Monday, January 25, 2010

Channagi Saaru - Sprouted Lentil Amati

Recently Jaya announced a nice 'Repost Event', rewrite and repost past recipes to that you had posted in the very beginning and was lost because you were new blogger. I had one more problem, I used to write most of my recipes in Marathi back then. It became more tedious when I started participating in events to write same recipe in English and Marathi, and proof read it etc become like a second job. Finally I had to switch to English only posts. This event gave one (more) incentive to convert some of my favorite recipes in English.

I spent many of my summer vacations in Belgaum at my Ajji's (father's aunt) place. She always had a cook at home mainly to do some mundane work in the kitchen like making chapatis, rotti's (Bhakari) and daily preparation. Actual cooking was always done by my Ajji or my aunts. I learned a lot of things from Ajji. I have shared her simple toor daal amati recipe here. Tuesdays were different than rest of the week as my uncles get to stay home as shops are closed! In the evening we would go out to eat or one of my uncle would take charge of the kitchen. He would make something that gave him opportunity to show all his culinary skills. We kids would always help him here and there. This is one of his recipes - Channagi Saaru (Channagi - Masoorm, Saaru - Curry). I would always ask him to make this when I visited. He would serve it with plain white bread, bit of sev and lime juice. It used to be heaven in a bowl.

I must tell you whole lentils from Belgaum are smaller than you get everywhere in Maharashtra. And they are more flavorful and my favorite. Cooked lentils are more earthen but once they are sprouted and cooked they become sweeter and much more delicate than you expect.
2 cups Sprouted Whole Lentils
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 tbsp Goda Masala
Salt and red chili powder per taste.
2 pieces Kokum
Small piece of jaggery (about a tsp)
1 tbsp Oil
For tempering - Cumin seeds, mustard seeds, pinch of asafoetida, turmeric, few curry leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (optional)
Hot water as needed
Chopped cilantro for garnishing

Preparation -
Place sprouted lentils in a bowl. Mix ginger garlic paste, goda masala, little bit of red chili powder with 1-2 tbsp water. Add this masala paste to sprouts and mix well. Keep this aside for at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in heavy bottom pan and make tempering as usual using cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida and turmeric. Add few curry leaves too.
Now add sprouts and saute for at least 2-3 minutes on medium flame. Add red chili powder and enough hot water to cover it. Mix in chopped onion. Cover and let it cook.
Add salt, kokum and jaggery at the end and boil it for 3-4 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with bread.

Tips -
  1. Sprouting lentils is not hard. Just soak them for 7-8 hours. Drain and spread over paper towel/cheese cloth for an hour. Keep them in a colander cover with damp cheese cloth and keep in warm place for 10-12 hours minimum.
  2. Please use red onion if you you are planning to use it. I feel white or yellow onions do not give the desired taste. Do not saute onions.
  3. Tastes great with bread, cooked quinoa, rice or chapati.
  4. You can add a tablespoon of fresh coconut if you wish.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Protein Packed Nuggets: Daal Cutlets

There was a point in my life (read: pre-internet India) when I knitted ten or eleven sweaters in a year with my mom. Most of my cousins have sweater me and my Mom knitted. This is the hobby I took as a tribute to my grandma. She was a excellent knitter. Back in 60's she would knit using English instruction books and manipulate the pattern as per her need. I started knitting using some of her needles and books. I kept on knitting on and off ever since. I pursued another hobby for few years and knitting took a back seat.

Last year I started knitting again, thanks to Desi Knitter. I think it was about 2 years ago I stumbled upon her blog and was amazed by her creativity. I love knitting, crochet, embroidery and everything related to that. I restarted a small project that I had frogged after seeing her shawls and socks. I completed it but did not start until very recently. I wanted to see what she is up to these days and visited her blog again and commented for the first time. Meanwhile I had to stop going for my pottery class due to various reasons and I needed a new 'thing' to keep me busy and her blog did the trick. Now I regularly visit the space and inspire myself to challenge myself. I also met these two fellow knitters and found out about Got excited, immediately created a profile and started adding my projects in there. I also came to know about few yarn shops in the area and started visiting them for my supplies.

My recent creation is a scarf for a friend of mine which I completed in record time of 3 days! Here is how it looks -

Lets come to today's recipe of Bean Cutlets. I started making these few years ago as falafel patties. I have tried various combinations of beans and spices and all turn out great. I took these for a potluck with few of my dearest friends and all of them loved it. So this is to you girls!


1 cup dry mixed beans (I use black eyed peas, black garbanzo beans, Lentils, Mung beans, Moth beans)
4-5 slices of bread (I use wheat bread)
2 tsp Malwani Masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt per taste
Oil as needed

Preparation -
Pick over and soak the beans in enough water (about 4 cups) over night.
Drain the beans and add to the pressure cooker. Add 1/4th cup water, pinch of salt to the beans. Pressure cook until soft.
Drain the water from cooked beans if any and let it cool down for 10-15 minutes.
Add cooked beans, bread slices, malawani masala, cumin seeds and salt if needed to food processor. Coarsely grind everything.
Make sure everything is mixed well and make 1" diameter patties.
Spread few drops of oil on a griddle and heat it before lining the patties. Let the patties cook thoroughly before flipping. Add few drops of oil before flipping if needed.
Cook other side.
Serve warm with chutney or serve as falafel patties.

Tips -
  1. These can be made ahead of time. Just reheat in microwave or oven before serving.
  2. These taste great with Dill-Cucumber-Yogurt sauce too but I prefer it with green coriander chutney.
  3. Try just little bit of cumin seeds and garlic as seasoning instead of any other seasoning its just amazing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Khandesh special: Nistyachi Chutney

Khandeshi style red chili chutney

Tasting any regional cuisine is a wonderful experience. Authentic, rustic recipes, simple local ingredients are the keys to tasty food. I grew up in Western Ghats of Maharashtra and I love the locally grown vegetables and food prepared around the region. My cooking style and variety is highly influenced by regional food from that area. First time I visited Khandesh, everything I ate was very new for me including names of the dishes, ingredients. Their food in general is very spicy. They liberally use green chilies and red chilies in almost everything. Red chili powder, garam masala is rarely used in Khandeshi special dishes.

Clockwise From Top: Cilantro, salt, jaggery, tamarind, small red chilies, big red chilies, Garlic

This chutney is good example of rustic day today Khandeshi preparation. Minimum number of ingredients and simple procedure gives you taste to the food they eat. Its usually served with methi roti which I will share the recipe later. My mother in law adds little oil to the when she serves it to help digestion! Methi chapati/roti is usually yellow and this red chutney served on a green plantain leaf looks amazingly beautiful. I always feel Indian food is really vibrant in color and looks great on the plantain leaf!

Nistyachi Chutney

Lets move on to ingredients and the recipe -

8 small hot dry chilies
4 big/flat moderately hot dry chilies
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp jaggery
1 tsp tamarind (please do not use paste)
8-10 stems of cilantro
salt per taste
water if necessary

Procedure -
Add everything in the wet grinder. Grind into fine paste.
Adjust salt if necessary.
Set it sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tips -
  1. Please handle chilies carefully.
  2. I like coarsely ground texture if this chutney but traditionally it is fine paste.
  3. Sourdough bread, dab of earth balance spread and this chutney makes a perfect fusion appetizer.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Daal Methi BhaajI

Growing up in the era when we had to eat what moms cooked with very few choices. We had to eat what was served in the plate, if we like it get the second, third(?) helping and finish everything in plate. I think these were the rules in almost all households back then. Even parents did not have many choices back then. Store bought food was considered to be made with substandard material and not very hygienic. When I see my friends make parathas, burgers, pastas for their kids and the kids make fuss about everything their parents ask them to eat. And I wonder when did it all change? How did this happen?

I still remember when I was a kid I did not like to eat roasted garlic in the dry vegetables my mom used to make. It was combination of taste and smell that put me off. But I was not allowed to throw even that and my mom never removed it before serving me. I am not complaining now but used to complain a lot back then. I am glad that she made me eat everything. I survived through hostel life where only kerosene stoves were allowed in the rooms. We rarely had time to cook and we had to eat in the hostel cafeteria (or mess as we called it). They would serve one leafy vegetable almost every alternate night with bhakari. Most of the time it was plain methi sautéed just with salt.

Today I am going to share amped up version of methi bhaji. This is one of the first vegetable learned to cook. It is one vegetable that is available everywhere in India. Its very easy to grow even on the window sill. As far as I remember we get more methi crop in winter than in summer in Maharashtra. Fresh jowar (sorghum) bhakari and methi bhaji with may be bit of lasun chutney is to die for. We would eat freshly churned butter with with combo back then. It used to be heaven on the plate.

1 Methi/Fenugreek bunch
4-5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup Toor Daal
1 small onion
1 tsp Goda Masala
Salt, red chili powder per taste
2 tbsp Oil
For tempering - cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, asafoetida

Preparation -
Soak toor daal for at least half an hour in warm water. Pick the methi leaves from the bunch. You can use the stems if they are tender. Wash methi thoroughly to remove any dirt. Chop it fine and keep it aside.
Finely chop onions. Smash or chop garlic.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add cumin, mustard, asafoetida, turmeric, curry leaves one by one. Let the seeds sizzle and then add chopped onion.
Saute onion till golden brown before adding chopped garlic.
Drain soaked daal and add it to the onion. Add red chili powder, goda masala, salt. Mix it well. Let the daal cook partially before adding chopped methi. Mix everything together and cover with tight lid.
Let everything cook for 4-5 minutes. Mix well, adjust seasoning if needed. Serve warm with chapati or bhakari.

Tips -
  1. Mung daal also tastes good in this bhaji.
  2. You can add a pinch of sugar at the end if you like.
  3. If you cant get fresh methi then you can use frozen methi. Thaw and squeeze excess water before using it.

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