29 November 2012

The secret to absolutely delicious Masala Aloo





I'd first seen this recipe in a cookery show, Khana Khazana, one of the longest running cooking shows in India by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. What I remember about this one was that he was cooking some authentic Punjabi dishes with his mum. And what I remember from this recipe was one unique technique which I had never seen or read about before. To know what that is, you will have to go read through the entire post.

Potatoes, who doesn't love them? And you might think it is utterly impossible to mess up a potato dish. But look at these culinary competitions like Masterchef Australia and you realise how much thought and process goes into making a simple dish like mashed potatoes. Potatoes are the sponges of the culinary world. They absorb most flavours beautifully, go with any vegetable most amicably and you need to work really hard to make a potato taste BAD!

I think the make or break in most potato dishes is seasoning. They need adequate salt to taste good, or it's just a bland boiled chunk of a starchy vegetable.

I like to do a little teaser off and on, on my facebook page. If something turns out really delicious from the day's cooking, I'll post an Instagram pic of the dish and depending on the responses I get, it ends up featuring on the blog or not. When I posted the picture of this potato dish yesterday, it got many more oohs and aahs than I expected. This one is a recipe any beginner cook (or bachelor cook) can nail. All you need is to manage to cook the potatoes well in their skins. Pressure cooker works best here, but if you have a phobia to my favourite implement in the kitchen, you need some patience to boil the potatoes whole, in their skins, until they are well cooked right till the middle and then proceed with the recipe [Details on cooking potatoes in pressure cooker and pot given at the end of the post].

You could get more adventurous with this recipe using more spices like amchoor (dried mango powder) or crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) but before you go raid the spice aisle, try making this with the basic spices. I can promise you will be wowed!

For my readers from outside India, if you are new to Indian cooking, and you want to try a simple curry recipe, this is the perfect one for you. Few ingredients, simple technique and superb results :) 

All curries are not with gravies and do not require sautéing of onions-tomatoes-ginger-garlic. In fact, in most South Indian cuisines, a curry is a dry saute of vegetables! Potatoes was one of the first things I cooked as a 10 year old girl. My grandmom would keep boiled potatoes ready and I would make a simple potato roast





Recipe Masala Aloo - Spice coated potatoes
Printable version here
Serves 3-4
Ready in under 30 minutes
Vegetarian / Vegan side 

Ingredients
4-5 medium potatoes
1 tbsp rice flour or corn meal
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Fat pinch of asafoetida (optional, but really elevates the taste)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leave for garnish

Directions

  1. Pressure cook* or boil potatoes until they are well cooked.
  2. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins and quarter each potato into 4 large pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the pieces in rice flour coating well, and keep aside.
  4. In a large non-stick wok / kadai, heat the oil.
  5. Add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and SALT to the oil.
  6. Stir well so that all the spice powder INCLUDING salt get cooked in oil.
  7. Do this on a low flame so that none of the spices burn. Immediately, throw in the rice flour tossed potato chunks, stirring gently to coat with the spices and oil.
  8. Cook them on a low flame until all the potato chunks get encrusted with spices, around 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally.
  9. Garnish with finely chopped coriander.


This makes an excellent accompaniment to rotis or sliced bread.
Perfect with steamed rice and any dal.
You could easily customize this recipe for kids by omitting the red chilli powder and following all other steps.

One secret to this recipe is the rice flour (easily available in supermarkets in India or Indian stores abroad). If you cannot find this, you could substitute with corn meal or makkai atta. This is a tip used in Tamil style potato roast, where the coarse rice flour gives the final dish a nice crunch.
The second secret is adding the salt to the oil, which was shown in the Khana Khazana cookery show, by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's mum. It just makes the potatoes taste so much better seasoned!


How to pressure cook potatoes:
Place scrubbed whole potatoes in a container and place this inside a pressure cooker with an inch high water in the cooker. Do NOT add any water to the container in which the potatoes are kept.
Close pressure cooker lid with the whistle. Keep on high flame and allow two whistles, lower the flame to minimum and let this be on sim for 7 minutes or so. Keep for 10 minutes for bigger sized potatoes, or they will be raw inside.
Once pressure falls, let out excess steam by pulling up the whistle with a pair of tongs and open lid.
Insert a knife inside the potato to check if it is cooked all the way through. Peel when cool enough to handle. Do not wash with water to cool the potatoes quickly, they will become soggy.

No pressure cooker? Read this primer in The Kitchn on how to boil potatoes in a pot.

Details on my debut TV appearance in Twist of Taste / Fox Traveller this weekend here

28 November 2012

Look Ma, I'm on a food show!

Hello!
I have a fun announcement to share today. In October, I was contacted by Small Screen  (the same wonderful guys behind the insanely popular show Highway on My Plate) if I would like to co-host the Bangalore episode of Twist of Taste, now into its second season. This is a food show by Michelin starred chef  from UK, Vineet Bhatia.


While the offer excited me, I was petrified to be sharing screen space with such a renowned chef and of course, that bit about facing the camera for national television. Well, I did bite the bullet, went ahead for the shoot and my fears were all shot down, one by one. Partner at Small Screen, Prashant Sareen and director of the show, was there personally to guide me and calm my nerves. 

There was NO MAKE UP involved, can you beat that?! I was all the time fearing that there would be so much pancake make up on my face that I wouldn't even be able to smile in my maiden telly appearance. There were no dialogues handed out to me, I was free to converse anything I wanted, with the chef. 

Coming to Chef Bhatia, he is probably one of the most humble people I have met. He made me feel totally at home, over many tumblers of filter coffee and then over a few glasses of beer, discussing food and tasting food all the time. Now, I've quite changed my opinion about chefs.

We shot over two days covering the hot spots and old institutions in Bangalore, and at a break neck speed, because the first day, we managed to get only 3 hours in the evening, thanks to a Karnataka Bandh. The entire crew at Small Screen were most caring about a newbie facing the camera. It was wonderful working with everybody on this show!

I would love for my readers to catch my first foodie appearance. Here are the details:

Twist of Taste - Bangalore Episode
Fox Traveller Channel
9pm - Dec 2, 2012, Sunday


Fox Traveller is available on the following DTH networks:
Tata Sky - Channel 553
Hathway Cable - Channel 470
Airtel TV - Channel 342
Dish TV - Channe 647
Videocon DTH - Channel 605
Sun Direct - Channel 547


And if you miss it, this is the schedule for the repeat episode.
Wednesday 930 pm
Thursday 430pm
Friday 730pm
Saturday 830 am
Saturday 1030 am


And for those of you with no access to cable, I'm sure there will be a YouTube link I can share with you later.

*waiting for Sunday with nervous anticipation*

17 November 2012

Yard long beans curry : Karamani curry - Garden to plate

Yard long beans (Chauli / Karamani) have not been my most favourite vegetable, because they are often tough and stringy when bought from the supermarket. Ever since I started growing these in my garden, I've changed my opinion about this vegetable. 


Seeds from Auchan (formerly SPAR) Supermarket, Bangalore


For one, it is a hardy plant, producing a good yield once it starts flowering and fruiting. It's always fun to search for the green delicate long beans among the green leaves and there are a surprise few always hiding in the middle of the foliage. You can pluck them when still tender which means they cook in no time. The overlooked beans can always be used for the mature seeds inside, which you can use in a soup or a vegetable dish. 


I may have said this before, but to avoid any confusion, I must clarify that, 'Curry' in the tamil / Tambrahm cuisine parlance means a dry saute, where boiled or raw chopped vegetables are added to a hot oil after a simple tempering of curry leaves, mustard seeds, udad dal and dried red chillies. And once the vegetable is nearly cooked, a sprinkling of fresh coconut completes the dish. It is almost like a lightly cooked salad and not a gravy dish. Also, it is one of the easiest ways to prepare any vegetable, while retaining it's nutrition, taste and colour.


Karamani Curry / Yard long beans curry
Printable version here
Serves 2-3
Time taken : Under 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 tbsp of oil ( I used organic coconut oil)
Pinch of asafoetida
2 dried red chillies, broken
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp udad dal
2 cups of chopped yard long beans
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sambar powder
2 tsp fresh coconut 

Directions
  1. In a large wok / kadai, heat the oil. 
  2. Add asafoetida, immediately adding red chillies, mustard seeds, udad dal. 
  3. Once mustard seeds splutter and dal turns golden, add the chopped beans, salt - stir well and sprinkle water, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes on a low flame. 
  4. Check on the beans every 3 minutes or so, sprinkling some water, if it is too dry or catching at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Once done (tender, but still retaining some crunch), sprinkle sambar powder, stir to mix well.
  6. Remove from flame and garnish with coconut.
  7. Serve with rasam-rice or sambar - rice.
Useful information about growing yard long beans on the USDA site

15 November 2012

Bloggers' ConClay at Club Mahindra Kanatal



The view from our room in Club Mahindra - Kanatal

Many of you might have spotted my tweets on #ConClay and #kanatal last month, and I was asked by quite a few as to what that was about. Here's the story-

Early in October, when Club Mahindra approached me if I would like to be a part of the Bloggers' 'Unconference' at Kanatal, I had two simultaneous reactions instantly- 

  1. How wonderful!
  2. Need to Google Kanatal NOW
It was supposed to be a meet-up of travel bloggers mainly. I was wondering what would be my role as a food blogger in the whole scheme of things. But then what is travel without food. Some places like Italy are utterly inseparable from their glorious cuisine and some places like Japan become a point of survival for vegetarians. Food is indeed integral to travel. 

Do read my post "Top ten reasons why I love Kanatal" on the Club Mahindra blog - Clay, among other superb travel pieces.


Day 1 

I met Lakshmi at the chaotic Bangalore airport in the wee hours of Sunday morning. We were to meet the other bloggers at Delhi airport by mid morning and board a flight to Dehradun from there.  It was a fun flight, catching up with Lakshmi, whom I knew from earlier. We had an interesting co-passenger, Chris, originally from Australia but on his way to Kabul where he was working. We met with Deepak, Manish, Nisha, the other participants & Akshat and Arun Nair from Club Mahindra.

The flight to Dehradun was much delayed but the upside was that we all got talking and observing random interesting people (and their tattoos) at the airport, like this holy man with ruby studded gold wedges. What better way to get to know each other!


Well heeled, literally!
It was my first trip to the North of India, beyond Delhi and I was much excited thinking about what lay in store. After a short flight from Delhi to Dehradun, we had a 80 km drive to Kanatal via winding mountainous roads fabulously maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Pretty Garhwali women

We stopped midway to sip some strong sweet ginger tea at a little tea shop overlooking a beautiful valley and two beautiful Garhwali women knitting woollens for the oncoming winter.

We reached the resort at Kanatal around 4.30 pm, having travelled 2000 km in exactly 12 hours from my home in Bangalore that morning and it felt like a whole new universe. I could sense that the skies were preparing for a spectacular sunset, which I later realised is a common occurrence in this part of the world.

Sigh-worthy Sunsets

At the resort, we met Mariellen, a travel blogger from Canada, totally in love with India, dividing her time between Toronto and Delhi, she had taken the road from Rishikesh to Kanatal and reached the resort well ahead of us.

We briefly checked into our cozy rooms that gave the feel of being in a log cabin in the hills, each one with a glorious view of the Garhwali mountains. Our agenda to visit the Surkunda Devi temple that evening was thwarted because of our late arrival into the resort and the fact that there was a 1.5 km climb to and from the temple in the darkness. 

The manager at the resort showed us around the beautiful property, including the spa. The hydrotherapy session was specially tempting but the spa was closed for the day. After refuelling on the delicious dinner spread that included a mixed-pulses dal called Dal Kabili, we decided to exercise our vocal cords at the Karaoke session. I realised while I may be a decent singer, I was quite hopeless in following the karaoke lyrics. Eating together and singing together is a great way of getting closer to people you have just met and we felt like a close knit group ready for the Conclay presentations which were to begin the following morning.

Day 2
I love to start my Monday mornings with a good cardio workout and this cold Kanatal morning was trying hard to keep me under the thick quilt in the comfortable bed. Nevertheless, I stuck to my resolve and got the staff to open the gym room early for me. This was the best view I have ever seen from a gym, which had glass walls all around to allow us to feast our eyes on the magnificence of the mountains while on the treadmill.
Even at breakfast time, I made sure I didn’t let go of the mountains. I took the sunny spot overlooking the tall deodars that covered the mountain ranges. The rest of the day was dedicated to the presentations by each of us participants. 

Do read Mariellen Ward's write up summarising the essence of each of our talks on her blog 

Day 3
The presentations done, our final day in Kanatal was all about sightseeing and some touristy fun. After yet another delicious breakfast, we headed out to Tehri Dam, which is the highest earth and rockfill dam in the Asian region. It is an architectural marvel and one couldn't help but gape in awe at its beauty from the point where we stopped to take many a shot.

Tehri Dam

That afternoon, post lunch, I was introduced to Chef Gurbir who is responsible for setting up many of the Club Mahindra resort kitchens, staff and menus. We chatted about local Garhwali cuisine and he even taught me to make a local specialty called Aloo ki Techwani, made using fresh mountain potatoes. The making of this dish should be out soon and I'll be happy to share it with you. 
Chef Gurbir teaching me a Garhwali specialty dish

Later, our gang left for Dhanaulti, as the eco park was listed as a tourist spot. Sadly, apart from the towering Deodars, there was nothing much of note here. We quickly made tracks to Mussoorie. After 2 days of utter peace and quiet at Kanatal, the hustle bustle of Mussoorie was quite welcome. Just as soon as we got out at the car park, the chilly breeze made me buy a monkey-cap for myself, at a bargain price of a 100 bucks :)

At the Mussoorie Sweet shop - Fresh Gulab Jamoon - SLURP


The mall road was dotted with shops selling woolens, trinkets, little eateries, sweetmeat shops and a country liquor shop. 

The Espresso Counter at Chick Chocolate, Mussoorie


We rounded up our Mussoorie trip in a quirky cafe called Chick Chocolate, which is known for their coffee, hot chocolate, handmade chocolates and potato wedges, among other things. 

Day 4
After drinking in the last beautiful sunrise of the mountains, we had to pack up and leave early morning, to get the flight out from Dehradun airport to Delhi and there onwards to our respective cities.

In all, it was a beautiful time spent in pristine surroundings, enjoying the warm hospitality of Club Mahindra, the company of some of the most wonderful people. 

L-R: Manish Kumar, Akshat Kant, Deepak Amembal, Nandita Iyer, Mariellen Ward, Nisha Jha, Arun Nair, Lakshmi Sharath


A brief introduction to all the participants:

Deepak Amembal has been blogging since 2007, and you can visit his blog about the magic of travel in India at Magic Travels.

Lakshmi Sharath quit her corporate job in the media to travel around the world and to write stories. Her travel blog of an Indian Backpacker  on the web since 2005, covers her journeys around India, and the world. 

Manish Kumar is one of the earliest Hindi bloggers. He describes himself as a technocrat by profession and travel and music enthusiast by heart, has been blogging since 2006. His Hindi travel blog is called Musafir Hoon Yaaron.

Mariellen Ward is author of Breathedreamgo, the India-inspired, meaningful adventure travel blog. She came to India for 6 months in 2005 for the first time, and since then she's been back here many times. 

Nisha Jha has been blogging since 2009. Her blog Le Monde - A Poetic Travail, is about sweet & sour memories of journeys around the globe. She is one of the few Indian women who travels solo around the world. 

Arun Nair joined our group as the social media representative of Club Mahindra. His blog Indianeye.org is on social media, digital and travel (occasionally). He has been writing since 2007 and he is considered an authority in the digital, social media domain.




13 November 2012

Chai Spiced Mini Pumpkin Mini Bundts with glaze - #bundtamonth

This Diwali, I didn't get down to making any of the traditional goodies. And I managed to find a valid excuse. Being down with the worst cough episode of the year during the festive season is such a dampener. But when loving neighbours get you home-made goodies, you can't help but muster some enthusiasm and make some stuff that you can share with them. 



Since I've been eyeing these pumpkin-spice loaves for quite sometime, I decided to make them into mini-Bundts with a glaze that will go with these flavours. The Wilton Mini-Bundt tray is the cutest baking accessory, generously given to me by my friend, Preethi, and it always makes the prettiest little cakes. 

Pumpkin and the spices that go into making Chai Masala make a lovely pair. The fragrance and heat from the spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon add a lovely dimension to the bland sweetness of pumpkin. Use the darkest golden colour pumpkin you can find for this recipe. Remove skin, dice into small cubes and boil in some water till soft. Drain and blend in a mixer till you get a fine puree. This can be refrigerated until use. Use in cakes, muffins for moist cakes with minimal use of oil / butter. This recipe uses just 2 tbsp of oil and yet the cakes are extremely moist.



Recipe for Chai Spiced Pumpkin Mini Bundts
Makes 12 - 16 mini bundt cakes
Adapted from : An Edible Mosaic 

Ingredients
3/4 Cup pumpkin puree (explained above)
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp oil
1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger powder

For glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk plus some more if required
1/2 tsp cardamom essence or vanilla extract or orange extract
1 tsp Cointreau (optional)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 175 C.
  2. Using oil, grease the cavities of a mini-bundt pan or two mini loaf pans or a 7" round tin.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs and oil.
  4. In another bowl, with a whisk mix together all dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Incorporate well to make a smooth batter.
  6. Fill 2 heaped teaspoonfuls per cavity or 3/4 filling each.
  7. Bake mini bundts for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Mini loaf pans may take around 30 minutes and round cake tin around 45-50 minutes. Once golden brown on the top and a tester comes out clean, they are ready to come out of the oven.
  9. Mix all ingredients for glaze with a spoon until it is of drizzling consistency. Add a few drops more milk if required.
  10. When the cakes are still warm, drizzle over them.
  11. Serve warm.


Wishing you and your dear ones a very Happy Diwali

I'm sharing this with Lora and Anuradha for their #BundtAMonth challenge Spicy November.
You can check the other lovely Bundts on their blogs.

10 November 2012

My Diwali Gift to you : Triple Decker Brownies



I was looking for something blow-your-socks off sinful to make this Diwali to take to a friends' place tonight and also for the kids in my complex for the Diwali Party. And thank you, Pinterest, for leading me to the right place. I found this piece of awesomeness on this blog and one look at her pictures is enough to set you drooling. 

I've baked brownies tons of times and they are the two go-to recipes you'll find on my blog. But this one is from another planet. Bottom layer of cookie dough, middle layer of Choco Cream cookies (Oreo / Dark Fantasy / Bourbon) and top layer of brownie. So, while this looks complicated, if you've baked cookies and any sort of cake or brownie, you can do this. All you need is to buy a few packets of Oreos or any other rich cream filled biscuits.



Recipe for Triple Decker Brownies / Oreo Brownies / Cookie - Fudge Brownies
Makes 16 pieces
Time taken : Prep time around 30 minutes, Baking time : 35 minutes
Recipe Source : What's Gaby Cooking

Ingredients

For the Brownie Layer:

150 grams unsalted butter (left on counter top or straight from fridge is also fine)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp coffee liquor or decoction

On medium heat, in a big saucepan, melt butter. Once slightly melted, take off heat and stir to melt it fully. Add cocoa powder, sugar and whisk well till incorporated.
Remove from the stove, it should not be too hot. Whisk in eggs quickly along with vanilla.
Finally add flour and salt, coffee liquor, whisk well - for 3-4 minutes and keep aside.

For Cookie Dough Layer :
100 grams softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar or powdered jaggery
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, using hand mixer, cream butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes.
Add vanilla extract, egg and whisk again for a minute or so.
Add the flour, salt and fold in with a silicon spatula.
In the end fold in the chocolate chips.

Oreo Layer : 
Roughly 20 Oreo or Dark Fantasy cookies, if you get double stuffed Oreos, choose those, with the Vanilla filling as the white stands out in the dark brownie. I used a mix of choco filled and vanilla filled cookies, but next time will stick to vanilla alone.

Assembly
  1. Line a 9X9 inch pan with parchment or aluminium foil. Butter or grease with oil.
  2. For Cookie Layer : Put the cookie dough on the greased lining of the tin and spread it well to the corners, in a uniform layer.
  3. Oreo Layer : Place the cookies side by side covering the cookie dough entirely. Break the cookie in half, if you want to cover a little bit of extra space.
  4. Brownie Layer : Top the Oreos with the Brownie batter smoothening it out right upto the edges with a silicon spatula.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
  6. Remove from over and cool outside removing it along with parchment / foil on a cooling rack - for one hour.
  7. Cut into 16 squares.
  8. Serve as it is, slightly warm or with vanilla ice cream.
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2 November 2012

The perfect lunchbox and recipe for Spinach Pesarattu

On my Facebook page (Saffrontrail on Facebook) I decided to do a month long series of logging my kid's lunch box and a brief recipe for each of the things. It turned out to be very well received, much more than what I had expected. Taking that cue, I did a column on lunch-boxes for my monthly column in Sunday DNA. Here, I am sharing the same for those who missed it in the papers. I shall be happy to answer your queries in the comment section. 






Whether it is for adults, or kids, the lunchbox presents many dilemmas. What to pack, how much time to spend on preparing it, what will taste good a few hours after packing, what can be made ahead – these are the top questions about packing a proper lunchbox.

A packed lunch should be a portable, less-elaborate version of a lunch you would have at home and by that I mean, well balanced, hygienic and tasty.

Carbohydrates form the base of any meal. One can choose from wholegrain bread, rotis, pita bread, cooked unpolished rice, broken wheat, semolina, pasta, potato etc. Younger kids can do with white sandwich bread as too much fibre can fill them up quickly before they can consume the required calories. Wholegrain sandwiches, stuffed pita bread, fried rice with vegetables or chicken, broken wheat patties, semolina upma, pasta tossed with vegetables or in a salad, boiled potato or potato patties are some of the ways to build the carbohydrate component.

The box needs to have a protein component too. You could choose from chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, cheese, tofu, paneer, yogurt and nuts. Shredded lean chicken can be a part of wraps, sandwiches or pasta. A whole boiled egg, sliced in half and sprinkled with a pinch of salt and pepper makes the perfect addition to a kid’s lunchbox, and the eggs can be boiled the previous night. 
Cooked beans like chickpeas, black-eyed peas, dried peas, rajma can be mashed and added to vegetable patties or made into hummus for sandwiches. Cheese cubes by themselves or in sandwiches are a most popular protein option for kids. Tofu or paneer can be added to dry vegetable curries that can be used to stuff rotis to make a roll. Yogurt can be set in one of the smaller boxes and put in the fridge overnight to be carried in the lunchbox. This makes a good accompaniment to rice and broken wheat based dishes, if the commute is not too long and the workplace / school has a refrigerator. 
Nuts are a great snacking option, rich in a variety of vital nutrients – add this to your kid’s muffins or cookies and to your salad. Taking it in the lunch box is the best way to eat nuts while exercising portion control. Nut butters are good for spreading in sandwiches.

Since both adults and kids need to get five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit, it is important that the lunchbox has a couple of servings from this group. Whatever food is going into the lunchbox, make sure it is fortified with some vegetables (other than potatoes, which are starch component) – for example, green beans and peas in rice, cucumber and carrot sticks with hummus, red bell pepper and zucchini in pasta. Add some pomegranate pearls to raita or curd-rice, grated apples and pears in muffins, sliced banana in peanut butter sandwich.
Once in a while, surprise your kid with a homemade goodie like a cookie or any other treat.

Some sample lunchboxes:
·      Egg Salad Sandwich and watermelon cubes
·      Broken wheat vegetable pulao with plain yogurt or raita
·      Pita bread stuffed with shredded chicken with salad and apple
·      Buttermilk semolina upma with peas and almonds
·      Pasta with spinach and cheese or paneer and orange
·      Vegetable idlis with tomato-onion chutney and a boiled egg




Recipe for Baby Pesarattu with spinach

  1. Soak 1 cup of whole green moong overnight. 
  2. Drain the soaked moong and grind it with a cup of washed and cleaned raw spinach leaves, a small piece of ginger and ½ tsp of salt. This does not require to be fermented. Pesarattu can be made immediately after the batter is ready.
  3. On a lightly greased non-stick tava, spoon out tablespoon full of batter with a little space in between the pesarattu, add a few drops of ghee or oil along the sides and flip when one side is cooked. 
  4. You can sprinkle sesame seeds on one side while the other is cooking. 
  5. Cook the other side similarly and serve with chutney or ketchup. 
  6. If this dish is for adults, you could add a couple of green chillies while grinding the batter.

[originally published in the Sunday DNA - September 23, 2012]

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