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Archive for December, 2007

Corn Flakes Bhelpuri

Posted by vivnidhi on December 24, 2007

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I am almost always late to enter the kitchen on Sunday mornings. And , I also like breakfast to be something else but whole wheat slices, sprouts and coffee. It was easier for my Mom , I think, our Sunday breakfasts were always great………samosas, kachoris, fresh mathris……….I can’t keep frying something great each weekend:(.

So, this Sunday morning I wondered what to make and saw Cornflakes. Had no time to waste, chopped a lot of stuff, mixed with masalas, in went chutneys and lo……..cornflakes bhelpuri was ready! Added a piping hot cuppa coffee, and there couldn’t have been a better breakfast on this cold snowy morning.

The Recipe:

  • Cornflakes 2 cups
  • Puffed rice 1 cup
  • Onion 1
  • Tomato 1/2 (as I just had half a tomato left, you could add more,if you want)
  • Tomatillos 2
  • Cucumber 1/2 (of a large one )
  • Cilantro/ Coriander leaves 1/2 cup
  • Potato 1 (scrubbed well & boiled)
  • Peanuts 3/4 cup
  • Salt 2 tsp.
  • Red chili powder 1 tsp.
  • Chaat Masala 1 Tbsp.
  • Green Chutney (cilantro/mint/tomatillo……..any would do as long as its tart and fiery) 2 Tbsp.
  • Sweet Tamarind chutney (sonth in Hindi) 2 Tbsp. (These are available readymade in Indian stores or can  be made as I explain in the note and kept for months in the refrigerator.)

Again the list is long here, but the recipe is really versatile. One can adjust as per what one has on hand. The real quick method of making is here:

1. First fork a well scrubbed potato, wet it well or place it in a microwave container with 2 Tbsp. of water and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Microwave times may vary but this is real quick.

2. Meanwhile chop fine all the rest of the veges…..tomato, tomatillo, cucumber, cilantro. Take the potato out and chop it as well. Add to a large container cause these tend to take more space.

3. Peanuts are roasted in the microwave as well. Keep microwaving for a minute at a time and checking continuously till you get them brown per your preference.

4. Puffed rice also goes in the microwave for a minute or more if you need but a minute at a time is the best idea. Its good to have it spread in a plate where you can check it easier. When it gets really crisp, its ready.

5. Let the puffed rice cool for a minute and then add it to the chopped vegetables. Add salt, red chili powder, chaat masala, green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney to the vegetables.  Add the cornflakes and peanuts. Mix really well. Check salt and spice level and adjust according to your taste. You may add lime juice, I didn’t find the need.

And you are ready to serve!! Its difficult for anyone to NOT like this sweet and spicy chaat.

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Note: Sweet Tamarind Chutney/ Imli ki meethi Chutney/ Sonth is quite easy to make with tamarind concentrates available in Indian grocery stores in the U.S.

Mix 4 Tbsp. tamarind concentrate with with about 1/2 cup water and add 1/2 cup sugar to it. Mix it well and check if the sugar level is as desired. It actually is quite sweet in taste. It should also be quite thick like honey. Heat a Tbsp. of oil and add 1/4 tsp. asafetida, 1 tsp. red chili powder and 2 Tbsp. cumin powder. You could also add a handful of golden raisins. Put it in a bottle and keeps well in the refrigerator for months. If using fresh, you could also add finely chopped banana to it but do not add it and refrigerate. Lip smacking meethi chutney is ready which can be used on almost all kinds of chaat.

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Posted in -Cucumber, -Green Chutney, -Onion, -Peanuts, -Potatoes, -Puffed Rice, -Sweet Tamarind Chutney, -Tomatillo, -Tomato, Corn Flakes | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Salmon Tikka

Posted by vivnidhi on December 23, 2007

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Salmon Tikka

Certainly not my genes, I wondered aloud as I saw my son just devour the tikka pieces I had prepared for my husband. And, hubby dear had hopes of eating these in two meals! But the entire 6-7 oz fillet of salmon was gone in one meal just between my husband and two year old. My son did not eat anything else besides this. I think anyone who is fond of fish should like this tikka recipe.

This can be made very quickly if only you have the time to marinate the fish. My husband certainly gets the credit for this recipe as he wanted me to try it with tandoori masala and yogurt. Since I had no readymade masala at home, I made this up….(hey! who gets the credit…..you are the judge;)) But anyway, let me be honest, I only prepare the marinade, handling  the fish and checking its done-ness etc. is all my husband’s job:).

The Recipe:

  • Salmon fillet 8 oz.
  • Yogurt 1/2 cup
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced fine or ginger paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced fine or garlic paste
  • Chili powder 1 tsp.
  • Coriander (Cilantro/ Dhaniya)  Powder 2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala 2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder (amchur powder) 2 tsp.
  • Poppy seeds ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds/saunf ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Mint leaves chopped very fine or grinded to a paste 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt 2 tsp.

The list is long but almost everything is just an assembly task. Defrost the fish if frozen or skin it it if fresh. Cut it in bite size pieces. Mix all the ingredients and adjust salt as per your preference.

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Yogurt, minced ginger, garlic, salmon pieces and dry masalas……….all ready to be mixed up

Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for one hour. Heat the oven to 400°F /200°C . You could use aluminum foil on a baking tray (for easier cleaning) and grease it using an oil spray. Spread the salmon pieces and top them with all the left over marinade.

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Salmon pieces ready to be baked.

Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes, turn and bake again for 5-6 minutes. The fish should flake easily when done. I have got rave reviews for this one! Garnish with sliced onions and lemon slices. These can be eaten with naan, rice, parantha or you can try it like my son…..just plain:).

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Salmon Tikka

Posted in -Salmon, Fish | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Quince Jam’s spicy nuance

Posted by vivnidhi on December 20, 2007

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Quince

The sweetest aroma fills my house as I write this post. “This is Quince”, said the friendly cashier at ZZ’s produce market in Ann Arbor. I usually shop for fruits and vegetables at ZZ’s and he now recognizes me. He was making sure that I knew what I was buying. He said most people get drawn to the sweet smell of quince and are just not prepared for the hidden tart taste. Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is related to apples and pears, looks like a cross between them and has a sweeter smell than both. It is said that this is a very tart fruit and just can’t be eaten raw. As luck would have it, I have bought it twice now and found that my quinces have a woody , very agreeable taste. Less tart than granny smith apples. So, I went ahead and tried to read as much literature was available about this fruit on the internet. Came to know that the sweetness of quince varies from year to year or tree to tree.

Quince is also supposed to be found all over deciduous forests in India but I had never heard of the fruit until I came to the U.S. It has been traditionally used as a medicine and flavoring agent. It is used in colisting diarrhea, dysentery, constipation and diarrhea. It is aromatic, astringent, cooling, febrifuge and also acts as tonic for heart and brain. The gel from the quince seed provides essential vitamins and minerals to nourish the skin. I had never heard of any of this. Quince tree is a valued dwarfing rootstock for pear which produces more fruit-bearing branches and has accelerated fruit maturity when used in this way. Sources of this information are quince seed, Indian-herbs and quince disease report.

I had been thinking of cinnamon subconsciously because of Sunita Bhuyan’s “Think Spice” event as she wants food bloggers to think, think. Cinnamon or Dalchini was a favorite of mine when I was a child. I would eat cinnamon sticks or quills raw cause I loved the sweet taste. My conclusions about its use in my kitchen is that, it is either used to flavor sugar cause it enhances the sweet flavor so well OR in Indian cooking, it is used along with other very strong spices (whole or powdered) to give a sweet tinge to the sharpness of other spices. Then came my regular RealAge food bites email, which said that this natural germ fighter also helps lower blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels — one-quarter teaspoon a day is a healthy goal. Now anything that helps maintain blood sugar levels and and lowers triglycerides is a must in my kitchen.

Somehow, quince and cinnamon paired up well for me. The regular quince jam was flavored with cinnamon and ah! the result was impressive. Cinnamon’s subtle sweetness perfectly complements the quince’s sweet aroma. The following recipe is my adaptation of this Quince Jam recipe. Also, “Marmalade” comes from the Portuguese word marmalada, meaning “quince jam”, most marmalade today is made from citrus fruits, especially oranges.

The Recipe:

  • Quince 2
  • Sugar  1/2 cup
  • Water
  • Cinnamon 1/8 tsp.

Scrub the quinces well as the peel enhances the flavor. Slice the quince in quarters and remove the seeds.  Do not remove the core and add enough water to cover the slices.

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Quince slices ready to be heated

Cover the pan and let it boil on medium heat for about 35 minutes. Remove the cores now and strain and save the leftover water. Puree the boiled slices in a blender. I needed to add all the saved water when pureeing the quince pieces. Two quinces produced exactly 2 cups of puree. I added only 1/2 cup of sugar to the total puree as my quinces were quite sweet. Heat the quince puree and sugar on high heat while stirring constantly. Bring it to a rolling boil and then reduce the heat to medium high. Keep stirring all along. Very long back in India , I had taken a course on Jam and jelly making. Even though I have forgotten most of what I learnt, I know that a plate test is done to test if the jam is done. Pour a tsp. of the jam on a cold plate.If it spreads a little, not leaving water around it, then the jam is done.Put the heat off. Add cinnamon to it and fill it in a sterilized, dry bottle. I did not find any need to add extra pectin as quince has enough natural pectin in it. And, since I made a very small amount,no preservative was used.

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Spicy Quince Jam

Not a great picture, but you get it, right? :). On tasting the jam, my two year old tester immediately responded with “Bahut Achha Hai” (meaning:its very good) and the slice of bread was eaten up after a meal. This is rare!!  So, if you come across this sweet smelling, tart fruit, please don’t shy away, it is delicious. It would be great in a chutney too……..now lets think about that later!

Posted in -Quince | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Salmon Biryani

Posted by vivnidhi on December 19, 2007

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Salmon Biryani

So, after losing my entire post, I am back, re-posting the original recipe.

I am a vegetarian and so I have not tasted the recipe I write here. My husband likes to call himself a ” wannabe vegetarian”.  He is extremely fond of non-vegetarian food but to make better choices nutrition wise, he likes me to try recipes with fish. This salmon biryani recipe is a favorite of my husband’s.

I searched various sites and blogs for a biryani recipe with Salmon but just didn’t find any. I decided to give it a try myself. My Bade and Chhote Nawab were quite impressed with the result and hence the post. The search for a perfect biryani recipe led me to Kitchen wonder’s Chicken Biryani recipe which had a very informative post on Biryani history History of biryani.

The Recipe:
(For 4 servings)

  • Basmati rice 2 cups
  • Salmon fillet 8 oz.
  • Milk 1/4 cup

For the Marinade:

  • Yogurt 1 cup
  • Chili powder 2 tsp.
  • 1″ piece of ginger minced fine or ginger paste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced fine or garlic paste
  • Coriander (Cilantro/ Dhaniya)  Powder 2 tsp.
  • Garam Masala 2 tsp.
  • Dry mango powder (amchur powder) 2 tsp.
  • Poppy seeds ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds/saunf ground to a powder 2 tsp.
  • Mint leaves chopped very fine or grinded to a paste 1 Tbsp.
  • Salt 1 Tbsp.

For Tempering:

  • Cinnamon 2″ piece
  • Black Cardamoms 2
  • Peppercorns 8
  • Bay Leaves 2
  • Cloves 4
  • Saffron a big pinch
  • Oil/ Ghee 2 Tbsp.

For Garnish:

  • Onions (Cut into rings) 2
  • Cashews 1/4 cup
  • Green Bell Pepper(medium size)  1/2
  • Tomato (medium size) 1/2

Prepare the fish by skinning it or defrost if using frozen. Cut the salmon in bite size pieces. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and marinate the fish in it for 1 hour.

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Marinated salmon

I am very careful when I deal with Basmati rice. Here in the U.S., basmati rice is the norm in Indian homes, but in India , in my house, basmati was always saved for special occasions cause it was so expensive. My mother made sure that each grain of rice remained separate. She had devised a technique of cooking rice and I follow it completely. Do not rub the rice much with hands when washing it for fear of breaking the grains. Soak the rice in ample water for 20-30 minutes. Heat a large amount of water in a deep pan and bring it to a rolling boil on high heat. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium high. Soaked rice cooks quite fast so check if the grains have softened after 10 minutes. Then strain the rice in a colander and throw the water. Fluff the rice with a fork. For biryani, I like to strain the rice before the grains soften completely.

Heat the oil (preferably ghee, if you can indulge) and add all the tempering ingredients except saffron. Add this hot tempering to the rice when the whole masalas start getting a little brown and when your neighbors start getting drawn to the aroma coming out of your kitchen. Well! don’t start looking for neighbors, the masalas might get burnt!!. Heat the milk to lukewarm and add saffron strands to it. Add the milk to the rice as well.  This is definitely a longer method of preparing the rice but I find it foolproof.

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Rice tempered with whole spices and saffron

Preheat the oven to 400° F /200° C .  Cook the salmon pieces in the oven for about 4 mins, remove from oven, turn and cook again for 4 minutes. I like to add all the marinade along with the fish and save all the leftover marinade along with the fish after its cooked.

Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Heat oil ,fry cashews and keep separate. In the same pan, fry the onions till crisp.  Slice bell pepper and tomato thin.

Gosh! Are we done yet? Nope! Heat the oven to 400° F. In an ovenproof casserole, layer 1/3 of the rice at the bottom , then 1/2 the fish along with the marinade and repeat. The top must be a layer of rice again. Garnish the biryani and cover it well with an aluminum foil. Keep it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whew! Long process but the effort is completely worthwhile when the Nawabs relish it! Tastes great with mint chutney and raita.

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Treat fit for the Royals!

I would like to send this recipe  to Sunita for her monthly Think Spice event which features cinnamon this month. I believe this biryani would be incomplete without cinnamon in the rice.

Some nice biryani recipes I came across are RP’s My workshop Fish Biryani, Pachakam.com’s Fish Biryani , Kitchen Wonder’s Chicken Biryani and Bawarchi’s Vegetable Biryani

This a big favorite at our place. Hope you would like it too!

Posted in -Salmon, Rice | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Baked Guna

Posted by vivnidhi on December 10, 2007

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Baked Gunas with a cup of milk and thekuas

Its fun participating in the various events going on this season. That was part of the reason why I wanted to write a foodblog; to be able to participate and chronicle my recipes. So, I have been really excited about participating in the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by http://foodblogga.blogspot.com. And, I got a surprising go-ahead from my Doctor when it seems like I am not going to get gestational diabetes this time around. This news definitely called for a celebration!

I have never seen my mother bake a lot except cakes and nan khatai……..the only Indian cookie that could be made at home. But I have seen my mother deep fry a lot of snacks.  As I wanted to try something authentic, I decided to try one of her standard recipes and bake it instead of frying. The result was fabulous, delicious like fried yet healthier.  I also wanted to use a recipe which had whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and oil instead of ghee which is almost entirely saturated fat.

Though not a regular everyday snack, Guna is certainly made on Hartalika teej in Uttar Pradesh. It is  accompanied by “mathi” which is plain, unsalted form of Guna made using all purpose flour.  Hartalika teej is a 3 day festival which takes place on the onset of monsoon, the third day of first fortnight of ‘Bhadra’ month based on lunar calendar. Its a festival very dear to the womenfolk cause it celebrates them in a way. Rural parts have fairs and make shift swings seem to spring up on every tree. Women adorn themselves with jewellery, new clothes and its basically fun time.  Mythology states that Goddess Parvati had penanced for a 100 years to be able to unite with Lord Shiv. Goddess Parvati is worshipped on Hartalika teej  as her blessings would lead to marital bliss. The difficult part for married women is that they have to fast, without water on the second day. The next day, fasting women break their fast with guna and mathi. As I do not celebrate teej anymore here in  the US, I can certainly make it as a sweet treat for Christmas. The festive spirit’s the same!!

The recipe:
(Makes 50-60 gunas)

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Almonds 1/4 cup
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Jaggery 1 cup
Green Cardamom 2
Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.

I have used jaggery in this recipe cause it gives a very distinct taste to the gunas. First wet the jaggery in as little water as possible, just to make it pliable enough to be mixed with flour. Alternatively you can put small pieces of jaggery in a food processor and mix the sticky jaggery with flour. Soaking the processor container in water for 10 mins will clean it without a hassle. Grind the almonds and walnuts along with cardamom to flour like consistency. A few bigger pieces remaining would be fine. Mix all ingredients really well. This is the most difficult and important part: mix everything really well.

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Flour, oil and grinded nuts

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Mix the ingredients well

If you need to add any water, just keep adding by fistfuls, till you are able to make a hard dough.

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Guna Dough

Make 3 parts of the big dough and roll it with hands till you have a thinner, longer dough piece. There will be oil on your hands as well as the rolling board. Having enough oil is the key to making crisp yet not hard gunas. Break it with hands along the cross section into smaller pieces or use a knife to cut. Heat the oven to 350° F. Flatten the small rounds now using a rolling pin. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and keep putting the flattened rounds on it.  Bake it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The gunas get crisper as they cool.

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The gunas are ready!

Another sweet called thekuas can be made from the same dough.

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Small rounds are made of the dough. The colander imprint is made by pressing on the colander.

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These are baked at 350° F for about 15-20 minutes.
My personal choice are the gunas. Hope you like them too!

Posted in -Almonds, -Walnuts, -Whole wheat flour, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Masaledaar Aloo ki sabji

Posted by vivnidhi on December 7, 2007

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Acorn Squash & Potatoes

The acorn squash was sitting there, turning orange by the day……” Why am I being neglected?”, it said, from the top of the refrigerator. Drawing all my attention yet being silent. Yes, I am talking about squash and pumpkin when the title screams potatoes:). The quiet pumpkin (again silently) adds  a lot of taste to my favorite recipe.  So, finally, before it would dry up on me and blame me for its condition, I picked it up. The squash certainly seemed happier, all peeled and cut up next to its dear potatoes. What the leftover squash; saran wrapped and in the refrigerator is saying to me now is another story:)).

Masaledaar aloo ki sabji (poor pumpkin wasn’t even mentioned) was always made in my house to be paired with Calcutta crisp Kachoris (wonder why we named it so but someday I will blog about it too!). Ah! those Sundays when my mother would make them……I would rarely have a count of how many Kachoris I ate or how many times I served the sabji. Now, when I can’t go frying kachoris and eating them often, at least I can indulge in this favorite vegetable gravy. As I was making it, I remembered of the Grindless gravies . This recipe has no grinding involved whatsoever. It uses a few ground masalas found in almost every Indian kitchen.

The most important ingredients here are ginger, heeng (asafoetida),coriander powder and kalonji (nigella seeds). Without kalonji, it just would not taste as good and without coriander powder,  it just won’t get the right consistency and smell. A very informative post about nigella seeds is Mistress of Spices, finally .

The recipe:

Potatoes 2, chopped into bigger pieces
pumpkin about 1 cup, chopped small
ginger 2 Tbsp., chopped up
green chillies 2
tomato 1 (optional)

Masala
Heeng 1/4 tsp.
nigella seeds 3/4 tsp.
cumin seeds 1/4 tsp.
turmeric 1/2 tsp.
red chilli powder 1/4 tsp.
coriander powder 2 heaping Tbsp.
Dry mango powder/amchur 1/2 tsp.
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp.
yogurt 2 Tbsp.

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Heeng in the box & clockwise from left: cumin, nigella seeds, turmeric,red chilli
powder, coriander powder, amchur powder in the center is garam masala

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Chopped up pumpkin, potatoes, ginger and green chillies

Once the masaldaan (a round box with small cups for holding dry masalas)is out and vegetables chopped, we are almost done. First heat the pressure cooker and to 2 tsp. oil add heeng, cumin and nigella seeds.  Once they start to splutter, add yogurt, ginger, green chillies, chopped tomato, turmeric, red chilli and coriander powders. Brown them well, add a Tbsp. of water if need be to prevent the masalas from sticking to the pan. I used canned sliced tomatoes as I didn’t have any fresh ones. Next, add pumpkin and potato along with 1 1/2 cups water and salt and mix well. Close the pressure cooker, put in low medium flame and say the mantra” Fill it, shut it and forget it” You can forget it for upto 30-45 mins but after that you will have to remember it. You could add some water and reheat if the consistency is thicker. After putting the gas off, and when you can open the pressure cooker, mix the contents well, the pumpkin should just dissolve in the gravy.  Add garam masala, amchur powder and garnish with chopped cilantro. You may avoid adding the amchur powder if you find the gravy sour enough.

The sabji goes best with kachoris, but pooris or pranthas  do fine as well.

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Masaledaar Aloo ki Sabji

Posted in -Potatoes | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

The everyday Dal

Posted by vivnidhi on December 1, 2007

Presenting…..The everyday dal

Presenting……..the everyday dal

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of arhar (toor) dal is this everyday dal recipe. I have eaten it, in at least one meal for at least 60% of the days of my life………yeah that boring…………yet so intriguingly delicious that I still make it 4 days a week. So when I read about  Jihva for Toor dal , I thought I should muster courage  to post it for a fellow Michgander.

This recipe is of my favorite basic dal. Right from childhood, we are encouraged to eat the everyday dal in a big katora ( steel bowl) so that we vegetarians get our required amount of protein. I have read a lot of recipes of arhar dal on the internet but my version is the simplest,  emphasising the taste of the dal more than anything else. Even salt and red chilli are miserly used.  The most important thing is heeng (asafoetida), that is what imparts the most distinguishable taste to it.

Recipe:

Initial tempering:
oil 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp

Toor dal 1 cup
water 3 cups
sugar 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

Final tempering
oil (preferably ghee)  2 tsp
asafoetida 1/4 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

The intial tempering ingredients are added directly to the pressure cooker. Once the cumin seeds start crackling, toor dal , water, salt and our secret ingredient: sugar is added.  The dal is then pressure cooked on low-medium heat for at least 45 mins or until 4 whistles, till the dal reaches the consistency of thick pumpkin soup. If the dal is too viscous, some water may be added to achieve the consisitency mentioned. Conversely, if the dal is thin, it can be heated further in an open cooker.

The most important step is the final tempering. In a separate small pan, ghee/ oil is heated. All the ingredients except red chilli powder are added to hot ghee/oil. The chilli powder is added at the end, after the cumin seeds have crackled. The tempering is then added to the dal in the pressure cooker and the lid is closed to retain the smell of the tempering.  And voila……our everyday dal is ready to be enjoyed with roti and rice.  Top it with good “danedaar ghee” and the day is made:)

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Our daily meal: Roti, dal, vegetables and yogurt

Posted in -Arhar (Toor) Dal, The staple | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »