Roz Ka Khana

A blog about everyday food. Mostly Indian. All vegetarian.

Pulut Hitam – Sticky Black Rice Pudding

Desserts made with sticky black rice are a specialty of Southeast Asia. This unpolished, short-grain rice is often labeled as glutinous rice, a reference to its consistency when cooked and not to its gluten content. The color isn’t black either, which becomes obvious when you start to wash it. The grains stain the water a deep wine and turn purplish when cooked.

It wasn’t until I started researching black rice that I discovered its health benefits. The pigment comes from anthocyanins, antioxidants found also in purple vegetables and fruits such as beetroot, blackberries, and mangosteen. Besides fiber, black rice is also rich in iron.

I first tasted sweetened black rice as a filling in a dumpling. However, a more popular black rice dessert, especially in Malaysia and Singapore, is pulut hitam (Malay for black glutinous rice), a mélange of the grain, coconut milk, and palm sugar.

This is not your traditional, mushy rice pudding. Black rice is far more assertive – it has a nutty flavor and retains some bite when cooked as the husks are still intact. This also means it requires more water and takes much longer to cook than its polished white counterpart so a bit of planning is necessary. But once you’re done with that stage, the dish requires very little effort.

The other nice thing about pulut hitam is that it allows you to experiment. You can use virtually any type of sugar. I have used the Indian jaggery and brown sugar with equal success. Pandan leaf (screwpine leaf) is the traditional flavoring ingredient but you can add cardamom pods or vanilla. You can also substitute the coconut milk with pouring or whipped cream, fruit puree, or even custard. The dessert pairs well with many fruits. Try mango or banana slices, or lychee for an exotic twist.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g black glutinous rice
  • 200 g palm sugar (gula melaka) or jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), or brown sugar to taste
  • 6-8 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150 ml coconut milk

 

Optional

  • Two pandan leaves or three cardamom pods, skinned and crushed
  • Coconut cream and fruits to serve

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1. Toast the rice in a frying pan or low oven to bring out the aroma. Wash and soak it for a couple of hours.

2. If you’re cooking the rice on an open fire, cover it with water and bring it to the boil. Add the pandan leaves, turn the heat to low and cook, stirring every now and then and adding more water as necessary until the grains are soft. The process may take 1.5-2 hours. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, if you have one. I usually let the rice cook overnight in a slow cooker. If you’re using a pressure cooker, allow about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, boil 100 ml water and dissolve the palm sugar or jaggery and a pinch of salt until syrupy. Add the crushed cardamom pods, if using.

4. Stir the syrup into the rice.

4. Add the coconut milk.

5. Swirl some coconut cream on top and serve.

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“The Rajma” – Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili

IMG_1816This is my all time favorite comfort food. Being a Tambrahm family Rajma (red kidney bean curry) wasn’t really a dish we had every other day. My dad would actually make a face and ask “what kind of dish is called Rajammal?”

So I actually only had this dish for the first time when I was 4. And the fact that I remember it says a lot:) We were living in Srinagar back then, yes the Jammu & Kashmir Srinagar which is the farthest back I can remember of my childhood. We were friends with this warm and kind hearted Punjabi family next door and Badi Ma (grandma) would make the best rajma ever. I would live in their home reveling in all the finger licking Punjabi food- kaali dal, kadhi and rajma. So you could say this Tambrahm girl got her loyalties all mixed up – rasam wasn’t so much my comfort food as was rajma. And it still is, to this day. This is one dish I could literally eat every day and not get bored. Well, within reason:).

I call this recipe “The Rajma” as it is the best recipe ever that comes close to the taste of my childhood rajma days. This is a contribution from my sister-in-law, Mathangi, who is an Army wife and who grew up in Jammu, Delhi, lived in Pathankot and who you could say is a Punjabi at heart thanks to all the traveling and living in North India. She is an exceptional cook and this is only one of her many famous recipes. So while you would think this is a cliched dish, her recipe involves some slow cooking which truly brings out all the flavors of the spices and the gravy is absolutely finger-licking. Have it with some hot rice and ghee and you will agree, this is the ultimate comfort food for those lazy Sundays.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • Rajma (red kidney beans) – 1 cup. I usually get the lighter red smaller kidney beans also known as Jammu Rajma, though you can make it with any variety. I feel the smaller ones cook faster and when you mash a few it blends well with the gravy, but to each his own.
  • Garlic – 3 small or 2 large pods, crushed
  • Ginger – 1 1/2 inch, grated or crushed
  • Red onion – 2 small or medium sized, chopped roughly
  • Tomatoes – 3 small or 2 large, chopped roughly
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
  • Whole coriander seeds (dhaniya) – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Rajma masala – 1 tsp (available in Indian stores)
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Soak the rajma in about 2-3 cups of water overnight. Alternatively soak it in hot water for about 4-6 hours.
  • Boil the rajma in a pressure cooker or you can add water in a saucepan and boil over a stove till cooked. You may also use a slow cooker to cook the rajma.
  • Make a fine paste of the garlic and jeera with a little water.
  • Grind the onion and ginger separately to a fine paste.
  • Dry roast the dhaniya or coriander seeds in a flat pan without adding any oil. Now grind the roasted dhaniya with the tomatoes in a blender to a fine paste.
  • Keep the 3 pastes separately.
  • Take a heavy bottomed vessel and add about 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • When the oil gets hot, add the garlic and cumin seed (jeera) paste. Saute for about 2 minutes till the paste becomes light brown and the raw smell goes away.

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  • Now add the onion and ginger paste to this mixture. Saute this mixture on a low to medium flame for about 5-10 minutes, until the raw smell of onions goes away. This step is important as the onion needs to be cooked well. The mixture will become golden brown (more than what you see in the pic below).

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  • Then add the tomato-dhaniya paste. Saute well once again for about 10 more minutes till the mixture blends well together and oil begins to seep out from the sides. This indicates that the onion tomato paste is well cooked.
  • Now add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder to the mixture.

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  • Saute again for about 5 minutes till the spices get mixed and cooked.
  • Drain the boiled rajma and keep the rajma water aside. You will use this later instead of water for the gravy.
  • Add drained rajma to the onion-tomato-spice mixture in the vessel and mix very well till the beans get coated with the paste. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.

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  • Add the rajma water slowly to this mixture until you get the desired consistency for the gravy. Keep in mind that rajma thickens as it cooks so you can be a bit generous with the water, maybe 2-3 cups or as needed.

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  • Let this mixture come to a boil first and then keep it on a slow flame and let it slow cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. At this stage you may also transfer to a slow cooker and leave it on low for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add rajma masala, mix well and cook again for about 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with hot rice or jeera rice and a dollop of freshly made ghee. Yum!
  • You can also use this in the Bollywood Burrito recipe:)

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Snappy Salads – Taco Salad in a Jar

Salads in a Jar is probably another Pinterest favorite but it was actually a Huffington Post article that caught my fancy this week. The article was about colorful salads and fruits to make for a not so sad desk lunch. Couldn’tbe more timely as I was on a gluten-free/clean eating binge this week again after all the “junk” devoured over the past week and weekend.

My hurried clicks with my Iphone camera while I was making this salad didn’t come close to the vibrant colors in the original article, but it was a decent first attempt to inspire me to eat healthy at work and stop my binges in Singapore “dhaba” type eateries and food courts. I have to admit, this is by far the most convenient method to tote a salad to work, greens stay fresh, its healthy, compact and the dressing gets evenly mixed when its time to eat. All you need to do is turn the mason jar upside down and shake it a few times and you have a wholesome green colorful meal. And yes its snappy too!

After my smoothie obsession (that continues), salads may come a close second to slowly becoming an everyday habit.  Both smoothies and salads use my favorite kitchen utensil…the versatile mason jar. Not that ubiquitous in Singapore, you can find mason jars at wholesale Chinese kitchen stores in Chinatown or at Japanese dollar stores (Daiso). I do miss the “Ball” mason jars I used to collect at Walmart and Amazon but these aren’t too bad. Of course there’s always the pasta sauce/pickle jars that can be reused so it’s not hard to get started. You can also make the dressing and the fresh salsa ahead of time and keep it handy to whip up other tasteful mason jar salads.

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Taco salad in a mason jar

Couple of points to note when making salads in a jar:

  • Use mason jars that have a wider mouth than those you use for smoothies. Helps to mix and eat out of the jar if necessary.
  • Put the dressing in first and then add in other ingredients, Beans, harder veggies or fruits at the bottom and the softer ones on top. The salad leaves should be top most so they stay fresh.
  • Experiment with different veggies, fruits, beans and dressing.
  • Use homemade dressings as much as you can. Store bought ones not only have processed ingredients but are also calorie laden so nothing like blending some fresh dressing with fruits, veggies, olive oil or other on your own. I will share some dressing recipes frequently in this section as well so keep a look out.
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Taco salad prep

Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 1/2 cup boiled and drained black beans (soak black beans overnight in water and then cook it the next day in water over a stove or a pressure cooker)
  • 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper,or both
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions or regular sweet Vidalia onions
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice (I mixed the quinoa with some lemon juiceand cilantro beforehand)
  • 1 small avocado, diced (toss with a little lime juice to prevent browning)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Mexican salsa (recipe below)
  • small handful chopped cilantro
  • shredded or sliced lettuce or any leafy greens

For dressing: (can be made 1-2 days ahead) 

  • juice of 1 lemon or lime (or about 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea Salt to taste

Mix all the above with a whisk and set aside.

For fresh Mexican salsa: (in the Vitamix)- from Vitamix recipes. Can be made a day or even a week ahead)

  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 3 or 4 slices of fresh serrano peppers pending your desired heat level
  • fresh cilantro ( 3 finger pinch)

Turn the Vitamix to variable speed 7 and drop the garlic, serrano peppers, cilantro, and carrots in through the hole in the lid while the machine is running. Next, add the following to the container and put the lid back on:

  • 3 roma tomatoes (cutting in 1/2 or 1/4′s will make it easier for the blades to grab the tomatoes)
  • 1/4 inch slice of sweet yellow onion (larger onion) or a 1/2 inch on a smaller union
  • 1 thin slice of green bell pepper
  • Season Salt (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Pepper (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Garlic Salt (4 or 5 shakes)
  • Ground Cumin (2 or 3 shakes)
  • Squirt of lime juice

Now, turn the machine on variable 1 or 2 range. The less ripe the harder the tomato and the higher the speed needed to chop), and then use the tamper to push everything down in to the blades! When you can no longer see or feel large chunks of food, then your salsa is ready to devour:)

Method for layering the salad:

Layer ingredients in jar in the order listed- Lemon cumin dressing, black beans, diced pepper, green onions, salsa, quinoa, avocado and end with the lettuce. Top with lid and refrigerate until ready to eat. Can be made 1-2 days in advance.
To eat – turn jar over to let dressing/salsa coat the salad ingredients. You can eat out of the jar or empty it on to a plate. Salad leaves stay fresh and dressing is all evenly coated. Perfection!

 

 

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(Fusion) Spaghetti Aglio Olio – with green chilies, cilantro and spinach

20140611-100827-36507346.jpgEver have one of those moments when you taste something at a fancy restaurant and you go “Why didn’t I think of that?” So simple and yet so tasty. And so it goes into your “I’ll cook this someday” stash. But the taste continues to haunt you, in a “I can almost taste it” kind of way.

Well that day finally dawned last night. I finally dusted off the rut I was in to cook this up for dinner. I didn’t have any measurements or a recipe, just the memory of that taste. And I was quite proud of the result.

This was inspired from the tasting menu at “Gaggan”, a restaurant that boasts of a “progressive cuisine” - modernist Indian and molecular gastronomic dishes. We visited this restaurant almost 8 months ago in Bangkok and it does live up to its name. Palate tickling dishes like the green peas and paneer ravioli and the paan mousse alongside the usual paneer makhani and urulai roast. If you’re ever in Bangkok do check it out.

So this dish goes under the category “When India met Italy” on Gaggan’s menu and it’s quite true to the name. The green chili and cilantro bring out the Indian-ness in this dish and the olive oil and garlic keep it grounded.

We had this last night with some roasted garlic broccoli and garlic bread. Yes I know, a garlicky evening. But then who’s complaining:). My food critic LOVED it.

You can make this with gluten free or buckwheat linguine/spaghetti as well without compromising on the taste. Just add some more garlic and green chili for the extra punch of flavor. 20140611-100900-36540136.jpg   Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • Spaghetti or linguine – 1 pound
  • Garlic – 3 large pods or 4-5 small pods, crushed
  • Green chili – 5-6 small green Indian chili, finely chopped(adjust according to spice level)
  • Spinach or baby spinach or arugula - one small bunch or 2 cups of baby spinach
  • Cilantro – chopped, one bunch or 1 cup
  • Extra virgin Olive oil (EVOO) – 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Take a large pot of water(about 5 quarts for one pound of spaghetti) and bring it to a boil, add a generous amount of salt (I used Himalayan sea salt). Add the spaghetti and cook as per the instructions on the box. Remember, overcooked spaghetti is a crime, it should be al dente (cook for about 10-12 minutes and check if done). Drain the pasta and keep aside.
  • Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add the EVOO . I used a lemon flavored olive oil since it was in my pantry and it actually gave the pasta a nice lemony tang. You may add some lemon if you want at the end if you like the flavor.

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  • When the oil heats up, add the crushed garlic. Once the garlic begins to sizzle add the chopped green chilies. Add the cilantro and stir.
  • Cook for about a minute, then add the spinach. Lower the heat and cook for about 3-5 minutes till the spinach leaves wilt.
  • Now add the drained pasta and salt to taste.
  • Stir well until the pasta is completely coated with the oil and the ingredients.
  • Serve hot with some garlic bread on the side.

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Ginger and palm sugar punch (Panakam), Spiced Buttermilk (Neer Mor) and Lentil green mango salad (Kosumalli)

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This is a bit late for posting a Rama Navami recipe but as with all festival recipes, I record them here for posterity. I’m sure this will come handy in the years to come to me or to another reader so it’s better late than never. As always with all the festival recipes here, these are Amma’s recipes.

Panakam, Neer Mor are not just Rama Navami recipes by the way. While legend goes that this was served during Sita and Rama’s (Hindu mythological God and Goddess for the uninitiated) wedding and during Rama’s birth, the tradition seems to have stuck as these are the post celebration drinks served to this day during most traditional South Indian Hindu weddings and birthdays.

The best part – they are probably some of the easiest festival recipes to make. And they are all raw which means no stove top needed and no messy clean ups so as you can guess this is my favorite festival recipe as well:) (Not counting the tadka/seasoning to the buttermilk of course where there is some stove top heating involved, but that step can be skipped if you’d like it to be completely raw. I recommend adding the seasoning as that adds the real traditional South Indian taste)

The panakam can easily pass off as a summer cooler punch the next time you have a summer lunch  get together. Its sweet but the ginger and lemon give it the apple lemon tea kind of zing and tart taste, perfect for a hot day.

And the neer mor (moar) or light buttermilk spiced with ginger and curry leaves is the perfect coolant for a hot summer outing in the sun. “Buttermilk cools the system” as my Appa (dad) says- this is still his go to drink when he returns home from his trips to the vegetable market. And according to him the secret to his “zen”:)

Recipe for Panakam:

  • 1/2 cup palm sugar or jaggery
  • 1 tsp dry ginger pd
  • 2 cardamom crushed (you may add the skin as well for flavor but we used only the crushed seeds)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Method: Powder the jaggery in a bowl, add about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water. You can add or reduce the water depending on how sweet you like the punch. Strain the water to remove any sediments from the jaggery mixture.
Add dry ginger pd, and cardamom pd .Mix well. Add lemon juice. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Recipe for Neer Mor :
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  • Yogurt -1/2 cup.
  • Water 1 1/2 cups 
  • Asafoetida -1/4 tsp
  • 1-green chili crushed,
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • seasoning -1 tsp mustard seeds , 1/2 chopped green chilli.
Beat the yogurt in a bowl and mix with water. Mix the asafoetida & salt with little water separately. Add this to the beaten yoghurt. Crush the curry leaves and add.
For seasoning the buttermilk, heat 1/2 tsp oil in a small kadhai or heavy bottomed vessel, When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Wait till it splutters then add the crushed green chili (optional). Pour this onto the buttermilk. Mix well.
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Recipe for Kosumalli or Kosambri (Raw moong dal, green mango salad)
  • 1/2 cup Indian yellow moong dal (skinned and split green gram)
  • 2 green chillies
  • 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1/2 raw mango grated
  • /1/2 cucumber cut in to very small pieces
  • salt to taste
For seasoning – 1/2 tsp mustard; 1 green chili crushed (optional)1 tsp oil, asfoetida – a pinch, a handful chopped cilantro
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Wash & soak the moong dal for about 1/2 hr till it gets a bit soft. Drain the water, add salt, add the chopped cucumber and grated mango and coconut.
For seasoning, heat the oil, add mustard seeds. When they splutter add the crushed green chili, asafoetida. Add this to the moong dal salad. Garnish with cilantro. You may also add 1 tsp of lemon juice if needed.
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Fresh, Raw Summer Rolls with Chili-Peanut dipping sauce

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This was actually a Pinterest recipe that caught my eye at first but then I promptly forgot about it after adding it to my many recipe boards. Question for all your social media consuming foodie geeks – how do you keep track and organize the many recipes and food tips you pin, tag, instagram, stumbleUpon, Read it Later, save on Pocket, Evernote and whatever else you use to file recipes these days? I just glanced through my pins and bookmarks and I have enough recipes to menu plan for an entire year, without repeating any of them! But they are in dire need of organization and focus –  which one of those 10 spelt flour choc chip cookie recipes was THE one that got me ” the best-est cookie ever” badge from my foodie son? (Yeah I know I do manage to try some strange recipes:). I’m still not sure after trying out 4 other recipes and am not close to the original one:(

So send in your tips and suggestions. Of course the easiest method would be to record the best one here, so here goes…

I chanced upon this recipe again at this awesome blog called The Simple Veganista and the presentation and simplicity of this was enough to pull me in. I tried it for dinner last night and was impressed by how simple and yet how flavorful it was. This one is a keeper.  The recipe is modified slightly here as I used the ingredients I had (skipped tofu and added sprouts and kale) but it’s quite a forgiving recipe and I’m sure will taste good with whatever veggies you use.

Fresh, raw, healthy and very simple. Those should be good enough for anyone to try them I’m sure. The dipping sauce takes about 5 minutes to whip up. Have these summer rolls with a bowl of hot soup or any cold gazpacho and you have a balanced and healthy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 5 rice papers (I used circular sheets)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 bell pepper green, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • kale, pea shoots
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • mung sprouts
  • mint leaves, a handful
  • basil leaves, a handful

Method:

  • 1. Dip the rice paper in a flat bowl of warm water (the water should be warm,not boiling but not lukewarm either). Soak untilyou feel the paper soften and begin to get translucent and a bit sticky.
  • 2. Layer the veggies -I added kale first, then pea shoots, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers,sprouts and then mint or basil.
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  • 3. Roll the paper tightly around the veggies and continue to roll until you get a tube of tightly rolled veggies in rice paper.
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  • 4. Cut them in half and serve with dipping sauces of your choice.
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Peanut chili dipping sauce: (this is exactly as on the blog except that I added additional red chili flakes.You can also add fresh thai red chili if needed)

This makes 2 servings.
  • 3 heaping tbsps peanut or almond butter (I mixed 2 tbsp of peanut and 1 tbsp of almond butter)
  • 1 tbsp tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp rice vinegar, optional
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

Mix all the above with a small whisk or fork until it blends together. You can make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

Snappy Salads – Baby Spinach, Red Onion, Orange and Feta Salad with a Sweet Citrus Dressing.

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This is a quick post for a snappy salad that I packed for lunch this morning. This week is fridge clean out week after days of entertaining and multiple grocery visits. Let me also add that it’s also a “clean eating” week for much the same reasons:). That is quite a challenge when you have pints of ice cream, chocolates and wine as party leftovers in the fridge but I did want to try.

This week’s resolve was to pack my lunch as often as I could and this salad was the easiest I could mix up with the clean-er items in my fridge and pantry. Some farmer’s market marmalade, rice vinegar and olive oil and I had a sweet citrus dressing. Truly snappy.

Ingredients:

3 cups of baby spinach

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 small mandarin oranges

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 tbsp feta crumbled

1 small red onion sliced

Dressing:

1 tbsp orange marmalade

1 tsp rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

1 tbsp olive oil

You may also add some orange juice if you don’t have marmalade handy. As I said I was cleaning out my fridge:)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the above with a fork or small beater. Makes enough for 1/4 cup, enough for one salad.

Method:

Mix all the ingredients for the salad. If you’re packing it for lunch, keep the onions and the feta in separate containers and only mix them before you are ready to eat. Add the dressing, toss and enjoy!

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Andhra Vegetarian Pulao

This is a much awaited recipe contribution from Radhika, a fabulous cook and a very dear friend. I did promise to post some choice recipes collected during my recent visits back home – Dallas home that is – um yes I realize how the term “home” is absolutely where the heart is.

In any case Radhika invited us all over for lunch one weekend afternoon during my visit. I had nagged her for this special recipe so many times that she decided to do a live demo of the making of this Godavari style (a district in coastal Andhra Pradesh also known for its culinary dishes) vegetarian pulao even if it was well after all the guests had arrived. (I was running late and of course had to see the demo.) Which was actually a great idea or so I would like to think – this aromatic pulao was tantalizing enough for the guests – enough testament for the rest of the scrumptious meal she had cooked. So they/we all waited in anticipation and watched her cook and it was well worth it. Very flavorful and aromatic – you could almost call this a “quick biryani”. And notice that I refrained from calling this a vegetable pulao -this dish is better off without vegetables and just uses onions,garlic and spices. In any case thank you Rads for the recipe and for your patience (with me):)

After I got back to Singapore I needed to try the dish out myself before I could qualify posting it here. And though it was a tad  spicier than Radhika’s, the result was equally aromatic and full of flavor.

Here is the step by step recipe with pictures. I couldn’t get a very good picture of the finished dish on both occasions – it was gone before I could click it in the right light and circumstances but you get the idea:)

Ingredients: (for about 10-12 people)

  • 4 1/2 cups rice
  • 9 cups water
  • Garlic – 5-6 peeled and crushed
  • Garlic ginger paste – 1 ½ tsp (add more ginger here than garlic to make a paste)
  • Shahjeera (caraway seeds)– 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Cloves – 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom – 1/2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon sticks -2-3
  • Star anise- 2-3
  • Green chilies – 5
  • Red chilies- 2
  • Curry leaves – one sprig
  • Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

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  • Dhania jeera powder – Take 11/2 tsp dhania (coriander seeds) and 1 tsp jeera , roast and dry grind to a powder
  • Red onion chopped roughly into chunks – 1 big or 2 small

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  • Cashews- 1/4 cup
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan, add the ghee. Now add mustard, jeera, red chilies, curry leaves, green chilies.

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  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, add the crushed garlic.
  • Fry the above well, then add whole masalas (cloves, cinnamon,bayleaf, star anise and shahjeera).
  • Add onion chunks, saute well then add the garlic ginger paste, saute again for about 3-5 minutes. Add cashews.

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  • Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes, till you get an aroma and onions are lightly fried,not very golden brown.
  • Add 1- 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • Add 2 tsp dhania jeera powder
  • Now add 1 to 11/2 tsp garam masala (see note below for home made garam masala) .Let the masalas fry well in the oil
  •  Cover with lid and simmer till well fried.

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  • Add washed and soaked basmati rice to this.You don’t have to soak the rice though I usually do for about a half hour.
  • Mix the rice well with the spice mixture till it is well coated with the spices/masalas.

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  • Fry on a  medium flame till the rice is coated with the oil and spices and feels a bit “fried”, about 5 minutes of sauteing. Make sure you keep stirring the pot so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

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  • Add salt to taste. You may need to taste for salt again after you add water.
  •  While the rice is being sauteed, boil about 8-9 cups of water separately in a saucepan or in a water kettle. (You will need approx 9 cups of water for 4 1/2 cups of rice so 1:2 ratio of rice to water)

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  • Add the hot water to the rice and spice mixture.
  • Now taste again for salt and bring the rice and water mixture to a boil. At this step don’t put a lid on the vessel.
  • After it boils for a few minutes, cover the vessel and cook the mixture on a medium flame. Keep checking in every 3-4 minutes and stir the mixture.

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  • You may also transfer to a rice cooker at this stage. I actually preferred to cook it in a vessel over a stove as I felt the aroma and spice was better distributed. If you are cooking over a stove, here is another tip to ensure the rice doesn’t get burnt. Keep a water bath or a flatter vessel with some water and then keep the vessel with the pulao inside the flat vessel. This double boiler technique helps in cooking the rice evenly and prevents burning. Alternatively you can also use a “tawa” or a flat iron pan before you place the vessel with the rice and water and heat it this way which is what Radhika did.

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Enjoy the hot pulao with onion raita. Finger licking good!

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Notes: Home made garam masala – 1 cup cloves, 1/2 cup cardamom, 3/4 cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup star anise, 3 tsp dhania or coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds or jeera, 1 whole nutmeg.

Grind all the above to a fine powder and store in an air tight container or in the refrigerator.

Anusuya’s Kitchen – Kuzhi Paniyaram

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This one comes from Anusuya’s kitchen…remotely that is. I have missed visiting and posting from her kitchen for the last two years since our move, but this winter visit to Dallas was a good reminder to bring this series back, and savor this amazing cook’s simple and yum recipes. This recipe was one I wrote down in 2010, when she was in the mood to share some quick and easy snack favorites. I’m not even sure if she remembers having shared this gem but this recipe came very handy this week as I was out of lunchbox ideas for Nikhil. Mix some left over idli batter, chilies, cilantro and sambar/vethalkuzhambu powder powder and you have a new savory “appam” dish that is quite healthy too. You may add grated carrot or beans or any vegetable of your choice though I left that out in this recipe. I did add some chopped onions but that is optional too. You don’t need to use oil at all if you use a non stick “appa-karal” or the ebelskiver pan. I barely used one to one a half tsp oil for making about 15-20 paniyarams.

They make a great breakfast or snack recipe and if your child or you like it enough even if cold can be a good lunchbox staple too. I have to thank my good friend Maha for suggesting this as a lunchbox recipe.

Enjoy with any chutney of your choice – coconut or peanut or tomato or anything spicy:)

Ingredients:

  • Left over idli batter – 2 cups
  • 1 tsp sambar powder
  • 1 tsp vethal kuzhambu powder (you may use 2 tsp sambar powder if you don’t have this one. You can find this occasionally in Indian stores abroad but I usually get mine from Grand Sweets in Chennai)
  • Ground ginger and chili paste (1 inch ginger plus 2-3 chilies or more if you like it very spicy)
  • Chopped cilanto 2 tbsp
  • Chopped curry leaves 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil or rice bran oil – 2 tsp
  • Optional – chopped onions and grated veggies like carrots or beans (1/4 cup each)

Method:

Take the idli batter in a mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well.

Heat the appa karal or ebelskiver pan with about 1- 1 1/2 tsp of the oil. Just pour 1 tsp oil across all the cups in the pan so each cup gets a little to grease it a bit.

When the oil is hot, add one tbsp each of the batter. Cook till the batter is about golden brown and using a spoon or skewer or a chopstick turn the appam/paniyaram over to cook on the other side.

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When golden and puffy on both sides, the paniyarams are ready to eat.

 

To a Happy and Scrumptious 2014!

It’s been an eventful 2013 for sure, at least on the food front – if you haven’t noticed Roz Ka Khana has become a tad bit more focused on healthy living and eating. Snappy Salads, 30 day green smoothie challenges, juicing, detoxing and cleansing were some highlights of 2013. Of course, dotted with some baked treats with the We Kneadto Bake challenges, “healthy” desserts and some festival round ups. Despite all the lulls and highs on the cooking and blogging front, I’m quite proud of what we have achieved together this year and cannot wait for more in 2014!

My 2013 rounded off with a much needed trip to Dallas or home as I call it spent amidst the warmth and love of family and friends, rekindling the good times of old and affirming a positive future. And of course reliving some great food sampling too which I promise to share very soon in upcoming posts. Some delectable Andhra recipes, baked goodies and some salads, juices and healthy “stuff”of course:)

So here’s a resolve to continue with the healthy, holistic and mindful living and eating as we slip into another new year. I wanted to list out some sites and blogs that have inspired me this year and continue to do so everyday as I take one baby step at a time to a holistic and healthy lifestyle.

  1. Simple Green Smoothies continue to be my source of inspiration for those morning cup of greens. #nomorecaffeine
  2. Juicing for Health, Juice with Drew (Juicing Vegetables) website and Facebook pages for some great juicing recipes.
  3. My Yoga Online for one of the best compilations of studio yoga classes and mind & body videos. The annual subscription is totally worth it. Let me know if you need an invite to one free week of yoga to try it out for yourself.
  4. Fitness Blender for some butt-kicking cardio and strength training exercises. And the best part – the videos are all free.
  5. Raw for Beauty and Mind Body Green (Facebook page and website) for some general health, food news and inspiring videos and quotes.

I thought this Raw for Beauty picture with the Voltaire quote couldn’t have summed up a better new year resolution:). Have a blissful and happy 2014!

happy penguin

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