Saturday, April 30, 2011

Brown Rice Salad with Avocado and Bell Pepper - Healthy recipe

Recently, I've heard from a lot of friends about the goodness of brown rice over white rice. Brown rice is what we get after removing just the outermost layer(called the husk) of a grain of rice. In the process of milling and polishing to convert brown rice to white rice, about 70% of the original nutrients are gone! That's why eating whole grains is always good for our health :)

We all prefer white rice because it is quicker to cook and is fluffier. But I like the nutty flavor in brown rice and wanted to cook it at home and see for myself, how long the cooking takes. Not bad, the ratio of brown rice to water is 1:3.5 and cooking it on open pan took about 40 minutes. It's worth all the time because it is healthy :)

This is a recipe printed on the pack of brown rice and it tasted really yummy :)

You Need -

Brown rice  - 1 cup
Cabbage - 1/2 cup
Carrots - 2
Bell peppers (capsicum) - 1
Onions - 2
Avocado - 1 
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Roasted cashewnuts - 10 nos.

Method -

To prepare rice -

Brown rice, uncooked

  • Wash and rinse the rice.
  • Soak it for 2 hours so that the rice swells.
  • Drain the water and cook with 3.5 cups of water for every cup of rice measured. 

Salad -

  • Grate carrots, chop cabbage and onions finely.
  • Cube red bell pepper.
  • Peel off the skin of avocado, deseed and dice it.
  • Take olive oil in a pan, fry onions till pink and follow through with all the veggies. 
  • Sprinkle enough salt and squeeze lemon juice. 
  • Mix everything together and close the pan to allow them to get cooked. This won't take more than 7-8 minutes.
  • Your salad is ready! 
This tastes best when served cold.  You can also stir in cooked rice with the salad at the final stage. Garnish with roasted cashew nuts & enjoy your healthy meal!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kadala Kozhambu (Chick peas in tamarind-coconut milk gravy)

This is a recipe passed on through generations. My grandma makes this tangy, coconut-milk rich gravy and adds cooked chick peas to it. My hubby loves this too, as he has tasted this from his grandma as well :) So yeah, it's an old recipe, propagated well.

What You Need -

Chick peas/ Garbanzo beans/ White Channa - 1 cup
Tamarind - a small ball of 2" diameter
Thick Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Asafoetida/Hing - 2 drizzles
Sambar powder - 2 heaped teaspoons (Available in Indian stores)
Turmeric powder/ Haldi - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

To Temper -

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Oil - 1 tsp

Preparatory Steps -

1. Soak Channa overnight. If you're pressed for time, then soak them for 2-3 hours and pressure-cook with a pinch of baking soda.

2. Soak tamarind in hot water and extract juice from it. Strain the impurities and seeds away.

3. Extract coconut milk from coconut and use the first and second grade milk in this recipe. Or, you may just use store-bought coconut cream/milk. You'll need only 3 tbsp of commercial brands, as these are very thick.
Please check out my notes here on how to get different grades of coconut milk. 

Method -

  • Take tamarind water in a pan.
  • Add turmeric powder, sambar powder, hing and salt and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add cooked channa and boil together for 10 minutes.

  • Simmer and add second grade coconut milk.

  • Next, add thick coconut milk and switch off.
  • If you find the gravy to be too thick, add some channa stock (water in which channa is cooked). Alternatively, you may soak tamarind in that water to save some nutrients :)

  • Take a mini-kadai, heat 1 tsp oil and splutter mustard seeds. Tear and throw some curry leaves. Pour this to the gravy that's ready.

This is a variety of kozhambu or sambar that's eaten with rice. You can enjoy this with any dry curries  like Potato fry or Colocasia roast.

Raw Banana Fritters (Vazhakkai Bajji)

This is yet another popular evening snack in South India. Raw banana (green in color) is coated in spiced besan (chick pea flour) and rice flour batter and deep fried and enjoyed with masala chai (tea). Bajji is quite simple to make and does not require any special equipment nor skills :) I spent just about 20 minutes in the kitchen and then we had yummy வாழக்காய் பஜ்ஜி (Raw Banana Fritters in Tamil) at tea-time. 

What You Need -

Raw Banana - 1 No.
Oil- for frying

For the Batter -

Besan (கடலை மாவு / Bengal gram dal flour) - 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
ஓமம்/ Kalonji - 1/2 tsp  (can substitute with Jeera/Cumin powder)
Asafoetida /Hing - a little
Baking soda - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp 
Turmeric powder/ Haldi - 1/4 tsp

How To -

  • First, chop off the ends of raw banana, with a sharp knife.  Using a peeler, remove the skin completely, until you see the white colored flesh.

  • Prepare the batter by mixing together all ingredients, adding water little by little, until you get a thick consistency.

Bajji Batter
  • Cut raw banana longitudinally into 0.5 cm thick slices.

  • Dip the pieces one by one into the prepared batter and make sure it is fully coated. 
  • Slide them gently into a kadai with hot oil. Make sure the oil is hot enough before you start frying. 
  • You can heat oil while you cut the raw banana and thus save time. 

  • When you see golden color, turn sides over and make sure the other side is fried well too. Keep the flame setting on "Medium". This ensures that the veggie is cooked well inside.
  • Drain on paper tissues to remove excess oil and limit your intake of bad cholesterol! 
    • I've started using olive oil where sunflower oil or vegetable oil is not mandated .

Devour them as such or with any sauce/chutney :) Try out this vegetable chutney for a change!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mullu Murukku or Thenguzhal

Mullu Murukku is our favorite snack, just like every other fried crunchy stuff :) Murukku is one the "must-have" items for festive days like Deepavali and Karthigai. South-Indian weddings have this formality of giving away Murukku and Laddu (an Indian sweet) to all their guests who graced the marriage with their presence (something like a return gift!) In short, Thenguzhal (தேன்குழல்) is something we have grown up with and would love to lay our hands on, anytime of the day :)

The right proportion of rice flour to urad flour and the right amount of butter gives the best tasting Murukku :) This is a foolproof recipe, thanks to my mom, as I got it right even the first time I tried my hand at making Thenguzhal.

What You Need -

Rice flour - 1 cup
Urad flour - 1/4 cup
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing (asafoetida) - 2 drizzles
Butter - 2 tbsp
Water - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste (Start with 1/2 tsp)
Oil - for frying

How To -

  • Fry urad dal till it turns slight red in color and allow it to cool. Powder it in a mixer.
  • Mix in rice flour with urad flour, add jeera(cumin), asafoetida, sesame seeds, salt and melted butter.
  • Add water, little by little as needed and make a firm dough.

  • Get your "Sevanazhi" (aka Murukku press device) ready with the one-starred plate (as shown in the picture).

  • Heat oil in a deep pan and when hot, fill dough into the device and press onto hot oil, while moving your hand in clockwise circles 3 times.

  • Wait patiently until it turns from white color to slight golden and turn sides. This takes about 4 minutes.
  • Let the other side get cooked well too.
  • Drain onto paper tissues to remove excess oil.

  • Once cooled, transfer to airtight container.

Munch your murukkus with hot masala chai/tea or whenever you feel like snacking! ;)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet Potato Parathas

Potatoes have a bad reputation because of their high-carb content, but sweet potatoes are so full of anti-oxidants because of their high levels of Vitamin A and C.  They also have good amounts of Vitamin B6, potassium, iron and manganese. So, don't feel guilty if you love Aloo parathas, go ahead and enjoy some parathas with all the goodness of sweet potatoes.

What You Need -

Wheat flour - 3 cups
Sweet potatoes - 250 g
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

I haven't added Red Chilli powder as I wanted to relish the sweetness of sweet potatoes. They say that the flavor of sweet potatoes actually improves with storage, as some of the starch turns into sugar.

How To -

  • Pressure-cook sweet potatoes and allow to cool slightly.
  • Make the dough with wheat flour, salt, mashed n cooked sweet potatoes, salt, turmeric, jeera powder and coriander powder. 
  • You do not have to add water at all. 
  • Finally, add 1 tsp of oil so that the dough is not sticky. 
  • You can feel that the dough is softer than normal chapathi dough.
  • Wrap it in Cling Wrap foil and keep aside for atleast 30 minutes.

  • The procedure then is quite normal; divide the dough into balls and roll it into circles with rolling pin.
  • Do toss the dough into some wheat flour, during the rolling process, so that it doesn't get sticky.
  • Heat a griddle and cook the parathas on both sides.
  • The trick is to keep the paratha moving with a wooden spatula, so that it remains soft yet gets cooked.
  • Store the parathas by covering them in a kitchen cloth inside a hot pack casserole. These remain soft long after you make them, which makes them ideal for lunch boxes :)

Any spicy gravy like Kadai Vegetable would complement the sweetness of these parathas.

Colocasia Roast (Seppan kizhangu/ Arbi Fry)

Cheppan kizhangu is a root tuber belonging to the broader family of potatoes, yam, etc.  Roasting cooked colocasia with fine Indian spices is one of the bestest things I love to eat anyday anytime :) This is quite simple to make and one of the items that I make every now and then.

The technique to make it roasted without deep-frying it, is to refrigerate the cooked colocasia and make the dry curry the next morning. That way, you can prevent it from getting mashed, which could happen if you try to make it immediately after pressure-cooking the veggie.  This method was in fact discovered by serendipity!


What You Need -

Colocasia - 500 g
Red chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Home-made Curry powder - 1 tsp
Rice flour - for crispness - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 3 tsp

To temper -

Mustard seeds - 3/4 tsp
Urad dal - 3/4 tsp
Channa dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - to taste (optional)

How To -

  • Pressure cook seppan kizhangu for 3 whistles and switch off. Over-cooking increases its softness and makes it mushy. 
  • Peel off the skin and refrigerate them for atleast 3 hours. Usually, I cook it the previous night if I want to make the curry the next morning.
  • Take a kadai, pour 2 tsp of oil and heat it. 
  • Allow mustard seeds to splutter, then follows urad dal and channa dal. 
  • Tear some curry leaves and add.
  • Now, take out seppan kizhangu from your fridge and cut each piece into 2-3 pieces depending on its size. 
  • Slip the cheppankizhangu pieces carefully and it's best if each piece is placed separately as one layer on a wide pan.
  • Add the powders - turmeric powder, red chilli powder and curry powder.

  • Add salt.
  • Keep flame on low-medium and let them get roasted well for about 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle some rice flour evenly over the pieces.
  • Add another teaspoon of oil around the pieces.
  • Turn the pieces over and let the other side get fried too. Another 15 minutes and your yummy colocasia roast is ready to be served :) Roasted on the outside and soft inside!

You can enjoy it with rice and sambar/rasam/curd.

Long Beans Paruppu Usli - Healthy recipe

This is a simple, healthy recipe where lentils are steamed and stirred in with spiced green beans, long beans, cluster beans(kothavarangai) or banana flower(vazha poo). You can actually prepare this without a single drop of oil and yet it tastes sooo good :)  This can be made in under 30 minutes!

You Need -

Long beans - 1 bunch
Toor dal - 150 g
Channa Dal (Bengal gram dal or கடலை பருப்பு) - 80 g
Red chillies - 2 or 3
Hing (பெருங்காயம்) - 2 drizzles
Salt - to taste

How To -

  • Soak both the dals together in enough water for 2 hours.
  • Then, drain the water (a little water is ok), add red chillies, hing and salt to the dals and make a semi-powder, semi-paste mixture from the dals.

  • Steam the mixture. You can use your idli-plates to steam it. Alternatively, I steam it on the top deck of my electric rice cooker, while my rice gets done simultaneously. 

  • Meanwhile, chop your long beans fine and steam them as well. Add salt while you steam your veggie, for a better taste.
  • When the dal-mixture is done, crumble them with a strong stainless steel tablespoon or use something like this to crush the dal.

  • Mix in the cooked beans and there you go!
  • Serve with rice and tangy rasam and they make an awesome combination!
Tangy Tomato Rasam to go with Usli
Enjoy your usli while it is warm :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kofta with Sprouted Green Gram Bean/Dal

You can see I'm still not over the kofta mania! But this time, it's healthier because I'm using sprouted green gram for making koftas. This is indeed a good way to make your family consume some proteins if they don't relish it in the form of sundals.

I made Palak gravy (similar to the one described in Palak Paneer) to go with the koftas, to make it healthier and take in all the nutrients from greens. You can also make tomato-onion gravy, just like the one we made for Paneer Butter Masala. Or even simpler, just serve these koftas as a starter with some chutney or sauce to dip in.

What You Need -

For the Koftas -

*Sprouted green gram dal - 150 g
Paneer - 100 g
Onions, chopped - 1 medium

Red chilli  powder - 3/4 tsp

Cumin powder (Jeera) - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Garam masala spices powdered - clove, cinnamon, cardamom (optional)

Bread crumbs for crispness
Oil - to fry

How To -

  • Grind green gram sprouts without water.
  • Mix with grated paneer (or mashed paneer), chopped onion, chilli powder, salt and spice powders to make a thick dough.

  • Divide them evenly to make oval-shaped or ball-shaped koftas. 
  • Coat the koftas in bread crumbs. Optionally, it is best to dip it first in maida batter to make bread crumbs sticking on better to the koftas. 

  • Heat oil in a kadai and fry the koftas.

  • Drain on kitchen tissues 
  • Serve them with any gravy over it. I made palak gravy :)

That may not 'look' great, but sure tasted yummy!

* To make sprouts :

  • Soak green gram dal in water overnight (8 hours)
  • Wash it and drain off the water.
  • Hang them in a moist cloth (like muslin cloth) for about 12 hours. 
  • Sprinkle water often and do not let the cloth go dry.
  • Wait for 3-4 hrs more if you don't see sprouts yet.


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