Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Asparagus Desi style

Every time I would walk into an American grocery store and come across asparagus I used to wonder how it would taste but never had the courage to pick it up and use it. Then as I started watching the Food network frequently, I saw that it was used mostly as a veggie side dish or in Asian stir-fries alongwith sesame seeds.

So I somehow went ahead and bought it the next time I was grocery shopping . It is supposed to be very healthy and surprisingly very easy to chop and cook also. I have replaced the sesame seeds with flax seeds here too but if you do not have flax seeds on you you can always use sesame seeds in this recipe.


1 bunch fresh tender asparagus shoots. (Choose the asparagus with the tight purple heads).

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp urad dal/split black gram dal

asafoetida a pinch

1-2 tsp toasted flax/sesame seeds

salt to taste

1 tsp sambhar powder

oil for tempering


Wash the asparagus shoots well and discard the base.

Chop the rest of the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a kadhai or wok and add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds to it.

When they crackle add the urad dal and asafoetida .

When the urad dal turns slightly golden in color add the flax/sesame seeds to it and also add the chopped asparagus to it.

Season it with salt and sambhar powder.

The asparagus cooks very fast . You can eat it while they are still lightly crunchy. They look and feel like beans but still have a unique flavour to it.

Serve it hot with any rice dish of your choice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peanut-Flax powder

My mother in law used to always keep a jar of Ellu podi handy in the house to be mixed with plain rice and eaten for those days when she cannot cook an elaborate meal . I did prepare that podi but while browsing through Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin book came across the recipe for Peanut powder and started making it in addition to the Ellu powder or Parruppu powder.
My husband and my sons are always more than happy to eat a simple meal of these powder rice with potato or colocassia roast(arvi) so I have to have it in my house at all times.
Once I tried out the recipe of Dosaimilagaipodi with a twist of flax seeds and it came out well I decided to use it in this recipe too.

2 cups Peanuts roasted and skinned
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
15 red chillies
1 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsp oil
salt to taste

Roast dry the sesame seeds and flax seeds.
Fry the red chillies in 2 tsp of oil alongwith the asafoetida powder.
Powder fine the red chillies and asafoetida along with the sesame flax seeds.
Finally add the roasted and lightly cooled peanuts and powder coarse adding salt as required.

This powder can be mixed in rice with ghee or sesame oil and served with chips/papad or veggies of your choice. It can also be sprinkled on buttered bread as a sandwich spread.Also the quantity of flax seeds or sesame seeds can be altered to suit your taste buds.

Dosaimilagaipodi with a Twist

Dosaipodi more commonly referred to by non South Indians as gunpowder for its fiery taste is a common item found in every South Indians kitchen pantry.Its a simple spicy powder which has a long shelf life and can be used with any kind of dosai, Idli or Adai. This is generally prepared with a mix of roasted lentils, dry red chillies and sesame seeds.
I kept reading a lot lately about the importance of omega -3's in our diets and its sources like flax seeds, walnuts etc and went ahead and brought a pack of the flax seeds to toast them and use them in cereals etc. But while toasting them I noticed that they popped the same way as the sesame seeds do and also that they have a same nutty taste to them I thought why not use them in place of sesame and reap their health benefits.

1 1/4 cups red chillies
1/2 cup black gram dal/urad dal
1/2 cup Bengal gram dal/chana dal
1/4 cup mixed sesame seeds and flax seeds.
(Mix the sesame seeds and flax seeds in such proportions that the 3/4 th of the 1/4 th cup is flax seeds and the rest is sesame seeds).
1 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tbsp jaggery powdered
marble-sized tamarind(optional)
2 tsp oil
salt to taste

Fry the red chillies in 2 tsp oil.
Roast dry the black gram dal, Bengal gram dal and asafoetida and keep aside.
Roast the sesame seeds and flax seeds till they start popping.
Mix all the ingredients and powder coarse and add salt as required.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spicy Green apple pickle

My family loves spicy food and we adults just love a variety of pickles. So that has been a department for constant innovation and improvisation for me. So when I was talking about the cranberry thokku to my mil's co-sister it happened to be the apple season and she was having a lot of green apples falling in her backyard. And she is one hell of a cook constantly trying out something new and yet keeping in touch with the traditional ones. She told me about this green apple thokku and even got me a sample of it when she visited me. Since then I have made this many times for my family and it always has been a hit.

4 Granny Smith apples grated
2 tbsp oil
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp asafoetida/hing
1tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
3tsp red chilli powder

In a pan heat the oil and temper it with the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds crackle add the fenugreek seeds and then the asafoetida and turmeric powder to it.
Then add the grated apples to it and salt and keep stirring it from time to time and when it starts to reduce add the red chilli powder and keep stirring till the oil leaves the sides and it all comes together.
Serve it as an alongwith a rotis,dosas,pancakes or rice of your choice. As for me I can eat it just like that---Hmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cranberry Thokku

Cranberries are abundant in America this time of the year and are one of the main ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal. It is also one of the sources for the highest amount of antoxidants.The other advantage of it being a berry is that eaten in any form it does not loose its nutrients. These berries are deep red in colour and are very sour to taste. So I used to get the juice varieties of this fruit for my family until one of my relatives in Canada mentioned about this version . I had to try it out as I am an ardent pickle eater and turned out to be a huge hit in my family as well among my friends.

24 oz Fresh cranberries
4 tbsp oil
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek(methi) seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida(hing/perungayum)
1tsp turmeric powder
3-4 tsp salt
5-6 tsp crushed red pepper
small lemon sized jaggery.

Wash the cranberries well under water. In a big wok/kadhai heat the oil and temper it with the mustard seeds and then when they crackcle add the fenugreek seeds , asafoetida,turmeric and lastly the cranberries. Keep stirring from time to time till the cranberries start bursting and coming together . Add the salt, crushed red pepper and jaggery and keep stirring every now and then till all the cranberries have burst and reduced in quantity . It will come to a point where everything will come together and oil will leave the sides . Turn off the heat and cool this thokku.
This thokku stays in the fridge for about a month.This can be used as a pickle alongwith curd rice, dosas etc or can also be mixed in rice and eaten.
Try eating this in pickled fashion and yet reap the benefits of high antoxidants.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Couscous Pulao

The latest health food to catch America's craze is Couscous.They have started using it in salads, stuffings and lot many ways. Also this ingredient was a lot discussed upon between me and my friend Ramya of Susvaad in many of our health food conversations .So I was also very curious about it and wanted to try it out.Exactly at one of these times my friend told me that she had tried one version of the couscous and that it turned out good. Given this assurance by her I went ahead and bought myself a pack of Couscous and tried this recipe out. Turned out to be a variation of our very own rava but more bigger in size and has more texture. Can be very easily used in pulao or upma without being very mushy or clumpy .This dish can be a one dish meal too. It has no fat or cholestrol so it is considered to be among healthy foods. It comes in prepackaged versions which cooks in 5 minutes so these dishes can be prepared in a jiffy.

250 gm /10 oz couscous
1 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice
(I generally use mixed peppers/capsicums, peas, edamame(soy beans),broccoli,onion,tomato,carrots,beans etc as in a pulao. You could use anything you have on hand).
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp dry basil
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika/red chilli powder
pepper powder to taste
salt to taste

In a large bowl boil 2 cups of water and to it add the pack of couscous. Also add to it 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil or butter.
Cover the bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous lightly with a fork and drain any excess water from it.
In a pan or wok heat a little olive oil and temper it with cumin seeds and when they crackle add to it the basil leaves.
Then add to it the crushed garlic and onion and saute it till the onions turn pink in colour. Then add to it the tomatoes and saute for a min and add the rest of the vegetables you are using and stir fry them on a high flame till the vegetables are tender but crisp and firm adding salt as required and the rest of the ingredients.
To this add the couscous and gently mix everything . Serve it hot with raita or chips or papad.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Healthy Paani-Puri

When we think of Mumbai street food the one of the first few things that come to our mind is Paani puri not from a posh restaurant but from a roadside bhaiyya. It is very difficult for anyone to resist an offer to have a plate of paani puri no matter howsoever busy or healthy that person is. One of the episodes of Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana long back had showed a pani puri recipe using grape juice as a substitue for the khatta-meetha chutney or paani. I loved the idea and have tried it out many times with great results everytime. Also i have been able to find substitutes for the grape juice as well. This recipe is simple to make with only one paani to make which can be modified easily to suit people who need spicy paani or mild paani.

1packet puri.
1 cup sprouted and steamed whole moong(lightly salted)
1 cup boiled and mashed potatoes seasoned lightly with salt and Everest Chaat masala.

For the Paani:
1-2 cups of juice(dark grape/prune/pomogranate)
2 tsp green chutney
1 tsp meetha chutney
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1-2 tsp Black salt
Plain water as required to dilute the paani.

For the Green chutney:
Grind together equal quantities of cilantro/coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies with salt and 1 tsp of lime juice adding very little water as required.This chutney is a multi purpose chutney which can be used for any type of chaats, sandwiches etc and can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for upto a week. For more longer durations store in small ziploc packets in the freezer.

For the khatta -meetha chutney:
Soak a lemon sized tamarind and a few dates in warm water for some time . Deseed both of them and then grind them together to a fine paste adding a little salt, dry ginger powder(sunth powder),some jaggery and a pinch of red chilly powder. This chutney can also be stored for the abovementioned period in the same manner.
For all the people who do not wish to prepare the chutneys ahead or for people who lack time , they can use equal parts of store bought coriander chutney,mint chutney and green chilli chutney for the green chutney and store bought tamarind -date chutney for the khatta meetha chutney.
In a big bowl combine all the ingredients for the paani and set aside.
Take a plate and arrange 5-6 puris in it with a hole in the top centre and add a little of sprouted moong and mashed potatoes in it . Then fill each puri with the prepared paani and serve.

This procedure reduces the strain of individually serving the paani puri as you have to fill only one type of paani in the puris. To increase the spice level in the paani just add a littlemore of the green chutney to the paani and similarly to decrease the spice add littlemore of the khatta meetha chutney or juice to it.
Each guest can be served the puri, sprout , potatoes and paani seperately and they can themselves assemble it as per their needs.
With the store bought chutneys on hand or the homemade chutneys made ahead of time this dish can be prepared in no time at the last minute or the paani can be served chilled if desired either by refrigerating it or by adding ice cubes to the paani before adding the water.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Barley Dosa/pancake

I was doing my regular grocery shopping at our local Apna bazaar and I stumbled upon a pack of Barley flour. I started wondering how I could make use of this ingredient in our diet as our cuisine does not use barley in any form much. I nevertheless buy it and think I would figure out something later.Then after a day or two when I am about to leave for picking up my younger son from school and am thinking about what could I give him as an afterschool snack did the idea of using barley flour in a dosa occur to me.
I immediately mix the ingredients for the dosa batter in some sour curd and leave for school. then when I come back after half an hour the batter was ready to be poured into a dosa.
1 cup barley flour
3/4 cup rice flour
1 tbsp semolina/sooji/rava
1tbsp maida or All purpose flour
1 cup sour curds
1 tsp green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp ginger finely chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida(hing)
few curry leaves
some coriander /cilantro leaves finely chopped
oil for tempering
salt to taste.
Mix the barley and rice flour , semolina, curds, salt with water required to form a thick batter .
Heat a little oil in a pan and add to it the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when they crackcle add the asafoetida, curry leaves, chillies and ginger.
Add this tempering to the batter and let it rest for atleast half an hour.If the batter rests for more than an hour the dosas would be much more easier to flip. Also add to it the chopped cilantro leaves.
When you are ready to make the dosa add enough water to the batter to make it into smooth dropping consistency.
Heat the nonstick tawa/griddle and season it with a little oil and then pour a ladleful of the batter and make it into a dosa like you would make a Rava dosa. Cook it on a low to medium flame on both sides till the dosa is cooked completely. Serve it hot with coconut chutney or dosai milagaipodi(gunpowder).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soy-Aloo Parantha

Kids love aloo parantha but might not like the idea of soy parantha. So mixing the granules gives required protein,texture ,fibre alongwith the carbs and yummy taste from the potatoes. Good for lunchbox or great as an afterschool snack .This recipe was a result of my need to give valuable protein to my kids which is not otherwise easily available for us vegetarians. And my boys 9 and 4 loved it and were pleasantly surprised when i said that it contained soy .
Preparation Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 5-10 min
Serves/makes : 5-6
For the dough:
2 cups whole wheat flour
salt to taste
oil enought to knead the dough

For the filling:
2-3 potatoes
3-4 tbsp nutrela soy granules
1tsp finely chopped/grated ginger
1tsp finely chopped green chillies
1 medium sized onion finely chopped(optional)
salt to taste

Mix the whole wheat flour, salt and some oil and make a dough which is not too hard or not too soft. add water as required.
For the filling, soak the soy granules which you can easily find at your local grocer for 15-20 min in warm water.
Boil and mash the potatoes and mix the soy granules after squeezing out the excess water from it and also the rest of the ingredients for the filling.
Now make a small puri sized roti and place a spoonful of the filling and roll it out into a parantha about 6-7 inches in diameter.
Now cook this on a hot griddle or tawa on both sides till brown spots appear using very little oil or butter of your choice.
Serve hot with any achaar or raita of your choice or with ketchup for the kids.