Mixed Vegetable Pulav

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On one of our train travels in India we happened to buy a box of Vegetable Biryani from a vendor who was selling it on the train. Surprisingly this was very delicious! If you have travelled on a train in India then you know that train food, especially food from the IRCTC pantry cart is something to be wary off! The food is barely edible.. I am hoping that they have improved ever since..However, the external vendors that sell food on the trains in the multiple stations do offer much more variety and tasty food. Not sure how hygienic these are, but for the most part the packaging looks good and food is pretty delicious. My daughter usually loves the Mixed Veg Biryani..she often asks me to make it just like “How it is on the train” when I make it at home. For me making pulav is easy because it is a one pot meal and I have mastered it enough that it does not take me more than 15 minutes to make it :-)
This weekend I bought green beans, carrots and cauliflower fresh from the Farmer’s market. The produce was so fresh that I did not feel like putting it into the refrigerator..wanted to use it right away :-) So Vegetable Pulav it was…

Follow this recipe to the “T” and I guarantee you a delicious rice recipe that you will keep coming back to :-)

Mixed Vegetable Pulav

Mixed Vegetable Pulav

You will need:

3 cups Rice – For Basmati rice use 1 cup rice to 1.5 cup water ratio; For Sona Masoori rice use 1 cup rice to 2 cups water ratio
1/2 cup Fresh Green Beans – String, wash and chop into finger sized pieces
2 Carrots – Peel, Wash and Chop into small pieces
1/4 head Cauliflower – Break into florets and wash
Fresh Green Peas – 1/2 cup (USe frozen if fresh is not available)
3 Medium Onions – Peel, Wash and Chop lengthwise
a few small pieces Cinnamon
3 cloves
4 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

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For the Masala paste:
1 handful Fresh Mint leaves
1 handful Fresh Cilantro
3 tbsp Fresh grated Coconut (if using frozen, thaw before using)
3 pods garlic – Peel
a small piece ginger
a few small pieces of cinnamon
2 cloves
10 Green chillies (adjust accordingly, this recipe is for a medium spicy Pulav)

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Combine all of the above and grind into a smooth paste with 1/2 cup water in a food processor or blender. Keep aside.

Method:
1. Wash and soak the rice in water for about 1/2 hour.

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2. Prepare the Masala paste as above.
3. Chop all the vegetables as above.
4. In a Pressure cooker or Pressure pan, heat the oil. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Saute for 2 minutes.

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5. Add the chopped onions and saute until light golden brown.

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6. Add the chopped veggies and mix well. Saute for a few minutes. Meanwhile drain the water from the soaked rice. Add the rice to the vegetables and saute for about 5 minutes.

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7. Add the masala paste, salt to taste and mix well. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

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8. Add water (6 cups for 3 cups as mentioned above). Mix well. Cover with the pressure cooker lid and allow 1 whistle. Turn off the stove and move to a cooler spot until the all pressure is relieved from the pan/cooker.

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9. Open the lid, mix gently and well. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot with raita.

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Thanks for stopping by :-)

Weekend Cooking – Bhel Puri

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This weekend was busy with catching up on a lot of household chores. Cooking was actually not one of my priorities – we made do with Cereal and Oats for breakfast, a quick sandwich meal on Saturday and a quick one pot Vegetable Pulav on Sunday. On Saturday evening though I did make a quick snack for my daughter – Bhel Puri – A very popular Indian street snack..simple to put togther if you have all the ingredients handy. Life is much easier nowadays with several brands of Bhel mixes available in the market. I still prefer making my green and sweet tamarind chutney’s at home. Somehow the store bought varieties are a little stale to taste. These chutney’s can be made and stored ahead of time to be used whenever you need to make a quick snack.

 

Delicious and Crunchy Bhel Puri

Delicious and Crunchy Bhel Puri

You will need:
Muri or Mamra – 4 cups (I usually roast the mamra in a pan without any oil for a few minutes on a low flames. This makes the mamra crunchy, especially if it is soft or stale and has been sitting in your pantry for a while.)
Roasted Peanuts – 1 handful
Roasted channa dal (chutney dal) – 2 tbsp
Any spicy mixture – 1 tbsp (optional)
1 medium Onion – Chopped fine
1 medium Tomato – Chopped fine
1 small Potato – Boil, peel and cube
1 small Carrot – grated (I did not have any at home that evening, but I usually add this in my bhel , it tastes great and is veyr nutritious)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
Green Chutney – 2 tbsp (or according to taste) – Recipe below
Sweet Tamarind Chutney – 1 tbsp (or according to taste)- Recipe below

For Garnishing: Chopped cilantro and Fine Sev (store bought)
Method: Mix all of the above in a large mixing bowl. Garnish with sev and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Yummy Bhel Puri

Yummy Bhel Puri

For the Green Chutney:
1 small bunch Cilantro – Wash
1 small bunch Fresh mint leaves – Wash
1 handful spinach leaves – Wash
1 medium Onion – Peel and Chop
1 medium Tomato – Wash and Chop
5 Green chillies – Wash
1 small piece ginger – Wash and Peel
Salt to taste

Grind all of the above into a smooth paste with some water. This chutney stores for 1 week in the refrigerator and can be used as a spread on any bread/roti also.
For the Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
2 large Golf ball sized Tamarind – Soak in 4 cups of water
4 Pitted Dates – Soak with the tamarind
3 tbsp Jaggery
1 small piece ginger – grated
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Amchur or Dry Mango powder
2 tsp Black Salt or Kala namak
In a blender, grind the grated ginger, soaked dates powdered jaggery together. Squeeze the tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind. Add the jaggery, date and ginger paste to the thich tamarind pulp. Add black salt, amchur and red chilli powder. Boil on stove top until the sweet chutney is thick and reduced to half the quantity. Cool and refrigerate. This can be stored for atleast 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Will be posting my Mixed Vegetable Pulav recipe shortly :-) Thanks for stopping by.

Comfort Food – A Simple South Indian meal

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After 10 days of vacationing and a lot of eating out, its time for comfort food at home. My kids wanted to eat some simple home cooked comfort food (which rarely happens!!) much like how my little 1 year old and 3.5 year old nephews eat. So on the menu today is Rice with plain dal, instant garlic rasam and green beans curry (Beans Poriyal in Tamil, Beans Kobbari Koora in Telugu, Beans Palya in Kannada).

Comfort Food - Rice, Dal, Garlic Rasam and Green Beans Curry

Comfort Food – Rice, Dal, Garlic Rasam and Green Beans Curry

For the dal:

1 cup Toor Dal

Pressure cook the dal with some turmeric, salt and 2 small pods of garlic (optional) in a pressure cooker for 4 or 5 whistles with enough water. After done mash and serve hot with rice.

For the Garlic Rasam:

2 medium Tomatoes – Wash and chop roughly
2 green chillies
a few sprigs cilantro
3 pods garlic
a few curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Rasam powder
Salt to taste

Ingredients for Garlic Rasam

Ingredients for Garlic Rasam

1. Combine all of the above, except the powder and grind coarsely by adding a little water.

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2. Add the turmeric, rasam powder and salt. Add some water from the above cooked dal (if you have some water saved or just use plain water). Mix well. And simmer on stove top for about 5 minutes. Serve hot with rice. Trust me this rasam is so simple yet so addictive you will end up drinking it instead of eating it  :- )

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For the Beans Curry:

2 cups Fresh Green Beans – String, wash and chop fine
2 Green chillies – Wash and slit lengthwise
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
a few curry leaves
Seasoning ingredients: 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp urad dal, hing (asafoetida)
1 tsp Fresh grated coconut(or frozen coconut thawed) for garnishing
Salt to taste
2 tsp Oil

Ingredients for Green Beans Curry

Ingredients for Green Beans Curry

1. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the seasoning ingredients and allow the mustard seeds to splutter. Add the curry leaves and hing.

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2. Add the chopped green beans, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Add about 1/2 cup water and mix well.Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes or until all the water is evaporated and the curry is dry.

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3. Garnish with grated coconut and serve hot.

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Green Beans Curry

Green Beans Curry

Note: Many of my friends have asked me how my green vegetable (beans, broccoli, asparagus, gavar etc.) remain so green after cooking. I have seen when several people cook green beans it looses its fresh green look and looks a pale dull green which is not veyr apealing to the palate. I cant remember where I read this but many years back, I read that adding some turmeric powder along with green vegeable helps it retain its color. Also ensure that you do not add too much water.

Simple Comfort Food

Simple Comfort Food

Fresh Coconut – Mustard Rice aka Kai Saasive Anna

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Back from a vacation that went by too fast, I am reliving some of the wonderful memories with family as we upload pictures. I have several exciting posts that I want to write about, with all the pictures that I have taken :-) However, that will have to wait for now, I am on just 4 hours of sleep and a lot of caffeine..trying to get through my day so I can rest.
Digging out a old picture from my picture file and posting one of my favorite, yet simple rice dishes today to keep this blog going :-)

Coconut-Mustard Rice or Kai Saasive Anna, a typical Karnataka speciality..this rice is simple to make and very tasty to eat, the texture of the coconut with the sharp flavor of the mustard makes it a delicious rice dish for a quick bite on any day.

Kai Saasive Anna

Kai Saasive Anna

You will need:

Rice – 2 cups; I use Sona Masoori, 1 cup rice to 2 cups or 2.5 cups water ratio
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Salt to taste

For seasoning:
Oil – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) – 1/2 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Channa Dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves
a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)

For Garnishing:
Cashews – a small handful; Roast in butter in ghee or butter until light golden brown
Cilantro – Fresh; Wash and chop fine
For the paste:
Fresh grated coconut (or frozen, ensure you thaw before using) – 1/2 cup
3 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tbsp Jaggery (Gur)
4 Dry Red chillies
2 Green chillies
Salt to taste

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Grind all of the above to a smooth paste without adding any water. Keep aside.

Method:
1. Cook the rice in an electric cooker. Cool in a large mixing bowl.
2. To this rice add a pinch of turmeric powder and salt to taste.
3. In a pan heat the oil. Add the seasoning ingredients; Allow the mustard seeds to splutter, add the cumin seeds (Jeera) and other ingredients and saute until the dals are golden brown.
4. Turn off the stove, add the paste from above to the seasoning and mix.
5. Mix the seasoning mixture to the rice. Mix gently and well.
6. Garnish with ghee roasted cashews and chopped cilantro. Serve hot.

Dinner and a Movie (s) – Series 3

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This past weekend we had a chance to catch up on two movies. You can tell that we have busy catching up on a bunch of movies :-)

The first was “Highway” – a 2013/2014 movie starring Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda. We have seen Alia Bhatt’s “Student of the year” which is all glamour and zero storyline (even though my kids love it for all the songs, color and brands!!); However, Highway is the opposite spectrum, totally no glamour kind off movie..a nice storyline where the protagonist i.e Alia Bhatt in the role of Veera is abducted by a notorious gang. Randeep Hooda (I love his intensity!!) in the role of Mahabir Batti is her abductor and is a person with a violent and bitter past because of which he is what he is today – rude and emotionless..the story unfolds in such a way that Veera develops feelings for her abductor and eventually starts to relate to him and refuses to want to go back to her orginal life. The language is authentic Hindi mixed with a lot of Rajasthani and the whole story is kind of “Raw” for a lack of a better word. Worth a watch if you are into some serious stuff.

Highway

Highway

The second movie was a lighter one “Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year” – An older movie we just happened to catch it on Netflix. It was a good movie with plenty of drama, some comedy and a simple storyline. Its the story of Harpreet Singh Bedi, a “not great academically” kind of person, who lands up in a corporate firm that sells/makes computers. There he is ridiculed upon, teased upon and eventually shunned upon by all his colleagues including the boss of the company. The story revolves around how HP (as he is called) builds a company of his own while working there (kind off like on the side ;-) ), competing and evetually ends up being a bigger success..Again, good for a Friday evening…

Rocket Singh Salesman of the year

Rocket Singh Salesman of the year

Dinner was a simple North Indian Platter with Roti, Jeera Rice, Dal and a Paneer Capsicum (Bell Pepper) Sabji.

A Simple North Indian Meal

A Simple North Indian Meal

For the Paneer Capsicum Sabji:
This was actually a last minute dish i put together. Gathered up all what i had in my refrigerator to make this.

Paneer Capsicum Sabji

Paneer Capsicum Sabji

You will need:
Paneer – 2 cups; Chopped into cubes
Capsicum or Bell Pepper – 1 large, Wash and chop into cubes (I had only Green bell pepper at home but if you have the red, yellow or orange feel free to use it, it will add more color)
Onions – 2 medium; Peel and Chop into cubes
Ginger grated – 1 tsp
Garlic – 2 pods; Grated (optional)
Tomato – 1 large; Chop into tiny cubes or Puree into a coarse paste
Oil
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Chopped cilantro for garnishing

Powders:
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder or Curry Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Garam MAsala Powder – 1/2 tsp (I used Kitchen King Masala instead of regualr Garam Masala powder)
Amchur or Dry Mango Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:
1. In a pan heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds.
2. Add the chopped onions, grated ginger and garlic and saute until light golden brown.
3. Add the tomato puree or chopped tomato. Saute. Add a pinch of salt and suate until tomatoes are mushy.
4. Add all the powders and mix well.
5. Add the chopped bell pepper/capsicum and mix well. Ensure that the bell pepper does not cook for more than 2 minutes so it remains crunchy.
6. Add the paneer cubes and mix well until all the masala is coated into the paneer.
7. Top with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

For the Dal:
This is a favorite dal recipe of mine. One I learnt from my hostel friends in college. I’ve made it over the years and i just love the way the Whole Masoor lentil bursts with flavor in every bite.

Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal

You will need:
Whole Masoor Dal/Lentil – 1 cup; Wash and pressure cook in a pressure coooker with a pinch of turmeric for 3 to 4 whistles.
Onions – 1 medium; Peel and Chop into cubes
Garlic – 2 pods; Grated
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chilli – 1
Hing (Asafoetida) – a pinch
Ghee – 1 tbsp for Seasoning

Powders:
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder or Curry Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Amchur or Dry Mango Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste

Method:
1. In a pan heat the ghee. Add the cumin seeds, hing and dry red chilli.
2. Add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until light golden brown.
3. Add all the powders and mix well.
4. Add the cooked dal, 1 cup of water and allow to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add more water if the dal is too thick.
5. Serve hot with rice or roti.

Hope you enjoyed my post and my simple North Indian Platter :-)

A North Indian Platter

A North Indian Platter

I am on a family vacation for the next 10 days! I am super excited to be seeing my nephews..Will catch up with all of you after I am back with some exciting posts! Have a great week ahead everyone :-)

An Aloo Parantha Party :-)

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Before I even begin this post..I will tell you that I love my parantha!! Does not matter that it is a huge gastronomic disaster! but it has to be eaten right..loaded with butter and filled with a filling of your choice, served with chole or aloo sabji, curd and a pickle and finally washed off wiht some lassi or shikanji!! There is my favorite – the gobi parantha – just love the tender cauliflower grated and flavored with seasoning, Paneer Parantha – again yet another favorite, love the soft paneer / cheese grated and flavored with all desi masalas. Next in line the Aloo parantha..soft aloo mashed, flavored and filled inside soft layer of bread!! Its heaven on earth people..
Of course innovation has outdone itself and there are mixed vegetable paranthas, kheema paranthas for the non vegetarians, kaju or mixed nuts paranthas, khoya paranthas, fruit paranthas etc.

If you are in Delhi, dont miss the Paranthe wali gali in Old Delhi – Chandni Chowk!! I just love visiting the Chandi Chowk area – the filth or the crowd does not bother me. Just enjoying the sounds and the awesome paranthas, not to mention the other delicious food is an experience of a lifetime! Learn more about Paranthe wali gali here.

Paranthe Wali Gali in Chandi Chowk- Old Delhi Photo courtesy: Internet

Paranthe Wali Gali in Chandi Chowk- Old Delhi
Photo courtesy: Internet

Famous Paranthas  Photo Courtesy: Internet

Famous Paranthas
Photo Courtesy: Internet

Menu  Photo Courtesy: streetfoodandtravelnotes.blogspot.com

Menu
Photo Courtesy: streetfoodandtravelnotes.blogspot.com

A Parantha experience is also great when you stop at the millions of dhabas on the roadside on your way from Delhi to Agra or Delhi to Jaipur!! Freshly made and awesome tasting these paranthas are to die for!!

Dhabas on the highway Photo Courtesy: Internet

Dhabas on the highway
Photo Courtesy: Internet

Now that I am back in good old Nebraska, I try to recreate the Parantha experience every now and then. My kids love Paranthas – something they will not complain about :-)
The other day a dear friend of ours was staying with us for a few days. She being a true Punjabi kudi, is great at making paranthas, just watching her stuff the parantha and roll it out is a treat to the eyes :-). Another dear friend was visiting us from Atlanta and it happened to be dinner time – so what other reason do we need to eat paranthas other than celebrate being together and making good memories :-)
For the outer covering/ atta:
3 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
Salt to taste
Warm water

Add the salt to the whole wheat flour. Mix well. Add warm water the flour slowly and mix well until evenly mixed. MAke sure the batter is not hard or too soft. Knead well into  a soft pliable dough, soft enough to roll it out.

For the Filling:
4 large Potatoes – Wash, chop into halves and Boil in pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Peel, mash and keep aside.
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green chillies – 3
Pepper pwoder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin/Coriander powder – 1 tsp (Jeera/Dhaniya powder)
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Add all fo the above to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Keep the potato mixture aside to be filled into the paranthas.

Method to make Paranthas:

1. Take a golf ball sized dough and roll it in your hands until soft and shaped into a round ball.

Ball of dough

Ball of dough

 

2. Roll into a small circular roti.

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3. Take a golf ball sized potato mixture. Place in between the circular roti.

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4. Bring the ends of the roti together in the middle to cover the potato mixture. Ensure it is well closed.

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5. Dust it with some dry wheat flour and roll it out into a thick paranta.

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6. Roast on a hot griddle or tava with some oil or ghee on both sides.

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7. Flip over and roast the other side as well until golden brown.

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8 .Serve hot with curd, pickle and sabji of your choice.

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Was unable to take pictures with all the sides..everyone was pretty hungry and pounced on hot tasty paranthas as soon as they were served :-)

Thanks for stopping by :-)

 

 

 

An Indian Pickle Party

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Talk about pickle to an American and the image that conjures up in their mind is that of a dill pickle or a pickled cucumber, basically some vegetable soaked in brine and vinegar..
To an Indian pickle conjures up images of spicy, red, oily, delicious concoctions and the taste buds usually begin to salivate at the mere thought of a pickle :-) Usually, the South Indian pickles are spicier than their North Indian counterparts which are sweeter and tangy to taste. Pickle in South India is eaten as a side to rice and curds or mixed with rice and ghee. It is eaten as an accompaniment to rice or sometimes roti/chapati, hot bajjiyas or pakodis. In North India, pickle is eaten as a side to hot fluffy parantas and curd.. Anyway which way you eat it, you are just going to love the taste of Indian pickles :-)

Here below is my top favorite 4:

A Pickle Party

A Pickle Party

Avakaya (Mango Pickle) – The traditional Andhra Mango pickle made with mango, mustard and methi powder. Easy to make and very tasty if you have the right kind of mangoes. The Mango’s for these need to be super raw, green and hard. When you cut the mango for this pickle be sure to cut it with the seed, that just adds the flavor and texture to the pickle.

Spicy Avakaya

Spicy Avakaya

 

Chintakaya Thokku (Raw Tamarind grated pickle) – As the names suggests this is typically made with raw tamarind and green chillies. A very tasty pickle, it is very important that you have right kind of tamarind for this pickle. Super delicious with rice or as a spread on bread!

Chintakaya Thokku

Chintakaya Thokku

 

Gongura (Sorrel Leaves Pickle) – One of my favorite Andhra pickles. Made with sour sorrel leaves or gongura and red chillies, this pickle is super tangy, spicy and very flavorful when mixed with rice.

Gongura

Gongura

 

Mango Thokku (Raw Mango grated pickle) – Another one of my favorite mango pickles is this grated pickle variety. A tradition at our home (mom makes it really well!!), this pickle is made with grated mango, chilli powder and mustard/methi powder. Super easy to make when you have the right kind of sour raw mangoes. Also great with hot rice and a little ghee.

Mango Thokku

Mango Thokku

Hope you enjoyed my photo essay on pickles. Thanks for stopping by.