Moraiyo idli: Steamed, savoury barnyard millet cakes

Yesterday was the birthday of the person who has given me #careergoals and #leadershipgoals. Mr Ajay Umat is the editor of Navgujarat Samay, a Gujarati newspaper from the Times Group. He is one of the few celebrated journalists in Gujarat.

He is an example of how being a gentleman never goes out of style. Most of my friends in the media admire Mr. Umat for his journalistic

skills or aspire to be like him someday.  It’s his interpersonal networking skills that make him such an endearing personality. But what sets him apart as a leader is his ability to keep his team happy. I know a lot of his team members but am yet to come across a single person who is unhappy with his boss. And that’s some achievement for a boss in a world where most work environments are toxic and most employees are unsatisfied with their jobs.

For someone who follows a restrained diet, Mr. Umat comes across as a person who loves to talk about food. And today’s Indian recipe is dedicated to him because I heard about some healthy ingredients from him, long back. In spite of being born in Gujarat, I had never heard about Moraiyo (barnyard millet) till Mr. Umat mentioned to me about it (Although, I don’t remember the context). Low in calorie, Moraiyo has a lot of health benefits and is generally eaten in India during fasts.

Moraiyo Idli 
Savoury, steamed cakes made from barnyard millet

 

Processed with MOLDIV
Moraiyo Idli

 

Ingredients:
1 cup Moraiyo, soaked for 2 hours
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Yogurt/Buttermilk
Salt to taste
1 tsp Baking powder

Method:

Grind the soaked moraiyo in a grinder with water to form a pancake batter-like consistency. Add baking powder, buttermilk and salt and leave it for 30 minutes to ferment. Pour the batter into a stove-top idli maker or a microwave idli maker and steam for 10 minutes. Serve with coconut chutney.

Note: These idlis may not be fluffy and white but they will definitely satisfy your idli cravings in a healthier way. They are diabetics-friendly and perfect as a Shraavan/Navratri fasting dish.

Advertisements

Delicious Grilled Cheese

Processed with MOLDIV
Gooey, buttery, crisp, salty Grilled Cheese Sandwich! Comforting in all the right ways!

August is the month when Americans celebrate National Sandwich Month. And this post is a tribute to my all time favourite food–the Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

It’s not only one of the simplest foods but also one of the most versatile foods. Imagine a delicious Grilled Cheese for breakfast/lunch/snack or as soup accompaniment for dinner! Grilled Cheese is perfect for any time of the year. It’s great for kids’ lunch boxes but can also be perfectly comforting for an adult. Bet you can’t say no to a buttery, gooey, salty, crisp Grilled Cheese!

My recipe is different from the Classic Grilled Cheese as I have used a bit of feta along with cheddar for this sandwich. You can use any cheese like the American yellow and white cheese, Swiss cheese or Muenster.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices soft sandwich breads
2 spoons full of Butter
Grated Cheddar and Feta, used in proportion to the bread

Method

Heat a flat or deep pan over medium heat.
Evenly apply butter to both the slices of bread.
Place the bread on the pan with the buttered side facing down.
Flip the breads and divide the cheese evenly on both breads.
Once the cheese begins to melt, flip on slice gently on top of another.
Press lightly and keep turning the sandwich till the crusts are golden crisp and the cheese has melted.
Serve hot.

 

Khajoor Milkshake

IMG_9304
Khajoor (dates) are one of the most nutritious fruits that can be eaten during fasts

It’s that time of the year in this part of the country, where many give up eating non-vegetarian food for a month. Shravan is the holiest month in a traditional Hindu calendar, when most abstain from eating non-vegetarian food as well as some vegetarian food items. Some fast for the entire month, consuming just fruits and fruit juices, while others observe one-meal-a-day fasts. Some observe partial fasts, where they eat normal vegetarian food in one meal and consume faraal food (food that is allowed during fasting) at other times.

I observed my first Shravan month fast last year and I felt really proud of myself, managing with just one meal in a day. The Shravan month began in Gujarat on August 3rd this year and I was so thrilled about fasting that I started it two days in advance 😀

Here is one of my recipes for a healthy breakfast/dinner during Shravan. The easiest milkshake!

Khajoor (dates) Milkshake IMG_9301

Ingredients for 1 cup milkshake:

Dates, chopped: 3 or 4 pieces
Milk: 3/4th cup
Chopped dry fruits like walnut, pista, almond, cashew (optional)
A pinch of cardamom powder (optional and only if you like it. I avoid it)

Method:

In a blender, mix the two ingredients till milk turns frothy. Garnish with chopped dry fruits and cardamom powder. You can add ice if you like it chilled. Enjoy it cold/chilled.

Simple, healthy Upma

I’ll eat some breakfast and then change the world!

It took me a long time in life to realize the importance of a good breakfast. And after that realization, I have been really good with planning my breakfast well in advance. So this morning, i decided to have the traditional South Indian breakfast–Upma or Upmaav as we call it in Kerala. Really quick and easy to make, Upma not only fills your appetite but is also highly nutritious. Whenever I have had a discussion about Upma (yes, i discuss Upma like other people discuss global issues :D), the most common question has been of how to make it soft without making it sticky. The answer lies in the method of making it in the traditional way, which you will find in my recipe below.

breakfast quote Upma

Ingredients:
200 gms of Semolina: The hero of this dish, semolina or rava is a coarse flour made out of durum wheat
2 cups of Water
4-5 sliced Shallots or Madras Onion
2 slit Green Chillies
A small piece of ginger, chopped
Mustard seeds
1 tsp of urad dal (split, skinless black gram)
2 tbsp Coconut oil
Curry leaves
Half a cup of shredded coconut for garnish
Salt to taste

Processed with MOLDIV
Upma served in a coconut shell

Method:

Roast the semolina in a non stick pan, making sure that it doesn’t turn brown. Keep aside.
In a pan, heat the oil, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add urad dal and saute till they turn golden. Then add the sliced shallots, chopped ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and saute till the shallots turn translucent. Add water and salt. Now, the consistency of your upma will depend on how much water you add. Generally, the proportion of water is the same as that of semolina. So, if you are using one cup of semolina, then add one cup of water and so on.

Once the water boils, add the semolina slowly while stirring continuously with the other hand. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or till the water absorbs the semolina. Once cooked, add shredded coconut and stir the upma before you turn the stove off. Simple, isn’t it?

 

Celebrating love

February 14, 2016. Valentine’s Day.jam

Sure it was Valentine’s Day. But for me, it was a day to celebrate more than one occasion. It was a day that brought great news and I couldn’t feel more happy that it came on one of my favourite days of the year.

jamTo celebrate this Valentine’s and to express my love for food, I decided to make strawberry jam with a fresh batch of organic strawberries. The idea of the jam was totally inspired by Monica Gellar (needs no introduction), who is just as lovable as she is neurotic 😀 I was recently watching that episode where Monica breaks up with the droolworthy Richard and makes a ‘jam plan’. But it was when I was watching the jam-eating Joey (needs no introduction, again) that I began craving for jam.

And what better day than Valentine’s to make jam! The lovely red strawberries matched well with the beautiful red roses I got in the morning and the overall festive mood. strawberry

It’s a super quick recipe with just three ingredients—ripe strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. The night before you decide to make jam, just pour sugar over strawberries and leave them out of the fridge overnight. This helps the sugar dissolve better and also retain the bright red colour of the berries. I used brown sugar. The next morning, all I did was add a very small teaspoon of lemon juice, mash the berries a little and put it on stove to reduce. Stirred occasionally for 10 minutes and once the berries and sugar had dissolved and I saw a thick consistency, I took it off heat, let it cool and filled it up in a little bottle.

 

It’s Monday, honey!

 

Serving of toast with butter and marmalade
Sliced white toast with butter and honey with ginger-lemon on the side 

I like my new Monday mornings! I am sure I can never fall in love with Monday after my decade-old relationship with Sunday but it’s getting better.

So, this Monday morning there was no rush to be at the office early and I had a little time to experiment with my breakfast. And here’s what I made: Lemon-Ginger-Honey syrup with Buttered Toast.

My breakfast usually is a buttered toast with honey and a fruit/milk. Today, I added a twist to honey and came up with this recipe. And the twist was to lemon zest and lemon juice along with a small piece of shredded ginger added into a bowl of organic honey.

Dear Monday,

You may be thinking that if I worked a little harder on this recipe, it could have been a Marmalade but our friendship is new so just be happy with this post.

Yours truly

 

 

Muthia with beetroot and beet leaves

beet1

I love beetroots. While these taproots are packed with nutrition, what I love most about them is their ability to turn almost everything into  a shocking red. Recently, I ended up with a basket full of organic beets  with glossy purple-green leaves and usually when I buy beets or the leaves, they invariably end up in a Kerala recipe like a thoran, pachadi or an avial.

This time, however, I wanted to make something different from the beetroot and its leaves. For the last one week, I had been craving for a Gujarati recipe called muthia (spiced, seasoned and steamed dumplings). These are made with gram flour and/or wheat flour, to which usually one of the vegetables like bottlegourd, cabbage, carrot,  spinach or fenugreek leaves, is added. While steamed muthias are generally eaten as a snack, fried ones are mostly added to shaak (vegetable curry) like undhiyu.

I decided to substitute with the beet leaves and some shredded beetroot. Muthias remind me of my former colleagues at The Times of India, where between 4 and 5 pm every day, we would open our snack boxes and share each others’ food with the office chai. There would be so much variety, a little gossip and in the end, a lot of complaining about the weight gain because of these meetings. I believe that it was those chai and snack meetings that brought us close together and have kept me connected with some of them even after my taking up another job. Well, they say friendship comes in many unexpected ways. For me, it has come through food 🙂 Happy eating!

Muthia with beetroot and beet leaves beet2

Ingredients:
Beet root, shredded-1 small
Beet leaves-a handful, washed, cleaned and chopped
Wheat flour (aata) – 2 tbsp
Gram flour (besan) – 4 tbsp
Semolina (sooji/rava) – 1 tbsp
Ginger-green chilli paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Oil – 2 tsp
Soda bicarb – 2 pinches
Hing (asafoetida) – 1 pinch
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Sugar – 2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method: 

In a vessel, combine the leaves, the shredded beet, the flours, semolina, ginger-green chilli paste, cumin seeds, soda bi-carb, sugar, salt, 1 tsp oil and knead into a very soft dough. Apply a little oil onto your palms and divide the dough into four equal portions. Shape each portion into a cylindrical roll approx. 150 mm. (6″) length and 25 mm. (1″) in diameter. Grease a plate and steam the rolls for about 15 minutes in a steamer, on a low flame. To check whether it is done, insert a fork or a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. Remove, cool slightly and cut into 12 mm. slices and keep aside.
For tempering, heat the remaining oil in a deep pan, add mustard seeds and sesame seeds. When they crackle, add hing and sauté. Add the muthias and cook for five minutes till they are browned. If you like them crispy, then keep them on a low flame for about 10-12 more minutes.
Serve with green chutney or garlic chutney.

 

 

 

 

Shallot-red chilli chutney with Dosa

Processed with Moldiv
Processed with Moldiv

Dosa  is a staple food in southern India and a very popular dish across India. Each state of south India—Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka—have a different accompaniment that is eaten with dosa. Much like the accompaniment is different, the dish is pronounced differently in different regions of the country. While we Malayalis call it ‘dosha’, people in Tamil Nadu call it ‘dosai’, in Gujarat it’s called ‘dhonsa’ while in some north Indian states, it is called a ‘dosa’.

It’s basically a crepe made out of fermented batter from rice and black lentils (urad dal) and had as a breakfast in South India. Today’s post, however, is not on the dosa but on the accompaniments or the side dishes that dosas are usually eaten with in India. While Saambaar is an ideal accompaniment, there are various chutneys that are served along with the humble dosa. Among the most commonly served chutneys are coconut chutney (with green chillies or red chillies), onion chutney, onion-tomato chutney, tomato chutney, gunpowder (made with urad dal, chana dal, hing and curry leaves  with a generous pouring of coconut oil), red chilly-coconut oil chutney, etc.

The all-time favourite accompaniment that’s always served with dosa or idli is the simple and spicy raw shallot chutney, a recipe that I picked from my grandmother-in-law. A gem of a person, Ammumma—as we call her, is very inspiring in the way she lives her life. She has a solid determination, takes good care of her health, goes for regular walks, has no fear travelling alone to different cities and is strict when it comes to her diet. She is fond of traditional food and we can go on discussing food for hours together. Here, I am dedicating my post to our cool, modernly traditional, dear Ammumma.

Shallot-red chilli chutney with Dosa

Ingredients:

Shallots-8-10 nos

Red chilli powder-2 teaspoons

Coconut Oil-2 tablespoons

Water – 1 spoon

Salt to taste

Method: In a traditional mortar and pestle, crush the shallots. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, just use a stone or simply grate the shallots. DO NOT use a mixer to crush the shallots or it will take away the juices and the taste. Do not make a paste but crush enough to make it smooth. Add salt, red chilli and pour a spoonful of water

Appam and Kerala style Egg Curry

image1Appam and Egg Curry

We all seek change— from same old routines, those mundane tasks, saturated jobs and sometimes, a boring life that we find ourselves unknowingly in.

I was in a rut, too, since more than a year. What was once a ‘dream job’ was slowly becoming a nightmare because of all the negativity surrounding it. The day I had to drag myself to my workplace was the day I decided to free myself from the shackles of a “glamorous” yet dissatisfying job. Once I decided to move on, so many doors opened up for me. A fortnight into my new job and I am so glad I chose the door that held the most potential for a bright future, a world outside that door which trusts my capabilities, a door that gives me the liberty to dream, create and explore.

Life is so much different now, in a happy sort of way. I had read somewhere that your present is everything you have thought of in the past. And when I think of it, it is so true. I have had this thought many times in the past. Of being associated with my current organization, of working with my current colleagues and of working out of my present work premises.

I dedicate this post and the recipe to my current state of bliss, as a way to thank the Universe for having conspired in my favour J _/_

This dish, one of my favourites from Kerala, has the capacity to take you to that perfect state of happiness, oblivious of anything else. Appam is usually had in Kerala for breakfast but you can savour these feather light appams with delicious egg gravy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just make sure you give it enough time to ferment. Happy cooking J

==============================================

Egg curry (Kerala style mutta curry)

Ingredients:

 Eggs: 4 nos.

Red onion: 2 medium, chopped

Tomatoes: 2 medium, chopped

Ginger paste: 1 tsp

Green chillies: 3 (use more/less according to your heat quotient)

Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp

Curry leaves – 8 to 10

Whole spices like Cinnamon (small stick), Cloves (2) and bay leaf (1)

Egg masala or Garam masala powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Crushed black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Coconut Milk – 1 cup

Salt

Method:

Boil the eggs for 12 minutes. Remove shells and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and add the whole spices and the curry leaves.

Add the chopped onions, ginger paste and the green chillies. Saute well for a couple of minutes till the onions turn light golden brown in color. Add turmeric and tomatoes and cook till tomatoes turn soft. Add a little water to mash the tomatoes and then add the garam masala. Saute for ten seconds and then add the coconut milk. Once it starts to simmer, add eggs (slit into two or whole) to the gravy. Add salt and crushed black pepper and stir well. Remove from heat and serve hot with appam.


Appam (Pancake made of Rice and Coconut)

 Ingredients:

 Rice (preferably the boiled rice variety that South Indians use): 1 cup

Shredded/Dessicated coconut: 2 cups

Yeast: ½ tsp

Sugar (optional): 3 tsp

Milk(optional): 3 tsp
Salt

Method:

Soak rice and shredded coconut in water for about 6-8 hours. Once the rice has softened, blend it with sugar and salt till it is a smooth flowing, batter-like consistency. Add yeast and blend for a minute. Leave the batter covered overnight so that the batter rises.

Once the batter ferments, you can add about three teaspoons of milk. Heat an appam chatti (pan) and pour a ladle full of batter in the centre. You may need to add a teaspoon of oil if you are not using a non-stick appam chatti. Now, lift the pan from the sides and tilt it on all sides so that the batter spreads around like a crisp dosa on the sides, yet has a thick, soft centre.

Close the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. The appam needs to be cooked only on one side. Serve hot with egg curry or vegetable stew or chicken curry. Yum!