A healthy festive drink!
Last Monday we celebrated Akshay Trutiya, a religious occasion which calls for a sweet treat. “Akshay” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and this day falls on the third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the 3 and 1/2 “the most auspicious days” or also known as “Sade-Teen Muhurt” considered by Hindus. It’s believed that Akshay Trutiya was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa’s dictation. It’s considered auspicious to start a new venture or a new job, buy new property and jewelry too.
Every year my aajji used to celebrate Akshay trutiya by buying a gold coin and visiting the Vishnu temple. And I used to wait for her to come back so that I could get the prasad – the sweets! She tried making new sweets every time and this Moong Kheer (Porridge) was one of those innumerable treats I have had from her.
Traditionally it’s served warm but I like it chilled too. A very simple lentil kheer with just over 3 ingredients. Easy to make yet rates quite high on healthy spectrum which is quite unusual for an Indian sweet.Here is what you need.
A festive healthy drink! the two words fit in one sentence quite rarely!
- Lightly toast the moong dal with some ghee in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Do not let them turn brown. You should be able smell their nutty aroma.
- Add one cup of water to moong dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistels. They should be well cooked with very little water left in your cooking pot. It will have soft and smushy texture.
- Meanwhile, add jaggery in 1/2 cup water an dlet it dissolve completely. Strain the mixture in order to separate any impurities. Keep it aside.
- Using a potato masher or churner, mash the lentils so they become creamy but still have some bits in it.
- Put these cooked lentils and the jaggery solution in a pan and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add the milk and stir till mixed well, and turn up the heat a bit. Bring it to a boil, and let it cook for another minute.
- Take it off the heat and then add the powdered ginger and the cardamom. Stir well.
Let it cool a bit before you pour it in glasses. Serve it warm. This recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on size of serving.
- Toasting helps to bring out the nuttiness which makes the kheer more flavorful. But be careful not to turn them brown or it would overpower the taste.
- Before adding milk, stir frequently as it doen't contain lot of liquid and it may stick to the bottom and burn.
- Add basil leaves and a pinch of saffron before serving. Adds another dimension to the simple flavors.
I recently came to know that this is also known as Parippu Kanji or Paruppu Kanji where “parippu” is lentils and “kanji” is porridge in Tamil and it’s almost synonymous to Shivratri in some communities. I think it completely makes sense. The kheer made of moong dal, a rich source of protein yet easy on digestion system and jaggery which is unrefined sugar, high in energy, added with milk, sounds like a perfect recipe which is light but nutritious for a fasting day. Enjoy your healthy treat!
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.
So here it comes, my vegetable biryani
It’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
One pot meal with simple ingredients yet exotic flavors
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!
- Wash rice grains and soak them in cold water before starting with other preparation.
- Keep all vegetables ready by washing them and chopping as desired. I used some asparagus but that's optional.
- 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.
- Now add ginder garlic paste and green chilis.
- Add diced potatoes and saute them for a 1-2 minutes.
- Now add all other vegetables and mix them.
- Add biryani masala, red chili powder and sail and mix well.
- 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.
- 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.
- Heat 1/4 cup milk and add saffron to it. Keep it ready.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour the saffron milk on top.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve it hot with raita.
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.
I think this is the easiest and quickest recipe you can make with Pumpkin. It has very few ingredients and it does maintain Pumpkin flavor. “Lal Bhopla” in Marathi translates to Pumpkin and since this recipe has yogurt in it, we can call it raita but more traditionally it’s called भरीत / Bharit.
It’s cooked pumpkin mixed with yogurt seasoned with flavorful tadka using mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and curry leaves and green chilis. Some sugar and some salt. That’s it! The simplicity of ingredients really elevate the pumpkin flavor.
लाल भोपळ्याचे भरीत / Bhopalyache Bhareet / Pumpkin Raita
Soft, sweet sour and savory raita.
- Peel and dice the Pumpkin into big cubes.
- Steam it until it becomes really soft. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Yogurt should not be too sweet, a little sour yogurt works well for this recipe.
- Once cooked, let it cool down. Smash it with forks and mix it well with yogurt.
- In a small pan, heat the ghee and prepare tadka byadding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, curry leaves, green chilis and hing and turmeric powder.
- Add this seasoning to the above mixture.
- Add salt and sugar to taste and mix well.
- Serve with chopped cilantro leaves on top.
Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra, India
Source – http://nitinmahesh.blogspot.com/
My primary school had a unique tradition of biding farewell to 4th grade students by taking them on a two-day trip to Mahabaleshwar. It’s a hill station situated amongst Sahyadri range and it’s about 115 km from Pune.
This used to be the only two-day school trip and I still remember all the planning and plotting we did to decide who all would stay in one room and how we would convince out favorite teacher to stay with us in our room. of course, food was an important part of discussion and also a prestige issue as to who gets what from home and to make sure we all don’t get one thing and so on … Our class teacher had asked our parents to pack one tiffin and keep it as a surprise for us, you know the joy of discovering your favorite thing made by your mom with an element of surprise, truly priceless!
We were half way through and our teacher asked us to open our surprise lunch box and guess what I had in my box. भोपळ्याचे घारगे (Bhoplyache Gharage). It’s a traditional Maharashtrian tea-time snack, The puris are made with Pumpkin and Jaggery and whole wheat flour. Soft yet not too sweet! Best for picnic, as they last for couple of days. They keep you full but not so heavy on your stomach.
My first official sweet entry for “Dish It Out – Squash & Sugar” event happening here at MyHomeMantra till March 31st.
तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला!
Makar Sankranti, marks the transition (Sankraman) of the Sun into Capricorn (Makar) rashi on its celestial path. Traditionally this has been one of many harvest seasons in India and being agriculture based community, harvest season and festivals always go hand in hand. Known by different names, it’s celebrated all over India.
In Maharashtra, we celebrate it by exchanging til-gul laddoo and halwa as token of goodwill and we fondly say “तीळ गूळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला” which means “Savor this sweet Til-Gul and may the sweetness fill your thoughts and speech”. The Til-Gul literally translates to Sesame Seeds and Jaggery. The laddoos or wadis made with jaggery, sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut not only taste good but also provide the essential oils needed in cold, dry winter days.
Even though I have made tilgul at home, Makar Sankranti doesn’t seem the same anymore. It’s just not in the air. In my school, everyone would get tilgul and halwa from home and there would be so much variety with these simple ingredients – different shapes, sizes, softness. But I always thought my mom makes the best tilgul; soft, easy to bite which melts in your mouth.
The other best part of Sankranti was Puranpoli and that makes me really nostalgic. For now here is the recipe for TilGul
Til Gul / Tilachya Wadya
Sesame Seeds, peanuts, coconut and jaggery. You can't go wrong with these.
- Roast all sesame seeds in a deep bottom skillet or kadhai, till they start changing their color. Do not get them too brown.
- Similarly, roast the peanuts. And grind them, but not into a fine powder. Crunchy pieces always taste better.
- Also roast the shredded dry coconut slightly. It takes almost no time if the skillet it already hot.
- When sesame seeds are cool enough to handle, grind them.
- In a saucepan or kadhai, take 1-2 table spoons of Ghee and add jaggery. Let it melt completely. Reduce the heat.
- Now add ground sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut and mix well until everything comes together.
- Grease a big plat with some Ghee and spread the mixture onto the plate evenly.
- While it's still hot, mark the lines with a sharp knife and let it cool down.
- Separate the wadis when completely cooled down.
- If you want to make hard wadis like Chikki, use the special Chikki Jaggery. Also when it melts, put a drop of melted jaggery in a cup of cold water, if it forms a firm ball the jaggery syrup is done. This will make hard candies.
- You can also substitute jaggery with sugar but it does not taste the same.
Wish you all a wonderful Makar Sankranti and may it bring warmth and lots of happiness in your life!
[Update] A healthy snack that can be packed and stored for a while, sending it to Kid’s Delight – Back to Hostel special event started by Srivalli
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 –
This is my mom’s speciality and I simply love these laddoos. Forget about being healthy, they are so good, they just melt in your mouth and you won’t be able to make out the main ingredient which is नाचणी / Nachani or Ragi or Finger millet
She always asks me to eat Nachani (Ragi) more often as it contains lot of calcium. Toady on the occasion of Thanksgiving day, I made her speciality to express my gratitude towards my mom.
नाचणीचे लाडू / Nachaneeche Ladoo / Ragi Laddoo
The most delicious and healthiest laddoos ever!
Makes 10-11 laddoos
Upma doesn’t really need any introduction. It’s as famous in Maharashtra as in South India. We also have a slight modified version of Upma + Turmeric powder which we call “सांजा / Sanja”. Very simple, yet wholesome healthy dish great for breakfast. Upma with a bowl of soup has become our favorite choice for dinner.
It’s actually quite versatile recipe and can be made with semolina which is made of wheat, idly rava (made with rice), vermicilli and even oats or couscous. Also you can add veggies if you like. I am giving our traditional home recipe.
Nothing makes me miss home more than not being there for Diwali… Waking up early in the morning, getting an oil massage from mom, then a bath with ‘santoor-sandle’ soap bought specially for Diwali, helping her to make rangoli, wearing new clothes, then unlimited firecrackers followed by scrumptious faral with family… Happy Days!
Here’s wishing all my readers a very happy diwali.
May the auspicious festival of lights
illuminate your life in the year ahead with
Happiness, Health and Prosperity !
To cherish those happy moments from my childhood, I decided to make grandma’s speciality – rava laddoo.
These laddoos are so soft that they melt in your mouth instantly. The fresh coconut adds an extra texture. They are simply out of these world.
Rava Coconut Laddoo
The best thing I have ever had!
- In a kadhai, add ghee and keep the flame to low-to-medium.
- Once the ghee melts, add fine rava and roast it until you can smell it from outside your kitchen. That's when the rava is nicely roasted.
- Once it's done, add freshly grated coconut and roast for some more time and then switch off the gas.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan mix water and the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Boil it for 3-4 minutes and switch it off. This is called 'ektari paak' / sugar syrup.
- Add this sugar syrup, to the rava-coconut mixture and mix well. Make sure there are lumps.
- Add cardamom powder and mix again.
- Let the mixture cool down for couple hours. Then you can form laddoos.
This is my gift to Preeti’s Diwali Fest hosted at Preeti’s Kitchen as announced by Surbhi, also to Nupur
Krishna Janmashtami कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated all over India. In Maharashtra its popularly known as Gokulashtmi and it’s celebrated along with “Dahi Handi” with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. People make a human pyramid by standing on each other and the top most person tries to reach the “handi”, a clay pot filled with curd and aims to break it with his hand. This depicts Lord Krishna’s childhood and his love towards butter.
We worship bal gopal (बाल गोपाळ ) and we prepare his favorite dishes which include sweets and savory dishes. Then on the midnight of Janmashtami, we offer these dishes to Lord Krishna in order to welcome him on the earth. It’s believed that Gopal Kala is one of his favorite treats.
Prepare with Pohe, lahya, curd and cucumber it’s very easy to put together.
Lord Krishan's favorite and so is mine 🙂
- Soak Pohe in water for about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl mix pohe, lahya, chopped cucumber and curd and grated coconut, Add chopped cilantro and salt and sugar. Mix well.
- In a small pan, melt ghee for preparing "fodni" / tadka. Add cumin seeds, green chilis and grated ginger.
- Once done, pour this ghee over the mixture and mix well.
|| Jai Shri Krishna ||