Friday, December 23, 2011

101 alternative flours | gluten free ragi walnut cake | a rich brown cake with spicy flavors

gluten free ragi walnut spiced cake

A ragi cake recipe with natural sweeteners. Ragi is called finger millet, vernacular names are nachni or mandua or madua in different Indian languages. It's flour is a bit sandy in texture and looks difficult to handle once made into a dough or batter, but it makes great breads, flat breads (roti) and cakes.

A cake that is gluten free, low fat and low sugar. That too a natural brown sugar.

Does that sound like a dampener to the cake spirits? In fact with all the healthy ingredients the cake still tastes rich. Ragi millet flour is used instead of cake flour and the fruits are replaced by grated carrots and grated sweet potatoes. At a time when heavily decorated fruit cakes are raining left, right and center, in the blog world and in the markets all around, this cake might look like a tad boring but you would know when you have taken a bite. You would keep on munching on this cake and yet not worry about the muffin top your waist is going to get during the festive season.

A filling breakfast daily with these slices and milk will keep you away from hunger pangs in the mid morning and the rich taste would make it sure you don't grab the next muffin or piece of fruit cake you see around. A lot of cakes and muffins are doing the rounds in offices and homes alike. Don't be cake deprived if you are gluten intolerant or just wanting to have some healthy options.

Ragi millet or Finger millet is a tough grain and the flour is quite grainy too. It gets quite dry after cooking and results in a brittle and crumbly texture if you do not take care to moisten it in some or the other way..

I used a lot of grated carrots and sweet potatoes to make it moist and to bring down the amount of sugar being used. It resulted into a nice rich texture and the sweetness is very very delicate, almost like laced with molasses and spices, just right for the season. My mom and grandmother used to make Ragi laddoo with almost the same ingredients and I turned them into a cake so everybody likes to eat them. 

As kids those Ragi laddoos were forced on us. The cake would make a much favored daily fix of calcium, iron and omega 3s.

And sometimes I replace the sweet potatoes with grated apples. The apple version of this ragi cake is more moist and takes a little more time to bake well. 

I took all the measurements and weights for my blog readers so the recipe would not sound tough to handle. Otherwise I bake with approximate measurements using any of the spoons and cups around. Usually i make a loaf of this cake, this time I baked it in a tray so the browned crust is more for each piece, the crust is tastier so i planned to get more crust per piece...the recipe makes 42 squares of cake,35-40 gm each.

(fills up a 10X12 inch baking tray)

Ragi flour (can be substituted with flours of other millets too) 2 Cup or 280 gm
brown natural sugar(shakkar or boora or grated jaggery) 1 cup or 130 gm
grated carrots (I used red winter carrots) 2 cups packed or 160 gm
grated sweet potatoes (I used Indian white flesh variety) 2 cups packed or 190 gm, or same amount of peeled grated apples
walnuts 1 cup or 120 gm or you can use more (chopped in small bits)
fine grated ginger 2 tbsp
baking powder 1.5 tsp
baking soda 1 tsp
dry ginger powder 2 tsp
cinnamon powder 1 tsp
clove powder 1/2 tsp
nutmeg grated 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
grated orange zest 2 tbsp
ghee (clarified butter) 3/4 cup
yogurt 100 gm (I used a packet of Amul masti dahi)
eggs 5


Mix the ragi flour, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts, dry ginger powder and other spice powders in a dry bowl.

In another large bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, melted ghee, and brown sugar. Whisk together till well blended. There is no need to make it all fluffy and airy. The cake results quite spongy without any hard work here.

Now add the dry mixed ingredients in to the egg-yogurt mix and fold in nicely. It's a gooey mixture of very very dark color. Night time pictures make the situation worse :-)

Now is the time to fold in the grated carrots and sweet potatoes, take care to fluff this up while adding to the batter to prevent them sticking in lumps together.

gluten free ragi walnut spiced cake

The mixture turns heavier to fold and the consistency remains like a muffin batter. Add some more yogurt or milk if you feel the batter is dry.

Pour on a greased baking tray (size 10X12 inches), spread evenly with the help of a spatula as the batter is quite thick.

Bake in preheated oven for an hour at 190 C. Do the skewer test before taking the cake out. Cool the cake inside the baking tray and then cut pieces of desirable size.

gluten free ragi walnut spiced cake

This cake keeps well in the fridge and can be served warm or straight out of the fridge. I like it warm with a huge mug of hot milk.

I cut a strip of this cake right in the midnight when it was ready and this is the picture of the warm temptation.

Eating the cake straight out of the baking pan when the aroma of the baked cake is still in the air is a treat actually. Something really greedy and wicked. The warmth of spices alive and kicking in the air. Late night snacking is never more tempting than this. I usually bake my cakes and breads in the night as that is the time when there are no phone calls, no visitors and no disturbances.

There is something very crucial with cakes baked using Ragi flour. As i said, the flour results in a very dry texture when baked or cooked and there is a grainy bite to it that many people find repulsive.

Even I used to hate those Ragi ladoos in my childhood just because of this reason.

Adding the sweet potatoes along with carrots solves this problem in a way that it's almost unbelievable. The two ingredients are not visible in the baked cake and become melded with the hearty flour in such a manner that the very character of the flour is modified. The texture is provided just by the walnuts, a pleasant nutty taste and you can add more walnuts or other nuts if you like.

The use of ghee is also a personal choice and you can always use butter, just take care to increase the amount by a tablespoon , or may be more if you wish. it will definitely make the cake more moist. I prefer the sweet potato and yogurt trick to make this Ragi cake moist and soft.

The cake is quite hearty if you are having it for breakfast. Two to three of those slices and a hot mugful of milk is enough to keep you full till lunch. I usually eat a fruit in the mid morning and just 2 small pieces are good enough for me. Just warmed in the microwave, both the cake and the milk and the breakfast is an easy task to accomplish. Festival season or otherwise.

gluten free ragi walnut spiced cake

You can use other millet flours and the cake turns out great every time. I have used whole wheat and Jowar (Sorghum) flour and a mixture of flours that i often use for my chapatis. Just take care to add the required amount of grated carrots and sweet potatoes for softer cakes every time. This cake is mildly sweet as the natural brown sugar i used has lesser sweetness, you can add a little more sugar if you wish.

Bake muffins with the same batter if you are feeling fancy or a loaf if a loaf pan is handy. It will be the same yummy hearty cake every time. Satisfying to the hilt.

What flour are you using for this cake ??

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

aloo saag ...spinach and new potatoes cooked to a mushy scramble...

This is a winter curry as the new potatoes and the best of the spinach is available during this time. This new potatoes and spinach stir fry can be made in many versions, you choose depending on what spice mood you are in and of course how much time on hand you have. Each one tastes really good considering most people like potatoes and spinach too, there are some people who like spinach only with potatoes.

 This one is for all tastes. A mushy scramble like dish where the potatoes are cooked in such a way that they acquire the green color of the spinach. Slow cooked together and then thrashed lightly so the cooked potatoes get mixed with the spinach. Spicing is minimal so the spinach flavors shine through. Just the ginger-garlic-green chilly trio in whatever ratio you like them and want them with this combination. There is one more subtle addition to this aloo saag and that is dill greens. This herbs combines very well with spinach and fenugreek too, separately though. So your aloo paalak or aloo methi can include some dill greens too to make them a little more fragrant , the taste gets enhanced too.

(3-4 servings as a side dish)
one large new potato (150 gm) peeled and cubed
chopped spinach with stem and all 4 cups packed (400 gm)
chopped dill leaves 1/2 cup (50 gm)
minced or finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp or a bit more
minced or finely chopped garlic 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
mustard oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste


Heat oil in a iron or cast iron pan/kadai and tip in the cumin seeds and wait till they crackle.

Add the garlic and then ginger and let them brown lightly before adding the cubed potatoes. Stir and cook the potatoes adding salt to taste . Add the chopped spinach just when the potatoes start getting shiny , about 1/4th done. Mix well and cover the pan and cook on low flame , stirring occasionally. This way the potatoes slowly absorb all the flavors and color from the spinach and garlic also gets nicely infused with everything.

After about 8-10 minutes of slow cooking, the spinach will get dried up and potatoes completely cooked and soft. Now add the chopped dill greens and mix well.Let it cook covered for another couple of minutes.

Lastly, thrash the potatoes a little so it gets mushy. You may leave them as it is if you do not like mushed up stir fries , but this aloo saag ill be a different experience when mushed up.

I love the tiny bits of ginger in it too. The garlic flavors taste really well with such mushy spinach. Dill greens need just 2-3 minutes of cooking to prevent the aromatic oils from evaporating completely, hence it is added in the final stage of cooking and makes the aloo saag very aromatic.

The first picture is the same recipe without dill leaves and the second picture with dill leaves. I got to know some people do not like dill much but I add a lot of dill leaves whenever I get them. It tastes great in combination with spinach and fenugreek greens...

 I have posted a dill and dried fenugreek greens pilaf with broken wheat earlier and that is a superbly aromatic recipe.

This sesame and fenugreek greens fried rice tasted great with addition of dill greens ...

This fenugreek and dill greens curried rice with sweet corn kernels has become a favorite in many homes now...I personally like it with green peas too..

A dill and spinach pulao with some vegetables we call hari tahiri is another winter favorite.

This season i have planted a lot of dill in my garden and i am waiting to harvest them for my salads, soups and curries...and i have planted two varieties of spinach too...

Do you detest any of the known herbs ?

I have never come across a herb i do not like.... It just takes to pair them well with other ingredients so they agree with your kind of constitution...this is what i believe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another meal under 30 minutes | mixed sprouts and fenugreek tahiri and a vegetable kachumber salad

Sprouts are a good source of proteins, Vitamin C, Folate and fiber. We generally like our sprouts in salads and chaats and even jhalmuri type mixtures as evening snack.

Sprouts are best consumed raw and making them and keeping them for a few days is a task in summers because they get smelly due to bacterial contamination if not refrigerated well. Someone inquired me regarding this who is experiencing the same kind of problem in the coastal area even in winters. I fished out this recipe of sprouts tahiri from my drafts for S who finds eating sprouts difficult as sprouting and keeping the sprouts contamination free is difficult for her.

mixed sprouts and fenugreek tahiri

Hot and humid weather can always cause the sprouts to get contaminated. The best way to sprout any lentil is to soak them first overnight, drain well and keep them in a porous bowl till the sprouting begins. Wash them once under running water and then keep them refrigerated . It stays well for about a 2 weeks if washed again under running water after 4-5 days.

What when the sprouts are not consumed on time? I had such leftover mixed sprouts once and decided to make a nice tahiri with it and that recipe remained with me for the sheer utility of consuming any leftover sprouts at once. After cooking the sprouts will be free from live bacteria (or fungal spores or mycelia). These were mung, red lentil , horsegram and chickpea sprouts and the tahiri turned out to be a keeper recipe.

Now I do not measure when I soak the lentils for sprouting as I know I will be making them into a nice one pot meal at the end of it all.

When I posted the sesame and fenugreek rice, someone said fresh fenugreek will not be available in the season. Even this recipe requires fresh methi leaves but dry kasoori methi leaves can be used when you don't get fresh methi, so we can have this version of fenugreek flavored rice in the summers too.


mixed sprouts 2 cups 
raw basmati rice 1/2 cup
cubed potatoes 2/3 cup
diced onions 2/3 cup
dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) 1/4 cup
OR fresh fenugreek leaves 3 cups packed
bay leaves 2 nos.
dry red chillies 2-3 nos.
cumin seeds 2 tsp
crushed peppercorns 2 tsp
garam masala 1/2 tsp  or as desired
(i used my special garam masala)
finely chopped ginger 1 tbsp
salt to taste
lime juice 1 tbsp
ghee 1 tbsp


Cook the rice separately in a pan or in the microwave till it is 90% done. In the mean time cook the potatoes and sprouts together so that everything can be mixed at the right time. The whole process takes under 20 minutes and you can chop the onion and tomatoes for the kachumber in the last step of cooking the rice covered for 5 minutes.

Heat ghee in a deep pan and throw in the cumin seeds, bay leave, dry red chillies and crushed peppercorns in that order, immediately add the cubed potatoes and diced onions, fry till a little pinkish.

Add the dry fenugreek leaves (crushed) and chopped ginger, mix well to coat the potato cubes. Add the garam masala and salt and cover to cook at low flame.

Add the mixed sprouts and toss and stir so that everything is mixed up nicely, we do not want to cook the sprouts too much.

Add the cooked rice and mix lightly. Sprinkle lime juice over it, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Prepare the kachumber in the meantime...

Serve hot with any vegetable based raita of kachumber salad... 

kachumber salad

This was a chopped tomatoes, diced radish, diced onions and loads of rocket leaves, dressed with salt, pepper, chopped green chilies and a drizzle of mustard oil.You can use radish leaves or coriander leaves instead of rocket, I anyway use whatever fresh greens are available in the garden.

I need loads of raita or kachumber with such rice dishes. The same chopped vegetables mix can be turned into a raita by adding a cup of thick yogurt into the mix.

mixed sprouts and fenugreek tahiri

This tahiri is another recipe to make white rice more nutritious. Whenever I make such a tahiri or biryani, it is always with white rice. One reason is that the white rice absorbs flavors more and this is one super flavorful rice tahiri.

Another reason for using white rice in such recipes is that the rice is getting all the nutritive additives anyways. Whatever the rice lost during polishing and refining, is added back to it and some more.

Why not enjoy the white rice with all the flavors and health, occasionally when you absolutely detest brown rice. It happens sometimes. Make the white rice better for those times.

30 minute meals....a red lentil and mushroom soup, a cabbage stir fry and chapatis...

Making everyday meals tasty and interesting and still spending less time with the stove is a challenge for many of us. Especially when we want healthy meals. So when Rekha Kakkar was discussing ways to make the meals quicker I wanted to self check if I can go scurry the fridge for a 30 minute meal for the two of us. I did and made a simple unpretentious meal within 30 minutes including few minutes spent of photography....the food was good , tasty and satisfying , the photography was hurried and just about demonstrative enough to convey the idea of quick healthy meals.

The soup is a more yellow less brown in reality and the cabbage stir fry is a nice green and yellow color, wanted to let you all know these are not some spicy looking dark brown things in those bowls :-) thanks to hurried photography...

I chose two vegetables which need no peeling to save time but mushrooms need thorough washing and cabbage needs a skillful chopping if you wish to save time on this front. Peeling the onion-garlic and ginger i did during cooking as well as kneading the chapati dough, and that gives an idea how you can coordinate your cooking and peeling/chopping on the side. I will include the steps so it is more clear how you proceed with the steps to save time.

Before moving on to this 30 minute frugal yet healthy and tasty meal, i would like to discuss some pointers towards quicker way of daily cooking.

Keeping some spice and herb powders ready to use , home made spice powders are always better to get great taste with convenience.

A good set of knives, scissors and chopping board so the chopping is smooth and quick, otherwise a machine which does it like a charm for you and doesn't take much time to clean.

An uncluttered kitchen platform and a clear idea what you want to cook.

Smart shopping of vegetables so you can plan the extra peeling only when you have time, otherwise brinjals, mushrooms, cauliflowers, cabbage and turnips do not need peeling or stringing and save time. Including all types of vegetables is great and buy the cumbersome ones only when you have some extra time, keep those vegetables frozen once prepared . Frozen spinach and other greens make life easier. See how cabbage gets chopped fast...

Using microwave and pressure cooker saves a lot of time.

Most of the times we take more time to decide what to cook and then waste time in doing one dish at a time and do not use the stove cooking time of one dish for doing preparation for the side dish etc. Simple every day food can be made two-three dishes at a time , it's only complicated and elaborate dishes which demand undivided attention.

Let's see how i do my everyday cooking ...

Place the red lentils to cook in a pressure cooker first and then proceed to chop the vegetables.Cutting the head of cabbage in two and then chopping one half on the board takes 2-3 minutes.

Heat the pan with oil and put in the chopped ginger and scissor cut red chilly bits, done till the pan gets hot, wait till fragrant and then tip in the chopped cabbage. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and keep stirring once in a while till you chop the mushrooms and onions.

Keeping the flame on medium high, stir the cabbage subzi a few times and chop the mushrooms , peel the onion and garlic n chop them too.

Red lentil takes about 8-10 minutes total to cook. By this time the cabbage would be done, the lentils cooked and now you can empty the pan of cabbage and proceed to cook the mushrooms in the same.

Heat some ghee , add asafoetida, cumin and chopped garlic , let it brown and then add sliced onions. Add mushrooms when the onions are pinkish brown.

Fry the mushroom mix till it wilts,Takes total 5 minutes.

Add red chilly powder and then pour in the cooked lentil to it and let it boil. Meanwhile knead the dough for chapatis

Slice the radish for salad and proceed to make the chapatis after you have emptied everything in serving bowls. Chapati making takes one chapati per minute by a practiced hand. I cook 5 for lunch, so 5 minutes plus one minute to heat the tawa/griddle.

Freshly cooked hot meals are easier to execute than many of us think. And everyday food can be tasty too.

The ingredients...
red lentil soup with mushrooms..
red lentil 2 tbsp
mushrooms 100 gm
one small onion sliced
3-4 garlic cloves chopped
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
asafoetida one pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ghee or butter 2 tsp
salt to taste

cabbage stir fry ...
dry whole red chillies scissor cut
an inch of ginger chopped
half a head of cabbage
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tsp 

Believe me, the typing and uploading pictures of this post took way more time than cooking this meal. Our everyday meals are simple and frugal like this but we do not compromise on taste and nutrition.

Local, seasonal vegetables, whole grains and freshly prepared meals are our way of eating. Cooking a non fussy meal and serving it simply for the two of us is what i enjoy everyday. We all need to enjoy the cooking process as well, so bring in the optimum convenience for yourself and watch yourself enjoying the process. I keep working on my skills to chop the vegetables one way or the other to make it quicker and better, to freeze some of them to make my work easier on busier days, to prepare some bhuna masala or a tomato concasse to make a curry or a pizza smarter and keep loving my food in general.

What about you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

a special milk shake with dates...Irani Datteri dates...

We get to see and sample many food products from different places at the India International Trade Fair and we make the most of it. A local foodist otherwise, I go and inquire almost every pavilion that sells food in that huge place. This Datteri dates was discovered at Iran pavilion, the salesman offered a date to taste and i was hooked. It is the season of harvest he informed and that is why we were getting these fresh luscious dates at the fair. Fresh they really were, almost like a jelly inside and sweetness that only a date can provide. The pictures are no good as my camera doesn't seem to be clicking any dark objects nicely. These dates were dark, soft and with a tout skin.

The salesman at the counter told me a recipe to good health seeing my excitement, 2 dates soaked overnight in a glass of boiled milk and blended in the morning to make a shake. We make a dates milk with dried dates , boiling the milk with dried dates for a while and then having it like a desert but I tried this recipe anyways.

Four dates seeded and soaked in 400 ml of boiling hot milk, cooled down and kept in the fridge overnight. I soaked in the same pitcher used to boil the milk in microwave. Blended in the morning using a stick blender in the same pitcher and the milk shake is ready. A really unique taste as i had never tasted this fresh dates in my life. No sugar is required as the shake is mildly sweet bursting with flavors of the dark dates.

The skin of the dates settles down in the pitcher , and feels like parchment when sipped. You can discard the sedimented skin bits , i don't mind chewing on them in the last. Good fiber with some antioxidant packed pigments for sure.

Some cooked oats in this milk will make a nice smoothie for breakfast. I would love some almonds soaked into it if it becomes a lone breakfast in a glass. I seldom like breakfast smoothies but as a day time snack they are most welcome.

How do you like your dates? Or smoothies for that matter....please do not tell me about the green monsters ....I would rather make a thick creamy soup for breakfast.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

guava salad ... chaat style..

As simple as it can get. Chop the guava in cubes , small cubes work best and sprinkle with some powders and you salad is ready. A chaat style salad we love during guava's an almost daily salad for the whole guava season in my home. The reason being simple, guava is one fruit which packs a whole lot of nourishment for you and is cheap when in season.

This chaat salad is great with slightly softened guava, the ones which get ripened in the fruit basket till you finish the best crisp ones. After one or two days some guavas loose the crisp bite and turn a bit soft. That is the time to chop them up for a chaat salad.

The same recipe is great for the very ripe and soft yellow skinned guavas which starts filling your home with a distinct guava aroma. That is the time when no one wants to have them as a whole fruit. Just stake care to chop the very ripe ones into very fine bits and then mix with the seasonings. I has started making this salad to use up all the leftover ripened guavas in season but now i do it with half ripe ones too, just the chopping gets different....and it tastes a lot different.

The seasoning is .... a tsp of sugar per cup of chopped guava, a bit more or less depending on how sweet or tangy the guava is. Some black rock salt, some freshly milled black pepper and a hint of hot red chilly powder. Just these four ingredients bring about a magical make over of the guavas.

This is the salad we eat when we want to eat a lot of guavas , this is something you don't stop when you start eating ....I make it in a really large bowl and we start eating from the same. A really large serving of this salad is great for a late weekend lunch or a small serving for the after lunch fruity treat any day.

Many guava vendors in the north Indian cities make deep slits in the fruit crosswise and fill black rock salt or a tasty mix of chaat masala in the slits before handing them to you. The best way to enjoy a crisp green sweet n sour guava.  But whenever the guavas are a little soft and sweeter, you can always turn them to such salads or this kind of a desi fruit chaat...

How do you like your guava?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

wild Indian figs (goolar, anjeer or dumur), a wild edible fruit : recipe of gooler ki subzi

There are some fruits and vegetables long forgotten by urban junta. Wild Indian figs, goolar or anjeer is one of them. You don't see them anymore in the markets although you spot some old trees here and there. No one bothers to pluck the fruits because there is no interest. There is a lot of public interest in the jamun and mango trees of our colony but I keep an eye on the single goolar tree near the park.

wild Indian fig or gooler

The tiny fruits grow along the stem but there is no way I can pluck them myself.

And I never get them. End of story. No cooking with gooler.

Sounds unusual? It actually is. Many people have not heard about this fruit being used for cooking but those who have tasted it would buy it immediately when they see it in the market.

I was in my hometown Varanasi 2 months ago and my dad bought some goolar from an old quaint subzi mandi (vegetables n fruits market). He is very fond of such desi things and somehow this interest for all things desi has ingrained in me too. I took pictures of the fruit and the curry my mom made so I can share it here with you all. We make a mashed goolar too with this fruit and a spicy kabab, I so wish I could get some gooler to make some crumbly gooler ke kabab this winter.

wild Indian fig or gooler

I would talk about the spicy curry till then :-)

These fruits are tiny and a pain to clean and chop. Many of the varieties have small insects inside. Remember I told in the last post that it is an inflorescence (a false fruit called syconium) so the insects go inside to help pollination. The smaller variety has a tightly packed inflorescence inside and there are no insects to be seen(microscopic one are supposed to be edible ;-))

gooler ki subzi

So the fruit has to be halved or quartered and the insect infested fruits are discarded, all hard seeds are scraped off and tender gooler fruits are used as is.

I did it all by myself as I was seeing gooler after so long. Once the cleaning is done the pieces are parboiled. Just dunked in boiling water for 5 minutes on stove and then drained. Though I have cooked gooler ki subzi without parboiling too. Now it is ready to be cooked into a curry.

The curry is a normal north Indian masala gravy, although I guess a south Indian version with curry patta and lots of coconut would do wonders with it.

gooler ki subzi

This version is the one made in my family and the taste has remained the same for at least two generations. That is to declare that I did not get many chances of experimenting with gooler much. Whenever I got some precious goolar on my hands, I made the kababs and the chokha (a mash made with boiled vegetables with ginger garlic and a mustrad oil drizzle)..

Here is the goolar ki subzi as my grandmother and mother have made for years...

cleaned gooler (wild Indian figs) 500 gm
diced onions 1 cup
ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp
coriander power 1 tbsp
cumin powder 1 tbsp
black pepper powder 1 tbsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp or more
turmeric powder 2 tsp
one green and black cardamom each, 5 cloves and an inch long cinnamon pounded together freshly
mustard oil 1/4 cup
Curds or fresh tomato puree 1/2 cup
Potatoes 1or 2 (optional)
salt to taste


Heat the oil in a kadai (pan) and tip in the cumin and wait till they splutter. Add the onion and fry till golden brown. Add salt to hasten the browning.

Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the oil separates.

Make a paste using the curds or tomato puree with the powders of coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and red chilly, add a little water if required. Add this paste to the fried mixture and cook while stirring it, till oil separates again.

Add the freshly pounded spices, mix well and now tip in the boiled and drained wild figs into the cooking mixture. Mix well, add about a cup of water and cook on very low flame for about 20-25 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and add a little more water if required.

gooler ki subzi

The finished curry is a thick gravy of a coating consistency. The masala is well seeped into the gooler because of slow cooking. The taste of this curry cannot be compared to anything but it is definitely a meaty curry. Sometimes compared to smaller varieties of jackfruit but for me it is very different from that too.

Now tell me if you want to cook with this vegetable/fruit. I know your answer is yes but I am not sure if you have tasted it before.

Why not start demanding our local subziwala (vegetable vendors) for such forgotten desi things so they think of sourcing these, or may be they pluck it from the wild growing trees and bring them to the markets. Long time back my maid used to be embarrassed to admit that they eat these wild growing fruits, thinking this is the sign of poverty.

I assured her it is actually a delicacy and we should be proud of such bounties of nature. Every day food in the past was local by default and a lot of foraged food came into our kitchens..

Be it gooler, millets, local greens or local seeds like cannabis seeds, flax seeds or black or white sesame, we must look out for such produce. Using them is great for better sustainable health for ourselves and sustainable agriculture for the farmers and small scale marketers.

What do you think?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Is that a berry??

Or an inflorescence??

Looks like a berry but encloses a whole lot of flowers inside.

What is it?

The size ranges from .75 cm to 1.5 cm ....

Now you have to guess what fruit , vegetable of flower/inflorescence it is. I gave you a lot of hints and many of you might have seen it i am sure.

Another variety if it you might have had in desserts or ice creams , or may be your smoothies.

Want any more hints?

A recipe coming next :-)