Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vegetable Idli

Tired of waiting for the normal idli batter to ferment, I once attempted this variation of idli for dinner. First time it didn't click (reason given below), but thereafter everytime I prepare this, its a hit.

Ingredients :-

Sooji - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Carrots - 2
Peas - 100 gm
Beans - 100 gm
Broken cashewnuts - few
Curd - 2 cups
Salt - as reqd.
Green chillis - 2
Hing - little

Method :-
If you have roasted sooji/rava well and good, otherwise roast the sooji in little ghee for about a minute and let it cool in a bowl. Add salt, hing and then add curd little by little, till you reach the required consistency. (i.e.a little bit thicker one than the usual idli batter). Cut the green chillis into small pices and add it. (Alternatively, slit the green chillis longitudinally and add them. This could be removed before you set the cooker-I personally prefer this, as you don't have to struggle with the chilli pieces in your mouth). Set aside the batter for about an hour. In the meantime, grate the carrots and chop the green beans into tiny pieces. Fry the broken cashews in ghee. Add the cut vegetables and cashewnuts to the batter and place them in greased idli plates. Idlis could be cooked in the pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes until they are soft enough.

This tiffin is not just tasty, but has a nice aroma.

Tastes best with tomato chutney.

ps:Do not be tempted to add the veggies earlier on to the batter. To know why, read second line from above. Grated carrot oozes out the juice and spoils the whole process.

Friday, April 24, 2009

White Bean Soup

Too many soups? Well, I'm trying to cook healthy and I love soups, because they're tasty, pack a nutritional punch and best of all are so easy to make. Pair them with a salad/sandwich or even a simple entree and you have a fabulous weekday dinner.

I tried a new recipe this week, made with the versatile cannellini or white beans, it's creamy texturally because of the pureed beans and milk and very satisfying. I used a pressure cooker to cook the beans since they take a long time to cook (>30 mins on the stovetop in Ina's recipe), but you can definitely use canned beans to save time. I used whole peppercorns and if you dont like getting one in your mouth, substitute with the powder or use a bouquet garni. I liked this version a lot because I think the original might be a bit bland for my tastes.

Though I do feel like I might be desifying all my recipes a bit much, will make a conscious effort not to use cumin/curry powder in the next soup I try :)

White Bean Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe

1 and three quarter teacups dried white (cannellini) beans (1 teacup ~125 ml)
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
half cup low-fat milk (other options: cream, half and half)
water if needed
1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6-7 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. italian seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak the white beans overnight.

Next day, drain the beans and put in the pressure cooker. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and enough broth (I used 2 cups) to cook the beans. It took 6 whistles with my pressure cooker. Keep them aside, dont throw away the cooking liquid.

In a stock pot, heat some oil and add the red pepper flakes. Once it becomes aromatic, add the onions and stir them on medium heat until they become transparent.

Add the garlic, cumin powder, italian seasoning (crush in hand a little bit) or fresh rosemary as the original recipe states, a little salt and pepper if needed and cook until the garlic becomes soft. Add some of the cooking liquid from the cooked beans if the cumin powder starts burning.

Add the beans, rest of the liquids and simmer for about 5-10 mins.

Fish out the bay leaf (and any other herbs), then puree the mixture to the desired consistency, and check the seasoning. If you like the soup thinner, add more broth/water.

Serve hot.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raw Mango Pachadi

One of the reasons I look forward to festivals is the delectable food that gets to be made. Today is Tamil New Year's Day and Maangai Pachadi (Raw Mango Pachadi) is one compulsory item in the menu.

Ingredients :
Raw Mango - 1
Jaggery - About half the size of mango
Salt - as reqd.
Red Chillis - 2
neem flower - about a teaspoon full
Oil, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing - for seasoning

Method :
Cut the raw mango to about 1 inch pieces. Set aside the seed. Heat some oil in a pan, allow the mustard seeds to splutter and add cumin seeds & curry leaves, saute for a second. Then add the cut pieces of raw mango, saute for few seconds, then add water, and allow the mango to cook well. (keep in mind that the skin of the mango should also be cooked-check this with a fork).When its half cooked, add salt.

Grate jaggery and add the same to the pan. Mix well and serve with rice. This can be had as a side.

This dish which contains five different tastes [sour (raw mango), sweet (jaggery), bitter (neem flower) , hot (red chilli) and salt] represents the different states of mind or emotions in one's life.

If Neem Flower is not to be found, the same can be substituted with powdered Methi seeds for the bitter taste.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Daliya Khichddi - For All Those Who are Fighting Weight ;-)

People like us who have an ongoing fight against fat keep hitting a road block because of the lack of a tasty diet food. Let me share with you the recipe of a dish which is not only low in fats but is rich in fiber and is tasty as well.

I am talking about ‘Daliya’ also known ‘Broken Wheat’ at some places it is also known as ‘laapsi’. It is usually eaten in a sweetened form but since I hate sweets I make a ‘khicchdi’ out of it. It is simple & quick to cook.

As per google, Broken wheat is also known as Bulgar wheat. Broken wheat is a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese. It is also a good source of magnesium.


  • Cumin Seeds – half a teaspoon
    (Alternatively you can use Mustard seeds & Curry Leaves instead of cumin seeds)
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – A pinch
  • Finely chopped Onion – 1
  • Small pieces of Potato – 1 (can be skipped)
  • Finely chopped Tomato - 1
  • A variety of vegetables like, beans, carrot, peas, cauliflower etc all finely cut.
  • Coriander leaves – a small bunch
  • Ginger Garlic paste – ½ teaspoon
  • 1 Green Chilly finely cut (you can obviously skip this)
  • Roasted Broken Wheat – 1 & ½ cup
  • Oil – 1 drop
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilly powder to taste

Take a pressure cooker, pour a drop of oil and put heeng & cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds start spluttering add the onions. As the onions turn transparent add tomato, all the vegetables, ginger garlic paste, salt & the chilly powder. Let it cook for a minute & then pour the Daliya in. Again let the whole thing cook for a minute or so.

Add water in it, the water should be such that the whole thing is submerged in it and there is about an inch of water above the whole thing. Close the lid & cook on full flame. As the first whistle blows slow down the gas and after around 5-6 minutes close the gas.

As the steam is out take the thing out and garnish it with coriander powder.

I usually have it with curd or green chutney. The whole process takes 15-20 mins but it tastes tasty and still is very light.

This is my favorite dish on days when I want to keep it light :-)

TIP : It is better that you roast the daliya and store it. This not only saves time later but also avoids it from getting spoiled.