Thursday, February 23, 2012

MLA Pesarattu - Andhra's take on the masala dosa

There are as many stories about how this came to be known as MLA pesarattu as there are variations to this recipe. It is a classic Andhra delight but each recipe is probably as far away from the authentic one based on who you talk to :-). My favorite story is about the MLA getting a preferential treatment in the road side joints in their legislative area, the owner put the ever available upma into the pesarattu with some onions and green chilies thrown in for a good measure of heat to gain the favor of the MLA. What I am not sure is whether he revered the MLA and actually wanted to please him or added all that extra oil in an effort to slowly kill the guy :-) and do a favor to the janta, take your pick.

Pesarattu is a specialized adai made only with moong. I have tasted the pesarattu made with soaked whole green moong or pesalu as it is called but we at home like the quicker and lighter version of the pesarattu made with split moong dal/pesara pappu. Eaten with the upma, this makes for a heavy brunch or a weekend dinner. This batter does not need any fermentation and if you take the help of warm water, you can actually get this entire thing ready in under 2 hours.

The upma made as a combination here is very vanilla as the idea is to have the overpowering taste of the pesarattu over the upma. I usually do not add anything more than onion, green chilies, curry leaves to the upma. See my uppittu recipe if you are looking for an upma that can stand by itself :-). Also the consistency of the upma is a bit more softer than if you were to eat it alone so that it stays put inside the rolled pesarattu.
What do you need to make MLA pesarattu? 
For pesarattu batter: 
2 cups of moong dal/pesara pappu/hesaru bele
1 Tblsp of uncooked rice (I used sona masoori)
1.5 cups water
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 inch piece of ginger root
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
handful of fresh cilantro
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
For Upma: 
1 cup upma rava/sooji
2.5 cups water
2 Tblsp chopped onion
1 green chili chopped
2-3 curry leaves chopped
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tblsp cooking oil

For making pesarattu: 
2-3 Tsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped onions (optional)
1 Tblsp finely chopped green chilies (optional)

How do you make MLA Pesarattu? 
Making of Upma: 
  • Roast the upma rava on medium heat until it turns light golden in color, you can do it on stove top or in the microwave.
  • Make a seasoning of mustard, cumin in oil, once the mustard splutters add green chilies, curry leaves and onions.
  • Fry till onions turn light pink in color.
  • Add the roasted rava and salt.
  • Slowly add water, continuously stirring the rava to avoid any lumps. 
  • Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes until rava is completely cooked and you see a big, soft blob in the pan. 
  • Keep aside until needed. 
Making of Pesarattu batter:
  • Soak the moong dal and rice in 3 times volume of water for about 1-2 hours. Use warm water for soaking to speed up the process.
  • When the dal has plumped up and soft to touch, bring it into a blender/grinder along with the other ingredients except for salt. 
  • Grind to a foamy smooth paste by adding water as needed. The batter is not very runny but should be easy to spread into a dosa. 
  • Add salt and mix well. 
Making the MLA pesarattu: 
  • Heat a flat pan on medium heat, I use my griddle for most of the dosa making at home. 
  • Take a ladleful of the batter and pour it in the center of the pan and quickly spread it out in circular motions. The pesarattu is generally a thicker dosa than the regular ones, so do not worry about making it paper thin. 
  • Spread a few chopped onions and green chilies when the batter is still uncooked.
  • Sprinkle a few drops of oil on top and press down the onions and chilies lightly with your dosa flipper. 
  • Once the dosa is cooked on the bottom, gently reverse it on the pan and cook for a minute.
  • Flip the dosa back. put a big scoop of the upma in the center and fold the pesarattu from both sides. 
  • Traditionally this is served with chutneys such as ginger chutney, tomato chutney or coconut chutney, I served it with ginger chutney. 
Here is a first from Sattvaa kitchen - an effort to capture the process on video. A huge hug to BH for standing by (and relinquishing his self proclaimed quality tester/taster role until the video was done) and also helping with the editing. Hope you enjoy it as much we did making the video..
  • You can use whole green moong instead of moong dal for a slightly heavier meal. 
  • You can add black pepper corns while grinding the batter for a different taste. 
  • You can mix in chopped onions, grated carrots into the batter for flavor.
  • You can skip the upma totally and just eat pesarattu with any chutney of your choice, but then you will be eating the poor man's pesarattu and not the MLA version :-) 
  • Ginger, green chilies are optional in the batter depending on your preference, I love the color cilantro imparts to the batter. 
  • The batter needs to be ground well so that it is almost foamy unlike the coarse batter of the ada dosas.
Note: I leave you to savor the MLA pesarattu while I am off for a week to enjoy a family wedding. I am very excited as this is the first time I am taking part in a traditional Andhra wedding, will bring loads of pictures and authentic recipes from the experts back home.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hesaru Bele Payasa (Moong dal kheer) for Maha Shivaratri

When we were kids, Shivaratri was a festival we looked forward to especially to the night long fun with friends in the name of Jagarane. One of my elementary school friends lived in a street that used to get very active during Shivaratri. Hearing her brag about it every time, I had convinced my parents to let me go there once. Lot of kids of different ages congregated in the evening and after dutifully saying some prayers, we all  split into different age groups and played games. The night started with very active games but as everyone became tired and sleepy, it mellowed down. There was a collective snack area with cucumber slices, puri/puffed rice, sweets, savories etc from different houses available to all of us. We ate, played and slept by 1 or 2am returning home after sun rise.

As kids, we were not keen on the Upavasa or fasting part of Shivaratri, at home nammamma kept fast the whole day breaking it by eating only a sample of prasada in the night after pooja.

Shivaratri is celebrated when India is already into Summer and as befits the Lord, the offerings are very simple unlike most other Indian festivals where food takes the center stage. Typical fare on Shivaratri day would consist of gojjavalakki (tamarind poha), payasa (kheer), kosambari (salad) and tambittu (sweet made with rice powder, jaggery). I made only hesaru bele (moong dal) payasa and kosambari (salad with cucumber) for the naivedya (offering to God) today.

Moong dal is known for its cooling effect on the body, boiled to tender in milk and mixed with jaggery, it is one of the easy to make and delicious sweets and happens to be my daughter's favorite. Kosambari is a very popular salad and can be made in many different variations. The kannadiga kosambaris usually have raw soaked lentils (either moong dal or chana dal) with either finely chopped cucumbers or grated carrots along with fresh grated coconuts and a seasoning to bring out the flavors.
What do you need to make Hesaru Bele Payasa? 
1 cup hesaru bele/moong dal
3 cups milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup water
1.5 cups of grated jaggery or brown sugar
1 small piece of cinnamon
1 Tsp cardamom powder

1 Tsp ghee/clarified butter
1 Tblsp raisins
1 Tblsp broken cashew nuts

How do you make Hesaru bele payasa? 
  • Wash the dal in running water, bring it to boil in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup milk on medium heat.
  • Boil the dal  along with the cinnamon piece until it is tender and just starts to open up.
  • Add the remaining milk and jaggery, let the mixture boil for about 15-20 minutes until the milk thickens and a uniform consistency is formed.
  • Add the cardamom powder and switch off. 
  • Prepare seasoning - heat the ghee, add raisins and cashew pieces and fry till raisins plump up and cashew turns light brown. 
  • Mix the seasoning in to the payasa, it should of pouring consistency.
  • Serve hot or cold, it tastes great both ways. 
We had ours with the cucumber kosambari after the naivedya this evening. 

Here is a beautiful description of Shivaratri by Swamy Chinmayananda:  
“Have you observed nature? She specializes in destroying, but her destructions are always constructive destructions; the bud is destroyed when the flower blooms, the flower fades when the fruit emerges, the fruit decays when the seeds are scattered and the seeds decay when the plants sprout! The process of constructive destruction IS ‘SIVA’. Thus Sivarathri means the EGO is destroyed in the discovery of the Divine!

Sattvaa wishes every one a very Happy Maha Shivaratri

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Boodu kumbalakaayi (Ash gourd)Majjige Huli

What is one dish you will always find in all Kannadiga festivals and functions? yep Majjige Huli. It has its coordinates well defined in a festival platter and takes the center portion of the top half of the banana leaf in a traditional meal. Majjige ~ buttermilk, Huli ~ sour, although huli also means sambar in kannada I like to go with the meaning sour on this one because the main ingredient for majjige huli is sour curds/yogurt. This goes by various names such as mor kuzambu, majjiga pulusu, dahi kadhi etc along with regional variations to the basic recipe. This is made with sour yogurt/curds and can be made with different vegetables like ash gourd/winter melon, okra/bendekaayi/bendakaya, bottle gourd, chayote squash, palak greens.. you get the point. Nammamma never mixed the vegetables and used only one at a time. Amma makes multi veggie majjiga pulusu which is delicious too, this however uses different ingredients from what I am going to show today, I will post majjiga pulusu on another day.

Though majjige huli is made from a variety of vegetables, boodu kumbala kaayi or ash gourd majjige huli is a favorite, the combination of this vegetable in the tangy gravy is a match made in heaven and easily takes the crown away from the other versions. The porous structure of the vegetable helps soak up the gravy well and you can taste it with every bite. 

One of my uncles lived in North India and every time during their annual visit, we used to have this majjige huli on the menu as it was my aunt's favorite. She preferred my dad's preparation of this dish and would work through nammamma to let know of her liking for a thicker majjige huli as she wouldn't dare tell that directly to my father (as he was her husband's elder brother) :-)). The thickness of the gravy depends on the amount of chana dal you use as it tends to add bulk to the gravy on boiling and cooling. I like a creamy, pouring consistency which slowly drips onto your plate which can then be mixed with rice or dunked in by rotis. 
What do you need to make Majjige huli? 
1.5 cups sour yogurt/curds, 2 days old tastes good :-), use sour cream as a poor replacement 
Ash gourd - peeled, de-seeded and cut into bite size pieces about 2 cups
1/2 Tsp turmeric
1 Tblsp salt

Ingredients for masala:
1.5 Tblsp chanadal/kadle bele soaked in water for an hour or till it softens & swells up
1 Tblsp grated coconut - fresh or frozen
4-5 green chilies, adjust to taste, you will need more chilies if your yogurt is sour
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
1 Tsp cumin seeds
A handful of cilantro/coriander leaves
1 Tsp cooking oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1 red chili broken into 2 pieces
1/2 Tsp asafoetida
How do you make majjige huli?
  • Boil the ash gourd pieces in water, turmeric and salt till the pieces are soft to touch. 
  • Prepare masala by grinding all ingredients under masala with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Pour the masala into the pan with ash gourd, let it come to a gentle boil.
  • Whisk the curds till smooth and add it to the gravy and let it boil once before switching it off. 
  • Prepare vaggarane by heating oil, add mustard, cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves and red chilies and wait for mustard & cumin to splutter.
  • Pour the sizzling vaggarane on top of the majjige huli. 
  • Serve it hot or cold with rice or rotis. 
  • The amount of chana dal changes the consistency of the final product, I like this proportion in my gravy, adjust to suit your taste.
  • Majjige huli tastes best when the yogurt is sour, do not use fresh curds in this recipe.
  • Add the masala as soon the vegetable pieces are just cooked since ash gourd cooks further when you boil it with masala. The vegetable being high in water content tends to dissolve with prolonged boiling.
  • Do not boil for long after adding the whisked yogurt as it will curdle with heat and spoils the creamy texture of the majjige huli.
  • As I said before use sour cream in the dire situation you don't have curds but my tip is to beg and borrow some home made curds if you can - I know this sounds extreme but I am extremely partial to home made curds and the taste it imparts to the majjige huli.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kalakand - Perfect sweet for celebrations

There was (is?) a bakery/sweet shop in Rajajinagar I block in Bengaluru called Eishwarya sweets, he had an upstairs kitchen where he prepared fresh, delicious sweets and savories. I had tasted kalakand for the first time here with BH. The store has morphed a lot and the last time I saw, it still was on the same street, but looking very different and modernized :-). I also like the kalakand you get at Asha sweets in Malleswaram, Bengaluru (very close to the famous Malleswaram 8th street), it is a narrow, small shop always crowded and has one of the best kalakand I have tasted. Years back during my IISc days, I used to get rasgollas packed in earthen pots and take it home to Mysore for my little nephew. I visited the store with daughter & a friend last summer and fell in love with their delicious Badami haalu (almond milk).

Kalakand is BH's favorite sweet, and we usually end up getting some fresh kalakand along with other goodies every time we visit India. The simplicity of the sweet is in the number of ingredients it uses - just two if you don't count the lemon/lime juice for making the paneer. The process is time consuming but the end result is extremely gratifying. There is not much chance you will miss the consistency like the traditional burfis, so it is a beginner friendly recipe. The milky richness makes it a perfect dessert for any occasion.
So here goes a perfect bite of Kalakand to wish BH many many Happy returns of the day as he turns another year wiser & older. 
What do you need to make Kalakand? 
6 cups whole milk for paneer
6 cups whole milk for the khova
Juice of 1 lemon/lime
1 cup sugar (adjust if you like it more or less sweet)
chopped unsalted pistachio/slivered almonds for garnish (optional - I didn't use it)

How do you make Kalakand? 
Making Paneer:
  • Take 6 cups of milk in a thick bottom pan, bring it to boil.
  • Add the lemon juice and let the milk curdle. 
  • When you see milk & whey separating in the pan, switch off the stove and let it settle for 2 minutes. 
  • Pour the curdled milk into a cheese cloth (I used a new thin white towel) and let the water drain away.
  • Wash the mixture by running water on it to remove the lemony flavor, squeeze the cloth tightly and hang it for about 5 minutes. 
  • Crumble the paneer and keep it aside.

Making Khova:
  • Take 6 cups of milk in a thick bottom pan on medium heat. 
  • Frequently stirring the milk to ensure it doesn't burn, until it reduces to about 1/3rd of the original quantity. 
  • Keep breaking the layers of milk that forms at the top and mix it in. 
  • The process took an hour and half for the quantity I made today. 
Making kalakand:
  • When the khova is ready, add the crumbled paneer and sugar.
  • Frequently stir on low heat until all the water content evaporates. It took 15 minutes for the quantity I made today.
  • Pour into a plate in a thick (atleast an inch) layer and spread it evenly.
  • Garnish with nuts, I didn't do it as we like the pure taste of the milk with no make up.
  • Let it cool completely before cutting into pieces. I made 12 pieces of 2X2X2 inches.

  • Use whole milk for the rich taste.
  • If you like the hint of lemon juice in kalakand, skip washing the paneer with water.
  • Do not take short cuts and use store bought paneer in this recipe. The dish gets the tasty glow from fresh paneer. Actually making paneer is a very fulfilling experience and I hit that high note every time I open the cheese cloth and see the perfect ball of paneer staring at me :-), take a look at it below..

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cookies with a secret - Celebrate Valentine's day with a kiss

Happy Valentine's day everyone! I know the post is kinda last minute but my excuse is that I am on the west coast and the day has not yet begun for me. For all others that are ahead of me, hope your valnetine's day turned out well and is going well.

I think about why some food items become a hit while some do not though they both taste very good. As in any other visual media, presentation is what clinches the final score. I believe presenting a food right is as important as the love of labor that goes into the creation of the food itself.  So while I am working on taking the pictures in the right light, settings and with props, I borrowed a simple recipe from Taste of Home recipe collections which has both the looks & the taste to touch your heart :-). I have modified the original recipe a little (reduced the butter & confectioner sugar from the original). Talk about magazine clippings all over the house.

Personally, we don't make a big deal of Valentine's day or go out on the celebration, it passes like any other ordinary day but keeping in the spirit of Valentine day celebrations going on around me (both in the physical & virtual world), here I am with a cookie wrapped around a kiss (I mean the Hershey's kind).
What do you need to make the Valentine cookies? 
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups All purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (go ahead & use almonds or cashews if you feel like)
18 kisses chocolates
1/2 cup of confectioner sugar (use powdered sugar alternatively)
1 Tblsp cocoa (I used unsweetened)
1 Tsp vanilla extract

How do you make the Valentine cookies?
  • Cream the butter, sugar & vanilla extract until light and fluffy. 
  • Fold in the chopped nuts and mix. 
  • Add the flour and mix well.
  • Knead the dough for a minute. 
  • Cover the dough with a plastic cling and refrigerate for about 45 mins to an hour or until it is firm.
  • Pinch a small ball of the dough and flatten it on your palm, put a chocolate kiss in the center and shape the dough around the kiss.
  • Repeat until you finish all the dough. 
  • Place the wrapped balls in a baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 10 - 12 minutes, take them out before they turn brown. 
  • Sift the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder together in a wide plate.
  • Roll the warm cookies in the mixture and set it to cool completely. 
We liked the crumbly texture of the cookie with crunchy walnuts and the hidden kiss inside, I am sure kids will enjoy this for any of their parties.

Fair warning: One of these cookies is sufficient to tip the balance of the scale to the wrong side, so go easy on them..
A Very Happy Wedding Anniversary to my Amma & Nanandi who tied the knot many years ago on the Valentine's day and have kept it strong. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Badam mithai or Almond Burfi

Some people have a sweet tooth and some prefer savory stuff, I am bracketed into the second category. Growing up I never cared much for sweets as long as I had my deep fried snacks and hot, spicy pickles and used to give a hard time to nammamma on festivals not even touching the sweets she made. On one of those occasions, anna (my father) said simply, 'Don't refuse sweets, you will be refusing the sweetness in life', and it had a big impact. I don't say no to sweets now even if I eat a little bit of it and I honestly believe what he was saying was not to blindly refuse something I thought I didn't like but to go out and try everything life had to offer, may be I am reading too much into his simple words but for me my dad has been the greatest role model and I miss him..

Funnily though, over the years I have developed a strong liking to some sweets and all of a sudden crave for something sweet especially after a heavy lunch on a weekend, I have had my other friends & sister tell me they experience it too, may be it is a female thing..And the craving is so bad that I have to have something sweet. I like dark chocolates and keep them handy for those crazy moments. Other than me, everybody at home love sweets, especially amma. She is more of a jaggery sweet person and goes about adding jaggery to everything and she has been after me since last month to add more sweet dishes on the blog, and finally here I am with my second sweet on Sattvaa.
When I was not a blogger and didn't even have a thought about food blogging, one day I happened to stumble on Indira's Mahanandi with the help of Google. I was hooked to the pictures and her way of bringing a dish to life on the internet. When I thought of creating my own food blog, I remembered Indira and went back to see what was happening on Mahanandi, looks like she is taking a break. I wish her the very best in whatever her current pursuits are. She has blogged about Badam burfi, if you want to look at her version of it.

Burfis are very tasty and easy to make if you give them the right amount of TLC (tender loving care) and complete attention they expect out of you, avoid multi tasking with the sweet recipes. Nammamma & my SIL are experts in making melt in the mouth mysore pak and badam burfi respectively. I am a very later bloomer in this genre, infact, until recently I used tell my family they would get halwa on a good day and burfi on a better day when I set out to make it :-), I do believe I have come close to getting the elusive consistency right. So here is an easy to make, delicious and packed with nutrition - Badam burfi.

What do you need to make Badam burfi?
3 cups badam/almonds
2 and 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
A generous pinch of cardamom powder
4-5 drops of ghee/clarified butter

How do you make Badam burfi?
  • Soak almonds in hot water for 30-45 minutes.
  • Remove the skin of almonds by giving the soaked nuts a gentle squeeze between your fingers.
  • Spread them in a single layer on paper towels/dry cloth until the moisture is gone and the nuts feel dry to touch. 
  • Make a powder by pulsing them in your blender, don't grind as the nuts turn into a paste with their oils. 
  • Heat a heavy, thick bottom pan on medium heat, add water & sugar and bring them a boil. 
  • Keep stirring until you get the sugar syrup of the right consistency - after about 15 minutes, put a couple of drops of the syrup into a bowl with cold water, if the sugar turns into a soft ball the syrup is ready, else keep stirring it further. 
  • After many trials & errors, I have realized that the soft ball consistency is reached a little before the single thread consistency, so when you lift the syrup with the ladle and let it drop it should not be threading yet. 
  • As soon as you see the syrup ready, pour the almond and cardamom  powder into it and keep stirring continuously. 
  • Within 5-7 minutes, you will see the mixture leaving the sides of your pan, pour the mixture into a ghee smeared plate/tray and spread it evenly. 
  • Draw lines with a knife to get desired shapes of the burfi. 
  • Let the burfi cool completely before cutting them.  
  • Because of the grainy texture of my almond powder, the burfi looked similar to the kobbari mithai.  I plan to make the powder a little more smooth next time.
  • I haven't added any ghee except to prepare the plate but you can add ghee if you like a richer taste. 

  • Do the entire process in medium to medium low heat, keep your focus on the syrup and use a thick bottom pan. 
  • If you missed the consistency of the syrup and went to threading stage, add a couple of Tblsp of water to start the process over, but do not do this more than once as you might as well resign to the fact of eating a 'not burfi looking' sweet :-)
  • Once you pour the burfi into the greased plate, wet your hands in cold water and gently coax the mixture to spread evenly to the edges of the plate, you will get a natural moisturizer to your hands - one of the fringe benefits of of this exercise. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Methi Muthia - snack from Gujarat

I love Gujarati food, the first time I ever tasted a Gujarati meal was at this restaurant near Edison in NJ called Jhupdi which my brother & SIL took me to. It has been years and I still remember how I fell in love with their Undhiyu, I can feel the taste of it on my tongue even now :-), well you know what I mean.. There is a small family run eatery in Fremont, CA called Krishna and they serve you a Gujarati Thali just like one you might get if you visited someone's home. The phulkas are soft, fresh and directly from the tawa. I relish everything in a Gujarati thali except for the rasam which is too sweet for my taste.

A few years back, one of my colleagues S got married, he is from Ahmadabad and his wife was a sweet, young girl who was just out of college. When we had a pot luck at work, she had made sheera (sweet sooji pudding) and doodhi/bottlegourd muthias and sent it with S. They were both gone in such a hurry that people really wanted to meet the cook behind the delicious dishes. The moment I see/taste a new dish, I go after the recipe and asked S to get the recipe and to my surprise next day when I went to work, he handed me this very meticulously typed instructions from dear E to make the yummy muthias. I still have that print out in my collection of recipes but don't need to refer to it anymore as I have made it so many times and know it by heart. Thanks E for the delicious muthias and generous sharing of a family recipe.

I have made changes to E's original recipe to suit the way we like it and I experiment with the vegetables since I am confident now of the basic recipe. I know this is a traditional recipe and here is my way of making the delicious Methi muthias as I love methi to bits :-).
What do you need to make Methi muthias?
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup basan/chick pea flour/gram flour/kadle hittu
1/2 cup fine sooji/chiroti rava
1 cup chopped fresh methi leaves/fenugreek leaves
11/2 cups grated bottle gourd
2 Tblsp fresh ginger+green chilies paste (I used about 5 green chilies and an inch of ginger root and pounded them together in mortar-pestle)
1 Tblsp salt
2 Tblsp cooking oil
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp sugar

For Tadka/vaggarane:
1 Tblsp cooking oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp white sesame seeds
3-4 curry leaves

How do you make Methi Muthias?
  • Mix the grated bottle gourd, methi and salt in a wide bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze out the vegetables and keep the water aside, this is very nutritious and you can use it in any of your soups, gravies etc.
  • Mix ginger-green chilies paste, sugar, baking soda and oil with the vegetables.
  • Add the wheat flour, basan and chiroti rava into the bowl and mix it to get a soft mass. 
  • Your exact amount of dry flours depend on the water content from the bottle gourd, so adjust them - I keep the wheat flour and basan equal and sooji at half the other two as we like the taste better with this proportion. 
  • Squeeze out big tennis ball size of the mixed dough and roll them into thick logs. 
  • Arrange them in your pressure cooker vessel and steam (no weight) for 30 minutes on medium heat. 
  • Let the cooked logs cool down before cutting them into 1/2 inch thick discs.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan and add mustard, sesame seeds and curry leaves into it. 
  • Once the mustard and sesame seeds splutter, add the cut muthia discs into it. 
  • Keep the heat on medium and stirring occasionally roast the muthias until they turn light brown. 
  • Serve it with your choice of chutney/dip. 

  • Add palak/spinach instead of or in addition to methi leaves. 
  • Change the proportion of the flours - wheat flour makes muthias dense, rava turns them crisper and basan is for the taste, adjust to suit your taste.
  • You can use grated carrots, finely chopped onion in muthias. 
  • Squeeze the water content as much as you can out of the bottle gourd and keep it aside, I prefer to add the water later if needed than having to end up with an liquidy paste that will consume lot of dry flours and leave you with large portions of bland muthias :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hearty lunch - Gobi Para(n)tha or parotta

In our house, rice & roti are equally respected. Being the south Indians that we are, rice is staple and we covet all our rice varieties and the side dishes that go with it, at the same time all kinds of rotis, parathas, pooris, naans are regular fare in my kitchen. Parottas as we called it were elaborate preparations and nammamma made some really yummy potato parottas. But her repertoire of parottas stopped with potatoes since she didn't use Gobi.

I think Parottas/Parathas make one of the heartiest meals and use different vegetables (some stuffed, some blended into the dough) and lentils/dals depending on what is available in my pantry. Parathas also make for a good cleaning recipe, it has the power to turn stray vegetables lying in your refrigerator into a tasty, filling meal :-).

My daughter had a long day today with after school clubs and sports practice lined up and since it was busy at work for me too, I planned to make Gobi/cauliflower parathas for her lunch. Lunch is referred to the before sunset meal she has after school which is any time between 3 - 5pm depending on her activities. She has 'the lunch' whenever she gets home from school. As we were going to be driving, I wanted to make something she could easily chomp off without it getting messy in the car. So the Gobi in the refrigerator came to the rescue. I wrapped the hot parathas in aluminium foil, mixed the curd & pickle in a small container and she finished it as we drove to the practice field.

Though roti making seems time consuming, a little bit of planning goes a long way and parathas are very good make ahead recipes too. They tend to remain soft and delicious even if you were to eat it after they cool down. There is a lot in this recipe that can be made ahead and you can prepare fresh, hot parathas as needed if you have prepped it, so go ahead and give this delicious recipe a try for a quick meal or a leisurely one.
What do you need to make Gobi parathas? 
Paratha stuffing: 
1 medium sized cauliflower - florets separated and grated
1 medium sized potato - boiled, peeled and mashed (optional)
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp red chili powder
1 Tsp garam masala powder
1/2 Tsp amchoor/dry mango powder(optional)
1 Tsp dry kasoori methi
Roti Dough: 
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup water (adjust to get the consistency described below)
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp cooking oil

For the parathas: 
Wheat flour to dust
2 Tblsp cooking oil

How do you make Gobi parathas?
Stuffing preparation:
  • Heat a pan, put the grated gobi, salt and cook it covered on medium heat for about 5 minutes
  • Add the spices, mashed potatoes and let it all cook until the water evaporates and the gobi is cooked. 
  • Taste and adjust the spices, switch off and let it come to room temperature.
  • Make lemon sized balls from the mixture, cover and keep it aside until needed.  
Paratha dough preparation: 
  • Take the wheat flour and salt in a wide bowl, mix it dry to incorporate the salt. 
  • Add water little by little to make a soft, pliable dough
  • Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, smear oil, cover and set it aside for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Make lemon sized balls from the dough, remember you will need as many dough balls as you have the stuffing balls. 
One on top is already stuffed, the bottom 2 rows are ready for stuffing
Paratha preparation: 
  • Smear a drop of oil on the palm of your left hand, take a dough ball and spread it out to fill your palm.
  • Put the stuffing in the middle and pull the dough gently on top to cover the stuffing completely. 
  • Roll this gently between your palms and set it in a plate, seam side down. 
  • Repeat the process until you have used up the dough & stuffing. 
  • If you have extra stuffing, plop it into the mouth and enjoy the veggie goodness. If you have extra dough, you can roll them into plain rotis/chapathis. 
  • If I am making all the prep at the same time as preparing the paratha, at this stage I usually cover the prepared paratha balls and put them in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, so they firm up and not open when you roll them. 
  • If you are prepping ahead like I did today, you can do all the steps upto this stage and put them in the refrigerator until needed - Make sure you have wrapped the balls completely in plastic wraps so they don't dry. 
  • Roll the prepared paratha balls, dusting with wheat flour as needed to a 1/2 inch thick, uniform circle.
  • Transfer the rolled paratha to a hot tawa or griddle and roast both sides till golden brown by dropping a few drops of oil on top. 
  • Serve hot Gobi parathas with Yogurt/curd and pickle or your choice of side dish.  

  • I like to preserve the natural taste of Gobi in the parathas, so I usually go easy on the spices. You can add/change the spices to suit your taste. 
  • The gobi mixture needs to cook well for best taste in addition to becoming dry, do the cooking on medium heat. 
  • I make the paratha dough slightly more pliable than regular rotis for easy handling. Use warm water to get a softer paratha. 
  • As I mentioned before, this is a great make ahead recipe and you can keep these ready in the fridge for upto 24-30 hours. 
  • Addition of potato to the stuffing helps bind the mixture and makes it easy to handle, you can skip this if you want to. 
  • Making a stuffed paratha is a skill but you don't have to shy away from trying it, keep the dough pliant, the dough ball a slight bit bigger than the stuffing and use oil as needed to close the stuffing. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super 'Guacamole' bowl for the 2012 Giants game

Well, the biggest game of the season came to a nail biting finale yesterday and it was a good game between the Giants and the Patriots. I am not a sport fanatic, never played any serious sport during school years. Coming from India, cricket was a way of life especially sandwiched between two brothers that held transistor radio to the ears during the matches. I married into a family where I can very easily call everyone as hard core cricket fans, amma cooks a single pot dish and puts it on the table when India is playing those crucial matches so no-one needs to miss a moment of excitement. BH having played in the varsity games during college and my FIL being the consultant he is have a ton of opinion to give to the entire Indian cricket team every time they play, not that anybody is listening or there is any dearth of opinion :-). I have stayed on the border where I can relish a quick one day or 20-20 but have no patience for the test matches. The cricket fever has reduced over the years as life took over but we like to watch a good game on a diaspora of sports.

Super bowl takes you over if you live in a place with a strong local team which is what happened to us when we were in the Midwest, last few years have seen Indianapolis Colts becoming Champions in 2007 and playing strongly though they lost in 2010. It was a let down to watch the dismal season of Colts this year as they came nowhere close to the big game, however Indianapolis got itself ready for hosting the Superbowl 2012. Honestly, yesterday's game was exciting and worth watching even without the Colts, we decided to support the Giants because of Eli Manning :-).

As Sunday morning turned out busy running errands and also since we had a heavy lunch, I made the super easy, super delicious, super healthy Guacamole with the avocados :-).  

Avocado is a fruit native to Central Mexico and is a super healthy food because of its high mono saturated fat content. It is hailed as nature's butter and has more potassium than bananas and is rich in Vitamins B, E & K. Avocados finds its way into many dishes in my kitchen. This guacamole recipe is my way of recreating our favorite 'Chipotle' at home, this is a crowd pleaser and 'no-guilt' dip that can be made at home in a jiffy. I make this quite often and for no reason. 
What do you need to make Guacamole?
2 ripe avocados - pitted and the flesh scooped
1 small firm, ripe tomato - chopped fine
1/4 red onion - chopped fine to make about 1.5 Tblsp
handful of fresh cilantro - chopped fine
1/2 jalapeno pepper/any other green chili - chopped fine
Juice of 1 lemon/lime
1Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp sugar
1/2 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
How do you make Guacamole? 
Scoop out the flesh of avocado and mash it with a fork/spoon. Mix in the remaining ingredients till well blended. Cover with a wrap and set it aside for 30 mins for the flavors to work together. Serve it with your choice of crackers, chips, tortillas and the like.
  • Choose the avocados right - they should be soft to touch with no bruises on the body
  • Make an incision around the avocado (vertically or horizontally) and turn the fruit around this incision to get the 2 halves, removing the pit becomes easy and you can scoop the fruit out with a spoon.
  • Once you have mixed the ingredients, if you cover it with a thin plastic wrap (cling wraps), it will retain the gorgeous green color for hours. The lemon/lime juice helps prevent the oxidization and you can definitely make this much before your party starts.