Double beans with Amaranth greens

Beans and greens are a classic combination in many of the world cuisines. When I went shopping for veggies in our fresh supermarket nearby, I saw a lady shelling these huge green beans and what came out were the cutest pink and white smooth beans - and absolutely huge in size. The colours reminded me of a Johnson baby bottle, what else can you expect from the mom of a little one. Here in Hyderabad, I'm trying to eat local - trying out stuff that we didn't usually find in Bombay. The southern states usually have a wider variety of greens - and in Chennai the green-vendors usually pop by early morning so that the stuff can be cooked fresh for lunch. I haven't yet sourced someone like that here, but I try and get my fix of a variety of greens at least thrice a week.
This time it is Thotakoora or Amaranth greens which is quite a pleasant tasting thing. I have used this in Sambar, along with tomato-onions as a stir fry and this time in a sundal like preparation with cooked double-beans, which I laid my hands on for the first time.
Fresh double beans are the cutest looking - baby pink in colour stippled white, very pretty indeed and tasty too. I'm sad I did not take a pic of the shelled beans - next time around I intend to do so and update here.
Since they were fresh, there was no soaking involved - just pressure cooking for five minutes until they were buttery soft with shape intact. These are also called 'butter-beans' I guess. Cooked and mashed, these will make a delicious hummus too - will reserve this experiment for next time.

Double beans with amaranth greens
Serves 3-4
Cooking time - under 30 minutes

1 heaped cup of shelled double beans (fresh or frozen)
2 cups of amaranth leaves (or any other greens)
1 tsp cooking oil
1 tsp udad dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch asafoetida
1 dried red chilli - broken into bits
1 sprig curry leaves
salt to taste
1 tbsp fresh scraped coconut

Pressure cook the double beans for 3-4 minutes with 1 cup water. Drain and keep aside. (I cook them directly in a small cooker. After one whistle, left it on sim for 4-5 minutes and then switched off the flame)
In a cup of water,  boil the leaves till tender - drain and keep aside. You can use a bit of this water to moisten the sundal in the end or use it as a stock for soup or sambar.
Heat the oil in a wok. Add the udad dal, once this is golden, add the next four ingredients.
Wait till the seeds splutter and the curry leaves crackle - add the greens and drained beans. Season with salt. Stir well to coat with seasonings. Remove from flame and garnish with fresh coconut.
This can be had as a snack or as an accompaniment to rotis or rice.

This combination was so hearty and filling, and I'm sure any other greens and beans combination can be made into a sundal, adding the nutritional benefits of green leafy veggies to the protein-rich beans.

Fresh green peas parathas

'Tis the season of fresh green peas and while I always have on hand large packet of frozen peas, the taste of fresh green peas is something else.
There is an extremely simple recipe - which my friend had shared with me last season, where if you buy large quantities of peas, say 2 kilos or so, you shell them and grind with chillies, ginger and salt, then on a slow flame with a tadka of some cumin, saute this paste with some amchoor powder till quite dry. Store in freezer in small containers and use as a stuffing for parathas to make instant lunches or dinners when required. My version is a slight modification on this as I had just a cup of shelled peas on hand, so I ground them, sauteed and mixed in the flours directly to make these green parathas. These are lovely for a hearty weekend breakfast or your kiddie's lunch box.

Recipe for Green Peas Parathas
Makes 4
Under 30 minutes

1 cup fresh shelled peas
3 green chillies
1 largish knob of ginger
1 tsp or so salt
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp amchoor powder (dried mango powder)
1/2 cup atta
1/2 cup makkai atta (corn meal) [you can use just 1 cup atta instead of a mix of atta and makkai atta]
some flour for dusting

  • In a mixer, grind the first four ingredients to a coarse paste.
  • Take the oil in a non-stick kadai (preferably), heat on medium flame, splutter the cumin seeds, add a pinch of asafoetida to this.
  • Transfer the pea paste to the oil and saute on medium flame with the amchoor powder till nearly dry. The amchoor not only adds a tangy taste but also helps in drying out the mixture faster - due to its astringent quality. For this quantity, the process will take 7-10 minutes.
For preparing large quantity of peas-masala to freeze, the procedure is same up to this stage. Just add more chillies, ginger and adjust spices / seasonings.

  • Transfer the ready masala to a bowl. Add the flours and some salt if required and knead to a dough sprinkling some water if needed to bind ( I had to use just a tsp of water of so).
  • Make four balls and roll out gently into thick parathas, using some flour for dusting.
  • Heat a skillet, cook the parathas on both sides on medium flame till golden spots appear, brush with butter or ghee if you like once the sides are cooked.
If you'd like the masala as a stuffing, then use whole wheat atta for the outer cover and prepare like you would any other stuffed paratha.

Serve hot with a chilled raita and pickle of your choice.

I love these chunky parathas which have equal quantities of peas and flour, so its a cross between a hara-bhara patties and a paratha. You could substitute other shelled veggies like fresh green tuvar or fresh green garbanzo instead of peas.

Fruit buns

As kids, most of us have this love affair with Tutti Frutti, be it in ice cream or in fruit-bread or in cakes. I had bought some in different colours for the christmas fruit cake and some leftovers were asking to be baked into fresh fruit buns. I am a bit wary about letting Atri eat these tutti frutti as it has some serious food colouring, but that doesn't prevent us from digging into them. Besides, Hyderabad I have found has a great fondness for all things fruity - fruit biscuit, fruit toast and so on....the fruit toast from Mountain Bakery and fruit biscuits from Karachi Bakery have already become house favourites.

For a quick Sunday breakfast before leaving for the zoo, it was perfect to quickly dunk pieces of bun into a cup of milk and let it all melt in the mouth. Don't want to go overboard about myself but these were deliciously soft - one of the better breads I have baked I guess!

My little foodie...

My little foodie cant wait to get his hands on these...

Fruit buns
Makes 6

1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup (more than) warm milk
1 tsp sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat atta
1 tsp salt
Upto 1 cup water
1-2 tsp olive oil
handful of tutti frutti or chopped dried fruit pieces
few spoons milk to brush
1 tsp butter

  • In a small bowl, mix yeast and sugar in warm milk. Cover and keep in warm place for 15 min to an hour.
  • Mix flours with salt in large bowl. Once yeast mix is frothy, add this to the flour in bowl along with tutti frutti. Add water little by little and knead to get a smooth soft dough. Add olive oil, knead some more - make a ball of dough and place in oiled bowl - covered with a lid / tea towel. Leave for 2 hours or so until over doubled in volume. As it is cooler here, i left it on the counter overnight.
  • Punch down dough, kneading well, to remove all air pockets. Shape into six balls and place on a baking tray with enough space between them. Cover with tea towel and keep in warm place for 30 minutes until well risen. Brush with milk.
  • In a pre-heated oven, bake the buns at 180 C for around 15 minutes, till nicely risen and light golden on top.
  • Remove and apply some butter on hot buns to give a nice shine.
  • Eat warm! Perfect with a glass of milk.

Saraswat Lunch Menu from Rasachandrika

Regional Indian cooking has such variety that it's mind-boggling. Every culture has had it's cookbook bible that it trusts to preserve the heritage and authenticity - Meenakshi Ammal is one such great lady who put down traditional Tamil cuisine in three volumes. Such books are not only wonderful to discover in our kitchens the kind of food that is hardly ever available in restaurants, but also to give a great insight into the other cultures in our country. I can say the same about some of the food blogs :) Rasachandrika, written by Ambabai Samshi is one such cooking bible for Saraswat community - and  I was glad to buy it a few months ago - this showcases Chitrapur Saraswat cooking.
What I loved about this book is the emphasis on vegetables and the numerous ways of preparing each one, not to mention the simplicity of ingredients and directions. Suppose you are stuck for how to prepare snake-gourd for example, just open the chapter on this vegetable and see which recipe you want to prepare. The quantities for most veggie recipes will be good for small families.
This is how I used up the cut beans, kovakkai and brinjal - selected a dal from the dal section and I had a whole Saraswat meal ready.


Kovai Butti - The masala used for this curry, I found very similar to the one we grind for mor kozhambu. This was probably the best tasting kovakkai (ivy gourd) dish I've ever had.

Recipe for Kovai butti
1/4 kg tender kovai
1 tbsp ground nut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
salt and jaggery to taste
small ball of tamarind
5 red chillies*
1 tsp coriander seeds*
1/2 tsp black gram dal*
a few fenugreek seeds*
4-5 garlic cloves*
1/4 coconut gratings - roasted
*fry in a little oil
Wash and slice the kovai into rounds.
Heat oil, temper the mustard seeds and asafoetida. Add sliced kovai, salt, jaggery - stir well, sprinkle water, cover and cook till tender.
Grind the coconut, fried spices and tamarind to a paste, adding some water if required.
Add this paste to cooked kovai and let it simmer till nearly dried out.

Brinjal bhareet - A very simple dish made by roasting and mashing a large eggplant. The recipe called for adding green chillies, ginger and coconut as is into the mash, I preferred to temper them in oil before use.

Recipe for Bhareet
1 large brinjal
Oil to coat the brinjal - 2 tsp or so
handful of coconut gratings
chopped coriander leaves
6-7 green chillies
1 small piece ginger
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp curds or lemon juice
Apply oil over brinjal and roast on open flame turning on all sides, till completely soft inside. When cool, peel and slice checking for worms. Mash with a fork.
Crush the chopped chillies, ginger, coriander leaves and salt, add to mashed brinjal with coconut gratings. Mix in curds or juice of half lemon in the end.

Dali tuaykadi - One of the traditional lentil preparations, the fresh ground masala gave it a unique taste.

Recipe for Dali Tuaykadi
1/2 cup tur dal
1 cup water
1 small marble sized tamarind / 3-4 kokum rinds / 1/2 raw mango cubed
To fry in oil -
1 tbsp grated coconut
3 red chillies
6-8 cloves garlic
6-7 pepper corns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

Pressure cook dal with turmeric and water with soft.
Mash dal well with salt and tamarind juice and simmer.
Grind the fried ingredients to a paste, add to simmering dal and boil.
Garlic is optional.

Limited preview of the book available here

Pumpkin Date Cake

Since Christmas, actually since December, I've been on a baking spree and the reason is a certain person - a young woman who is here to take care of my son for some hours each day - it has freed  some hours to do the things I like or to do just nothing - which was completely impossible for the last one year since Atri was born. So I'm back to baking for the few friends I have here, for my wonderful neighbouring aunty-uncle and for my little one of course. He is quite the foodie and shows sincere appreciation for everything his mom cooks up. After devouring Shammi's carrot-banana cake on his first birthday, he quite liked it that he got a new cake to eat on his 13th month birthday. The rum-soaked Christmas cakes I baked was out of bounds for him as I didn't want him getting hooked on to Old Monk this early in life - although some of my relatives and friends think otherwise.

He has been eating Pumpkin puree since he started on weaning foods six months ago, hence the familiar taste of pumpkin in this cake along with iron-rich dates that play the role of natural sweetener, replacing most of the sugar in this one. Hope you and your little ones enjoy this.

Ingredients and directions

Preheat the oven at 25o Celsius.

In a bowl mix well the following:

1 cup pumpkin - date puree (2 cups golden pumpkin cubes and 10 dates, pressure cooked and pureed)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

Sift the following together:
1 1/2 cups flour or 1 cup plain flour & 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder

Optional : Some chopped dried fruits or nuts, I used some chopped dried fruits soaked in juice (1/4 cup)

Gently mix the sifted dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Pour into a well oiled 8" square tin, or line a muffin tin with paper cups and fill upto 3/4th (makes 12 muffins).

Bake at 175 Celsius until a tester comes clean; 30-40 minutes for cake and around 20 minutes for muffins.

Cool on a rack and cut into slices. Serve with coffee or tea. Great when served for a kiddies' party too.

And that's me enjoying a slice of cake with my tea!
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