Celebrating First Blog Anniversary

Zaiqa has today turned one! 

Its about an year now since I had been food blogging. I am thrilled and its time to celebrate my One Year Blog Anniversary.

 

I dont believe its almost an year now since I had been food blogging and with each and every passing day my love and passion for blogging about food and my recipes has only enlarged and advanced. I am learning everyday, about the different cuisines through many of my foodie friends and their wonderful food blogs. And I have made numerous friends through this medium, some of them, my beloved readers who encourage me, and drop lovely words and comments, and some of them, the esteemed and highly talented foodies out there in the ever growing world of food blogging who inspire, teach and present us all with the various ways of whipping up foods into something luscious and tantalizing both for the eyes and palate.

Through this medium I attempt to exemplify the world about the modern Hyderabadi everyday cooking with basic ingredients in a healthful way, the way my elders have been practising, the way my Mummy, Mother-in-law, Naniammi and Dadiammi taught me and the way I am learning each day.

I will try my best to continue food blogging for many more days to come. Thanks for all your lovely comments and words of appreciation and encouragement. 

Luv,
Mona

Upma

Upma is an another Indian dish which can be had as a snack or can even be had as a filling breakfast.  

Tip: Indian cuisine is versatile. Simple techniques and and a marriage of various kinds of spices and flavors makes the Indian cuisine flexible and sapid. Indian women know very well to use the left overs and whip up delicious meals using them. One such dish where I usually use the leftover curries is Upma. If the left over curry is a dry dish, I often mix it in the preperation of the Upma which makes it even more delicious and healthier. And if the left over curry is thin (soupy) in consistency, then I use it to serve along with Upma.  

Upma – Semolina cake, served along with leftover Colocasia/Arvi in a tangy sauce

Upma is comfort food for me. It is a filling healthy breakfast to start a new day, quite easy to prepare and gets prepared swiftly. Upma Rawa or Semolina or Sooji is available at many Indian stores very easily.

Serves – 4

Upma – Semolina cake

Ingredients:

  • Semolina/Sooji/Upma Rawa – 1 1/2 cups
  • Canola oil – 3 tbsp
  • Black Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
  • Whole dried red chilli – 1 
  • Small Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
  • Fresh grated ginger – 1 tbsp
  • Fresh or dried Curry leaves – 10
  • Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  • Moong Dal – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Yellow Onion – 2, large, finely chopped
  • Salt – 2 tsp or to taste
  • Water/Chicken or Lamb Stock – 3 1/2 cups
  • Lemon juice – 3 tbsp
  • Cilantro – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  • Fried Cashewnuts – 1/2 cup, chopped

Method:

  • In a non-stick saucepan at medium heat, pour oil and as soon as it gets warm, throw in the mustard seeds. Cover the saucepan with a splatter screen and as soon as the seeds begin to pop, add in the green and red chillies, dals, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves. Saute them for 3 minutes and later add the chopped onion and salt to it. Let the onions sweat out a little. Fry them all for about 5 minutes stirring it continually. Add the Upma Rawa and fry the whole mixture for 5-8 minutes more again stirring frequently (if you have any dry curry left-overs, you can add it too at this stage, read the notes above)
  • Now pour the water/stock and mix throughly to that no lumps form. Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Let it cook for 3 minutes more. 
  • Remove from heat and add lemon juice, cashewnuts and cilantro. Fluff and mix it all using a fork and spoon the mixture into whatever molds you like, press the mixture well. Invert them onto warm serving plates and serve them for a yummy breakfast. 

Suggested Accompaniments: I and my family enjoy it along with Lemon/Lime or Mango pickle prepared Indian style, or with any thin (soupy) leftover Curry/Saalan. I also love to savor it along with Khatti Dal. My Mother used to serve it us when I was a kid along with a handful of shallow fried groundnuts. 

This goes as an entry to the event, Click Yellow for Bri, being held this time as a Cancer Fundraiser by Jai and Bee for Briana Brownlow.

This also goes all the way to Raaga of The Singing Chef for the WBB#23 Express Breakfast Event she is holding this month.

Luv,
Mona

Khatti Dal

Hyderabadi Khatti Dal is kind of like a lentil soup with a slight tangy flavor due to the addition of tamarind concentrate. Tamarind is the traditional souring agent used for the Khatti dal. Sometimes upon its unavailability, lemon/lime juice or raw green mango puree is also used. This distinct and popular dal preparation is usually a side dish at meals in most Hyderabadi households to wet their rice and enjoyed with an another vegetarian or a non-vegetarian side dish.

Tamarind pods – Imli

Hyderabadi Khatti dal is distinct and different from other Indian dals. Khatti dal has origins from the Mughal era of the Qutub Shahs. The North Indians use whole grain dals (sabut dal), and Andhra dals are usually thin and the baghaar (tadka) consists of mustard seeds, whereas Khatti dal has the baghaar of dried red chillies and cumin seeds, and the consistency of the dal is neither too thick or too thin.

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Baghaar:
The technique of baghaar (in Urdu) reminiscent to Indian cuisine, also often referred to as seasoning/tempering or chaunk/tadka in Hindi is an important step towards flavoring a dish. It helps brings out the best flavors from dry spices. The process involves heating some oil in a small frying pan, to which dry spices are added one by one and stir fried until they pop. This hot oil with spices is then poured, hissing over the partially cooked or completely cooked dish to impart flavors and aroma. As soon as this is done, cover the dish with a lid so as to trap all the aroma and flavor inside. Different spices are used for different dishes. Usually baghaar is done at the end of cooking, but sometimes it is also done right at start or in the middle of cooking a dish.

Baghaar for khatti dal – sliced garlic, curry leaves, dried red chillies and cumin seeds

Below are a few precautions to be taken while doing baghaar:
1. The process requires attention, and takes just a few minutes.
2. Take care not to overheat oil or else spices will burn.
3. Keep a splatter screen nearby before you start the process as few spices begin to pop and jump.

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Adding garlic in the baghaar or tempering process for this dal gives it a unique flavor and makes it even more delicious. I like to prepare this dal using Tuvar dal/Yellow lentils or Masoor Dal/Red Lentils.

Imli ki Khatti Dal – Tangy Tamarind Dhal

Ingredients:

For the Dal:
Tuvar dal/Yellow lentils or Masoor Dal/Red Lentils – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Small green chillies – 4, roughly chopped
Haldi/Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
For Sourness:
Raw tamarind juice or tamarind concentrate – 2 to 3 tbsp or according to taste (if tamarind is unavailable, you can even add lemon/lime juice to taste for sourness)
For the Baghaar(tadka)/Tempering:
Canola Oil – 2 tsp
Garlic Cloves – 2, large, each cut lenghwise into two
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Dred Red chilliies – 2, each broken into two
Fresh/Dried Curry Leaves – 8
Fresh Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped


Khatti Dal – Sweet and Sour Lentils

Method:

1. Wash and soak the dal in surplus water for 2-3 hrs. Later, drain the dal and wash it in fresh changes of water. Drain and add it to a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of fresh cool water, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, chopped green chillies and salt and pressure cook it till the dal is very soft. Pour the contents of the pressure cooker into a blender container and blend it till pureed. (My Ammi used a Dal Ghotni to mash the dal) Or you can even simply puree it using an immersion blender.
2. Meanwhile in a small non stick frying pan at medium heat, pour oil and as soon as it gets warm, add the cumin seeds. As they begin to splutter, cover with a splatter screen and reduce heat to medium low, and throw in the remaining ingredients for baghaar/tempering and remove from heat.
3. Pour the contents of the blender container back into the pressure cooker and bring it to a boil. Add the tamarind juice (or lemon/lime juice), the baghaar, and stir to mix. You can add more water if you want to achieve the consistency you desire. Some people like a thin consistency and some prefer a slightly thick consistency. Adjust salt and serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Khatti dal goes very well along with Tala hua Gosht and Khushka.

This delicious dal is my entry to the event ‘Delicious Dals from India’ being hosted by Suma at her blog Veggie Platter.

A list of few other delicious dals from the Hyderabadi repertoire:

1. Khadi Dal
2. Daalcha
3. Tamatar ki Dal
4. Kairi ki Dal
5. Mitthi Dal

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Suggested Accompaniments: It is a side dish to meals to wet rice and had along with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dish.

A while ago Meeso of For the Love Of Food! awarded me with the ‘Rockin Girl Blogger’ award. I rock! 🙂 Thanks Meeso.

I pass on this award to all those talented bloggers in this ever growing world of food blogosphere.

Luv,
Mona

Hari Pyaaz aur Malai wale Jhinge

This is one of the dishes that I prepare when I do not have much time to spend in my kitchen. These creamy prawns with scallions get prepared quite quickly and contain all the goodness.

Hari Pyaz aur Malai wale Jhinge – Shrimp with Scallions and Cream

Prawns are my favorite among the Seafood. These little crustaceans are devouring. In this dish I have used hari-pyaz/scallions and light cream along with some other ingredients as well, each one of them imparting their own special flavor to the dish, but keeping the flavor of the prawns the dominant.

I have also used the Salan Masala which I came across from the cookbook Regional Indian Cooking by Ajay Joshi and Alison Roberts. This masala has now become a very important ingredient in many of my daily recipes and I find it very flavorful. I’m sharing the recipe of the masala with you all which I found in the cookbook.

Salan Masala

Makes about 2/3 cup

Ingredients:

  • Dry Dessicated Coconut – 1/3 cup
  • Sesame seeds – 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 insh piece
  • Whole cloves – 4
  • Green Cardamom pods – 6 green
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp

Method:

  • Dry roast the coconut and sesame seeds at medium heat until golden forn 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool, then in a spice grinder, grind it to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin to the same pan. Dry roast at medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Set aside, cool and gring to a fine powder. Add to the coconut mixture along with chilli powder and turmeric. Stir well to combine.
  • Transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator forupto 6 months. Use a clean dry spoon each time to us ethe masala to prevent mold from forming.

I usually get frozen prawns as they are easy to keep and are available for me to prepare and have them whenever I want. You can even use fresh prawns if available. I miss all the freshly available food in abumdance in India so much. Here, I do not get most of my Indian ingredients, and miss many of the Indian delicacies.

Hari Pyaz aur Malai wale Jhinge – Shrimp with Scallions and Cream

Ingredients:

  • Fresh or Frozen Prawns – 400 gms, deshelled; tails, legs and veins removed
  • Canola Oil – 2 tsp
  • Scallions – 3 cups, chopped with both the green and white parts
  • Tomato Paste – 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Flakes – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Light Cream – 2 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp
  • Grated Ginger – 1 tsp
  • Salan Masala – 2 tsp

Method:

  • Pour oil into a large frying pan with lid at medium heat and as soon as it warms up, add the scallions and saute them for 3-5 minutes. Add tomato paste, red chilli flakes, turmeric, salt and shrimp. Mix, cover with lid and let it cook for 3 minutes.
  • Later, add light cream, lemon juice, grated ginger and salan masala. Gently mix well and cover and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: It tastes wonderful along with warm Rotis, or Basmati Chawal and any Vegetable side dish.

Luv,
Mona

Dried Fig Jam

The other day while sorting out the pantry, I found some dried figs which I had bought long time back from the store. They were gorgeous and smelled delectable. Dried figs are easy to store and keep well for very long time at room temperatures.

I love to munch on a few dried uncooked figs at breakfasts usually. They are sweet, cooling, nourishing, heavy fruit low in saturated fat and help fight Cancer as they contain many antioxidants. Dried figs are a good laxative, helpful for those with constipation and also helps lower blood cholesterol. It is a good source of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, fibre, copper and vitamin B6 and K. It has some anti-bacterial properties too. However figs should not be had in larger amounts at a time as they increase blood sugar levels quickly and can also cause diarrhoea.

This time I wanted to prepare a jam with these and went on with it. This is a preservelike spread and not a true preserve and must be refrigerated to avoid spoilage, because it contains a higher proportion of fruit to sugar and retain more fruit flavor. The jam was delicious and got prepared in less than an hour. I love the slight crunchy texture due to the seeds in the jam.

Dried Fig Jam

Ingredients:

  • Dried Figs/Anjeer – 250 gms, stems removed and finely chpped
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Citric Acid – 1/4 tp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 500 ml

Method:

  • Add the chopped figs and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, simmer and let it cook covered for 25 minutes until the figs are soft. Remove from heat and keep aside until cool.
  • In a blender container, pour the contents of the saucepan and blend it till pureed.
  • Pour this back into the saucepan and add the sugar, lemon juice, citric acid and let it cook for about 15 more minutes on medium heat or until it reaches a jammy consistency.
  • Pour this into a sterlised dried glass jar with a tight lid and let it cool completely. Refrigerate to store.

Finish the jam within a month in order to avoid spoilage.

Luv,
Mona