Sunday, April 29, 2007

Red chard-aloo sabzi, stuffed parantha, palak kadhi and palak-matar-gajar sabzi: JFI greens and WBB

Its spring time, folks. Green is the color everywhere :). Even when its not spring, green color and greens grace our kitchen prominently and very rightly so. Packed with minerals and fiber, they symbolize flavor and health packed in one. So, it no surprise that this month's featured ingredient at JFI is GREENS :). JFI this month is being hosted by Indira (Mahanandi, the founder of JFI) and joins hands with Nandita's Weekend breakfast blogging WBB. I am excited, for i love greens and myself very keenly use greens in breakfast.

I had been wondering for many days as to which greens should i choose for my entry! its really a tough choice, i love them all. Equally confusing was which recipe should i use the greens for! Greens are so versatile that you could dish out a whole meal with greens: soups and starters, main course.....ah! the choices seemed endless. I decided therefore to just head for the grocery store and pick out the first bunch of fresh greens that came my way :) That easy :)). and that green was the pretty, gorgeous looking red chard :). That made it even easier! I use red-chard in Indian cooking in every way possible. And then i also thought to cook something with whatever greens were there in my fridge :). Palak or Spinach was the first thing that i found. Today, i'll share these very simple recipes. So lets enjoy the green cooking: Red chard-aloo sabzi and parantha, followed by palak-kadhi and palak-matar-gajar sabzi.

For the red chard-aloo sabzi, we need:

  • 1 bunch red chard (rainbow and regular chard also do equally well)
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1 small onion (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 tsp. jeera/cumin
  • Turmeric (a pinch) and red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Garam masala (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. oil

Wash and chop the red chard. Keep the stalks, one can use them to make baked munchies. Wash, peel and chop the potatoes. In hot oil, splutter the jeera and then saute the chopped onions. At this step you can add one small roma tomato (chopped) if you wish to. Now add the chopped greens and potatoes and stir. The huge mass of chopped greens is gonna' become very small when you cook them :). Add a pinch of turmeric and red chilli powder and stir again. Add salt, stir on high heat for about 4-5 minutes. You don't need to add any water, the greens have plenty of water. Cover the pan and cook on low heat till done. Garnish with garam masala and serve hot with phulkas, paranthas or rice n' daal combo. The sabzi looks very pretty with the red and green hues gracing the platter......even the potatoes assumes a pretty red tone.

Did i mention that this is one of the favorite sabzis of my dear friend Golden Girl :). I served this sabzi with chapatis and Masoor daal, cooked in Bengali style (recipe coming up, and that is a favorite of another very dear friend, MD).

But hold on, this is also supposed to be about breakfast, weekend breakfast! so, we aren't done yet :)). And what do we make for breakfast-my favorite, paranthas :)). Paranthas with what, you ask. How about using some of Mom's wisdom and using this delicious sabzi as a filling for paranthas :). Moms love to make stuffed paranthas out of sabzis left over from dinner, and they also know that this surely is one way in which their lil' ones would have their vegetables and greens.

For stuffed paranthas:

Make the dough with whole wheat, salt to taste, ajwain (Carum) and water. Rest the dough for 15-20 minutes. Use the sabzi we prepared (or for that matter any dry sabzi) to make stuffed paranthas, using the two layered style :). Make the sandwich of rolled-out pooris like shown below, dust with flour and roll into a nice parantha. Cook on hot griddle/tawa: i usually fry with a lil' oil or ghee. But the low fat option of just cooking it as a chapati is always there. Enjoy the paranthas with masala chai, achaar, dahi, raita or just by themselves :).

And i see folks, you are all thinking that i am repeating myself.....kadhi again!! for JFI!! how could i not blog about this-it tastes so amazingly good.....palak, amaranth, chard, cilantro.....koi bhi patta chalega ji (any leaves are good)! So, here goes:

Palak kadhi:

  • Chopped greens (i used a 9 ounce pack of baby spinach)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped long)
  • Ginger (chopped, to taste)
  • 1 small tomato (chopped, roma tomatoes are good for this)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk or beaten curd (preferably sour)
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp. besan (gram flour)
  • /2 tsp. each of jeera and dhaniya (cumin and coriander) seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. each of methi-dana (Fenugreek seeds) and kalonji (Nigella seeds)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • Turmeric and chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Garam masala

So, lets heat the oil, spultter the seeds: first the cumin-coriander combo fllowed by kalonji and methi-dana. Saute the onions till golden brown and the saute the ginger. Add the chopped spinach and tomatoes and stir till the greens are cooked a bit and reduce in volume. (Meanwhile, we also prepare the besan-curd mix. Beat the mix well to prevent any clumps). Add the turmeric, chilli powder and salt to the cooked green, stir again and cook for 5 minutes more. Now reduce the flame and slowly add the besan-curd mix. Continue stirring to prevent any curdling. Add more water (1/2 cup or so) and bring the kadhi to a boil. Cook on low heat, the kadhi should become a lil' thicker. Garnish with garam masala and serve hot with rice or your choice.

We are still not done, we have to make the palak-matar-gajar (spinach-peas-carrots) sabzi.
We need:

  • Chopped spinach (16 ounce pack of spinach)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 big tomato (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • Turmeric and red chilli powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. melted ghee
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
So, to make this quick sabzi, heat ghee, splutter jeera and saute onions. Add tomatoes and stir to cook them till soft. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir and add the chopped greens. Stir again and add the chopped carrots and peas. Add salt and stir again. Cover and cook till done. Add 1/4 tsp. garam masala and serve hot with phulkas, paranthas or daal-chawal. Makes a great filling for wraps, sandwiches and what else, paranthas :)).

So, be good and have your greens :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pretty, healthy and delicious: A Raita :)

Raita, simple combination of seasoned yogurt/curd and other ingredients of your choice.....who doesn't love it. Salty or sweet n' spicy or both-raitas come in all shapes and sizes and present a very good way of having our vegetables (and fruits and even fried stuff )! There are some raitas which we all know about: the boondi raita, aloo-raita, onion-tomato-cucumber raita etc. And then there are those which are the pride of regional Indian cuisines e.g. Bhoplyachi bharith (pumpkin and curd based), Mujj chetin (mooli and curd), Baathu/Bathua raita (Bathua greens and curd) and so on.....feel free to share more varieties :). Raitas can look as serene or as jazzy as we want them to. Last week we enjoyed a simple raita, the ghiya raita. This week, we'll have fun with this dazzling, gorgeous looking raita :).

So what is this raita made of :). BEETS! yes, grated beets, sour curd and you are in for bliss! Beets are a wonderful vegetable-colorful and delightful. You can have them as salads, make crisps or chips out of them, make delish curries (by Seema) and so on.....You can even enjoy the beet greens. I love the beet greens and Ashakka does so too :). I was ecstatic to see her beet-green daal y'day. I also make beet green bhurji, either alone or with other vegetables like beans or eggplants. So, what are we waiting for- lets make this raita!

We need:

  • One beet (washed and peeled)
  • 1 cup curd or yogurt (preferably sour)
  • 1/4 tsp. each cumin and coriander powders (Jeera and Dhania, roasted and ground)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper (kali mirchi powder)
  • Salt to taste
  • Green chillies (chopped-add to taste)

Grate the beet in a bowl. At this step either use it as such or microwave after covering for 2-3 minutes and cool down before us. If you microwave, it gives you a sublime sweet taste in the raita. For those who prefer salty raitas, don't microwave. Beat the curd or yogurt and add to the grated beets. Add a cpl. of tbsp. water if the mixture is too thick. Add the salt and the spices, followed by the green chillies. Serve with your favorite food. I sometimes also have this (and other raitas) as a full meal! Enjoy :).

Notes: Chillies do add a lot here as well :). So if you don't like the heat from the chillies, you can slit a chilli pepper into two, remove the seeds and add to the raita. Bee and Reena tell us that a very healthy and delicious cousin graces the Kerala cuisine: the beetroot pachadi. Coconut, chillies and cumin ground together and mixed with seasonings added to beet and curds makes this yummy pachadi. Its always heart warming to know more about our regional delicacies.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

M for Mooli-wadi sabzi :)

Once again, its time to join for Nupur's A-Z potluck and this week she features the letter M. and i decided to make M for mooli-wadi di sabzi! Mooli or radish is a fantastic vegetable, spicy and pungent in taste, its available in different sizes and colors. This vegetable is rich in sulphur, which also is the reason behind the typical mooli smell. Mooli is very versatile too, featuring in parathas, floating happily in sambhar, relishes and raitas! and i use and love mooli in each of these forms. While we many of us are familiar with mooli parathas and to an extent mooli sambhar, a lot of people are shocked when they hear the words mooli-raita (a traditional Kashmiri dish muj chetin). Mooli and dahi, nahin-nahin, is what some utter-but one spoon full in their mouth and they go wow! its heavenly indeed, so folks, do try it! Anita tells you how :). We Punjabis love our moolis too, and our use of mooli is not limited to parathas. We make simple but delicious sabzis with this lovely vegetable.

One of the most popular mooli sabzis in Punjab is grated mooli sauted and cooked with masala wadis. and the other one is the mooli bhurji, made out of chopped mooli and mooli leaves :). None of these preparations use any onion, garlic and tomato. We'll prepare the mooli-wadi sabzi today. Usually this dish is made with coarse grated mooli, but many a time i grate my moolis fine. Try both, they both taste different! and i also add the chopped mooli leaves, which usually are used only in mooli bhurji. it gives a nice colorful touch to the sabzi. You can also use red mooli (small red bunch radishes) for this preparation too-looks very pretty and equally tasty!

So, lets start :).

We need:

  • Two moolis with leaves
  • 2-3 Punjabi masala wadis
  • 1/4 tsp. jeera
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric and red chilli powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. oil
Remove the leaves from the moolis. Wash and chop the leaves and keep aside. Scrape the moolis and grate them (fine or coarse-your choice). Squeeze the water out of the grated moolis (save this water and use it soon for making dough for phulkas, or daal etc.). In a pan, heat oil and splutter the jeera. Add turmeric and red chilli powder, followed by the graped moolis. Mix well and add the chopped leaves. Add salt and stir well. Now crush the wadis into small pieces. Cover the pan and cook on low heat with occassional stirring, till done. The wadis should become softer (softer than they are, but still gritty) and we are ready to go!

Serve hot with chapati or parantha. Simple goodness!

Note: Good Punjabi wadis have a lil' hing and when cooked they get a slightly tangy flavor. i have occasionally found good wadis here, but nothing to beat the Amritsari wadis! The wadis have a whole bunch of other spices, so no need to add garam masala. You may try other spice wadis as well. Addition of a lil' amchoor is welcome, if you love tangy taste. and those who run away from the mooli smell, keep the exhaust on-and cooking also helps turn the raw mooli smell into a spicy aroma. Also, as i stressed before, the mooli water should be used quickly.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ek Khichri, Ek Raita :)

If i were to ask you, what would you like to have for a comfort food, i am sure the votes would mostly go to different combos of lentils and rice-either cooked together as khichri or cooked separately and served together like daal-chawal :). Be it the good old daal chawal or the different style of khichris cooked plain or with veggies, bland or with spices (the most common khichri that i make), bisi-bele baath, Ven Pongal.....the list goes on. Khichri, my dear, is an all time comfort food.....the comfort reminding me of the Mom's hug and the way she used to feed me when i was lil'. and all those lovely childhood tales that go with such yummy food.....Khichri converts even the most unsuspecting folks into sneaking an extra helping into their platters :).

Our folk lore is full of stories to strengthen this claim. Sample this one, for this story, the humble sparrow (the bird thats often portrayed as completely sharif and honest) tries to gobble up her partner crow's share too! So, once upon a time a chidiya (sparrow) and kauwa (crow) set about to make khichri-chidiya brought the daal and kauwa brought the rice. Together the dished out the most amazing khichri ever. Now, the chidiya was really drooling and impatient.....and a bit greedy, secretly thinking of gobbling some of the kauwa's share too. and her impatience leads her to open the steaming hot khichri vessel.....scalding her tail!! She goes chin, chin mera poonjha sadiya (chin, chin my tail's burnt) and the kauwa goes "kyon paraya khichhar khadha" (why did you gobble someone else's khichhar) get the picture!

Today, i'll share a favorite khichri of mine. Mom used to make it all the time-and i suspect that it is inspired by Gujarati Cuisine given its pulaav like consistency (because Punju khichris are usually more liquidy, and my Mom lived in Gujarat for a long time-so, put the two together and it gives me the possible origins). So, today we'll make the chana daal khichri and lauki ka raita to go with it :). Dumela reminds me about a close cousin, a Multani daal-pulaav called Phunakni. Phunakni is usually made with chana daal or split peas (matar daal) and sometimes even with chana! jeera, tej patta and moti-elaichi are used for spicing (the way i've eaten it). Unlike the khichri above though, the rice grains are still separate and not mushy. So in a way we Punjus have a cousin of this khichri :). Thanks reminded me of some nice old times.....

For Khichri, we need:

  • 3/4 cup rice ( i used basmati, but other Sona masoori goes well too)
  • 1/2 cup chana daal (washed and preferably soaked for 1 hr.)
  • 1/2 tsp. Jeera
  • 4-5 laungs (lavangs, cloves)
  • 1 tsp. melted ghee
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 and 1/4 cups water
Wash the rice and add the soaked chana daal to it and set aside. In melted ghee, splutter the jeera. Add the daal chawal mix, cover with water, add the salt and cloves. Pressure cook for two whistles. Let the cooker cool down and its ready :). That simple. It should turn out like pulaav .

But wait, khichri needs her companions! In Punjabi we say, "Khichri de ne chaar yaar, ghyo, dahi, papad te achaar", describing khichri's four companions: Ghyo (ghee), dahi, papad and pickle. So, here goes. Lets make some ghiye da raita (lauki/doodhi, bottle gourd raita). This is one of my favorite ways to relish ghiya, and the humble raita is lifted to great heights with the use of black pepper and green chillies.

For ghiye da raita, we need:

  • One small bottle gourd
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder, coriander powder and ground black pepper
  • 1-2 chopped green chillies
  • Chopped cilantro
  • 1 and 1/2 cup beaten yogurt.
Grate the bottle gourd (you can include the peel too). Next step is to steam the grated ghiya. You can steam it in the pressure cooker or turn to your microwave. So, place the grated ghiya in a microwavable vessel, sprinkle some water (1 tbsp. or so), cover and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes. Cool it down. Mix the beaten yogurt in. Stir in the spice powders, salt and chopped green chillies. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice or your choice. If you don't like very spicy food, don't chop the chillies. Just slit them into two, remove seeds and mix with the raita to let the flavor (but not heat) of the chillies blend in.

I served the khichri with raita, mirchi achaar and papad. Enjoy :).

  • M for Mooli-wadi sabzi
  • Pretty, healthy and delicious: A Raita
  • Aloo-gobhi
  • Arbi-bataun (baingan) di sabzi
  • Upma Fan Club

Saturday, April 14, 2007

L for Lobia-Shimla :)

Hey friends, time to head for Nupur's A-Z meetup. I am packing some L for Lobia-Shimla and lots of love :). Lobia or Raungi or Roongi or Roong or Chawli (or Black-eyed beans) as its known, is one of my recent favorites. The regular white colored lobia is also called chitta (Punjabi-White) lobia and the pink/red lobia is called lal lobia. and recent favorite?? you ask-yes! there was a time when i ate them but didn't enjoy 'em as much. He he, quite a childhood thing :)). It changed slowly.....Usually i would demand Rajma-Chawal for any special occassion, like the last day of exams :). On one such occassion, i.e. after the exams were over, Mom decided to make raungi instead.....and boy! did i make a face.....Rajmas can not be replaced with anything else :)). But somehow, that day, when i had the first byte, i fell in love with this marvellous bean :). Our hostess, Nupur beautifully describes these beans when she says that to her "they look like beans wearing kohl" :).

Over the time, i realized that most people who don't enjoy lobia as much, feel that it needs something needs to have a fuller flavor. In simpler words, it needs to be spiced up a bit :)). I usually make lobia as a daal, sometimes with potatoes (yes, we Punjabis add aloo to everything: so you have stuff like Rajma aloo, aloo chhole etc). Another favorite of mine is to make lobia with eggplants. But today, we'll try out lobia with bell peppers i.e. Shimla mirch :). Shimla adds that special something to this lovely legume :).

So lets say Love to Lobia and get ready :)

We need:

  • Black eyed beans (1 cup)
  • 1 bell pepper (cut long)
  • 1/4 tsp. shah jeera
  • 1 onion (chopped long)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 2-3 big, ripe tomatoes (cubed)
  • Turmeric (about a pinch) and red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. amchur
  • 1 tsp. melted ghee
  • Kasoori methi or chopped cilantro for garnishing
Soak the lobia for half an hour or so in warm water. Pressure cook it with just a lil' bit of water (4-5 whistles) and allow to cool (consistency should be like the picture above). Meanwhile, lets prepare the tadka/masala. In hot ghee, spluttershah-jeera and then saute' onions till golden brown. Add chopped ginger and saute'. You may add a lil' garlic paste also. Add the chopped bell peppers/capsicum and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Now add the tomatoes, stir and cook on low till a thick masala is made. Add just a pinch of turmeric (adding less turmeric allows for the red hues of tomatoes to take over) and red chilli powder. Now add the amchur and stir. Add just a lil' bit of water to make a thick gravy and add the cooked beans to this. Cover and cook on low heat for the beans to absorb all the flavors and spices. Add chopped cilantro or dried methi leaves (take your pick-i used methi leaves). Serve hot with bread or rice of your choice.

I served this with bhatura :). I adapted this style of serving from a Dhaba in Amritsar, where they used to serve the chhole on top of the kulche and bhature.....

Notes: Add more water to get a suitable consistency of the gravy for it to go with rice :).

Enjoy the lovable lobia enhanced by the delectable shimla mirch :)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Guchhi te Paneer di sabzi :)

Fashion-holics, i am not talking about Gucci here :)). This "Guchhi" is something totally different-something for the mushroom fan in you. Yup, Guchhis or Dhingris are dried mushrooms./morels. Drying vegetables imparts a different flavor to them. Punjabis are also into drying vegetables and i said in one of my earlier posts, it was a common practice till recently, to dry turnips, radishes, cauliflower, carrots, spinach and fenugreek (the veggies dried strung as garlands). Mushrooms/morels on the other hand aren't dried at home, but bought from the Pansari/Kiryana/Kirana (masale wallah and grocer) instead. They are usually quite expensive back home and used only on special occassions.

However, i haven't seen them often in Indian stores here. You do see dried mushrooms occassionally in regular grocery stores, but they are no good, because one pack hardly has anything. I resorted to making my own :). And you don't need much sun for this. Just get baby bella or crimini musrooms from the store, slice them, put them in a bowl and keep them in the fridge for more than a week without covering the bowl. Make sure that the fridge is set for the lowest temperatures. The mushrooms would dehydrate in a week or so.....after this, just shade dry them for a day or two and we are good to go. Don't have dried mushrooms, no worries, this tastes just as good with fresh mushrooms :).

This recipe, co-starring paneer and cashew/almond paste and ginger as the chief magic-maker, is one great ode to the Guchhi :)

We need:

  • Guchhis (dried morels/mushrooms)
  • Cubed Paneer (fresh/frozen)
  • 1/4 tsp. each Shah-jeera (black cumin) and dhania (coriander)
  • 2 tsp. Ginger paste
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 big, ripe tomatoes (cubed)
  • 10-15 cashwes/blanched almonds as paste
  • 1/4 tsp. or less turmeric
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. melted ghee
  • 1 stick dalchini (cinnamon) and two badi elaichi (black cardamoms), cracked open
  • 1/4 tsp. Kasuri methi

Lets soak the guchhis in warm water and set aside. Also deep fry/toast/saute'/bake the paneer cubes till lightly brown and set aside. In hot ghee, splutter the shah-jeera and dhania, saute the chopped onion and then saute' the ginger paste/grated ginger. You may add garlic too, but not more than one clove (crushed). Next, lets add the cubed tomatoes, turmeric and red chilli powder and cook till we get a smooth gravy. Now lets stir the cashew/almond paste in. Cashew paste would impart a certain mellow flavor to the whole dish and balances the ginger. Once in a while, i replace this with 2 tbsp. of beaten yogurt to get some tangy taste. Add some water and the soaked guchhis. If using fresh mushrooms, saute' after onions and ginger and cook for 5-10 mins. Bring to boil and add the paneer cubes. Now add the cinnamon and cardamoms. Cover the pot and cook on low heat till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with kasoori methi and serve hot with bread or rice of your choice.

Notes: If you plan to store and re-heat this dish again, remove the cinnamon and cardamom-as boiling these spice again and again would change the flavor of the dish.

This dish gets the spice factor from ginger (the major aromatic ingredient) and the body from tomatoes and cashew paste. Enjoy the flavors and have fun :)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Khatte jimikand te vesan wali poori :)

Yes, its K for Khatte Jimikand :). Jimikand is the single Punjabi word for a certain type of tubers. Possibly originating from a merger of Zameen (Earth) and Kand (tuber), jimikand/jamikand refers usually to Amorphophallus (Suran), the more common yam available in Punjab, and occassionaly to the Pink Yam (Ratalu-Gujarati) or Dioscorea. The former variety is also jokingly referred to as "Haathi Futta", meaning Elephants Foot, because of the huge frame :). Both varieties are equally delightful to eat, the pink/purple being sweeter.

Nupur's post on Ratala-kees and the comments therein bring out some interesting points about the nomenclature of this group of vegetables. Apparently Ratala is the Marathi name for sweet potato and whats Ratalu (Pink yam) in Gujarati, is Suran in Marathi. Please share any trivia on this nomenclature.

For this post, i started out looking for the regular yam (which sometimes makes appearances in the Indian stores). However, not having found the elephant foot, i decided to settle for the pink yam. And boy, did it work! with a brilliant color to boot :). So, lets make the K for Khatte Jimikand today: its equally delicious with whatever kind of jimikand we can use, and even other tubers e.g shakarkand (sweet potato), potato and any other tuber :).

We need:

  • Two medium sized pink yams or one big haathi futta
  • 1/4 onion (chopped): optional
  • 1 big, ripe tomato (cubed)
  • 1/4 tsp. each Shah jeera (Black Cumin) and Kalonji (Nigella seeds)
  • 1-2 Green chillies (optional)
  • Turmeric
  • Red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Lime/lemon juice
  • 1/2-1 tsp. oil for saute'ing
  • Fat-free cooking spray for baking
First of all, lets wash, peel and cut the jimikand into big cubes. If its difficult to cut, microwave 1/2 minute and then cube the yam. Traditional Punjabi yam recipe call for the cubes to be deep fried-we would reach for our oven instead and bake these cubes (high heat/15 minutes, with frequent turning). While the yam cubes are baking, lets make the gravy base. In hot oil, splutter the shah jeera, followed by kalonji. Fry chopped onions (if you are using onions-tastes equally good with or without onions). Now add the cubed tomatoes and cook to make a thick sauce. Add turmeric and chilli powder (to taste). Add the baked jimikand cubes and salt to taste-mix and add water. Cook on low heat after covering the pot till the gravy thickenes and smoothens out. We are almost there. Before serving, squeeze some lime/lemon juice to get the desired level of tang. Add chopped green chillies, cover and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Serve hot with phulkas (chapatis), paranthas, plain rice or khichri of your choice. Extremely simple, gorgeous to look at, especially if one uses the pink yam and absolutely no frills.

The green chillies add a distinct aroma and color (green on orange, isn't that delightful). Chop them coarse or slit into halves, if you don't like the heat :). That way you get the "khushbu" and can escape biting on chillies.

The regular yam is also prepared in this way, sometimes with potato and sometimes with matar. But the pink yam tastes best all by itself, hogging the limelight, in all its colorful glory.

I served this delicious sabzi with Vesan waaliyaan pooriyaan (besan pooris). I rarely make pooris, infact it was more than two years since i had made pooris!! So, why these pooris, you may ask. Hey, i like pooris.....but they are heavy, so i usually avoid them for dinner, and i am hardly home for lunch on weekends :)). But this time i got nostalgic.....for these were the special pooris Mom used to make sometimes.....even Bibiji (my Grandma) made them occasionally. Thinking of all that, i felt i craved those, lets roll :)

Vesan waaliyaan pooriyaan:

We need:

For the dough:

  • Preferably a half and half all purpose and whole wheat mix (i used 1/4 all purpose, 3/4 whole wheat)
  • Ajwain (1 tsp)/cup of flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar (keeps the pooris crisp)
  • 1/2 tsp oil (Oil/ghee added to the dough is called mon, moyan or mohan)/optional (i didn't use it-you may use it if you like your pooris eternally puffed up ;))
  • Jeera and Dhania (Cumin and Coriander) seeds 1/4 tsp. each-dry roasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp. Kasuri methi (dried methi leaves)
  • Enough water to make a stiff dough
Make a stiff/poori type dough with all these ingredient and let rest for 30 minutes or so.

For the batter:

  • Besan (gram flour), salt (just enough for a lil' savory touch), a pinch of red chilli powder and enough water to make a thick batter (like we make for pakoras).
To make the pooris, roll out small pooris-dip one side in the besan mix and fry, starting with the batter dipped side facing oil. Fry both sides, drain the oil and serve hot with your choice of sabzi/bhaji. One of the four pooris in the first picture (the top one) is a regular poori :).

These pooris are heavy because of the besan and also they don't puff as much as regular pooris, but are really fluffy to eat. Enjoy :).

And if you are not into fried foods, no worries, the Khatte Jimikand is delish with plain whole wheat phulkas, as i said.

I also make jimikand koftas and kababs (both baked)-more on that later :).

My lil' contribution for Nupur's great event celebrating the A-Z of Indian Vegetables, featuring the "K" vegetables this week. Nupur, i hope i made it in time.....and thanks a ton for this delightful event :).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Paronthe te acchar :)

And that, my dear, sums up a hearty Punjabi style breakfast.....Paranthas, or paronthe, as they are called in Punjabi, make one of the most widely enjoyed and versatile Indian breads. Plain or stuffed, they are packed with loads of flavor. As i mentioned earlier, paronthe are traditionally served only during breakfast.....they being a "heavy meal" :). Accompanied by dahi, achaar or chutney, they (besides my ever favorite upma) make weekend breakfast a real treat. We've all had paranthas of different shapes, sizes and with different whats new here.

Well, the style of making paranthas. I am taking about the TWO LAYERED PARANTHAS. I noticed that outside Punjab, very few people make paranthas in this certain way. So, lets get rolling (Coffee, i am at it) ;). And if its parantha, can the achaar be far behind-so two of my favorite pickles accompany these three delish paranthas.

Paratha/Parontha party: Lets put together two classic and one creative parathas today. My pick: the crisp mooli (radish) paranthas, the yummy aloo (potato) paranthas and the green and hearty spring onion (bhookaan-Punjabi) and peas (matar) paranthas.

The Dough:

Whole wheat is must :).

  • For mooli paranthas, i prepare the dough with the water squeezed from grated moolis along with lil' salt and extra water if needed.
  • For aloo paranthas, the dough has salt to taste and lil' ajwain (optional).
  • For spring-onion matar paranthas, ajwain is must in the dough, besides salt.
So, knead.....and keep kneading till the dough is soft and smooth. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, while we make the stuffings/fillings :).

Stuffings and preparation:

Mooli paronthe:

Grate the radish after scraping the peel. Squeeze out the water as much as possible and us this for making the dough. To the grated radishes, add: salt to taste, red chilli powder (optional) and garam masala. Taste for salt.

So, for making the paranthas, either we can roll out one single poori, put some stuffing, fold it up and roll it out, OR, make two small pooris, put stuffing on one, cover with another poori, press to seal the edges and roll :). and the latter, my dear, is the two-layered Punjabi parontha :). Roll out in a style of your choice (i recommend that you try the latter), fry the parontha on a hot griddle and serve hot with dahi or achaar.

Yummy variations: Try red radish for a change. Also if you have left over mooli sabzi (grated mooli, squeezed dry and stir fried with turmeric, salt and chilli powder), that makes a great stuffing too :).

Aloo paronthe:

The method of rolling remains the same, with two pooris. For filling(s), do the following:

Wash a big potato. DO NOT reach out for your pressure cooker. TURN towards your MICROWAVE and just microwave for 5 mins./potato. Cool, peel and mash the potatoes. Add 1/4 tsp. each of jeera, dhaniya and kali mirchi powder (last one is optional), add 1/2 tsp. pomegranate seeds, salt to taste, a pinch of garam masala, chopped cilantro, chopped green/red chillies (to taste/optional) and 1/2 tsp. lime/lemon juice. You can make it as spicy or as sublime as you wish. Dhaniya and anardana are must, as is cilantro :). THIS is the filling i used.

Sometimes, people also make a simpler filling with mashed potatoes, salt, pepper and chopped entirely different and equally delicious flavor.

Roll out the paronthe, fry and serve with your pick of raita or achaar.

Spring Onion-Matar Paronthe:

3-4 spring onions-chopped and 1/2 cup fresh/frozen peas. Heat oil (1/4 tsp.) and splutter jeera, add spring onions and peas, turmeric, salt and a pinch of garam masala. Stir fry till the matar is bright green and the raw smell is gone. Cool and use this filling to make delicious paranthas.

The advantage of this style is that it allows for a lot more amount of filling. Also, its more filling, so you eat only one parantha, consume just as much wheat as for two of the regular small paranthas and half the amount of ghee/oil/margarine :). However, please be careful to seal the edges well, and also ensure that the edges are rolled out well (so they get fried well). Press with the spoon on the edges to ensure even cooking.

For lower calory variations, roll them much thinner, cook the paranthas on low heat as a chapati (for this, ensure that the dough is soft) and once done, enjoy with raita.


Achaars.....the pride of Indian kitchens. Every region of India boats of a huge variety of delicious pickles. Punjabi thali has a special place for achaar. I bring to you the flavors of two of my favorite achaars.

Shalgham-gajar da achaar: This one is a real simple and quick pickle to prepare, and equally delicious :). We need:

  • Cubed/semi-lunar sliced turnips
  • Baby carrots (halved)
  • Mustard seeds (2-3 tsp.)
  • Turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Masala: 1/2 tsp. each of fenugreek seeds (methra), fennel seeds (saunf) and black pepper (kali mirchi), dry roasted and ground.
  • Red or white vinegar (2 tbsp.)
  • Mustard oil
  • Sugar (1 tsp.)
To the vinegar, add turmeric, salt and sugar. Splutter mustard seeds in 2 tbsp. mustard oil, and add to the vinegar mix after cooling it a bit. Add this mix to the vegetables and mix throughly. Top it with the powdered masal which has been stirred with 1 tbsp. hot mustard oil. Mix throughly and store in a dry jar. Let it rest for 2-3 days with its share of sun-bathing :). Its good to go after that :)). Real quick and real delicious.I had made this pickle last week, a Planter peanut bottle full-its almost over now :)). You can judge that by the amount of achaar you've seen on these platters ;).

Nimbu-mirch te adrak da achaar: Another favorite, equally simple-just that it needs lot more patience :). To make this pickle, wash 12-15 key limes and soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Remove the limes, wipe dry and cut into halves. Add to this julienned ginger and chopped serrano peppers or hari mirchi (halved). Top this with 3-4 tbsp. lime/lemon juice, salt to taste, red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp. sugar (aids pickling) and turmeric. Mix and let sit.

Meanwhile, in hot mustard oil, splutter mustard seeds and add the masala powder as mentioned above. Cool a bit and mix with the pickle throughly. Pack in a dry container and let it sun-bathe for a month or more.....delicious pickle takes time sometimes ;). A month or two later, be ready to enjoy this goodness :).

What's next:

  • Khatte Jimikand te Vesan wali poori.
  • Guchhi-Paneer di sabzi.
  • Ek khicri, ek raita.