19 May 2007

Bulgur patties - Crispy bulgur burgers

Regulars on my blog know that I have been cribbing endlessly about the heat in Bombay. I have almost forgotten how to make perfect round rotis, because it's clearly been a while since I made them. That doesn't mean I've been hogging rice for all my meals, which would have been the best thing to happen to me.

Bulgur
is called Lapsi or Dalia in India and it is the perfect substitute for rotis. After all, it is the same wheat in another form.We often eat this with traditional Tambram accompaniments like Sambhar, Koottu and even yogurt. With the strong flavours of the accompaniments, we hardly miss the rice. Since then, I have taken for granted that I can substitute lapsi for rice just about anywhere and get away with it. After having tried rice patties with left over rice in my early blogging days, this recipe came to my mind today. It's wheat plus veggies in one dish, served with a portion of salad and it is a whole meal without any slaving over the stove and sweating it out making rotis.

Ingredients
1 cup cooked bulgur (1/2 cup dried, medium grain)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 chilli sliced
1 tbsp gram flour
1 tbsp semolina
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Juice of a lime
1/2 tsp salt / to taste
Pinch of turmeric powder

Sliced shallots and thawed frozen peas for garnish

1 tbsp oil to grease pan

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead well to release flavours from spices and herbs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so.

Shape into patties of 3-4 cm diameter, about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat a non stick pan. Grease it with cooking oil.

Place 3-4 patties at a time on the medium hot skillet and let each side cook for about 3-4 minutes until crispy and brown.

Flip them over and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with sliced shallots and serve hot.

Notes:
  • This can be served with a green salad as a light dinner.
  • These bulghur patties also make great finger food for a party, and hey no deep frying too!
  • If you don't mind wheat in wheat, then nothing can stop you from building a burger around these spicy, yummy beauties!
  • You can make the same recipe with left over rice. Take care that the rice isn't too dried out or the patties wont hold their shape. If the rice has turned dry, then you can sprinkle some water and microwave it for a minute until soft.
  • Since bulgur has a low glycemic index of 46, it is very good for diabetics as a substitute for rice. The high fiber and low GI causes gradual rise in blood sugar.
  • How to cook broken wheat? -Wash the bulghur well several times in running water in a colander. Soak it in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes. After this, you can microwave the bulghur in the same water for 3-4 minutes on HIGH or pressure cook until you hear one whistle. 1/2 cup dried broken wheat yields over a cup of cooked grain.
  • For difference between bulgur and cracked wheat, read here.

14 May 2007

Summer food series # 4 - Quick Mango Sandesh with my friend Preeti


Cooking with friends is a delight and especially so if your friend is as talented as mine. Preeti has been a cooking enthusiast since she was in school inspired by India's queen of cookbook writing- Tarla Dalal. P has a whole collection of Tarla Dalal right from her first hardbound book in 1974.

Though I've got to know P only recently, we already feel as though we know each other since ages and needless to say, food is a mainstay of our conversations. Page 3 and world politics can take a walk as the two foodies discuss recipes, tastes and restaurants.

When she mentioned this easy breezy Sandesh to me, I felt, this is one thing I must see her make, taste it and of-course share it with my beloved readers. Something as simple yet tasteful as this one must be in the recipe files of every enthusiastic entertainer.

This recipe for a change has loads of step-by-step photos I could take as she was in the process of making it. This is a perfect entry for Trupti's Spring FLing -Family and Friends in the kitchen.

Also, Q is for Quick and this 30 minute, chilled out recipe goes into One Hot kitchen for the A-Z event.


Quick Mango Sandesh
Category - Dessert, Fruit, Milk dessert
Time Taken - Under 30 minutes
Makes - 12 pieces

Ingredients
2 L whole milk
1/4 tsp citric acid crystals or juice of one lemon
1/2 cup water
2 mangoes
6 tbsp powdered sugar or more

Special Equipment
Mesh colander
Square / Rectangular box / pan

Directions



1. Bring 2 L whole milk to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/4 tsp of citric acid crystals in half cup water.
3. Peel two mangoes and keep aside.



4. Keep the flame on SIM, and add the citric acid solution a tsp at a time stirring the milk all the time.
5. Do this until the solids separate out leaving a greenish whey, do not add any more citric acid now.
6. Using a large mesh colander, filter out the solids (chenna).Press lightly to remove excess whey but do not squeeze it dry. Let this sit for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.



7. Remove the chenna onto a plate.
8.Add 6 tbsp of powdered sugar and knead well for five minutes until sugar is well mixed and you get a soft yet grainy dough.
9.In a rectangular / square pan or box, press one half of the chenna tightly into the base.



10. Slice the mangoes thinly and place over the chenna layer.
11. Do this until the whole layer is covered with mangoes.
12. Press the remaining chenna over the mango layer to make a sandwich.

Chill the pan / box for 30 minutes or so in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
Remove and cut into pieces of desired sizes. Serve chilled.

Variations:

Preeti has used pineapple slices instead of mangoes, when the latter are not in season and the pineapple sandesh tastes superb too!
You can also mix mango puree into half the chenna to get 3 layers, one pure chenna, one mango flavoured chenna and the top layer of mango slices.
Powdered cardamoms can be mixed along with chenna to give it a strong flavour, cardamom goes well with mangoes!
You could also make smaller pieces of this sandesh and float them in a creamy sweet gravy made with condensed milk, milk and saffron strands and serve it as a ras-malai!

Notes:

While traditional Bengali sweets are made by steaming the chenna or cooking it, this is one is a simple technique and fast to make that tastes wonderful. This makes an excellent party dessert that can be made the previous day and chilled.

Priti uses whole milk, but you can always use skimmed milk, probably you will need a gallon of milk to get out the required amount of Chenna though.

I loved the simple flavour of the sweetened chenna and complemeted perfectly by the strong, sweet taste of Alfonso mango slices, the best example of A Perfect Balance.

You can easily adapt this recipe for diabetics by using Fructose sugar or Splenda. Since this recipe is rich in fats from whole milk, it is recommended that diabetics indulge in one small piece at a time!

11 May 2007

Summer food series # 3 - Yellow Lentil and raw mango salad


Barbara of Winos and Foodies is hosting A TASTE OF YELLOW for a wonderful cause.
LIVESTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16.


Although the last date for sending her entries has passed me, I dearly wanted to present something Yellow for this event for a cause. Here is my very Indian, yellow lentil salad made with soaked golden yellow Bengal Gram dal (Split yellow bengal gram lentils), grated yellow raw mangoes, shredded carrots, bell peppers, lemon and spices.

Bengal Gram Dal is one lentil you cannot afford, not to have in your kitchen pantry. Bengal Gram dal can be found in all Indian stores as Chana Dal.

Benefits of yellow Bengal gram dal:

1. This is one of the foods with very low glycemic index (GI of 8 compared to a GI of 100 for glucose). This makes the sugars get absorbed gradually and there are no peaks in sugar levels. This is excellent for diabetics as well as weight watchers.

2. The fiber in chana dal can also help control cholesterol levels and promote a healthy digestive tract. 100 gms of this dal has around 15 g of Total Dietary fibre. A diet with increased fibre content is known to offer protection from cancer of the colon.

3. Whole Bengal gram is rich in Calcium, a 100 gm weight providing 202 mg of Calcium.


This salad is one of the huge variety of dishes that can be made with this versatile lentil.

Chana dal & Raw Mango Salad
Category: Raw foods, Salad, Summer food, Diabetic recipe, High fibre food
Time Taken: Under 30 minutes excluding soaking time for lentils
Source: My own
Serves: 2

Ingredients
1/2 cup Chana Dal soaked in hot water for 4-5 hours or overnight
1 medium sized raw mango, washed thoroughly and grated with skin
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup finely diced bell peppers - any colours
1 green chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

For seasoning-
Dry roast - 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp mustard seeds and coarsely powder
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

For garnish-
1 tbsp coconut shavings
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves / mint leaves

Directions
Drain the lentils well and pulse for 10-20 seconds in a blender, till it is broken coarsely.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except garnish. Toss well.
Garnish with grated coconut and coriander leaves.


Notes
This is a no-cook recipe, ideal for summers when you don't want to stand by the stove.
This salad can be had as a meal by itself, or you could roast some papads in the microwave and scoop the salad with papad pieces.
You can also serve this with regular Indian fare as a side.

My previous summer salad got selected in Rediff's Summer Food Recipes.


10 May 2007

Easily the easiest to make Brownies

Stack of chewy brownies


It was a last minute desicion to attend a dinner potluck at a friend's place and I had to come up with something fast and good. Since there was plenty of food planned, brownies seemed like a good idea. However, the fact that brownies had never been a part of my prior culinary experiments, was making it seem like a bad idea.

Like any other student of Google university, I typed out, brownies with oil, and lo...there were several such recipes, made for lazy last minute bakers like me. I tried one such recipe, try as I might I cannot seem to find the correct source. As soon as I do, it will be appended into the post.
I chose a recipe for a 9x9 pan, so that if a disaster was encountered it wouldn't have become a huge waste.

The results of the first batch were highly encouraging and I quickly put in a second batch. DH and me tasted one and oohed and aaahed over it. The friend who came to pick me up insisted that he have one first before we landed up at the potluck house and he gave me his double thumbs up too! People at the potluck finished it off, including the crumbs. So, when you need to impress people without spending too much time, this is JUST the recipe for you.




Walnut Brownies with orange zest
Time taken - Under 30 minutes
Makes 16 pieces
Source- to be added soon
Category - Dessert, potluck party, picnic food

For a 9 inch square pan

Ingredients


1/2 cup Canola oil - I used soyabean oil which is pretty much odourless.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered brown jaggery / brown sugar
(You can use 3/4 cup sugar instead or more depending on sweetness of the sugar you use)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp orange zest (optional - but it gives a wonderful flavour)

1/3rd cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Cadbury's)
1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven at 350F. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil coming out of the edges and grease base & sides with oil.

Blend the sugars into the oil, in a large bowl. Lightly whisk the eggs and fold it into the oil-sugar mix. Do not beat this much.

Add the vanilla extract and orange zest into this mix.

Sift the baking powder, AP flour and cocoa powder onto a sheet.

Put in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, along with chopped walnuts and stir gently till well incorporated. Do not beat air into it or over mix if you want your brownies to be chewy.

Pour mix into greased pan, even it out and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is dry and it springs back on touch.

Cool well.

Cut with a pizza cutter for clean edges into 16 squares.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. You could even refrigerate overnight and serve next day when the brownie will be its fudgiest best.

Variations:
Orange zest pairs beautifully with chocolate flavour and the aromatic walnuts.
You could add chocolate chips, peanut butter, chilli powder or just about any flavours, using this as a basic brownie recipe.

You could use butter, but I prefer oil - it is easier to handle, less messy and also saturated-fat free.

This easy recipe for Brownies goes to Brownie Babe of the Month at Once upon a Tart.

8 May 2007

Mustard greens - sharing space with a bamboo plant

I had some cute little visitors in my Chinese Bamboo pot a few days ago and now they are flourishing.

I had tried growing some mustard greens by sowing soaked mustard seeds in a shallow tray. When nothing much came out of it, I emptied the soil in the tray into the pot containing the Bamboo, and they were happily showing their green selves in a few days. They've grown bigger now and their leaves are looking much different, with lacy edges! I haven't taken a pic of that yet, but here are the budding cruciferous leaves.

And a macro shot that shows you the rough texture of a young, jut broken out leaf. Even a leaf this tiny had that sharp pungent mustardy flavour, much to my surprise.


I don't think I'll have enough of them to make a saag, but may be I shall healthy stir fry them with some other veggies to make a nice sandwich filling seasoned with some mustard sauce. I just tasted the maturing leaves this morning, and they have a nice bitter-sweet, metallic taste to them.

Here's some info on how to grow mustard greens in your garden. And ofcourse, their health benefits run into a long page on World's healthiest foods. While you're there, you can also look up the various ways to serve up these greens.


7 May 2007

Dudhi ki sabzi - Bottle gourd in gravy

Dudhi ki sabzi


There are some vegetables that never make it to our favourites' list. Most gourds, especially the bitter gourd for obvious reasons, and also the bottle gourd for being so tasteless. DH is absolutely a non-fussy eater but gourds deter him too. When I tried out an experiment with the bottle gourd for my lunch, inspired by what our friend in Bangalore had made for us, it turned out so good, that it was entirely report-worthy and repeat-worthy. I made an effort to spare some for dinner, and when I gingerly served some to DH, he said - "Is there more of that??". That moment, the poor dudhi had recorded it's place in the annals of our household.

I must give due credit to an Andhra recipe which our friend had shared with me verbally. Since I couldn't recollect much of it, what went into this recipe, were ingredients thrown in by intuition, in my own approximations. The idea of dudhi in a thick gravy is her traditional recipe though.

Before I share this zero-oil, tasteful wonder with you, I must announce that a good friend Manasvi has started his own food blog called - From the Bachelor's Kitchen. As good ladies we must encourage a man's efforts in the kitchen, shouldn't we ;)


DUDHI / LAUKI KI SABZI
Bottle gourd in gravy - a zero oil recipe

Category: Vegetable, low-carb, zero-oil, diabetic recipe
Time taken: Under 15 minutes
Serves: 2
Source: Adapted from a friend's recipe

Ingredients
1 small dudhi -peeled cut into cubes (to make 2 cups of cubes)
pinch of turmeric powder and asafoetida each, 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

For masala
2 red chillies - broken into small pieces
1 heaped tablespoon sesame seeds (white ellu)
1 tbsp tur dal
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp saunf or fennel seeds (substitute with jeera if you dont have this, but good to use fennel)
2 peeled garlic pods (optional)
PLUS
1/4 Cup roasted peanuts

Coriander leaves for garnish

To prepare masala
Dry roast the ingredients - red chillies through garlic.
Once the tur dal turns golden, remove, cool and dry grind in small mixer with handful of roasted peanuts. If you dont have roasted peanuts, then first roast peanuts separately as it takes longer than other ingredients. Grind to a coarse powder, keep aside.

Directions
Heat 3/4 cup water in a heavy pan. Bring to a boil with turmeric, salt and hing. Add the dudhi cubes and boil for 5-7 minutes until the pieces are soft but retain shape. They may be some water left over, but do not drain it.
OR
Microwave for 3 min on high

Add masala powder to the cooked gourd pieces in the same pan. On a low flame, mix the cooked gourd with the masala. The excess water will be absorbed by the powder. Add a little more water if necessary.

Check for salt and garnish with coriander. This dish with pair fantastically with chapatis or even dosai, may be even bread.


Note
You wont miss the oil at all here, for the natural oils in sesame seeds and peanuts give it a rich taste
You can try this with any other squash or gourd, for eg. Zucchini
Bottle gourd is low-carb as are many others from this family, this makes an excellent diabetic recipe as well as a low-carber's recipe.
You can use the saved bottle gourd peels to make a chutney by sauteeing it with spices and dried lentils, and pulsing it in the blender.


1 May 2007

Oats for dinner


The Indian population is becoming more health conscious by the day. How else do you explain products like whole wheat biscuits, sugar free cookies, fat free tea whitener, fat free real fruit yogurt - flooding the markets? Bagrey's oats, muesli and other cereals were the ones to hit the market early on, some 4 years ago. Between Bagrey's quick cooking oats and Quakers (Lays) Instant oats, I prefer the former, making sure I never run out of it.

A heaping into a bubbling soup or for a 2 minute breakfast, it is the best we can have. Oats being rich in fibre and low in Glycemic index, it is one of the most healthiest foods for weight watchers, diabetics or simply health conscious.

My two minute breakfast with oats goes like this - 1/4 cup oats + 1 cup water + 1/4 tsp salt + handful of frozen peas --> Microwave at HIGH for 1 and half minutes, stirring once inbetween. Remove and add a dollop of fresh yogurt - serve HOT!

Oats is best for dinner if you have only yourself to feed or if you have come in after a tired day and in no mood to make anything elaborate. A regular salt and pepper seasoned porridge might sound quite boring though. Hence this nutritious, filling, Indianised Oats porridge.

Oats for dinner
Category - Quick dinner, dinner for one
Serves - 2
Time taken - Under 20 minutes


Ingredients
1 tightly packed cup quick cooking oats
1 tsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/4 cup green beans, finely chopped
1 tomato, seeds removed and chopped finely
2 cups water plus some more
1 tsp salt

For tempering
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp udad dal
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 sprig curry leaves


Directions
In a wok, lightly toast the oats for about 2 minutes, on a medium flame until fragrant (yes, they do get fragrant) and remove onto a plate.

In the same wok, heat 1 tsp oil and put in one by the one the ingredients for tempering in that order. Saute until the udad dal (split deskinned black gram dal) turns golden.

Put in all the vegetables with a pinch of salt. On low flame, saute them until somewhat soft, for 3-4 minutes.

Add 3 cups of water to the wok, remaining salt and close with a lid. Turn the flame on high, cover with a tight fitting lid, bring the water to a boil and once it starts boiling, let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are almost done. At this point, add the toasted oats, give it a stir to break any lumps, keep the flame on medium to low and cover it with the lid. Let this cook for 5-7 minutes, until the oats are cooked thoroughly to make a creamy porridge.

Note
  • This can be eaten with a bowl of yogurt and it makes a complete meal, without too much effort.
  • You can get this ready even faster if you use one and half cups of frozen chopped mixed vegetables instead of the ones mentioned


A-Z of Indian Vegetables

Ok- here's what! I did do my bit of thinking for O of Indian Vegetables at Nupur's - Omelette would have been too common, for the pumpkin curry Olan, i would have to go the market and Onions - I have left it for the others to attack LOL - so when I blogged about Oats quite coincidentally, I asked Nupur if I could send this to her and she obliged.

O is for Oats, this one has plenty of veggies and it is made in true Indian style, tadka and all - so it does fit in a way doesn't it?



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