Sambar

March 22nd, 2011 Mona Posted in Beetroot/Chuqandar, Black Gram/Urad Dal, Black Peppercorns, Bottle Gourd/Kaddu, Broccoli, Carrot/Gajar, Chane ki Dal, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cinnamon/Dalchini, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Curry leaves (fresh), Dried Red Chillies, Drumsticks/Sojni ki phalli, Dry Desiccated Coconut, Eggplant/Baingan, Fenugreek/Methi seeds, Green Chillies, Jaggery/Gud, Mustard seeds/Rai, Okra/Bhindi, Pumpkin, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Shallots/Pearl Onions, Tamarind/Imli, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Turmeric/Haldi, White Cauliflower/Phool Gobi, Yellow Lentil/Tuvar ki Dal/Toor dal 6 Comments » 8,109 views

Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar

Method:

1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.

Luv,
Mona

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Cheddar Cauliflower Bisque

November 18th, 2009 Mona Posted in Cheddar Cheese, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Dry Bay Leaf/Tej Patta, Garlic/Lahsun, Milk and Milk Products, Orange Cauliflower, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 11 Comments » 7,362 views

Cheddar Cauliflower (a variety of the Orange Cauliflower) is a very flavorful Canadian Cauliflower, with a sweet and mild taste, a bright yellowish orange color, and rich in beta-carotenes (about 25 times more than white cauliflower).

Gorgeous Cheddar Cauliflower

I had seen this eye-catching variety of cauliflower for the first time the last year. And since then been enjoying them in various ways. This week, I again bought a few and prepared a delicious bisque which I thoroughly relished as my breakfast along with a crusty bread.

Cheddar Cauliflower florets

Cheddar Cauliflower Bisque

Ingredients:

Organic Cheddar Cauliflower – 1 large head, approx 650 gms, cut into florets, keep the tender cauliflower greens aside in a bowl
Yellow Onion – 1, medium sized, sliced into thick rings
Garlic cloves – 4
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Dried Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1, large, dried
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Kraft Light Singles, Cheddar cheese – 1 slice (halal)
2% Milk – 1 cup

Bright and nourishing ~ Cheddar Cauliflower Bisque

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400°C.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil and place the cauliflower florets, onion rings, and garlic cloves on it. Drizzle with 2 tsp canola oil and bake/roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Shake the baking sheet once in between during the time.

roasted florets and onion + greens + chicken stock

3. Transfer the baking sheet onto racks and let cool until warmish. Add the contents of the baking sheet into a saucepan and add 700 ml of chicken stock. Throw in the cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, red chilli powder, bayleaf and cover the lid. Let cook on medium heat until the cauliflower is tender.
4. Remove and discard the bayleaf from the saucepan. Transfer the contents to a blender container and puree until smooth. You can also a liquidizer. (At this stage, you can strain it if you prefer a smooth consistency, I didn’t because I did not want to waste anything). Pour it back into the saucepan.
5. Add cheddar cheese and the milk and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm with a crusty bread.

Did you know there exists a beautiful Purple Cauliflower too?

This warming bisque goes to Health Nut Challenge 3, which Yasmeen of Healthnut is hosting on her wonderful blog. Do mail her your entries before January 2010.

***

Note: Earlier this year, I had made a humble contribution of my recipe for ‘Qimah Dum‘ for ‘The BloggerAid – Changing the Face of Famine Cookbook‘.

Dum ka Qimah

This cookbook includes recipes by over 140 bloggers over 60 countries from worldwide. 100% of the proceeds for the cookbook target children and education through the World Food Programme called School Meals. Do get your copy soon to go through the recipes and support the great cause

Luv,
Mona

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Simple Pleasures

October 2nd, 2009 Mona Posted in Basmati Rice/Chawal, Canola Oil, Caraway seeds/Shahzeera, Cardamom/Elaichi, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cinnamon/Dalchini, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Curry leaves (fresh), Dried Red Chillies, Dry Bay Leaf/Tej Patta, Ghee, Ginger-Garlic paste, Mint/Pudina (fresh), Peas/Matar, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Tomato, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Turmeric/Haldi, White Cauliflower/Phool Gobi, White Potato/Aloo, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 15 Comments » 16,567 views

Baghara Khana (or Baghara Chawal), is an another simple and nourishing dish that reminds me of that happier era, when I was a kid. Food that reminds me of my childhood and my hometown definitely makes me immensely nostalgic every time.

Baghara Khana along with Aloo Gobi Matar ~ was my yesterday’s lunch

Fragrant long grained basmati rice is cooked along with caramelized onion and exotic whole spices that give a delicate flavor and a wonderful aroma that will fill your house, and welcome your loved ones with open arms and a sense of home where warmth and comfort abounds. Always serve Baghara khana warm, along with the accompaniments of your choice.

To prepare Baghara Khana, use rice and water in the ratio of 1:2, i.e., for 1 cup rice, use two cups of water. Save a little amount of the water to add later on after the rice is about 3/4th cooked as described below.

Baghara Chawal/Khana
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Long grained White Basmati Rice – 1 cup (I prefer the brands ‘Daawat’ or ‘India Gate’ or ‘Lal Qila’)
Canola Oil – 1 tsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Onion – 1, small, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Fresh Cilantro/Kothmir – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Fresh Mint/Pudina – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green cardamom/Elaichi – 2
Cinnamon/Dalchini – 2 inch stick
Dry bay leaf – 1, medium sized
Caraway seeds/Shahzeera – 1/2 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Salt – 1 tsp

Method:

1. Wash the rice in two changes of water and soak it in surplus cool water for 30 minutes.
2. In a saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and ghee and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion is nicely browned up. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the chopped herbs, green cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and caraway seeds. Fry them for a minute more. Add 1 2/3 cup of water and salt. Cover with a lid and increase the heat to high. Let it come to a boil.
3. Meanwhile drain the soaked rice and keep ready.
4. Add the drained rice to the boiling water in saucepan and mix well. Let it come to a boil once. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. After 3 minutes using a spoon, mix the rice well, lower the heat to minimum and and cover it back again and let cook for a furthur 3 minutes. Open the lid, pour in the remaining 1/3 cup water and gently mix well. Cover and let cook until the rice is tender. Close the heat and leave the saucepan on the hot stove for about 15 more minutes to finish cooking on Dum. Serve warm.

My house smells like a potpourri every time after I prepare Baghare Chawal due to all those aromatic spices.

Note: You can also add chopped green chillies and a few whole cloves along with the other spices while frying the onions. I do not prefer to add them. Also for a special touch, garnish the cooked rice while serving with a few toasted whole cashew nuts.

Suggested Accompaniments: Baghara khana is enjoyed along with Dalcha or Baghare baingan or Mirchi ka Salan or Sem ki phalli gosht or Qimah or Qorma for a delicious Hyderabadi meal.

***

This Summer, I had planted a few tomato seeds (first time with tomatoes) and voila, I had plenty of fresh tomatoes from my lil tomato garden in the backyard. Here are a few snaps:

Tomato Variety: Moneymaker

tomato budss under the warm early spring sunshine

tiny tomatoes and blooms in early summer

after a shower
I love the fuzzy stems and the unique strong scent of tomato foliage

on a warm sunny evening

ripening on the vine

For the curry below I had used the garden ripe tomatoes from my plants. With the commenced autumn chill in the air, I do not think the plants will live much longer. To freeze tomatoes, just cut out the tough part of the core, put the whole tomatoes on a baking sheet and into the freezer. After they’ve frozen, transfer them to a plastic zipper bag and put them back into the freezer. When you want to use them, you can easily peel them if you allow them to thaw until they’re just barely soft on the outside. Then just rub off the skins. Or you can run warm tap water over them and peel them immediately. Use them in recipes for any cooked dish. Inshallah the next season, I plan/wish to grow the heirloom ribbed or beefsteak tomatoes and even more veggies. Have a look at the beautiful heirloom tomatoes here, I am sure even you all will be smitten by their beauty. Need to stock up the seeds soon for the gardening season.
For those of you interested, this book has loads of information on heirloom tomatoes and how to plant them.

Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato Cauliflower and Peas in one pot

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 1 1/2 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves – 6
Dry red chillies – 3, each broken into two
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Cauliflower – 1 medium head, cut into florets, washed and drained
White Potatoes – 3, peeled and cut into quarters
Tomatoes – 2, medium sized, chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Frozen organic peas/Matar – 3/4 cup
Fresh Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Aloo Gobi Matar along with toasted Afghani Roti, and home-made Lemon pickle ~ todays lunch

Method:

Heat oil in a wide saucepan at medium high heat and as soon as it is warm, pour in oil. Add the sliced onion and stir fry until the onion are just lightly browned. Add the baghaar ingredients~cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Also add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the cauliflower florets and potato quarters and mix well. Spread the vegetables so that they are in a single layer in the pan. Sear the vegetables for about two minutes. Keep stirring them occasionally. Add the chopped tomatoes, half cup of warm water and red chilli powder. Mix well and cover the lid. Let cook until the vegetables are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. Keep stirring occasionally. Add the frozen peas and cover the lid for 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

‘Aloo Gobi Matar – Potato, Cauliflower and Peas’ in one pot goes to Andera’s Grow Your Own event.

Luv,
Mona

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Phool Gobi ki Subzi

May 7th, 2009 Mona Posted in Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), White Cauliflower/Phool Gobi, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 10 Comments » 10,803 views

Simple vegetable subzis are so good along with Roti and perfect for a light nutritious meal. Cauliflower is one such easily available, immensely nutritious vegetable that is usually ignored, disliked and not valued for its many benefits.

Phool Gobi ki Subzi – Cauliflower with Tomato and Onion

Did you know?
Cauliflower comes in 4 different colors, purple cauliflower, green cauliflower, orange cauliflower (also called as the ‘cheddar cauliflower’) and white cauliflower. The most common variety is the ‘White Cauliflower’. Cauliflower should be used within a day or two once they are brought home, as they begin to rapidly perish and loose their flavor. This ordinary veggie is abundant in vitamin-C, complex carbohydrates, folate, fibre and antioxidants. Hence it helps lower blood cholesterol and is good for your heart health. It also helps detoxify the body and reduces the risk of cancer as it contains several cancer-fighting and harmone regulating compounds.

Cauliflower can be incorporated into the diet in several different ways. In winters, I love to have a simple pureed cauliflower+asparagus bisque in the chilly winters. Cauliflower pakoda/fritters is great as a snack and I also prepare it for Iftaar during Ramadhan.

Chopped cauliflower florets and tender outer leaves

This subzi is one that I most usually prepare for meals at home. Do not discard the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Wash the cauliflower florets thoroughly in cold salted water and drain them in a colander. Discard the tough stems and chop the tender leaves and stems to add to the florets for the subzi.

Phool Gobi ki Subzi – Cauliflower with Tomato and Onion

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 2 tsp
Yellow Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
White Cauliflower head – 1, medium sized, washed properly and cut into small florets along with its tender outer greens
Tomato – 3, large, washed properly and finely diced
Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan at medium high heat, pour canola oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and sauté them until they are soft. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry along for 30 secs.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes along with the red chilli powder and salt. Pour about 3o ml warm water and close the lid. After 1-2 minutes, add the cauliflower florets. Close the lid and let cook until the cauliflower is done. Sprinkle a little more water if needed. Serve along with Roti.

Tip: Any leftovers? Just finely chop the leftover subzi and use it as a stuffing for Parathas. Phool Gobi stuffed parathas are yummy and nourishing.

Luv,
Mona

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Gobi-Mirch Jalfrezi

February 13th, 2008 Mona Posted in Canned Tomato paste, Canola Oil, Capsicum, Cumin seeds/Zeera, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Fats and Oils/Tel, Garam masala powder, Hyderabadi special, Nigella seeds/Kalonji, Onion/Pyaaz, Pastes & Sauces, Quick fix meals, Red Chilli powder, Salt/Namak, Soy Sauce, Spices & Seasonings/Masaale, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Vegetables/Tarkariyaan, White Cauliflower/Phool Gobi, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz 17 Comments » 7,951 views

Jalfrezi is a type of Indian curry in which marinated pieces of meat or vegetables are fried in oil or spices to produce a dry, thick sauce. It is cooked with green chillies, with the result that the jalfrezi can range in heat from a medium dish to a very hot one. Other main ingredients include Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes. – Wikipedia

It was a bright day today, got to see sun and sunshine peeking through the heavy dark clouds for a little longer time after quite an extended period. That made me very happy and cheerful. I wanted to cook something special today, a nice vegetarian meal, and I quickly thought of this dish.

This is my lovely little sister’s recipe. It is a simple recipe which gets prepared in a jiffy. I searched for the ingredients in my refrigerator and I had all those, so I prepared and enjoyed this Curry/Salan along with Zeera Rice/Baghara Chawal and Khatti Dal.

Gobi-Mirch Jalfrezi - Cauliflower and Capsicum in a Tangy Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower/Phul Gobi – 1, large, washed and cut into florets
  • Red and Green Capsicums/Shimla Mirch – 1 each, de-seeded, cut into bite-size strips
  • Canola Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Yellow Onion/Pyaz – 2, large, sliced thin
  • Soya Sauce – 4 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder – 1/3 tsp (optional)
  • Garam Masala – 1 tbsp
  • Tomato Paste – 2 heaped tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Nigella Seeds/Kalaunji – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • Heat oil in a non stick pan on medium heat, and throw in the Cumin seeds and Kalaunji. As soon as they start to splutter add the Onions and saute them till they are lightly browned.
  • Add the Tomato paste, Garam masala, Salt and Red Chilli powder and mix well. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the Cauliflower florets and stir fry them in the sauce for 3-5 minutes.
  • Later add the Capsicum strips, Soya sauce, and a little water and stir to mix. Cover the lid and let it cook for 5 minutes taking care the curry isnt becoming too dry or getting burnt. Keep giving it a gentle stir every now and then. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: We had it along with Zeera Rice/Baghara Chawal and Khatti Dal for a delicious meal.

Luv,
Mona

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