Wednesday, January 29, 2014

prawns stir fry with cashew nuts and pearl barley : kung pao style one dish meal | alternative grains for everyday meals

This prawns or shrimp stir fry with cashew nuts and pearl barley is a satisfying meal that gets ready in a flash if you have a well stocked fridge. I mean you should have some frozen shrimps, some boiled pearl barley and some fresh herbs for sure. A few sauces in your pantry help you immensely with such meals on the go. It takes about 15-20 minutes to put together this yummy meal and you might do it quicker if you have someone to chop the herbs and peel the garlic with you while you go chatting about the day's events. Happy meals have a start on the happy kitchen counters.

Having said that, one pot meals are a relief for everyday cooking. Not necessarily the stews, soups or khichri type meals that cook in a single pot but I do make one dish meals that use different ingredients and and a few steps in the cooking process but come together in a single plate to be served as a one dish meal. So there can be many elements in thee same dish and I get an array of flavours and textures that I like in my food. Gourmet meals made simpler.

The flavours are from Sichuan cuisine and kung pao is a variety of red chillies which gives a nice aroma and taste with combination of sichuan peppers. The same recipe can be created using chicken or tofu or even fresh cubed paneer if you want vegetarian options. Pearl barley can always be cooked and refrigerated for a week or so. Just pressure cook or pan cook just like you cook brown rice.

(for 2 servings)
shrimp or prawns 200-250 gm
cashew nuts 30-40 gm or as desired
water chestnut flour* 1 tbsp
egg white of one egg
rice vinegar 2 tsp
salt to taste
sichuan pepper 1 tsp or less
pinch of sugar
minced ginger 1 tbsp
minced garlic 2 tsp or less
sliced fresh red chillies to taste
spring onions chopped 2 tbsp
soy sauce 2 tsp or to taste
boiled pearl barley 3/4 cup ( I use 1/2 cup)
sesame oil 1 tbsp+1 tsp
chopped stems and leaves of coriander greens 2 tbsp each


It is better to start just when you thaw your frozen shrimps when using frozen. Add the marination just when you empty the shrimps in a bowl and let them thaw and marinate in the lower rack of fridge overnight or on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours. Fresh shrimps take about 20 minutes to marinate.

The marination for the shrimps is made by mixing the rice vinegar, egg white, salt and pepper and a hint of sugar. Toss this mixture with the shrimp and let them rest for a while.

Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a frying pan, coat the shrimps lightly with water chestnut flour* and arrange all the shrimps in the pan and shallow fry both sides for a couple of minutes. Cooking them for longer will make them chewy so take care of that. Drain and reserve.

Now add 1 tsp of oil to the same pan and add the minced ginger and garlic and the sliced red chillies. Fry them for a few seconds till it gets aromatic. Toss and add the spring onions and coriander stems, add the cashews and let it all fry till the cashews get lightly browned. Add the barley, soy sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss everything well till the flavours meld.

Add the shallow fried shrimps, toss well to mix and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve immediately.

This kung pao style one pot meal with shrimps and cashews is richly flavoured. And the most interesting thing is, you get subtle flavours of water chestnuts* as I have used the flour to coat the shrimps. I love fresh water chestnuts in such stir fries and use them whenever possible, using water chestnut flour to replace corn flour is my way of bringing more flavors and skipping a refined (processed) flour in the recipe. Works wonderfully for me. Try that and see how you like it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

barley and mushroom soup | using alternative grains for everyday meals

Barley is such a wonderful grain that it suits all convenient recipes i a modern lifestyle I feel. This barley and mushroom soup with seasonal vegetables is a great way to nourish and feel warm in winters. Barley is one of those alternative grains that I keep using in my kitchen, it gets tossed up like salads, plays pasta along with pesto and various pasta sauces and sometimes makes a hearty soup with meats and vegetables. Barley flour is used in my mullti grain rotis and breads.

Some people would say whole grains are totally overrated. That grains have the evil phytates and one must not eat them at all. I think demonising a whole food category is not good as all foods have something or the other that causes harm if 'seen in isolation'. Yes, phytates can cause slow digestion and poor absorption of minerals by the intestinal lining, but note that soaking and cooking drains and deactivates much of the phytates and some is deactivated in the stomach too. The intestinal flora has evolved with the foods we have been eating during human evolution through the ages I believe, many whole grains are prebiotic and help preserve the gut flora. Also, if the grains are fermented the phytates are deactivated to a large extent. 

It is good to see that phytates play a useful role in metabolism as well. Since they bind to some minerals, they slow down the formation of free radicals, acting as an antioxidant to an extent. Read more here to know about phytates and how they can be useful for the metabolism too. I would say, don't stop eating grains just because a 'diet religion' says so, keep having diverse types of local grains so you get a wider range of nutrients. Do not depend on only wheat as a staple, some rice is good but why not encouraging Amaranth, Ragi, Barley and other millets that were once grown widely till wheat monoculture took it all over.

I would also add not to make grains the main staple of your meals, apart from loading your meal with only carbs it will kill the chances of accommodating any vegetables and proteins into the same meal. Make your meal balanced, just about 2 tbsp of grains is enough in a meal, fill up your plate with some proteins, some good fats and loads of seasonal vegetables.

Coming back to the barley soup. This is one of those comforting soups that you can make with any of your favourite vegetables and meats. Just take care to use a good chicken stock or make a nice mirepoix too start the soup flavours going. Mirpoix is nothing but a mix of finely shopped celery, carrots and onion. You can use coriander stems, spring onions and cabbage too for variation or add some parsley for more depth of flavours. Adding your favourite flavours is the idea.

(for 2 soup meal servings plus some leftovers)
Chopped garlic 1 tbsp
chopped celery 1/4 cup
chopped carrots 1/4 cup
chopped leeks 1/4 cup
chopped red onions 1/3 cup
chopped mushrooms 1.5 cups
chopped yellow bell pepper 1/2 cup (you can use any bell pepper)
chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup
chopped leaves of parsley 3 tbsp
cooked barley 3/4 cup
chicken stock 1 cup (optional)
butter  1 tsp
olive oil 2 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
little hot chilly sauce or Worcestershire sauce (optional)


Heat the butter and oil together and tip in the chopped garlic followed by onions, celery, carrots and leeks and stir fry till everything gets translucent. Add the mushrooms and bell peppers and tomatoes one by one and cook till they all turn soft and fragrant.

Add the cooked barley, the stock and about 400 ml water and let the soup cook for about 20 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and adjust seasoning. Add the hot sauce if using. Serve hot.

This is one of those soups you can make with some added pancetta or ham or even some bits of bacon. Add green peas if you like but if you have kids you might like to make it just with tomatoes and mushrooms with a little cheese added.

Soups actually can be taken into any direction. Hope I am making you feel like coking some barley right now. Let me know if you do :-)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

sesame ginger honey bars for makar sankranti ; a festival that celebrates nuts and seeds...

These sesame ginger honey bars are a fresh spin on the very traditional til ka laddu that I have grown up eating every winter. A baked recipe of the same til ka laddu. Variations of til ke laddu and other sesame goodies are made during winters on the pretext of some or the other festival. White sesame for Makar sankranti and black sesame for Ganesh chaturthi it used to be, the laddu would be different slightly but real goodness of season's best produce always. I am an atheist but food makes me religious by a good measure.

Makar sankranti is the harvest festival in winters, celebrated all over India in some or the other form. This festival also marks the transition of Sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn (makar in Hindi) on it's celestial path. Since it is the peak of winters in northern India, makar sankranti is supposed to be a festival around nuts and seeds of all kinds. People make and consume loads of brittle bars made from sesame, peanuts, mixed nuts and seeds and sometimes sprinkled with flowers and herbs too. The brittle bars come in all shapes and sizes and are called revdi, chikki, tilkut, gajak, pak, laddu, burfi etc etc, depending on what other ingredients are used in those goodies.

Loads of peanuts with shells, pop corn (popped without butter), other nuts and seeds and jaggery is consumed during this time which actually helps combat winter blues as well. This harvest festival is celebrated differently in different parts of India and involves different kinds of foods as well, the reason being so much variation in our climate and local produce, the food always evolves from  geographical, climatic and agricultural factors.

In northern India, I see sesame being a big part of makar sankranti. I see sesame being the center of this festival even in Maharashtra as they use sesame a lot and even call this festival tilgul (til=sesame in Hindi). A lot of sesame goodies were made back home, til ke laddu being the most common.

This time around I was struggling with time management as I have been busy with a few small projects to handle. I kept thinking of buying some til ke laddu from the market but gave in to the idea of baking them instead in order to save time. And to my pleasure, these bars were fantastically like my good old til ke laddu in flavours, only a notch better I would add. The recipe is simple, one that makes you save time and still be able to inhale those insane aromas of sesame and jaggery together while it bakes and finally enjoy the fruits of your 'hard work' for days to come.

(makes 30 bars)

white sesame with husk 500 gm
powdered jaggery or grated jaggery 75 gm
honey 75 gm
grated ginger 50 gm
unsweetened coconut flakes or grated fresh coconut 2-3 tbsp (optional)


Pulse the sesame seeds in your food processor so it makes a coarse powder. Add the grated ginger and pulse once more. Add the jaggery and honey and pulse till it all comes together and becomes sticky.

Grease a baking tray (30x25 cms) and spread this mixture on it. Press down firmly so the thickness is uniform all over. Sprinkle the grated coconut and press down so it sticks well.

Bake at 150 C for 20 minutes and check if the top layer of coconut has started browning and the mixture is sticky (like half molten jaggery) if you insert a knife inside the sheet. You can bake for 5 minutes more if it's not aromatic and sticky inside. Your home will be filled with a pleasant aroma of sesame and jaggery, the way it used to feel like in my childhood when my grandmother would make these til ke laddu.

Take out the tray, mark the bars with a sharp knife and let it cool completely. The bars will come out with a little prodding, using a flat blade of knife. If you feel the bars have stuck to the tray, just heat the tray a bit over gas flame rotating it all over for just a few seconds and the bars will come out easily.

These bars taste so good we went berserk eating them. So much so we could not eat any proper meals that day. Just the way it used to happen when we were younger and dadi used to make these and we would stuff ourselves insane.

These are good granola bar sized bars, a bit wider and very filling for a nourishing breakfast with milk and one fruit may be. Arvind has been grabbing one every single day as he heads out for office to munch on it on the way, that is after having his regular breakfast. Sometimes he grabs two of these and winks at me :-)

You can always add some almonds and walnuts in these bars along with sesame but the flavours would change. Sesame goes really well with ginger and honey as well as with jaggery so I wouldn't change it if I am making it for makar sankranti. I associate this time of the year with these flavours too, and many more if I speak honestly.

These sesame ginger honey bars are actually better than any granola bar, grain free, gluten free and nourishing. Yes these are high on calories and not all calories are bad.

The texture of these bars is a bit chewy, but in a very pleasant way. The caramelized honey and jaggery sticks to your teeth when you dig in and you enjoy it like a chocolate fudge.

Addictive stuff. Go bake some.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

101 alternative flours | baked polenta sticks, a healthy snack or soup accompaniment, a gluten free meal

Cornmeal or corn or maize flour is a versatile gluten free flour that can be used with many diverse flavours. It suits well with the Indian flavours, gives enough liberty to experiment and results in a hearty meal always. It is indeed a great alternative flour and this 101 alternative flours will be a series of posts on health food desivideshi to showcase how well we can use our local flours for everyday meals. My aim is not to vilify gluten but a minimal gluten way of life is healthier for sure.

I love polenta in all it's flavours and have tried making it with every possible corn meal we get here in north India. And to my pleasure, have loved them all. I have used corn daliya (from an organic brand), coarse corn meal from my local chakki wala (flour mill) or regular makki ka atta that we get to make makki ki roti. Even fresh kernels of sweetcorn make great polenta if you ask me. I like polenta in a smooth porridge like consistency, a coarse upma like consistency, polenta cooked and set in moulds or baked or shallow fried in sticks or slices. The baked or fried polenta sticks or slices are made after cooking and setting the polenta in cakes.

Today's recipe is one of those baked polenta sticks, packed with my favourite flavours. Sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheese, spiced up with red chilly flakes and jalapeno peppers. I used a combination of corn grits and cornmeal for this recipe but one can use whatever corn meal is available, just the cooking time and the amount of water will need adjustment.

(serves 4-6 as an accompaniment to soup)
corn grits 1/2 cup
cornmeal 1/3 cup
water 1.5 cup
grated cheddar cheese 1/2 cup
sun dried tomatoes chopped 3 tbsp
chopped basil 2-3 tbsp
minced garlic 2 tsp
red chilly flakes 1/2 tsp
slice jalapeno peppers 1 tbsp
salt to taste
oil to grease the dish


You should follow the instruction on the polenta pack if you are using one of those. I pressure cooked the corn grits till one whistle with salt and water, cooled down, add all the ingredients simmered for a few minutes and added the cornmeal into the simmering pot. Cooked till it make s a lumpy mix, then spread it out in a greased dish.

Let the spread out polenta cool down completely. It can be refrigerated till required. It is better to keep the set polenta ready and bake it just when you make soup or it is the time to serve.

Cut strips from the cooled set polenta, brush with oil and bake in preheated oven at 200 C for 20-25 minutes or till the edges start getting a bit brown.

Serve the polenta sticks hot with soup or with a few dips if serving as an appetizer. Guacamole or baba ganoush taste great with it too. .

I make a salad with such polenta sticks or balls (arancini balls style) baked or shallow fried crisply. With some fresh rocket or baby spinach, some olives, capers, pine nuts and tomatoes. I made a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and thyme for this salad. You can always toss up the salad your way.

Such interesting bits in a hearty salad is good for the whole family. I myself feel so glad that I have been able to incorporate such elements in my salads and now the husband also eats these salads as meals most of the times.

Taste, texture and flavour combination is the trick to overcome a dislike for a particular dish someone might have nurtured. But the good thing is, we can work around flavours and convert people around us to good food.

We loved these polanta sticks with the broccoli and spring onion soup few weeks ago. It was such a satisfying meal, contrasting flavours, interesting textures. The polenta sticks are crisp on the outside and soft and cheesy inside. Bursting with flavours of sun dried tomatoes, garlic and basil.

Been planning to make some more polenta very soon. This is the season to make corn bread, makki ki roti and polenta as we get fresh cornmeal in winters only. I want to make the most of seasonal bounty.

Gluten free meals can be fun. Say yes to alternative flours for everyday meals. Find local alternative flours and experiment more, there will always be something new on the table. Wheat mono-culture has to stop. Use more coarse grains and make a demand for them, the market forces would listen to it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chef Aldo Zilli at Zerruco by Zilli, a passionate Chef and how he eats healthy

I met Chef Aldo Zilli. Yes, I had to tell you all and that I loved what he cooked, the most tantalizing flavours cooked just right and combined just right. I know it feels like a mundane description of obviously wonderful food but when you hear him talking about how he likes to 'kiss' the vegetables with the heat and not kill them, you know how well the food is treated.

I got talking with Chef Zilli at the newly launched Zerruco by Zilli, at Hotel Ashok, Diplomatic Enclave in new Delhi. Zerruco by Zilli is a contemporary Mediterranean fine dining restaurant co branded with celebrity Italian Chef Aldo Zilli.

Now when you go to meet him, you expect a celebrity chef with an aura, and then get stumped by his funny demeanor and a down to earth attitude. He tells that he made a red spicy sauce for the table especially for Indian taste buds. The sauce makes a good accompaniment with the breads on the table and the antipasti platter. Note the heat kissed vegetables that tasted divine.

This red spicy sauce has sun dried tomatoes, capers, fresh basil, garlic and fresh red chillies in it, doused with extra virgin olive oil.

I loved the Olive Tapenade and the tomato topping as well. Not so much with breads but the 'heat kissed vegetables'.

The minestrone soup by Chef Aldo Zilli is phenomenal. I loved the chunky yet smooth soup with cannelloni beans and cubed vegetables. Something I would love to try at home following the recipe in his book Zilli Light. I would have found it easier to maneuver if the soup was served in a smaller plate or bowl. It was that good :-)

Pasta Carbonara was made with slivers of yellow and green zucchini and was really good. I loved the Mushroon and Truffle Risotto a lot, moist yet firm rice and a deep deep flavour of mushrooms is satisfying, you would need to remind yourself to stop taking more helpings.

And then there is a gorgeous Lamb shank with Rosemary infused gravy, sauteed mushrooms and leeks served with mashed potato.

Perfectly cooked juicy meat that is lightly charred outside and pink and soft inside. The rosemary infused gravy with the mashed potatoes is just out of this world. Even the mushrooms and leeks on the side will be polished off completely. The potion is generous so it fills you up quickly.

Chef Zilli kept going in the kitchen to cook and instruct while I had my meal and then I asked him questions regarding how he finds healthy eating practical. Knowing he was obese once and worked hard to loose weight and later kept his fitness intact after several years, I had many questions for him.

He said he had lost 21 kilos in 3 months on a TV show but it was not a good thing to loose weight so fast. He did it as he had to win the show and later he came back the healthier ways of eating well. He joked that he is not getting any younger but he has a young family and wants to stay around with them. Keeping fit and healthy has to have a reason for everyone I feel, we find different reasons in different times sometimes.

Chef Aldo Zilli was the youngest of 9 siblings in a family where his mother cooked for everyone. Young Zilli would help his mother shape gnochhi and other fresh pasta and that how he got his first lessons in food, he had a twinkle in his eyes when he was talking about he older days. He said that now he values that upbringing and that he became a chef because he was hungry. Such a candid confession. Hunger for good food, knowledge and skill can be phenomenal. It has a lot of potential.

Chef Zilli talked about a very important psychological issue which is the root cause of obesity and related health problems. A childhood history of hunger, lack of food, insecurity regarding food or any other trauma becomes an issue that makes food an easy pleasure whenever it is available in plenty. I have always believed eating disorders have a psychological link and when someone talks of experience, it makes sense.

Chef Zilli wrote Zilli Light after his stint with weight loss and when he started experimenting with good food that is satisfying and tasty.

A dark Chocolate Fondant was served, I thought I would have a bite just to taste as I don't eat desserts much. It was so good I ended up taking 3-4 spoonfuls.

Chef Zilli warns for desserts too, occasionally and in small servings. Desserts are better smaller.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

haaq, saathi rice and boiled eggs : hot comforting meals in winters

A watery soup with whole haaq leaves cooked with just a hint of mustard oil, green chilly and asafoetida, some coarse grain rice and boiled eggs. Absolute comfort on a foggy day of December. The kind of meal that makes you feel the warmth and yet keeps you light. 

Haaq is one of the most tasty greens that I have ever discovered and I love it in soups and light watery stir fries. I had brought back a large bunch of haaq greens from Leh once, all packed nicely in the heavy luggage I was carrying, and it has been a favourite greens since then, I get it from INA market mostly now, interestingly available throughout the year.

The most common way to cook haaq in my kitchen is just pressure cooking the whole leaves with a tempering of hing and chillies with mustard oil. The final result is so fragrant and flavourful you wont believe it if you haven't cooked it yourself. Just the kind of foodie stimulation you need in winters, a hot meal bursting with flavours, not much work to do in the kitchen and a meal in a deep bowl that you love holding into your freezing cold fingers. You might like to have a blended soup with haaq leaves and tomatoes too.

I like to use the haaq leaves whole and not chopped. The thick stems are not discarded, just the woody parts are peeled off if required and the leaves are rinsed well before cooking. Here I enjoyed this haaq soup with saathi rice and boiled eggs. Saathi is a variety of rice that matures in 60 days, a coarse, glutinous rice that is on the verge of getting lost from the culinary scene of India. One odd family in a village might be growing this rice as we get it very rarely. Read my article about saathi rice in Down to Earth magazine and a detailed post at Banaras ka Khana and know more about saathi rice.

This meal is a simple yet balanced and very very flavourful and can be a satisfying meal for me anytime, the husband would like this meal when he has eaten too heavy the previous day. Yes this meal makes complete sense if you have overindulged in the festive season. 

(two servings) 
haaq greens 500 gm (use spinach or knol khol leaves or a mix of the two if you don't get haaq)
mustard oil 1 tbsp or a little more
pinch of hing
2 broken red chillies and one green chilly or to taste
salt to taste
500 ml water

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker pan.

Tip in the hing and the chillies, let them sizzle a bit before dumping in all the haaq leaves. Add salt too.

Toss them all for a few minutes till they start wilting. 

Add the water, cover the lid and cook till the whistle blows. Take off heat and cool down, open the lid and check if the thick stems are cooked through, cook a bit more if not. 

Serve hot with 2 tbsp sticky rice of any variety and halved eggs. This soupy curry can be a part of any elaborate menu or can be liquidized to make a flavorful soup as well.

stories from the last couple of weeks and a recipe of hurda upma, tender green sorghum grains (hara jowar)

It's already a new year and it has been so long since I posted a new recipe here. Wishing you all a great year ahead. More health, more happiness and more wellness. More awareness and some more motivation to keep it all going.

The festive season was good, although I was alone at home for 2 weeks as the husband was away for a training. Delhi got colder, I got more swamped with work, yet managed to take out time and visit a few places and meet a few friends. Took a friends kids to a Christmas event and watched them have fun. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Shangri-La's was spectacular and I had my first mulled wine of the season there.

I also managed to bake a nice gluten free Panforte for Christmas and loved it once more. I always believe our desserts can be made nice without any added sugar, there are so many natural sweeteners and great flavourful fruits that can bring a dessert to life, this gluten free panforte was made using the sweetness in dried fruits like dates, figs, apricots and prunes with addition of some orange marmalade to add depth to the combined flavours. Check out the recipe I posted last year.

I dusted the crust with some poppy seeds this time to make the slices look better. Normally the surface is dusted with powdered sugar. That can be skipped you know :-)

I met the legendary Chef Aldo Zilli as well, it was such a good experience to talk to him about his work and his passion, more on that in the next post. I went to meet him thinking he would be this larger than life type person who takes his food really seriously, I found he is a humble man as well and doesn't hesitate to clear the tables at his restaurants if required. I definitely returned home as a Zilli fan.

I enjoyed a few foods he cooked himself and he even posed happily for my camera. He gifted his book Zilli Light to me, a book that can be a good start to eating healthy if you are not at it already.

Before that I went to Bombay for a few days to shoot for a couple of episodes of a foodie show, met a celebrity chef once again and came back truly impressed with him. So much to learn from the maestros, so much to motivation and inspiration. Believe me I am not being a spoilsport when I say I would talk about this experience more later. I really did a lot of things when I was missing in action from the blogs. You would be swamped with more stories in the coming week as I am going to tell you every single thing.

While in Bombay we went to shop around a bit, found interesting things in Crawford market and shopped judiciously because we had to carry things in the limited baggage space. Deeba was a partner in crime as we walked along the lanes of Crawford market.

I spotted a shop with only bananas of different types and taste the famous Elaichi bananas for the first time. If I compare the Elaichi banana with the similar looking Cheeniya kela from Bihar, cheeniya kela wins hands down in terms of texture and sweetness.

Later we found a sweet chap who was selling tender green Sorghum and tender green wheat berries outside the market. He had some fine besan sev and limes and tomatoes etc to toss up a jhal mudi kind of snack if you want. This was quite interesting as I had never seen such a snack in Northern India.

I immediately bought both of them and kept them in the minibar fridge at the hotel, so it is safe till it reaches home. What all I do for any unusual ingredient that I find :-)

This tender green sorghum is also called Hurda in Maharashtra and Ponk in Gujrat and they make some nice breakfast and snacks recipes with it. We call it hara jowar in Hindi but I rarely see them being sold in markets here. I remember fire roasted hara jowar or hara bajra (tender green pearl millet) being mixed with fresh jaggery and ghee being discussed by my grandmother but never had the luck to taste that.

One way to enjoy fresh sorghum in Maharashtra is to roast them on the cob just like we do with corn on the cob and enjoy it with chutney or other seasonings. There are a few suggestions for tender sorghum or hurda in this video by Saee on youtube. Another recipe with hurda is here to explain how the grain is enjoyed as a chaat like salad. More details and pictures of hurda can be seen here.

To the left in this picture is hurda or ponk (tender green sorghum grains), the right side bag contains tender green wheat grains.

Back home, the tender green sorghum was cooked to make upma. The recipe was suggested by Anjali and I loved the way it tasted. I had a large mug of coffee to go with it, Delhi was feeling colder after the Bombay heat.

The recipe of hurda upma is simple. I would scribble it down quickly for your reference and you can tweak the recipe as per your taste. It is basically a savoury, hot and sour breakfast cereal that has a hint of sweetness too. I love the crushed roasted peanuts and coconut chips with this. The tender sorghum grains can be extremely tender and sweet or a bit mature and chewy so adjust the cooking time accordingly and add a pinch of sugar if required. A squirt of lime juice and you are set for a burst of flavours to start the day.

For 2 servings you need about 1.5 cup of tender sorghum or hurda. Rinse and strain well if you are buying it from street vendors.

Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil and add a tempering of a pinch of mustard seeds, handful of curry leaves and a couple of dry red chillies. Wait till everything sizzles, add the tender sorghum grains and salt to taste. Stir fry for a couple of minutes if the grains are really tender and soft or you might need to cook it covered if they are a bit mature. Do not add water if possible, just a sprinkling would suffice if the grains don't cook quickly. 

Sprinkle a pinch of sugar to adjust seasoning. Add crushed roasted peanuts, grated coconut or coconut chips, squeeze some lime juice and have it warm.

Next day I added these green gems to a khichdi along with red lentils and chopped cauliflower, coriander greens and ginger etc. The khichdi was nice with a microwave cooked mash of tomatoes with garlic and raw mustard oil.

I would use this grain more if I get this easily in this part of the country. Sorghum is grown in northern India a lot and I think the tender green sorghum is also consumed in rural areas, it just needs a better distribution system or may be a little more demand by the city folks. I hope it happens sooner as we do need some indigenous foods and not the chia seeds and quinoa traveling across the globe to reach our Kitchen counter. 

No I am not demanding too much, I just want to reclaim our desi foods. Tell me if you get this tender sorghum grains in your part of the world. How do you cook it?

More on the tender green wheat grains later. I promise I will post regularly now. 

Wishing you all great times ahead. More health more wellness once again.