Rava upma – cream of wheat seasoned with mustard seeds and curry leaves

Background:

This is a staple in our home. If we are very hungry and really need to eat NOW, I make this. If we have plenty of guests at home and not all of them enjoy cereal or bread, I make this. It is versatile and most important quick.

Stuff you will need:

1 cup rava
2 green chillies – slit
Curry leaves – 1 sprig, washed and cut
Ginger – 1/2 cube shredded
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Salt to taste
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Bengal Gram dhal – 1 tsp
Cashews – 4-5 split, broken and roasted in ghee – (Optional)
Ghee/Oil – 2 tbsps
Lemon juice – 2 tsp

How to make it?

Roast rava in 1 tsp ghee till reddish brown. Set aside. Heat remaining ghee or mix of oil and ghee in a pan. Add mustard and when it pops add urad dhal and bengal gram dhal. Add asafoetida, curry leaves, green chillies and ginger. Saute. Add 2.5 cups of water and cover till it comes to a rolling boil. Add salt to taste and slowly add roasted rava in a circular motion stirring all the while so it does not form lumps. Lower heat to medium and cover and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Spoon in a tsp of ghee and 2 tsp lemon juice. Mix in and turn off heat. Serve hot with chutney or eat as is

Garnish with cashews if using.

Serves two

Special Notes:

Vegetables like onion, carrot, potato, green peas may be added and sauteed with the seasoning before adding water to make kichidi.

Melange of vegetables in creamy coconut sauce – Aviyal for others

Background:

I had half a green plantain, left overs from frozen packs of Desi veggies like cut yam, senai kizhangu and quarter red pumpkin. With almost all veggies that go well in aviyal, I could not let the opportunity pass and I made this today morning with thakkali rasam.

The natural sweetness from the root vegetables, the firm succulent flesh of chayote and red pumpkin simmered in a creamy coconut sauce brings out the rare melange of tastes that make aviyal good as a side or just a dish by itself.

Stuff you will need:

Carrot – 1
Potato – 1 small
Yam – About a quarter
Red pumpkin – About a quarter
White pumpkin – About a quarter
Chayote – 1 small
String beans – a handful
Green peas – a handful
Green plantain – 1/2 if big else 1 small
All the above veggies to be cut into inch long strips
Coconut – scrapings from 1/2 small
cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Green chillies – 4
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, washed and cut
Coconut oil/Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Butter milk or curds – 3 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Asafoetida – 1 pinch

How to make it?

Pressure cook vegetables with a hint of turmeric and salt. Grind coconut with green chillies and cumin seeds into a fine paste with little water. Mix paste into curds and set aside. When vegetables are done cooking mix the curd coconut sauce into it and turn while simmering on low medium heat. Turn heat off in five minutes. Garnish with mustard seeds and asafoetida tempered in ghee or coconut oil. Mix curry leaves in.

Serve warm with rice or adai.

Serves four

Special Notes:

I love eating aviyal as is. It is versatile and goes well with rotis as well.

Baked, curried roasted potatoes – desi style

Background:

I had friends over for lunch today and I usually make potatoes in addition to a ‘green’ vegetable. Normally, I pan roast the potatoes after steaming them in the pressure cooker. It usually is a hit or miss. Over the years I have watched others bake the potatoes to perfection and have always felt it was beyond me. Today however, I was in a mood to experiment. So I oven roasted potatoes and made kheer using the crock-pot both of which turned out well. Here is the recipe for the potatoes.

Stuff you will need:

10 small baking potatoes – washed, peeled, cubed (feel free to experiment with red bliss potatoes. A friend of mine swears by them)
Sambar powder/Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Olive oil/Ghee – 3 tsp (I used a mix of both)
Curry leaves 1 sprig  – chopped
Asafoetida – 1/2 tsp

How to make it?

In a mixing bowl mix all ingredients so that the potatoes are well coated. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes while the oven is preheated to 475 F. In a baking pan spread the potatoes so they are one layer thick and bake it at 475 F for 30 – 40  mins. Stir and put it back in and broil for 15 minutes. Turn over once so it roasts evenly.

Remove to a serving bowl and serve with rice and sambar.

Serves four

Special Notes

I experimented with the heat settings and found this worked well today. Over time if I feel different temp setting yield better results, will update this post.

Medley of vegetables with rich paneer – Vegetable Jalfrezie

Background:

A recipe my cousin V shared. I am yet to try it out. She did and I am posting it because I feel the instructions are easy enough and it does sound yummy!

Thanks V!!

Stuff you will need:

1 Potato – cut into long thin fingers  – optional
1/2 Pepper each – green, red, orange cut into long thin slices
1 cube paneer – cut into thin long slices
1 Onion – Big cut into thin long slices
2 Roma tomatoes cut into thin long slices
1 inch Ginger – Chopped finely
2 Green chillies –  slit
2 Red dry chillies
3 tsp Olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder 1 pinch
Garam masala 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – a handful washed and chopped to garnish
Vinegar or Lemon juice – 1 tsp

How to make it?

Add 1 tsp oil, fry the peppers separately with little salt. Keep aside. Add 1 tsp oil, fry the potatoes separately with little salt. Keep aside. Add 1 tsp oil, add cumin seeds, red chillies, green chillies, ginger, onion and saute well till onions are cooked. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and cook. Add fried peppers, fried potatoes and saute for 3 mins. Add the paneer slice and saute for 3-5 mins. Add tomatoes slices, little garam masala. Cook everything well for 5 mins. Add little vinegar or lemon juice. Mix well and turn off. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with Roti or Parathas

Serves four

Special Notes:

Try it and let me know 🙂

Cracked wheat (Dalia) upma – Wholesome and healthy

Background:

Broken wheat or cracked wheat has long been touted as a better grain for people with metabolism issues. Because it is a whole grain and has fiber, it is digested slowly and creates a fuller feeling when compared to an equivalent serving of rice or other carbs that get broken down faster.

So, given my slow metabolism I often use this as a substitute for rice or cream of wheat. I make upma out of it or just use it in place of rice.

Stuff you will need:

Broken wheat – 1 cup
Green Chillies – 3 slit
Ginger 1 inch cube – shredded
Curry leaves – a handful, minced
Black pepper – crushed 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dhal – 2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Oil – 3 tsp
Salt to taste
1/2 lime – to squeeze at the very end

How to make it?

Roast broken wheat in ghee till it smells good.  Set aside. In a covered pan/small pressure cooker heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it pops, add bengal gram dhal, urad dhal, asafoetida, cumin seeds, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Stir till ginger looks fried. Add 2.5 – 2.75 cups of water (depending on the size of the broken wheat. If size is large go for 2.75 – 3 cups else 2.5 cups). Add salt and cover till the water comes to a rolling boil. Now slowly add the roasted broken wheat and stir it in without lumps. Cover/Pressure cook till cooked well.

Fluff up and garnish with squeezed lime if liked tart. This step is optional.

Serve with coconut coriander chutney, rasam or pickle.

Serves two

Special Notes:

The texture and flavor of this upma is similar to rice upma just that it is healthier. Feel free to innovate and add vegetables if inclined. For better flavor, add half a tsp of ghee when the water is boiling and before adding the roasted wheat.

Shahi Chole – White chick peas in a creamy cashew sauce

Background:

K loves chole. Except when I make it. So, over the years I have refrained from making this tasty side dish for fear that I might make a fool of myself yet again.

So, when amma was home yesterday I watched as she made it. Helped some with the prep and realized it was not all too difficult. So, here is the recipe just in case I forget it later.

Stuff you will need:

2 cups white chick peas soaked overnight
1 big onion – cut into big chunks
4-5 small tomatoes or 3-4 medium ones – cut into big chunks
1 cube ginger – peeled and cut into pieces
4 green chillies
Garlic pods – 3 pods (more depending on taste)
Cashews – 10-12 broken
Poppy seeds 1 tsp – dry roasted and powdered
Cinnamon – 1/2 stick
Cardamom – 4 pods peeled
Bay leaf – 1
Cloves – 2-3
Ghee/Oil – 2 tsp
Jeera (Cumin seeds)/Panch Puran – 1 tsp
Coriander – a handful, washed and cut

How to make it?

Dry roast spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and poppy seeds) and powder them. Crush onions in a food processor and set aside. Crush tomatoes with green chillies and ginger and set aside. Make a fine paste of cashews with water and set aside. Pressure cook the chole with salt and turmeric, drain and set aside.

In a wok, add ghee. One heated add panch puran or jeera and the powdered spices. Once the spices are fried add  garlic and fry till brown. Add onion paste and fry well till raw smell goes away. Add tomato paste and cashew paste and mix well and let simmer till oil separates out. Add the drained chole and stir well. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 mins or till done. Garnish with cut coriander. Add a dash of lime if preferred tangier.

Serve with rotis or puri.

Serves four

Special notes:

I prefer to grind onions and tomatoes separately because I believe onions need to be fried longer. I have not tried grinding all together. I feel it might not make much of a difference. Also, instead of roasting and powdering spices, chole masala might do the trick. I do not know as I have not tried. Cashews add a creamy texture and a sweetness that enhances the heat from the chilies.

Vengaya sambar – shallots in lentil soup

Background:

Sunday menus often feature this delicacy. A spicy lentil soup featuring shallots (chinna vengayam) and a mix of spices. In our home vengaya sambar is part of weekend lunch and leftovers had with puris or adai in the evening.

Stuff you will need:

Shallots – 1 cup peeled and slit
1 cup thuvar dhal
Tamarind – a ball the size of a small lime.
Sambar powder – 2 tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dhal – 1 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Coconut gratings – 1 handful
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Oil – 3 tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Coriander – 1/2 bunch washed trimmed and chopped to garnish

How to make it?

Pressure cook thuvar dhal, mash and set aside. Soak tamarind in water, extract pulp and set aside. Dry roast coriander seeds, bengal gram dhal, dry red chillies and coconut gratings till reddish brown, cool and grind to smooth powder. Set aside.

In a wok or deep vessel heat oil. Add mustard seeds and when it bursts add urad dhal and a pinch of turmeric and asafoetida. Add shallots and saute till translucent. Add sambar powder and stir fry till smell of sambar powder fills the air. Add tamarind water and let simmer till smell of raw tamarind goes away. Add powdered spice mix and mashed thuvar dhal and simmer on medium hot for 5 – 10 mins. Garnish with ghee and cut coriander.

Serve hot with rice and vegetable or as a side to adai or puri.

Serves four

Special notes:

Add half a spoon of sugar to enhance the taste of spices. Garnish with ghee optional but makes the sambar taste authentic.