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Saturday, June 20, 2020

HYDERABADI CHICKPEAS PULAO/BIRYANI / GARBANZO BEANS PILAF / BIRYANI

HYDERABADI CHICKPEAS PULAO / BIRYANI / GARBANZO BEANS PILAF / BIRYANI
The locked down has given me the opportunity to try many new recipes and one such recipe is the “Hyderabad Chickpeas Biryani”. I wonder, how I missed making this beautiful dish all these years.
I had soaked chickpeas and wanted to rustle up something quick and easy.
This dish is a One-pot meal which is what I like to cook on those lazy days when I have to drag myself to the kitchen.
The Texture of this dish is moist like a Biryani so you can call it a Biryani as well. This is an ideal dish to be packed into tiffin boxes to take to work or for kids. Quick to cook, Good to eat.



Ingredients (Serves - 4)
Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Chickpeas - 1 cup (Boiled)
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Cumin powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Pulao / Biryani Masala or Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Pickle Masala – ½ tsp (My secret ingredient)
Onions - 2 medium sized
Tomatoes – 2 medium sized
Green chilly – 2
Ginger – ½ inch
Coriander leaves for Garnish

Masalas (whole)
Bay Leaves - 2
Cinnamon stick - 1 slit vertically
Star Anise - 1
Cloves - 2-3
Mace (Javitri) – 1
Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi) - 1-2
Cardamom whole (Elaichi) - 1-2
Cumin seeds - 2 tsps.
Kasuri methi - 1 tsp
Soda bi-carb - a pinch (optional)
Cooking Oil - 4 tbsps
Salt as per taste



Method
Soak the chickpeas overnight with a pinch of soda. Rinse it well in the morning. Add the soaked and rinsed chickpeas in a cooker. Add water to cover it completely and a cup more. Boil it up to 3 whistles in the pressure cooker. Keep it aside.
Meanwhile, pound the chillies and ginger into a fine paste. Chop the onions into strips(slivers). Chop the tomatoes into chunks.
I cook this dish in the Handi pressure cooker. You can cook it in a wok/pan too.
Add the oil, when the Oil is hot, add all the whole Masalas. Sauté for a minute then add the chillies and ginger paste, fry for a minute, then add the onion slivers and some salt and cook till transparent. Do not cook until brown, Add the Tomatoes and cook until mushy. Add the boiled Chickpeas and stir. After this, add the Pulao / Biryani Masala powder or Garam Masala powder, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Turmeric powder, Pulao / Biryani Masala or Garam Masala and Pickle Masala (My secret ingredient). Give it a good stir.
Wait until the water in the chickpeas is dry already.
After this, Add the Washed and drained Basmati rice into the mix and mix well.
Mix with a gentle hand, ensuring that you don’t break the grains of rice.
Now add water, the proportion of water and rice 1: 1.5, so for every cup of rice, you add 1.5 cups of water. In our recipe, we will add 3.5 cups of water.
Stir gently till all the ingredients are mixed well.
Add finely chopped coriander leaves and check for salt.
If you need add salt at this stage.
Usually the mix will be slightly salty but everything will balance once cooked. Now close the lid and cook up to 3 whistles in the pressure cooker, if you are cooking in the open pan /wok, close the pan/wok tightly with a lid and steam cook until all the water is absorbed.
Once done, give it a good fluff with a fork.
Do not press hard and stir as you may break the rice.
Hot Chickpeas Pulao is ready.
Garnish with finely chopped Coriander leaves.
Serve Hot with Yogurt (dahi) /raita /pappad /pickle.
Enjoy this beautiful one-pot meal. 
 
Tips
· Do not soak Rice for too long or else they will become soft and break easily and you won’t get to see the beautiful long grains.

· Adding soda bi-carb to chickpeas while soaking is optional, I added because I wasn’t sure if the  chickpeas would be hard or soft. Sometimes, chickpeas don’t get cooked

· When you add Kasuri Methi, rub it between your palms and add, as this brings out the aroma out

· I prefer to cook in my Prestige Handi as it requires no supervision, However, if you are cooking in the pan/wok, please ensure that you put off the gas immediately when the water is absorbed and let it cook on steam else you may burn the bottom side of the pulao.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

AGBELI KAKLO / BANKYE KRAKRO (CASSAVA CROQUETTES)

AGBELI KAKLO / BANKYE KRAKRO (Cassava Croquettes)
Cassava is a staple food crop in many parts of the world.
A native to South America, cassava was introduced to Africa in the 16th Century by Portuguese traders.
Since then cassava has grown to become a staple food for most African countries. Cassava is grown principally for its starchy roots and it is a good dietary caloric source and has since become one of its most important root crop.
Cassava (Agbeli) in the Ewe language (a language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin) means "there is life".
Today I’m going to share a beautiful Ghananian recipe, “Agbeli Kaklo” made with this humble tuber that’s so easy to grow and quite filling and nutritious.
Locally, Cassava is known as Agbeli/Bankye and Krakro/Kaklo means fried.
Agbeli Kaklo is a crunchy savoury snack.
The recipe is very simple and has minimal ingredients, yet very tasty.
This dish is normally eaten with grated or shaved fresh coconut.




Ingredients (Serves - 4-6)
Cassava - 2-3 Medium size
Onion – 1 Medium size
Green Chilly - 1-2
Cooking oil
Salt as per taste
Fresh coconut, sliced or grated into thin shavings

Method
Wash and peel the cassava, cut each down the middle lengthwise so that you can remove the stalky thread running through it, cut them into big chunks. Grate the cassava finely.
Place the grated cassava in a sieve and rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove the starch. Leave to drain. Now place the grated cassava in a muslin cloth and squeeze out all the starch. Leave to air-dry a little on a plate (this step is optional)
In a bowl, add the dried cassava, onion, green chilies chopped and salt. Mix well and make a tight ball by pressing firmly to keep them bound together. (Refer Picture)


Deep fry the balls on a moderate heat, turning them intermittently to evenly cook them. Fry until golden brown. Strain off excess oil.



Agbeli Kaklo is served hot with dried coconut. Enjoy as a snack with hot tea/coffee.
Make this as a starter item for a party and surprise your guests.

Variations
· If you like you can avoid Onions

· You can add Freshly chopped Coriander leaves to the mix

Tips
· If you do not have a muslin cloth, you can squeeze out the starch using your hand as well.

· If you don’t air dry the Cassava after squeezing out the starch, then it may absorb more oil while frying due to the moisture, yet, this step is optional.

· The starch that is squeezed out from the Cassava is commonly used in puddings and as a thickener. It can be saved as well, so nothing goes wasted.

Friday, June 5, 2020

THAI BROCCOLI SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK

THAI BROCCOLI SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK
Thai cuisine has some beautiful vegetarian dishes or rather dishes that can be made into vegetarian or even vegan without altering much of the taste. 
One such recipe I had earlier shared in my blog was Som Tam (Click on the hyperlink for the recipe)
The thing that I love about Thai cuisine is; it’s simple to cook and they use so many aromatic herbs and sauces and chilly to enhance the taste and tickle the palate.
My trips to various parts of Thailand and having friends living in Thailand to guide us has helped us enjoy this cuisine.
Today I’m sharing the recipe of Broccoli Soup. Do try this Thai Broccoli Soup.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Broccoli - 1/2 kg
Rice bran Oil - 2 tablespoons
Garlic cloves - 3-4
Ginger - 1 tbsp pounded
Green chilli padi - 1 pounded with the ginger
Shallots - 2 chopped fine
Lemon grass - 2 tbsps chopped
Kefir lime leaves - 4 (optional)
Salt as per taste
Coconut cream - 1/2 tin (1 tin = 13.66 oz) of Thai unsweetened Coconut cream
Spinach - 3-4 leaves (For colour only)
Coriander leaves - 5-6 Tbsps (For Colour and Garnish)
Lime juice - 2-3 tbsps
Vegetarian Fish sauce - 1- 2 tsps (optional)
Croutons for Garnish

Method

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan/wok.
Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, and chilly.
Sauté until the shallot is transparent. Add lemongrass and sauté 1-2 more minutes.
Add 1 cup water, kefir lime leaves, salt and broccoli and bring to boil – it’s OK if the broccoli isn’t all submerged, it will still steam.
Bring this to a boil, cover, lower heat and gently simmer 10-12 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
Once tender, turn the heat off, uncover.
At this point, you could add a handful of spinach (Optional) to give the soup a more vibrant green colour.
Add 4-5 tbsps of coriander (save the rest for garnish). Let this cool down and blend until very smooth using a blender.
(Caution - Blending a blender full of hot ingredients will explode!)
Place the smooth blended soup back in the pot/wok, and let it simmer over low heat.
Stir in the coconut milk – you can start with half a can and add more to taste. After adding the coconut milk do not boil the soup. Just a simmer would do.
Add lime juice, and optional fish sauce (Vegetarians can use the Vegetarian Fish sauce) to taste.
Serve hot in a bowl, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and croutons.
You can add a dash of coconut cream as garnish too. I didn't because I'm loving the beautiful green colour.
Dunk into the steaming bowl of the hot soup and enjoy.
A solace on cold winter nights and rainy days...

VARIATIONS


· The coconut milk can be replaced with dairy for non-vegans


· If not adding the Fish Sauce, check for salt and adjust accordingly by adding a little more salt to taste.



TIPS

· Blending a blender full of hot ingredients will explode. Please be careful. Allow the ingredients to cool down before running it in a blender.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

BREAD PIZZA


BREAD PIZZA
When you want to eat a Pizza, but don’t want to go through all the elaborate steps, you can satiate your cravings with Bread Pizza.
Bread Pizza is a quick and easy snack that you can rustle up on those lazy days, when you don’t want to cook anything, but yet, please everyone. It’s a complete visual treat, with the array of colors. You can involve the kids in the assembly process and make it a family activity.
The texture of the toast is crunchy with the soft richness of the cooked cheese and the yummy vegetables. Kids would love this in their Lunch Box.
Bread Pizza can be made in the Conventional Oven or even cooked on a stove top.
Enjoy this as a Snack or a Party Starter


Ingredients
Bread – A loaf or as per requirement
Pizza Sauce – As required
Yellow Capsicum (Bell peppers) – ½ cup diced
Green Capsicum (Bell peppers) – ½ cup diced
Red Capsicum (Bell peppers) – ½ cup diced
Tomatoes – 1 diced (Optional)
Onion – 1 diced
Artichokes – 2 tbsps (Optional)
Black Olives – ½ cup (Optional)
Pineapples – ½ cup (Optional)
Red Chilly flakes
Italian seasoning
Coarse Pepper Powder
Cheese – Can Use Mozzarella Cheese/ Cheddar Cheese/ Feta Cheese
Butter




Method

Conventional Oven Method (Most preferred)
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C or 400 F
Apply butter on one side of the bread (Optional), I prefer it like that as I feel the bread gets a good crunch. Place the butter smeared bread slices on a baking tray and grill them for 2 -3 minutes. Butter actually quickens the toasting process.
Remove them from the oven and place them for your toppings.
First spread a spoonful of Pizza Sauce over the lightly toasted bread, then add the toppings of your choice.
I have added green, red and yellow bell pepper’s(Capsicum), Artichokes, Black Olives, Diced Pineapples.
I take the toppings in a big bowl, add a dash of Himalayan Pink Salt, some coarse black pepper, red chili flakes and give it a good toss. After which I added them to the bread as Toppings
I did not add Onions and Tomatoes as my kids didn’t want them in the toppings.
Grate the cheese on top of the vegetables. After adding this sprinkle, some Italian seasoning, some red chilly flakes if you like a dash of spice, can avoid for kids and some Pepper. Since I already tossed them into the vegetables, you can avoid it.
Keep the Tray in the oven and Bake for another 5-8 minutes at 200-220C or until the veggies get grilled partially and the cheese melts and turns golden. Serve the Bread Pizza hot. Bite into this crunchy delight.

Stove Top Method
Toast the bread on one side. Keep on a board.
Add the Pizza sauce, toppings of your choice and grated cheese on the toasted side of the bread. Smear a little butter on the Open pan (Tawa) and on a very low flame.
Lay the toasts on the Tawa and cover the pan, it will get cooked until the cheese melts,
Keep the untoasted piece of the bread face up.

Variations
·       My kids don’t like Tomato as they feel it gets gooey when baked, so my recipe doesn’t have tomato. You can add diced Tomatoes.  
·       You can add Spinach to this recipe, if your kids like.

Tips
·       I take the toppings in a big bowl, add a dash of Himalayan Pink Salt, some coarse black pepper, chili flakes and give it a good toss. After which I added them to the bread as Toppings. If doing this, don’t toss and keep as it will get soggy. Do it just before you make a batch and immediately add the toppings.
·       I have not added the measurements for the spices as it can be as per your choice
·       If you don’t have Pizza sauce, you can just use the tomato sauce available at home.


Monday, May 18, 2020

WATERMELON RIND HALWA


WATERMELON RIND HALWA
This locked down has given us a lot of valuable lessons and one such lesson is reducing wastage and conserving our resources, valuing nature and living quality lives, something that was by being practiced by our previous generations but somehow forgotten by us.
There are many parts of vegetables or fruits that we tend to throw missing out on the huge nutritional quotient that it offers. It’s time to start making wonderful recipes from them and getting more value out of your buck.
Something that fancied me during this lock down was the watermelon rind halwa. 
All my life I never knew that we could eat the watermelon rind, imagine the gross wastage of food!!!
The watermelon rind is the firm white part of the fruit that's left behind after the bright pink flesh has been eaten or scooped away. We tend to toss this part of the fruit, but it has a crisp texture similar to a cucumber and is pretty versatile. Apparently, it can be pickled and even made into a chutney!!!
Before I share the recipe, I would like to share the benefits of eating the watermelon Rind.
Watermelon Rind is not only rich in fibre but also in amino acid citrulline, which is concentrated in the rind. Citrulline promotes the dilation of blood vessels. One study Trusted Source suggests that citrulline supplements improve oxygen delivery to muscles, potentially improving exercise performance and can help boost the Libido in Men. It helps in lowering your blood pressure. With so many health benefits who would want to throw the Rind.

So here is the recipe, It’s simple and easy


Ingredients
Watermelon rind – 1 cup
Sugar – ¼ - ½ cup
Ghee – 2
Cardamom a pinch


Method
This recipe is simple, after eating the fruit, scrape and scoop out the white portion onto a cup. You can dice the rind, but since I scraped it out the texture was like grated squash so I didn’t further chop it.  
In a wok, Take the sugar, add water enough to cover the sugar. For Example, ½ cup sugar needs ½ cup water. Add a pinch of cardamom powder. Cook until the syrup becomes viscous and the texture feels like oil. At this point, add the scraped watermelon rind, cook until the mixture becomes one and there’s no more water left, you have to keep stirring for a couple of minutes on a high flame. Keep stirring well. Don’t leave it unattended as it can quickly catch the bottom. Don’t let it catch the bottom. When it starts to thicken and leaving the sides of the pan, you know it’s done.
Your halwa is done, serve warm.

Variations
·       You can alternatively grind the rind in a blender
·       Nuts of your choice can be added, I didn’t add any nuts in my recipe.
·       You can use Palm sugar or any other sweetener as a replacement for sugar.

Tips
·       Adjust the sugar according to taste. I took ½ cup, but felt that it was too sweet as the watermelon itself was very sweet. Sweetness depends on the melon you get as well.
·        If you are vegan you can avoid ghee.
·         

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

BROWN RICE KHICHDI

BROWN RICE KHICHDI
Khichdi is the soul food of the Indians!!! Khichdi is a rice lentil porridge that is usually eaten when you want something light yet nutritious.
Making the Khichdi with Brown Rice, packs the humble khichdi to a different level. Brown rice has high levels of fibre and a low glycemic index and carbohydrates.
Khichdi can be made using any variety of rice, but, brown rice retains its healthy bran and germ throughout processing, allowing it to maintain some of those powerful nutrients that the white rice has lost. This processing also allows brown rice to retain valuable minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese.
Brown rice also has a delicious nutty flavor and a chewy texture due to the nutritious bran layer.
Brown rice has numerous potential health benefits, including high levels of fibre and the potential to lower blood pressure and can help the body to effectively use insulin, maintain a healthier weight, and increase potassium levels.
In India, khichdi is usually served to people recovering from illness, surgeries as it is light and easy to digest. It’s a one pot meal and can be packed with loads of vegetables as well.


Ingredients (Serves - 4)
Brown rice - 1 ½ cup
Yellow Moong dal – ½ cup
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - ½ inch
Onion - 1
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander Leaves finely chopped – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing) – A pinch
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Peppercorns – 3-4
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Salt as per taste
Ghee /Oil - 2 tsp



Method
Wash the rice and Yellow moong dal. Soak it in hot water for about an hour.
Meanwhile, dry roast 1 tsp of the cumin seeds and peppercorns and pound them into a coarse powder.
Pound the Ginger and chillies into a coarse paste, you can alternatively also mince it small or run it in a blender.
Heat ghee/oil in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds. When the seeds start to crackle, add the green chillies and ginger paste, sauté, after about a minute, add in the finally chopped onions, curry leaves, sauté until the onion is cooked. Add a dash of Asafoetida, Himalayan Pink Salt and sauté. Drain the lentils and rice and add to this mix. Mix well, Add the coarsely pounded cumin seeds and pepper powder and mix well.
Now add water, the water ratio is depending on the rice. So, If you are taking 1 cup of rice you need to add 2 cups of water.
But since, you have lentils cooking along as well, you will add 3 cups of water. In my recipe, I have 1.5 cup of rice and ½ cup moong dal, so I have taken 4-4.5 cups water. I pressure cook for up to 4-5 whistles. (If cooking in a pan, cook for about 20 minutes till the lentils are tender and the rice is cooked through). I prefer the pressure cooker as I’m always worried about brown rice not getting cooked well.
Once done, wait for the steam to work its magic on the khichdi.
Open after 15 minutes, mix well, garnish with coriander and serve hot with a dollop of yogurt, pickles and papad.
This is the basic recipe.

Tips
·       Adding a ¼ tsp of Pickle oil takes the paste to the next level. If do not have pickle oil, you can add ¼ tsp of pickle masala for an added flavour.
·       Use Ghee instead of Oil for the additional taste. If instead of ghee you use Oil, this dish can be categorized under Vegan recipes.
·       Vegetables of your choice can be added, usually, carrots(diced), green peas, spinach chopped fine etc. are added.
·       You can add 2 pods of garlic, if you like the taste, pound the garlic, along with the green chillies and ginger and follow the recipe above.
·       You can add a tsp of Garam Masala powder if you like some flavour.
·       You can add a tsp of Kasuri methi (dried methi leaves) while sautéing the onions.
·       You can add a tsp of Tomato Puree if you like.



Friday, April 24, 2020

MUMBAI BAKERY STYLE NAN KHATAI (BAKED BISCUITS EGGLESS)

MUMBAI BAKERY STYLE NAN KHATAI (BAKED BISCUITS EGGLESS)
If there is a biscuit that’s authentically and genuinely Indian then it’s the Nan Khatai.
Is it really of Indian origin?
Wikipedia says that, Nan khatai is believed to have originated in Surat(Gujarat) in the 16th century, the time when the Dutch and the Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian.
Yet there is a version that says, that the word Nan Khatai is derived from the Persian word Naan, which is a type of flatbread and Khatai is an Afghan word and means biscuit. In fact, this biscuit is also famous in Iran and Afghanistan, that could be the reason that we see most Islamic bakeries make different assortments of these lovely baked biscuits. Now, yet another version doing the rounds is that the Parsi Bakers invented the Nan khatai.
It really doesn’t matter who invented these beautiful delicacies but I’m glad they did it.
In the yesteryears, Nan Khatai’s were baked in old style urn ovens using firewood.
Nan khatai is popular and available all over India and every region has its twist to it.
My daughter who loves baking says that Nan khatai cannot be classified as a cookie. It’s more like a biscuit. According to her cookies are much buttery and melt in the mouth and the texture of Nan khatai is like a biscuit.
The eggless version that we get in Singapore during Hari Raya known as Sugee Cookies, have a high content of vegetable shortening in it, which feels rich and soft but leaves a waxy coating on the roof of your mouth.  
The Nan khatai in India is not melt in the mouth (Although we can make it in that texture too) but my biscuits come with a crunch like the ones we get at The Mumbai Bakeries.
I personally love the home made ones as I know exactly the ingredients that go into the making and nothing tastes as good as homemade ones, so here’s a recipe if followed perfectly would result in awesome Nan khatai biscuits.


Ingredients
All purpose flour (Maida) - 1 cup + Standby (2 tablespoons)
Semolina (Rava/Suji) - 2 tablespoons
Caster Sugar - ½ cup
Unsalted Butter (or ghee) - ½  cup at room temperature
Baking Soda - ¼  teaspoon
A pinch of Salt
Cardamom Powder - ¼  teaspoon
Crushed Nuts - 1 tablespoons (Preferably Almond and Pistachio finely chopped)

Method
In a big bowl, Sieve the All purpose flour, semolina, baking soda and a pinch of salt.
In another Bowl take the melted butter, to it add the caster sugar, Using a whisk or hand mixer blend until smooth and frothy. Add in the cardamom powder and give it a good stir.
Add this mix to the Dry ingredients and mix well and knead into a dough.
In case the dough looks very greasy, add in the 2 tablespoons of flour that we kept as standby.
Knead well,
After this, divide dough into about 20 equal portions and make round shaped balls from it, press these between the palms and place it over baking tray. Line your baking trays with a baking sheet/parchment paper/aluminium foil and place the dough balls on it, allow sufficient space between the biscuits, usually 1.5 to 2 inches as the biscuits tend to expand in size during the baking. Top each one with a little bit of finely chopped nuts and press gently with your finger.
The next step…….Baking, if this goes wrong everything is wasted, so here I’m sharing some tips of how to bake the Nan khatai
Baking
·       For even baking, position the rack at the centre of the oven and bake one tray of the biscuits at a time. If you want to bake two trays, space the racks, and switch the racks from top to bottom halfway through the baking.
·       Always Preheat the oven 10 to 15 minutes before baking the first batch.
·       Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer (if you have it or else you can go by Visual judgement).
·       Once pre-heated, bake your cookies for about 15-20 minutes @180 degrees centigrade (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
·       Visual judgement is the best when it comes to baking your biscuits, follow the abovementioned time and check for the colour (light beige golden)
·       Using a timer would be good. Most Ovens come with a recipe book or instruction printed on it, which includes a range in baking time; check what’s the range for your oven. If not follow the minimum time stated in the recipe. Example, my recipe says, minimum time is 15 minutes.
·       Every oven has different settings and it may take a little longer or shorter time based on the oven you use.
Once Baked…..♨
Remove the baking tray from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack (or wire rack). The biscuits can’t be eaten yet. Internally the heat is still cooking it. After about half an hour you can indulge in these beautiful Nan khatai Biscuits. Store them in an airtight container.
Enjoy these beauties with your tea/ coffee☕. I love dunking them into my tea☕. Sweet and Sinful Indulgence.

Tips
·       Just follow the Recipe As-is
·       Ensure that the butter in the recipe is soft but not completely melted
·       If Caster sugar is not available, you can powder the coarse sugar in the dry blender
·       If you are using ghee instead of butter, it should have semi solid consistency. It should not be completely melted or look like oil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

VEGETARIAN / VEGAN ARROZ CALDO (FILIPINO RICE PORRIDGE)

VEGETARIAN / VEGAN ARROZ CALDO (FILIPINO RICE PORRIDGE)
Arroz Caldo is a simple Filipino rice porridge, “Arroz” means Rice and “Caldo” means soup.
The Filipinos are meat lovers and almost every dish would have meat in some form or the other.
This dish also has meat in it but since I'm a vegetarian, I'm sharing a vegetarian recipe with a slight Indian twist😉 (Turmeric and coriander).
It's usually made of shredded chicken, garlic, ginger, and chicken broth.
My Filipino helper introduced me to this simple yet healthy dish.
She first made it and it tasted exactly like our Khichdi minus the lentils.👍
My helper says that they used to get this for breakfast at the Government school they studied in back in Ilo Ilo, Philippines.
She says due to poverty, many kids going to the Government schools are malnourished.
The Government or people who are well to do donate Rice to the school and when they are blessed with these Rice donations, they make a simple Arroz Caldo and serve it to all the kids.
The kids themselves volunteer to cook it under the supervision of the teachers.👍
It's nutritious and filling and helps to satiate the pangs of hunger of these kids from the lower economic backgrounds who don't have enough to eat at home.👍

Arroz Caldo is a dish that I would recommend highly👍 as it is very light on the stomach and easy to digest.👍
A piping hot bowl♨ of Arroz Caldo will be perfect when you have a cold or not feeling well or when you are tired and lazy and want to rustle up something quickly.
Next time you are lazy make Arroz Caldo instead of a packet of Instant Noodles.
Although she says, sometimes they add a packet of instant noodles to the Arroz Caldo, but I won't recommend it.


Ingredients
Brown Rice /White rice - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Garlic - 3-4 pods
Red chilly flakes - 1/2 tsp
Coarse Black Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt as per taste
Coriander leaves - 1tbsp finely chopped (Optional)
Spring onion leaves - 1 tbsp finely chopped (Optional)
Drumstick leaves - 2 tbsps (Optional)



Method
Wash the rice nicely and Cook in a pressure cooker up to 3 whistles. My helper says they used to cook it in an open pot only.
Peel and chop the garlic and ginger finely.
In a wok, take 1 tbsp oil, once the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute or 2.
When it's brown in colour, then add the turmeric and the cooked rice and mix well.
Add salt to taste.
Give it a good stir.
Add 2 cups of water and cook until all the spices are blended into the rice.
Serve it piping hot with a dash of the chilly flakes and pepper powder.
You can garnish it with finely chopped spring onion leaves or coriander leaves or drumstick leaves. 
Dunk into the hot Arroz Caldo and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navarathri Festival then & now...changing times and patterns

Navarathri in the 70's- 2000 & Now....

I had the privilege of living & being brought up in Mumbai. A place where people from all over the country live. Where each festival is celebrated with gaeity. A place where there's a frenzy to catch a train/bus/rickshaw/taxi. Where a day passes only to go to work & be back. Where even 24 hours in a day is less.

The power it takes to board the train, squeezing through the robust melee of people in a mad frenzy to catch the train & the same frenzy to get off the train, literally jumping onto the platform, squeezing back through the crowd and daring all odds to reach home and yet come back with energy for the family & household chores waiting for them.

Yet, when festivals come, the ladies undauntingly celebrate it with ardour & warmth.

Our Tambrahm community has always known to be a practical & intelligent lot. Our pragmatic approach to changing times has helped retain our age-old traditions & rich culture & heritage.


Then.....

Working ladies would invite over the weekends & housewives over the week. Inspite of living in a fast paced city with such a flinty pace. People still managed to make the time to celebrate festivals with zest.

Back then, I used to enjoy dressing up in my pattu pavadais(silk petticoats), adorning jasmines in my hair and wearing Amma's gold necklace and jhimki(long gold earring with precious stones). I used to feel so dolled up as I used to accompany my Amma(mother) for vettala paaku.

The girl kids were an integral part of the celebrations and were "invited". I used to feel so privileged to be "invited"😀

Nowadays the kids do not want to accompany nor do they like to dress up in our beautiful traditional gear.

In our community, being born as a girl itself was a celebration.

My brother wasn't officially "invited"😜 for the vettala paaku.

Once we reached in our silks & fineries, mind you it's the onset of winters and just comfortable to be attired in our ensemble.

When we visited the people, we used to admire the golus(arrangement of dolls), ask questions about the theme of arrangement, new Additions (It's a tradition to have a new addition of a doll every year). We used to chant shlokas, sing bhajans, appreciate any new things in the hostess's house.

We usually used to be offered sundal & some sweet and beverages(coffee, tea, juice)

Sometimes we used to visit a few houses in a row, so the sundals & sweets used to be packed in little small packets of banana leaves covered with a newspaper made into little take away packs. These packets were made & readily kept if we refused to have anything offered at the hostess's home.

But now....

Calling for Vettala paaku has become an elaborate affair.

Every person is competing with another. The humble sundal & sweet are replaced with a huge array of food items. It's like a buffet arrangement with a varieties of snacks & sweets. People are slogging in the kitchen to outdo each other in the quest of making an impression on the invitees. Some even ordering food from restaurants. Eventually a lot of ladies who cannot manage all this will jump off this bandwagon and succumb to the temptation of "not" celebrating this beautiful festival.

There's also competition in dressing up, presenting the house,

Offering expensive gifts and comparing who's gift is better than the other.

There's pressure in dressing up in certain colors.

There are yet, a group of people who pack the thamboolam in gift pouches and send it over to their friends through their maids😂.Totally hassle-free but completely kills the idea of offering thamboolam.

The manjal(Haldi) kumkumam (Kumkum)which was offered from little brass/silver boxes have transformed into plastic pouches or boxes holding colored powders.

The paaku(betel nuts) is packed in plastic pouches.

We are using so many non biodegradable things now in the name of convenience which is harming the environment.

I'm glad I kept re-inventing myself over the period of years. This year I purchased cloth bags to give my vettala paaku, i do not give blouse pieces which are going to be further passed on😜.

I love the idea of gifts, Gifts are an integral part of the thamboolam, so i take a lot of efforts, go to many shops, buy gifts which can be used in the pooja room or house. Keep the cost economical as I give a lot of people (80-100 ladies). The idea is not the cost but the thought behind it.

Haldi-kumkum packets i still give....maybe eventually it should (will)change. Betel nut packets too....but my friends love them.

No bangles, combs, pottu packets, mirrors😂🤣....they definitely get recycled.

Gifts are an integral part of the Haldi kumkum,

My mom used to say, "The more ladies you give, the more punyam you get".


We must adapt to the changing times and not rigidly keep doing rituals in the name of tradition. We must take into account the present day situation and act accordingly.


"Happy Navarathri to All"




© Sukanya's Musings

Monday, May 16, 2016

PARUPPU PODI (SPICED LENTILS POWDER)

PARUPPU PODI (SPICED LENTILS POWDER)
Paruppu Podi with steaming hot rice is food for the soul. It is a saving grace when we are not feeling well or tired and lazy to cook an elaborate meal. Whenever we go to the restaurants and order an Andhra meal, my hubby Yo completely relishes Paruppu podi mixed with steaming hot rice and a dollop of ghee.
Nowadays, we can buy Paruppu podi from the shops and they come in various permutations and combinations and do taste good. But nothing can beat the aroma, the flavour and the taste of the freshly roasted and ground podi at home.
Mix hot steaming rice with some Paruppu podi and ghee or Gingelly oil and it’s a one pot meal. Some fried and roasted papadam will do well with it.
There are many variations to this recipe. Below is an absolutely divine recipe. This is my grandmother’s recipe and I got this from my cousin sister. I made it for my trip overseas and it was definitely a hit. Do try it and enjoy.


Ingredients
Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) – 1 Cup
Chana Dal – 2 tbsps (Split Bengal gram dal)
Red Chilly – 3 Nos.
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
Salt as per Taste

Method

Dry roast the ingredients till the dals turns into a golden brown color. Add in the salt and asafoetida.




Once it’s cool, grind it into a fine powder.

Enjoy yummy paruppu podi with hot rice and a dollop of ghee or gingelly oil.
Store the remaining in an air tight jar for enjoying later.

Tips
·         You can add 1 tbsp of Urad Dal (Split Black Gram/ White lentil). Just roast along with the above ingredients and grind.
·         You can add curry leaves, Wash, dry and roast along with the above ingredients and grind. Gives a good aroma and is good for health too.
·         You can add Garlic. Just peel and roast 4-5 cloves of Garlic along with the above ingredients and grind.
·         You can add 1 tbsp of Desiccated coconut powder (dry). This can be dry roasted and added. (If you add coconut it won’t have a longer shelf life).



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