

I like my bread warm and not toasted. You can have a toasted bread for this moist spread and consume it immediately. It is a great dip for crackers and corn chips.You would know how you would like it once you taste it . One thing is sure you would like it if you like radish....for radish haters i have seen at least one who had polished off his bowl with a raita made with regular curds (the same recipe otherwise) a couple of years ago. Radish gets a makeover once it is mixed with yogurt and added with walnuts...i would not use any other nuts for his recipe. For other recipes i am not very particular about nuts ...any mixed nuts go for many of my cakes but not for this.

It has to be just the yogurt, radish and walnuts ...three ingredients in total and salt n pepper for seasoning.. red chilly powder if you like some heat.


Monday, November 28, 2011

is that a cousin of kiwi?

I had never seen it before. And even when i bought it out of curiosity and because i love to munch on other varieties of it, i never thought the slices would be so spectacular.

I sliced this one whole thing and couldn't stop myself from clicking some pictures... Have you even seen something like this?

I love the riot of colors here...the green periphery and the white and pink interiors ....
Such a great designer nature is... amazes you every now and then...

Have you really seen something like this before?
Tell me as i want to know how dumb i have been not to have seen this before :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

wholewheat and wheat bran banana bread...a nutty one..

Fruit breads are always a welcome treat for everybody. They are a delight to bake as well ...whenever you want to make use of some over ripened fruits. Bananas have a different story at my place though, i wait for some of them to get a blackened skin so i can make the pancakes so eagerly waited by the husband. I do not like sweet breakfasts but i like making whole wheat banana pancakes for the ease involved in making them , then i go on a fix myself a savory breakfast...some steamed vegetables and 2 fried eggs is the most common on such days...

I love baking breads and am more into yeasted breads but if the fruit breads are made with whole wheat flour or multi grain flours, i am game. I like them low on sweetness scale as the flavors of the fruit must be the prime flavor. Dried fruits and nuts make them special whenever added. For some reason i like nuts in banana breads and have never tried any warmth of spices in it till date.

I baked this banana bread after years and there was a reason. Banana breads were dreaded for about 5 years now , ever since my daughter stopped eating them. Banana breads and pancakes were her favorite foods. She used to love banana in all it's forms. Later, the mashed banana was her staple food, i am trying to relive all those wonderful memories at any given chance. I made her favorite mung ke cheeley some time back and now have started baking this bread too. A treasure trove of memories is revived and cherished.

whole wheat flour 1 2/3 cup
wheat bran 1/4 cup
mashed banana 1 cup (3 overripe bananas)
brown natural sugar or jaggery crushed or grated 1/3 cup
oil 1/3 cup
eggs 2
chopped nuts 2/3 cup(i used chopped apricot kernels)
black raisins 1/2 cup
baking soda 1/2 tsp
baking powder 1/2 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp


Preheat the oven.

Mix the flour, bran ,salt, baking powder and baking soda together and keep aside.

Chop the nuts and keep aside.

Mash the bananas using a fork , add sugar and mix. Break the eggs into this pulp and pour the oil into it too. Now whip everything together using a wire whisk or a wooden spatula. You don't need to make a smooth slurry , the uneven mashed banana should be visible after a light whip.

Now mix the flour mixture, the chopped nuts and raisins to the mashed bananas and eggs mixture and lightly whip once again. It makes a lumpy consistency and not an easily flowing batter.

Pour in greased loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes at 180 C. Check with a skewer and bake a little more if required. I kept it in the middle rack for 30 minutes and then shifted the pan on the lower rack to avoid burning of the crust. The crust gets closer to the upper filament as it rises and a sugary dough with banana tends to brown fast. So watch the crust and shift to lower shelf as soon as you see your kind of browning done.

We like a deeply toasted kind of brown crust and that's how it turned out. The kitchen and your home smells so nice with this cake that there will be no one present in the home who wouldn't come trailing the aroma and  prod you to immediately cut a slice. The first slice with a brown crust three sides is the most revered one. So is the last slice.

You might like to toast the slices for serving , with or without whipped cream or malai . We like it as it is with warm milk. For breakfast or as a snack. It makes a nice snack or meal to be packed in a tiffin box.

I had never used apricot nuts before and i was very apprehensive when i bought a large packet from a health food shop in Leh. It was organic and i just thought it would be nice for some pesto or cakes. The slight bitterness in the apricot seeds was making me hesitant to use it for a cake as a bitter nut in a sweet bread is the last thing i want. I first used this nut for making a gujrati chevdo and it tasted yummy after a light frying in the pan. That made me a bit confident in cooking this nut embedded in a sweet bread. And it was such a nice thing to do. The nuttiness was rich and felt like mixed nuts. Next time when you see apricot nuts, do not hesitate to pick up a huge packet.

One important thing with a banana bread i feel is, that it does not age well. It tastes great for 3-4 days if refrigerated but no more than that. May be i am a prejudiced banana hater(i really do not like bananas much , can eat fresh but not a really ripe over the top kind of banana) and when the bread goes bananas ... over the top after a few days in the fridge i just do not appreciate it much. Though i an still eat it. The husband likes it anyways , fresh warm just out of the oven or after a week's stay in the fridge. I am sure you know how you like it. Bananas get a great makeover in a bread like this ...nuts and black raisins make this bread special and even the banana haters love it.

I made a second batch of the apple cake/bread again, with lots of nuts and black raisins and this time many people got to taste it and appreciate it...That is one bread/cake which ages well and i enjoy it even after 2-3 weeks in the fridge. I like the way cubed apples behave in a cake/bread. I am quite impressed with apricot nuts too. Black raisins have been a favorite always.

Now that i baked a banana bread after long years, i am planning to bake another one with oats which was a much loved bread back then. Keep watching this space.

Some whole wheat bread in the fridge does a lot of good in winters. As is baking fun in winters.
Foggy days are yet to come :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a simple dessert with water chestnut....kachhe singhade ka halwa..

 Water chestnut halwa sounds like an exotic dish for which you have toiled hard. It is for those occasions when you need to get some compliments and feel good. Or eat some soul food and feel good for that matter.

Singhade ka halwa , kachhe singhade ka halwa or a water chestnut pudding , call it by any name you wish but try making it once you get hold of some fresh water chestnuts. You would go looking out for fresh water chestnuts every season. I wanted to share this recipe once again for my readers before the season ends. I just had to. I had taken cute pictures this time :)

The exotic appeal of this dessert is not dimmed by the fact that it is darn simple once you have some peeled water chestnuts to begin with . Takes about 10 minutes for 2 servings and about 20 minutes if you are making it for a crowd of 10. This halwa needs to be served hot or warm , although you can always choose to make it ahead and reheat at the time of serving.

ingredient list is as frugal as it can get....

2 cups of water chestnut paste(no water used during processing)
2 tbsp ghee
2-3 tbsp sugar (i prefer less sugar)


Pour the ghee in a kadai or deep pan and melt it over stove.

Add the water chestnut paste . It is better not to heat the ghee to much before pouring in the paste as it might cause splattering the paste due to hot ghee.
You can add the paste and ghee together too if using a nonstick pan , for a metal pan it is better to coat the surface with ghee first.

Place the pan over stove again and keep stirring while the paste starts thickening. You wouldn't mind stirring it continuously as it needs just a couple of minutes to get cooked. The aroma of the cooking paste starts getting deeper and nuttier. The color starts changing too.

You might continue cooking it (bhunoing) if you want a deeper color and thicker consistency like this halwa posted long back. Or stop cooking when a light pink beige color develops as seen in this picture. I like it both ways and make it according to the way i am feeling at the time. And most of the time I do not use any topping of nuts to serve as the rich flavors of this halwa is something I don't like to underplay.

You would know what I am talking if you try this. Poured in small cups or bowls and nothing else to bother about. Can a dessert get simpler that that ?

I took many pictures of this halwa as I made it in my leisure time . It is another story that I kept licking the warm halwa off the kadai all this while...

These cute little brass spoons were a gift from my sister in law , just perfect for a special dessert serving. This halwa is special for me because I invented this (  haven't come across this recipe even till now) when I was in college and my mom used to fuss with dried water chestnuts to make a halwa. The halwa made with water chestnut flour (singhade ka atta) is a nice recipe too but this one turned the table for any singhade ka halwa since then ...Did I tell you my mom used to make the flour (of dry water chestnuts) at home? Yes, even I used to do that till a few years ago when still doing navratri fasting. Not any more.

Kachhe singhade ka halwa has made things simpler on this regard. And fixing desserts simpler in the singhada season.... Know more about singhada here if you are intrigued about this fruit. Then go find the fruit/nut and cook a dessert...or a dessert meal.


Monday, November 14, 2011

salad for lunch : water chestnut, corn, peanuts and mung sprouts...

Gluten free meals are not difficult to follow. I use the seasonal produce to stir up salads and one pot meals and these are always full of flavours. Seasonal produce brings all the taste into a simple dish, even if it is cooked in a very simple way. This fresh water chestnut (water caltrop, singhada or paniphal) salad with mung sprouts, sweet corn kernels and peanuts is such a tasty meal that you will try to recreate it even for quick tea time snacks to share with friends.

Making a textural delight, a medley of flavors. Colorful too but not bursting with pigments, at least in the pictures here. I would have loved a lot of chopped green coriander to lift the salad to another level. There are some days we have to make do without any leafy greens, when a trip to market has been a long time and you have just those staples in the fridge. Do add a lot of any fresh herb you like to this salad and let it become a mood uplifting experience...otherwise too you wouldn't be disappointed.

It made our weekend breakfast about a couple of months ago when i had just returned form the journey to the mountains, all exhausted and sleepy. So quick fixes were the order of the day. Water chestnuts were new seasonal arrivals then and being the favorite snack of the husband they became a welcome addition to this salad. Otherwise we like snacking on this wonderful fruit/nut fresh or boiled. We just love sitting around a newspaper spread out to collect all the tough skin when we peel water chestnuts and eat them straight away. Some tough ones are reserved for boiling as they taste better that way.

This salad uses boiled water chestnuts chopped roughly to make them bite sized. The peeled water chestnuts can be refrigerated for about a week and i used just that, microwaved to cook for 2 minutes.

(2 breakfast or lunch servings)

about 10 water chestnuts
1.5 cup or sweet corn kernels
1.5 cup of mung sprouts
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
3/4 cup of diced red onion
salt and pepper to taste
chaat masala to taste (i use minimal as i do not like chaat masala much)
finely minced green chillies 1/4 tsp or to taste ( optional)
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or mustard oil


Cook the water chestnuts and corn kernels in microwave separately 2 minutes each.

Mix the oil, lemon juice, chaat masala, minced green chillies, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl . Add the diced onion to it and let it rest till the water chestnuts and corn kernels cook.

Mix everything together, adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

As i said , the salad is rich in textures. The crunchy peanuts, the soft boiled water chestnuts and the fresh crunch of mung sprouts and sweet corn , all having their own different taste and the sharp red onions doused in lemon juice provide an interesting kick to it. Adjust green chillies if the onions are too sharp.

Chaat masala is minimal in my case but most people want a lot of it. Adjust the level of chaat masala for your own palate, it is addictive for some people.

Such rich textured yummy salads are addictive for me. The husband likes all such salads too, the only condition is, he needs to be in a relaxed mood to relish it...i can have it any time. Mostly a lunch salad for me.

Can you imagine a dessert with fresh water chestnuts?

Stay tuned :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

steamed Tibetan bread : Tingmo ... and a sweet sour spicy vegetable curry

A warm comforting meal of a lot of vegetables cooked lightly in a spicy sweet and sour gravy to dunk torn pieces of a soft warm bread . This Tibetan steamed bread is so comforting that i have liked it with a red lentil soup , thick vegetable soup and with mutton and chicken curries. Making soupy curries is my favorite way to consume more and more vegetables, specially during the winter months as i want to have more and more warm liquids going down my throat. Yes, the days are darker now and the evenings quicker than i can wind up my days.

This Tingmo is made with only a little bit of white flour in it. Making all my breads with whole wheat and mixed grains is a habit now and i had to try these Tigmo with whole wheat too. All purpose flour gives these steamed breads a very nice and light pillowey texture and the tiny air pockets in these layered breads are crucial as they soak the soupy gravies or soups it is served with. I added 1/4 quantity of all purpose flour to the dough just to ensure that lightness in the bread.

A steamed bread is quite a safe way to start with breads if you are new to the wonders of yeast. The dough is easier to work with and there is no apprehension of getting the crust right. The bread rises well one the yeast has bubbled to a nice froth. Just knead it , let it rise, roll it and shape the bread for a fun time in your kitchen. Working with a dough, shaping it into interesting things is always therapeutic. Try it to believe it.

This is nice link to explain shaping of Tingmo along with the recipe on youtube.

I used a mix of whole wheat flour and APF in 3:1 ratio. With a tsp of dry active yeast per large cup of flour , salt and little sugar, the flour is kneaded using warm water and kept in a warm place to rise, covered with a cling sheet. Make cricket ball size portions, knead every ball to smooth and roll in a chapati like disc. Roll the chapati in a tight roll , cut in 3 inch long portions and fold each one like shown in the video , let the rolled up buns rise a bit more before steaming them in a steamer or a makeshift arrangement, whatever suits you.

ingredients for the sweet sour and spicy gravy...
(4 large portions)
mixed vegetables chopped into1 -1.5 cm bits10cups
(i used carrots, beans, cabbage and spring onions)
minced ginger 2 tbsp
minced garlic 2 tsp
minced onion 4 tbsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp or to taste
puree of raw tomatoes 2 cups
tomato ketchup 1/2 cup
salt to taste
vegetable oil 1 tbsp
nutmeg to be grated freshly in the last stage of cooking

spices to be lightly roasted and powdered together... 
(called kopan masala, a Tibetan spice blend)...
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp or a bit more black pepper corns
half a broken black cardamom
2 cloves
1/2 an inch pc. of Indian cinnamon


Heat the oil in  pan and tip in the minced garlic and ginger in that order. Fry for a few seconds before adding in the minced onions. Sprinkle a lil salt over the cooking mixture to accelerate cooking. Wait for ther cooked onion smell, lightly starting to get pink.

Add the carrots , then the beans and then all the other leafy ones in the order of their cooking time. Stir fry till the veggies sweat a bit. Add red chilly powder and the roasted and powdered spices and toss or stir to mix well.

Add the freshly made tomato puree and the tomato ketchup, adjust salt and let it boil for a couple of minutes.

A nice bright color and fresh aroma indicates the gravy is done. Grate nutmeg over the cooking curry and mix well. Take off heat and serve hot.

Do not cook the vegetables too much as the slightly crunchy vegetables make it all the more enjoyable.

The buns can be steamed alongside the curry and they get ready conveniently together, to be served warm together. The buns can be warmed in the MW too and the curry also reheats well but try and serve the vegetable fresh as it doesn't keep well in the fridge as leftovers.

The crunchy texture of the vegetables demands freshly prepared luxury.

You are luckier if you get all the vegetable available growing in the garden. This possibility is remote for my gypsy garden in near future. I have been a lazy gardener lately and only a few of the herbs have survived my neglect.

Unroll the buns, break the soft layers into bite sized bits and mop off the curry with it. Use your hands , the food is always tastier using your fingers. As it is therapeutic to to use your hands to shape these buns.

How i want to make Tingmo again. The wintry feeling is making me crave for all things soupy and all things hot. Will have to go hunt for freshest of vegetables once again.

Enjoy till then....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

sesame-peanut-coconut and curry patta chutney to supplement everyday meals | a chutney to supplement nutrients everyday

sesame peanut coconut chutney

Natural sources of calcium and iron are far better absorbed by the digestive system than the supplements and if the natural sources of good nourishment can be turned into yummy chutneys, it becomes all the more sensible. This chutney is actually a hair and skin tonic if taken as a dose daily and the daily dose would be delicious smeared over idlies, chapatis or  even bread. Try it with crackers or as it is , the chutney would make sure you make it again when it finishes in your fridge. Believe me.

I had one such experience at my parent's place just a week ago. I made a large batch of this chutney (meant to last 2 weeks) for my sister who is a breastfeeding mother ( it is a good source of calcium, iron and other minerals and protein for a breast feeding mother too) and all the other family members liked this chutney so much that it vanished quickly and i had to make it again within a couple of days.
I usually prepare a dry pasty powder of this chutney and store in the fridge. A tbsp of the powder per serving mixed with either fresh yogurt or lime juice to taste is what is all needed to do whenever you need it. Here it is mixed with lime juice...

(makes about 25 large servings)
curry patta fully matured leaves 70 springs (this is the best way to measure it i guess)
3/4th of a small fresh coconut
1/2 cup raw peanuts (or roasted)
1 cup raw white sesame seeds
1 tbsp split chickpea
1 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 pods of tamarind (seeds removed)
about 10 whole dry red chillies or to taste
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1 tbsp sesame oil or any vegetable oil
salt to taste
lime juice or yogurt to mix at the time of serving

Wash the curry patta and let them drain, wrap in kitchen towel to remove traces of water.

Clean the meat of the coconut of all the black skin it has and chop it in small bits (1 cm cubes is okay) or slice it thinly.

Wash the raw peanuts and drain. Skip if using roasted peanuts.

Heat the oil in large pan or thick base kadai and tip in the asafoetida, then add the mustard seeds, split chickpea and broken red chillies and roast for 30 seconds while stirring.

Add the washed peanuts and start roasting at low flame level. After about 5 minutes add the curry patta and keep stirring and roasting for 5 minutes. Add the curry patta and tamarind directly if using roasted peanuts and add the roasted peanuts at the time of powdering the chutney. The curry patta and tamarind start dehydrating after a while.

Now add the sliced coconut too and keep stirring and roasting till the peanuts and curry patta are dry and crisp and the coconut bits look shriveled but not browned.

Lastly, add the sesame seeds and keep stirring and let the sesame splutter slowly and get roasted. It takes about 2-3 more minutes.

Take off the flame and let it cool.

If you want to keep this dry chutney mix at room temperature do take care to dehydrate the mix really well so if you see the mixture is still damp when cold you can roast it once again or just bake it at very low temperature till dry. 

Make a powder in your food processor with salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a month.

Add lime juice or fresh yogurt to taste and serve as a chutney with anything you like. Believe me, you would like it with most of the things you eat during the day. Think of bread, chapatis, idli, vadas, crackers or even mixed with rice or cornflakes .....
Breakfasts would sound tastier and snacks will be healthier this way.....supplements were never this much fun to eat.