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Rice & Dal

Rice & Dal/ South Indian

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chettinad is a region in south Tamilnadu and is well know for its unique cuisine which emphasize the use of various whole spices and fresh coconut. This month’s SNC challenge was a savory curry made in chettinad style. This was my first time preparing Chettinad cuisine and since I have not tasted this particular curry, I was not entirely sure about what to expect or how it should really taste. But take my word for it. it was absolutely delicious. The addition of coconut, cashews and roasted chana dal adds a whole new dimension to our regular onion-tomato gravy and also alters its texture in a soothing way. Curry leaves and the roasted chana dal reinforce the south indian flavors while chana dal pakoda with crushed fennel seeds offer a new surprise at every bite. All in all, it’s a wonderful dish, you can serve it with rice or idli or dosa.chettinad pakoda kuzhambu 2

south-vs-north-blue

 

Thanks to Priya from Priya’s Versatile Recipes for sharing this Chettinad speciality with us.

 

 

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu

Chana dal pakodas dipped in South Indian gravy makes a perfect pairing with rice.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

For preparing Pakoda -

  1. Soak chana dal for at least two hours. 
  2. Grind chana dal with some fennel seeds and dry red chilis to a coarse paste. Add water only if needed.
  3. Heat enough oil in a pan so that you can deep fry multiple pakodas at a time. Make pakodas with your fingers and drop them in hot oil on low-medium heat. Fry them until golden brown. Keep them aside.chana dal pakoda

For preparing gravy -

  1. Grind all ingredients listed under "To Grind" above to a fine paste with some water.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan / kadhai, heat some oil and all whole Garam masala listed under "For Seasoning" and fry for a minute or so or until you can smell it.
  3. Add chopped onions and garlic and fry it for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomato and let them cook for  sometime.
  5. Now add the coconut paste and also add 4 cups of water. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt and give it a stir. Let it cook for 5 minutes with lid on.
  7. Add pakodas and let it simmer further for 2 minutes. Add more water if needed. Pakodas will absorb the water so make sure you add enough.

Serve it hot with rice / idli or dosa.

chettinad pakoda kuzhambu 1

Rice & Dal

Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani

Paradise Hotel, a landmark on Sardar Patel Road in Secunderabad which is so hard to miss. A crowded road with equally crowded biryani house which has been serving thousands of people day and night since 1953. I still clearly remember,  6 years back when I first visited Hyderabad; lunch at Paradise was ranking very high on our must-to-do list. Their signature biryani was truly succulent, flavorful and aromatic! It was a delicious experience.

When I first came across the recipe for Hyderabadi Birynai at Swasthi’s Indian Healthy Recipes, I knew I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to cherish my experience in my own kitchen. And the reason I came across this wonderful recipe is SNC – South Vs North Challenge started by Divya Pramil. She is a versatile cook and blogs at Youtoocancookindianfood.blogspot.com. Divya has created two groups – Southern Group and Northern Group as you can guess you become part  of a group based on the region you belong to in India. I liked the idea and it’s quite unique. This is my first time participating in SNC and I am so excited about it.

I will be part of Northern Group. You can read more about the challenge on Divya’s blog. Being from Maharashtra, I feel this is a great opportunity for me to learn both South Indian and North Indian dishes.

south-vs-north-blue

So here it comes, my vegetable biryani

Hyderabadi Vegetable BiryaniIt’s easy to prepare but has multiple steps and if it’s your first time it will take little longer. My rice was cooked little longer  but the flavors and the taste was quite up to my expectation.

Here’s what you need.

Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani

Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani

One pot meal with simple ingredients yet exotic flavors

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Take a deep breath. It's a long list of ingredients and an equally long list of steps, quite daunting when you read it first time. Stay with me and it will be done in 45 minutes!

  1. Wash rice grains and soak them in cold water before starting with other preparation.
  2. Keep all vegetables ready by washing them and chopping as desired. I used some asparagus but that's optional.Vegetable Biryani prep
  3. Next thing is to prepare the vegetable masala. In a medium pan, heat 2 tbspn of oil or Ghee and add all whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, shahee jeera, star anis) and let them roast for a minute or so until you can smell their distinct aromas.
  4. Now add ginder garlic paste and green chilis.
  5. Add diced potatoes and  saute them for a 1-2 minutes.
  6. Now add all other vegetables and mix them.
  7. Add biryani  masala, red chili powder and sail and mix well.
  8. Now add 1/2 cup yogurt, mix everything and let it cook for 5 minutes. keep a lid on so that it cooks faster with the steam.
  9. We want the dry masala so cook it uncovered for another 3-4 minutes until all the moisture goes out. Add some chopped mint leaves and cilantro leaves and keep it aside.
  10. Heat 1/4 cup milk and add saffron to it. Keep it ready.
  11. In a small kadhai or pan, add 4 tbsp of oil and fry the onion slices until they turn dark brown. It takes around 10 minutes.Fried Onions
  12. In another bigger pan, add 4 cups of water and the soaked rice. Add a tsp of Ghee or oil, some salt and cumin seeds. Let it simmer for a while until the rice is 3/4th done. This is important as we are going to cook the rice again so make sure it's not well done.
  13. As soon as rice is ready, place a tawa on a low flame and a big steal pan or cooker on the tawa. You may call it as a modern way of cooking "dum" biryani.
  14. Add half of the vegetable masala cooked earlier, add some yogurt and some fried onions. Then add some rice. Make two such layers. On top add cashews, raisins and fried onions and chopped cilantro leaves.
  15. Pour the saffron milk on top.
  16. Now you have two options, you can seal the top with wheat dough or you can use a thick towel with a heavy lid on top it. I used the latter option.
  17. Let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on medium flame and then switch of the heat and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
  18. Serve it hot with raita.

Notes

It's very important to keep everything ready when your rice is about to be done else it will cook more than what you want and the grains will not remain separated. I did this mistake and my rice was little overcooked. So plan it ahead.

 

 

Gujarati/ Maharashtrian/ Rice & Dal/ Soup

कढी / Kadhi

I was introduced to ‘Kadhi-Khichadi’ combination by S. I completely admit that it’s a marriage made in heaven; not very common among Maharashtrians but adored by Gujaratis.

It goes without saying that there are couple of variations found through out India – Maharashtrian kadhi, Gujarati kadhi, Punjabi kadhi and sindhi kadhi to name a few. The basic idea is to mix besan and buttermilk with some spices to make spiced, flavorful watery accompaniment to other dishes. You will find more sugar in Gujarati kadhi than any other version, punjabi kadhi has more spices and also pakoras while sindhis like to have vegetables in their kadhi.

Here is the basic kadhi, the version I grew up with – kadhi

Maharashtrian/ Rice & Dal

मूगा-तांदुळाची खिचडी / Rice Moong Dal Khichadi

Comforting to eat, Effortless to make

I will describe Khichadi in word one – Soul-food! It’s so comforting, fulfilling and satisfying. This was the first recipe I learned from my mom when I first started my job in Bangalore. It’s a ‘++’ version of  वरण भात ‘Varan-bhaat’  (dal-rice) but it’s actually easier to prepare than dal-rice.

The best part I like about Khichadi is it’s a one pot meal. All you do is mix all ingredients together in pressure cooker, then wait for few minutes and dig in! Well khichadi literally means a mixture. The rice in it adds the starch, which somewhat magically means comfort in any language, and the moong dal adds a good source of protein which is easy to digest.

It is also a dish that is found throughout the country in some form or the other – khichdi, khichri, khichuri, venn pongal, even kedgeree, which was adopted by the colonials, are all variations on the same theme. Like names there are different khichdis too. I like it soft, almost mushy and watery, but some prefer it like pulao, all grains intact.

My mom makes a milder version with no garam masala –

moong dal khichadi

I generally make a spiced khichadi with whole garam masala and green peas.

moonga tandulachi khichadiThe general rule is to use 2 parts rice and 1 part moong dal but I use both in equal proportions. You can use split moong dal which is green or yellow. Here is my version –

मूगा-तांदुळाची खिचडी Moong Dal Khichadi

मूगा-तांदुळाची खिचडी Moong Dal Khichadi

Comforting to eat, Effortless to make!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Wash and soak the rice and the dal in water for about half an hour. If you don't have time skip this step. 
  2. If you have time use a large wide and heavy bottom pan to prepare khichadi. Or you can also use a pressure cooker and make it quicker.
  3. Either ways, in a pan, heat the oil and add whole garam masala (clove, cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom). Also mustard seeds.
  4. When they start to pop add cumin seeds, curry leaves, hing and turmeric.
  5. Drain all the water from the grains and add them to the oil. Mix well for a minute.
  6. Now add goda masala and red chili powder and mix well.
  7. If you want add green peas or any other vegetables and mix again.
  8. Add 4 cups of water and stir everything together.
  9. Add grated coconut.
  10. Add salt and taste it.
  11. Now let it cook on medium heat for 3 whistles.  If you skip the first step, you might want to wait for 4-5 whistles depending upon your cooker.
  12. If you are making it a wide pan, let the water come to a boil and then simmer for few minutes. Stir it occasionally. But keep a lid on it by leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.
  13. Serve it hot with ghee and chopped cilantro.

khichadi_ayurfoods If you still think this is not easy to prepare, there is an instant version too. I recently came across AyurFoods and I have tried their moong dal khichadi. It was as delicious as home made. It’s nicely packaged and can be a good healthy meal while travelling.

 

Punjabi/ Rice & Dal/ Superfoods

Dal Makhani

There are some dishes which you never make at home because you always like to have those at restaurants. Dal Makhani was one of these until I had ‘the best dal makhani ever’ made by S. He was famous for his recipe during his college days and I must admit he did a great job. On a second thought the butter, and more butter, the cream and the masala did a fantastic job. Later, I served him dal makhani made without butter and cream and it was still as fabulous as his version, he looked surprised!

dal_makhani
black-urad-dal

Urad Dal is rich in protein and dietary fibre. It’s also a  great source of minerals especially Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Copper. It also has good amount of Folate and Vitamin B6.

Black Urad is not commonly used in Maharashtrian cuisine. As the name suggests, its a Punjabi dish and extra cream will make it more “Makhani” like any other Punjabi preparation.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

No butter and no cream can still make a delicious dal makhani

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Soak urad dal and kidney beans in water overnight (7-8 hours)
  2. In a pressure cooker, add soaked dal and beans with double amount of water.  Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and a bay leaf to the daal. Let it cook with 5-6 whistles.  You can also add a tea spoon of salt.
  3. Meanwhile, you can keep onion, tomato, ginger and garlic ready and start with the tadka.
  4. In a medium pan, heat some oil. Once it becomes hot, add cumin seeds.
  5. Add chopped garlic and let it turn slightly brown.
  6. Add some chopped cilantro and let it fry for a minute.
  7. Now add chopped onion, and cook them nicely. Sprinkle some salt to quicken the process.
  8. Once onions are cooked 80%, add tomatoes and mix well. It takes another 2 minutes.
  9. Smash tomatoes with spatula.
  10. Reduce the heat and add red chili powder and Dal Makhani masala and stir well. You should be able to smell the aroma of the hot masala.
  11. Next, add cooked dal and rajma along with some water.
  12. Add salt if needed and mix well. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes and your dal is ready to serve.
  13. garnish it with chopped onions while serving.

Dall_makhani_bigger

This is going to Vardhini’s Dish it Out – Lentils & Garlic event hosted at nivedhanams.

Rice & Dal

Green Rice / Mint Pulao / Mint Rice

Mint, a plant which is long known in diverse cultures such as India, Middle East and Europe, because of its distinct aroma, soothing flavor and curative properties. Mint tea helps digestion, it also provides relief from congestion. Some researchers have shown that min has anti-cancer properties and it can prevent colon, skin and lung cancer.

In Indian diet, we consume mint or पुदीना(pudina) in Marathi, mainly in a form of chutney. I wanted to use it in a main dish so I had three options – paratha or curry/vegetable or rice. The idea of mixing rice with mint chutney and some vegetables was more appealing than other two options; hence I made this “Green Rice”.

It’s a simple 4 step process

  1. Prepare white rice
  2. Prepare mint chutney (mint, cilantro, cumin seeds, green chilis, salt, sugar and lemon juice)
  3. Steam your favorite vegetables. I used broccoli and green beans to match the green theme.
  4. Prepare tadka with ghee and cumin seeds and whole garam masala and mix everything together!

Mint is especially rich in carotenes and vitamin C and also a good source of of several essential minerals, including magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, and calcium.


Source- http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-nutrition-of-mint.html#b

Maharashtrian/ Rice & Dal/ Soup/ Subji / Curry

पालकाची ताकातली भाजी (Palakachi patal bhaji)

Spinach goodness with Garlic tadka in one pot dish

This is yet another Maharashtrian classic recipe. Spinach cooked with buttermilk and besan (chick pea flour), ginger and green chilis, chana daal and peanuts for added crunch; topped with garlic tadka; you cannot go wrong with this one. I  enjoy it with rice, bhakri or even like soup. It’s quick and delicious.

 

Ingredients

a bunch of spinach - washed and chopped
1-2 tea spoon grated ginger
1/2 cup yogurt or buttermilk
4-5 tea spoons besan (chana daal flour)
3-4 tea spoon chana dal
3-4 tb spoon peanuts (ground nuts)
4-5 green chillies - chopped.
3-4 aamsul / or 1/2 tea spoon tamarind paste
1 tea spoon sugar
For tadka -
mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, turmeric curry leaves, garlic, green chillies
and oil/ghee
salt to taste

Soak chana daal and peanuts in water for an hour so that they cook faster. It’s better to use non-roasted peanuts as they absorb water nicely and taste better when cooked.
Get water boiling, add chopped spinach leaves, peanuts and chana daal and grated ginger and aamsul. Use just enough water to immerse spinach. Let the spinach and daal cook for 5-7 minutes. In another bowl, whisk yogurt and besan and add it to the cooked spinach, let it simmer for another 3-4 minutes. I like to add one/two chillies while the spinach is cooking and rest I use in tadka.

Nest step is to prepare tadka and add it to the cooked spinach. I prefer Ghee to oil for this dish. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and if you like, add a few coriander seeds. Once they start splattering, add hing and turmeric powder and then garlic and green chillies and curry leaves. Add this seasoned ghee/oil to the spinach mixture. Add salt and little bit sugar. The “patal bhaji” is ready.

A little bit of sugar nicely compliments the tangy touch added by aamsul. The garlic tadka makes this simple dish out-of-this world! i

A Quick Note –
To maintain the nutritional value of spinach, it’s important not to overcook the tender leaves. Add spinach after daal and peanuts are cooked, spinach takes hardly 2-3 minutes of cooking time.

Sending this to Kiran‘s “Cooking with Whole Foods – Spinach” event hosted at cook’s joy.

Breakfast/ Rice & Dal/ South Indian

The Pongal

It was a Saturday morning, 11 am; my friend and I were waiting to be seated in a room packed with people and filled with aromas of Sambar and Madras Coffee. The heavy rains did not have any effect on turnout at this small local restaurant, ‘The Pongal’. As soon as we settled down, my friend ordered two plates of pongal. Wait, what? Isn’t it a name of a festival? Before he could explain, the food arrived. And oh my god it was nothing less than a festive moment. On a big banana leaf, there lies a big serving of ‘pongal’, two very tempting Medhu Vadas along with green chutney, red chutney and a bowl of Sambar. It looked like rice and dal with no tadka but lots of ghee, quite similar to our Moogachi Khichadi. I have never had pongal like ‘The Pongal’ anywhere else. This is an humble attempt to recreate the taste of Venn (Khara) Pongal.

Serves :4 Prep time + Cooking Time : 30 mins

Ingredients :

1 cup Rice
1 cup moong dal
4 cups water
2 tbsp fresh coconut
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp peppercorns
For Seasoning 
2 tbspn ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 green chillies
a pinch of hing powder
4-5 curry leaves
handful of chopped cashew nuts

Soak rice and moong dal in cold water and keep it aside as you prepare other ingredients. Finely chop fresh coconut and ginger. Slice green chilies in halves. Add 4 cups of water in pressure cooker, few peppercorns, ginger and coconut pieces. Drain the excess water from rice and dal and add both to this water. Add turmeric powder and close the lid. Let it whistle for 2-3 times. Once pressure goes down, open the lid and mix salt with it. Transfer it to a serving bowl, so that it retains the water content. If you keep it in pressure cooker for longer, the pongal may become dry.

It’s tadka time! Heat the ghee in a small tadka pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing powder in the same order. Add curry leaves, cashew nuts and green chilies. Wait for 1-2 minutes till cashew become golden brown. Add this sizzling ghee on the pongal. The cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing add so many flavors to this simple dish, you won’t be able to wait longer. Traditionally it’s served with coconut chutney, sambar and Medhu vada.

Pongal 101 –

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu and it coincides with the festival Makar Sankranti celebrated throughout India. Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over” or “spill over” which symbolizes material abundance in household.

Pongal is also a name of a popular rice dish unique to Tamil cuisine. There are two varieties – Venn (white) pongal which is a spicy (khara) version made using rice and moong dal quite similar yet different than moogachi khichadi (Maharashtrian comfort food); typically served at breakfast or brunch.

Sakkarai (pronounced Shakra) Pongal which is sweet, similar to Narali bhaat but it contains jaggery typically made during festivals and offered to God as prasadam.

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