Monday, June 18, 2012

Raw Mango Chutney

Remember back in India, almost every household had this notion 'No food should be wasted'. Scarcity and lack of availability made it into rule. I grew up with that mind set. My mom still follows it strictly. I have deviated from that a bit and I feel very ashamed when I have to trash things or even compost. My friend's daughter Shreya gets very upset when she can't finish food. Her parent have set a good example for her. She does not like to throw away food and gets very upset when she sees people doing it in restaurants. She asks, "Does this restaurant use compost box, can you please ask that uncle who are serving us?" We all feel proud of her but sometimes it is very difficult to convince her :) Hey, it is us who have created a monster, her mom says :)

Now you might be thinking, what this recipe has to do with throwing away food etc! My grandma never threw food away. I have written about mango trees in her backyard. Grandma would collect all the raw mangoes from the ground which fell prematurely. She would wash them thoroughly, share with all the neighbors, friends etc. She made this chutney almost everyday in summer. Sometimes she made quick instant pickle or quick Sakharamba. Mom also does same thing with mangoes from our tree in the backyard. I make it once in awhile. I remembered to take quick picture last time I made it, its not great picture but I assure you the recipe will tantalize your senses :)

1 cup Raw Mango (preferably sour)
1-2 Green Chilies
10-15 stalks of Cilantro
2-3 tbsp Fresh Coconut (I use frozen)
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Cumin seeds
Tiny blob of Ginger (optional)
Salt per taste

Preparation -
*Peel mango and dice it.
Chop chilies, cilantro and ginger into small pieces. 
Thaw coconut if you are using frozen.
Put everything in wet grinder.
Coarse grind, using very little water. Adjust seasoning.
Serve with idlis, adai, sandwiches.

Tips -
  1. * Usually I make this raw mango daal and use flesh around seed to make this chutney.
  2. You can make Mint chutney by adding 1/4 cup mint leaves. 
  3. I occasionally add tempering of 1tsp oil, mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brown Rice Idlis

Idli is one of my comfort food. I learned to make it from my mom and we both tweaked the recipes few times to come up with a perfect proportion. But after coming to US, I had hard time grinding it properly and fermenting it. But someone shared a nice trick with me for fermenting the batter - put half onion in the batter and keep the vessel in warm place oven like and you will get nicely fermented idli batter in 10-12 hours in any season. One problem was solved! To solve the problem of grinding, I started using idli rava and grinding everything in food processor. After making idlis successfully for years using this method, I decided to try grinding soaked rice instead of idli rava and that was successful too.

Couple of years ago I got the brown rice bag from store that was awful in taste. I did not want make rice and did not want to throw away the whole bag either. I tried khichadi, I tried making rice and make thalipeeth from cooked rice. Even though that was working out okay but all these things use very less rice. I had to find various ways to use up the whole 2lb bag. I decided to use up in idli. It worked in first try and I have been making it ever since. No white rice idlis from scratch for me, there are local Indian grocery stores for that!

Brown Rice and Whole Udid Idli

2.5 cups Brown Basmati Rice
1 cup Split Urad Daal with skin
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Salt per taste
Water as needed.

Preparation -
Pick over and wash rice and daal separately. Soak them separately for 6-8 hours. I keep just 2" water above rice and daal level. Mix fenugreek seeds in daal while soaking.
Drain water from daal and rice in a separate vessel, do not throw it away, we will use it as required to grind.
Grind rice first in the food processor with 'S' blade. Add little water that we set aside as needed to get smooth paste.
Remove ground rice in a big non reactive container.
Now start grinding daal with little water at a time. Grind it to very fine paste. Keep beating this daal paste in food processor for 10-12 minutes.*
Now mix in the rice batter and beat in the food processor for 3-4 more minutes.
Remove in a large non reactive vessel and keep it in warm place for ferment for 10-12 hours.
Add salt to the fermented batter, and make idils as usual.
Serve warm with any of these chutneys.

Tips - 
  1. * This makes the daal fluffy and aids the fermentation process. I do it in 2 minutes interval at a time. If you have stand mixer or hand mixer, you can try using that.
  2. If weather is too cold, you can cut onion in half and put cut side down in the batter. This also aids the fermentation process. 
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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Khandeshi Style Eggplant Bhaji

(Specially made as part of Khandeshi wedding feast)

Original Marathi recipe can be found here

"Shubhamangal Savadhan" - priest is chanting wedding mantras ... for 2 minutes...5 minutes...10 minutes... and finally done in 15 minutes.
As soon as the last mantra is chanted, huge mob of people run towards dinning hall and grab the seat the first seat one gets. Try to reserve few more for your group and wait for the servers to start serving.
This is just a beginning of lunch at a low key wedding in my region ...
As soon as enough people sit down, line of servers start ...

Plate... plate... plate... plate...

Every time server sets a plate in front of you he chants plate ... next one as bowl ... next one glass ... as if people will get confused looking at them :).
You check every utensil that is given to you ... clean it with a clean towel you have got in your bag.
As soon as you are done cleaning, next set of people arrive and start serving the food -


Next course is either jilebi or boondi laddu, eggplant sabji and masala rice.
Second course is served twice, just in case if someone wants to have seconds.
No puri, no chapati nothing ...
As soon as you are about to get up from the seat, someone quickly grabs it as second batch of people is already standing there. It is chaotic but that chaos is also very streamlined and quite enjoyable.
Things have changed these days a bit but not too much in small towns.

In Khandesh region northern Maharashtra and idea stays same but menu differs. Chapatis, plain daal called varan and eggplant sabji is served. Here is small skit that portrays wedding lunch in Marathi (aka lagnachi pangat) -

The eggplant sabji in Khandesh is much different than the ways its made in southern Maharashtra. Here is the recipe of eggplant subji served at Khandeshi wedding -

Vangyachi bhaji

3-4 small Eggplants (preferably green eggplants)
2-3 Green Chilies
3-4 cloves of Garlic
2-3 tbsp Oil
1/2 cup Cilantro
1/2 Lime/Lemon
Salt per taste

Preparation -
Roughly grind green chilies and garlic together.
Remove eggplant stems and dice in 1/4" pieces.
Heat oil in a pan, add garlic chili paste. Saute for a minute or so.
Add eggplant, saute for couple of minutes. Lower the heat, cover and let it cook.
Check occasionally and mix.
If eggplant needs more water to cook, add little bit at a time.
Add salt and cilantro, mix well. Mash to get mushy consistency.
Squeeze lemon, mix and enjoy with chapati.

Tips -
  1. I use Badagi-Musali to grind chili garlic together.
  2. You can remove eggplant stems or leave them on. 
  3. Same recipe can be applied to pumpkin/winter squash . Just use more chilies as squash can be bit on sweeter side.

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