Category Archives: Rice, Pasta

Maharashtra Puri Bhaji Thali

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This was one of the earliest posts I did. The state of Maharashtra. This was one of the easiest one as well, since I blindly followed Pradnya’s post, combining it with her rural Maharashtra thali and changing a thing or two here and there.

In India, you are not a mom, if you can’t make pooris. And in my case, it’s not as a mom I have been failing, but as a wife. My son doesn’t like poori, but it’s the man’s favourite food.

And with this thali, the pooris came out brilliant for a change. So the man was indeed happy!

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Pradnya had made a sweetish dal with the thali. I went for a different version, a simple non sweet basic dal.

Varan-bhath (rice with dal) is a meal combination all over India and this is just one version.

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Masale bhath is a spicy flavoured rice. Coconuts, cashew nuts, gherkins all go into this dish. This, apparently, is a regular item in the wedding feast menu.

I found these two write ups about food from Maharashtra quite interesting, A Cook at heart and Food For Thought.

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Meal Idea : The Pumpkin Farm

Read some sweet write ups about food @ A Cook at heart and Food For Thought

  • Puri                 :  Deep fried whole wheat bread
  • Batata Bhaji :  A simple potato preparation, semi-gravy style that goes along with poori or roti
  • Shrikhand    :  Sweetened thick yogurt preparation
  • Varan Bhat  : Plain rice and dal (lentil) combination
  • Masale Bhat : Spiced rice with ivy gourd and nuts, a regular wedding menu item
  • Capsicum Zunka : Capsicum cooked with gramflour, quick and easy recipe
  • Mattha           :  Spiced butter milk

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Himachal Pradesh Lunch Thali

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It’s great when you try some new recipe and it turns out well. But when it doesn’t, you know what happens? You have to finish off an entire thali by yourself. And it’s almost a punishment.

After being used to either sweet stuff alone or spicy stuff alone, my taste buds have become stiff and doesn’t like the combination of two in a single dish. The combination of rice and sugar as a dry dish also didn’t suit my palate.

May be I didn’t prepare it the way it’s meant to be. I will really have to try the authentic version before I judge the dish :-).

But until then, I don’t think I will be making meetha rice again.

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The good news is that madri and khatta were good. Both were easy to prepare. Khatta means sour. And this dish IS sour. It was a shock initially, but you learn to like it as you go. It tasted fantastic with curd rice (oh, come on! We have to have curd rice even if it is a Pahari thali :D).

Khatta is topped off with some boondi (ready made, of course) before serving.

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Madra is a yogurt based dish. It’s prepared with chick peas usually. But the recipe I zeroed down finally had potatoes in it. Since I was preparing a chickpea based curry (with dates), I went ahead with the potato madra.

Like Kerala feast is called Sadya, Himachali feast food (for weddings and all) is called Dham. You can read a bit here in this link about Dham.

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The Menu:

  • Khatta : The dish lives up to its name. It’s really khatta (sour). This aamchur (dry mango powder) based curry is sprinkled with boondi and served
  • Meetha Bhaat( recipe in the comments section) : This is a dessert. Rice cooked with sugar, milk and dry fruits.
  • Himachali Madra : A yogurt based chickpea curry. The one I zeroed down was the potato version.
  • Chhole Mithas Liye : Chickpea in a sweet date gravy. I personally didn’t like it.
  • Plain rice

 

 

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Gujarati Thali – Mini Gujarathi thali

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When we are talking about Gujarat, the first thing that comes to my mind is our BM 25 meet. It was three days of absolute masti. Thanks to Vaishali, she saw to it that we were well settled, well taken care off and well fed!

So it’s only natural that when it came to Gujarat, I was browsing Vaishali’s space for recipes and ideas. Then I remembered this post from my friend (old room-mate) Roshni of Roshni’s Kitchen. She had actually put up a thali with Vaishali’s help. So I based mine on that one and modified it a little bit.

I wanted to make the chaas, the salad and the chutney as well like Roshni’s thali, but ….errrrr…forgot about it.

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Going through Vaishali’s space, I came across this very different combination of beans, peas and cooked whole wheat discs(dhokli). I included that in the thali and it turned out to be a good decision.

The kid loved the atta (whole wheat) discs.

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I had made a Gujarati thali before as well.  There Vaishali had mentioned that Gujarati kadhi doesn’t have turmeric in it. So this time I went right into her space and followed her instructions. In the same post of hers, she has the recipe for the potato curry as well. Scroll down for the recipe.

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The menu:

  • Tindora Nu Shaak : Ivy gourd/kovakka/tindora cooked with minimal spices and served as a side dish to rice
  • Dingiri Batata Nu Shaak : Potatoes cooked with onions and tomatoes.
  • Fansi Dhokli : Beans, peas and whole wheat atta discs with some masalas create the magic here.
  • Gujarati Kadhi : The whitish yogurt based preparation. No turmeric is used in this recipe.
  • Gujarati Dal : Simple dal. Skipped the sugar to stick to the spicy version.
  • Rotli : Very thin, soft roti-like rolls. Maida (all purpose flour)  is used for rolling out the dough.
  • Ready made Choondo pickle and Garkari pickle

 


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Chhattisgarh – Pancharatna Dal

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Chhattisgarh is a recently formed Indian state. It was not there when I was studying in school. It was part of Madhya Pradesh before. IIT in the capital city of Raipur is a main attraction.

It’s a beautiful green state, mother nature has truly blessed this place. There is a lot of tribal population here and this was one other state which didn’t have many on-line resources when it comes to food.

There was a site dedicated to Chhattisgarh recipes, I am scared of deep frying, yet I tried the deep fried sweet Dehrori from there. If my frying skills are pathetic, then my skill of making sugar syrup (I went overboard and over cooked the syrup) are not even worth mentioning. So I decided not to go ahead with it here. Yet for the record let me mention that the above is the picture of my Dehrori trial.

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While looking for more recipes, I came across this Five Jewelled Dal recipe, which they say is a Raipur(capital of Chhattisgarh) speciality. Though I don’t think it’s their speciality food, I am guessing it’s a part of regular cooking there.

Anyway my dehroris didn’t come out good and the dal sounded interesting. So I went ahead and decided to feature the dal here for Chhatisgarh.

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Recipe Source: 10 Best lentil Recipes from the Guardian

Feeds : 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup urad dal (black lentils)
  • 1/4 cup chana dal (split chick pea)
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 1/4 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 onions chopped fine
  • juice from a lemon, optional
  • cream, yogurt : 2 tbsp for presentation, optional

For tempering:

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

Method:

  1. Wash and pressure cook all the dals together until done and mushy along with the turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder and the chopped onions. Keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee and add jeera. Once it crackles, add the ginger and crushed garlic. Add the cooked dal , garam masala and bring it to a boil. You can add water if it turns out to be too thick.
  3. Add lemon juice to taste and a dollop of yogurt and serve with rice.


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Simple Bihari Lunch

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Where is Bihar? Up (from South everything is up).

Who is the CM? No idea.

What is the language there? No idea.

What are the main attractions there? No idea.

Famous people? No idea.

What do they eat? Litti choka, Sattu ka paratha, rice, roti, dal, aloo bhujia….etc etc etc.

Yes, that’s the only thing I know about the Indian states now. Their food. At the moment, I can’t think of a single thing from Bihar other than their sattu or litti chhoka.

Anyway, litti chhoka is apparently eaten for dinner and I was looking for a lunch menu.

So, again, another neighbour of mine came to the rescue and this menu was suggested by her, depending on my pantry supplies. The menu here does not have the signature dishes of Bihar, but this is what people eat there on a regular basis – dal, roti, sabzi, chawal.

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The only aloo bhujia I have come across is the Haldi ram packed foods variety. So this very simple very basic aloo bhujia recipe was an eye opener. The only spices there in the dish are turmeric powder and salt. Yeah, you heard me right.

How can we leave out Sattu when talking about Bihar? I had ruled out Sattu ka paratha and litti chhoka, but Sattu ka bharta (called Sattu ka masala as well) came to the rescue. All you need to do is to make your sattu flour, add a bit of oil, chopped onions and red chillies. I improvised this by adding a little left over oil (the oil that floats on top in pickle jars) from my MIL’s avakka pickle. So it’s essentially pickle oil that’s gone into the dish.

To spice up the meal, add a spoon of sattu ka bharta while having rice and dal. The taste was really great.

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Aloo mattar is for the roti in the thali. But it pairs well with rice and dal as well. Again, a very simple easy preparation, but it tasted really heavenly. This kind of aloo mattar (home made) puts the restaurant style ones to shame, because it’s easy to prepare and it is light on stomach as well.

The dal here is a mix of three kinds. Chana dal, toor dal and masoor dal are cooked together. Only haldi and salt are added to it. Like the rest of the dishes, it’s easy to prepare and hardly spicy.

Can you see the pudina chutney in the middle? Now that one is fiery. The sattu ka bharta(because of the pickle oil and the red chillies) and the pudina chutney are spicy enough to balance the meal.

Raw chopped onion salad is also part of the meal.

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The Menu:

  • Daal : Pressure cook a mix of chana dal, masoor dal and toor dal in 1:1:1 proportion. I used 1/3rd cup each. Heat ghee in a pan, add jeera seeds. Once it crackles, add the cooked dals. Add half a tsp of turmeric powder and salt and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. If it’s too thick, add water and boil for some more time. Done!
  • Aloo Bhujia
  • Aloo Mattar Curry : Saute one chopped onion with a spoon of ginger garlic paste. Make a paste of 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tspcumin powder with 2-3 tbsp water. Add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Add 1 cup water. Add cooked potatoes(2 big) and peas(1/2 cup). Add one chopped tomato and salt. Cover and boil for 5-10 minutes or until done. Taste test, adjust seasoning and also add more water if it turns out to be too thick. Add handful of chopped coriander leaves, 1 tsp garam masala. Take off the heat. The more this curry simmers in low heat, the tastier it is.
  • Roti
  • Rice
  • Pudina Chutney : Grind a bunch of pudina leaves, 1 small onion, 2-3 green chillies (or per taste) and salt. Add lemon juice finally to retain colour.
  • Sattu ka bharta/Sattu ka masala : Powder half cup fried gram(pottu kadalai) in a mixie. Add 2-3 tsp mustard oil (i used pickle oil), 1-2 minced red chillies, handful of minced onions. The oil should make the sattu a bit wet, but it shouldn’t make it soggy.
  • So adjust the quantity accordingly.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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Simple Assamese Lunch

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Off all the North Eastern states, Assam was the easiest. There were enough on-line recipe sources for this state.

So I could stick to my original plan of a ‘meal’ or a mini thali for this state as well.

The site Assamese Recipes, With heart and soul had 5-6 meal platters, so I put together one for my post from those.

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So for the third state, presenting a mini meal with a spinach curry, mashed potatoes and brinjal, tomato pickle style and of course, the dal. And everything is served with rice.

I really liked the mashed potato curry, it was easy to put together and tasted simple, yet great. A bit of lemon juice squeezed takes this dish to a whole new level. This recipe, is definitely a keeper.

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The Xaak bhaji or the green leaves curry, was very simple, with minimal spices (the entire cooking was with minimal spices). It tasted awesome, yet it was light on stomach.

This is usually prepared with a variety of greens that is locally available in Assam. Since that choice is not there, I went ahead and used a bundle of palak.

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There was a bit of sweetness (from jaggery) on the tomato pickle/condiment. The name of the dish itself is sweet and sour tomatoes, after all. But after being used to either sweet or salty preparations our whole life, this bit of both taste together wasn’t as appealing as I thought it would be.

Yet we liked it, but I would leave out the sweet factor the next time I make it.

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Meal idea: Assamese Recipes and Aakhol Khor

  • Rice
  • Masur Dal (dali or dail) : Red Split lentils, masoor dal, cooked with tomatoes
  • Xaak Bhaaji :    A green leafy preparation,  I used the locally available Palak variety
  • Aloo Bengena Pura Pitika : An Assamese Baingan Bharta kind of preparation. This has roasted eggplant and potatoes in it, mixed with onions and chillies.
  • Bilahir Tok : A condiment made with tomatoes

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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Andhra Thali Meals

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Indian states. One at a time. That’s what the month of April is about.

Blogging Marathon is on for the whole of this month. September and April are month-long Marathons at BM. So for all 30 days of April, you will see one dish at least from the Indian states and some Union Territories.

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Starting with Andhra and ending with West Bengal, this cooking journey isn’t that easy. When I started off, I wanted Thali meals (whole lunch platter) and not just a single dish from the state I was cooking from. But it didn’t quite work out for a whole lot of reasons.

I had 6 months of notice time, yet I got to cooking only last month. So….yeah, time was quite short. It’s easy to get recipes for some states and very difficult to get from others. Some of the North East states had us really baffled. andhra-001

Right now, I live in a multi cultural community. People from Kashmir to Kerala are here in our apartment and as much as possible, I have tried taking my neighbours’ suggestions for the dishes.

By now, most of them are used to me calling up and asking about how lunch is served in their native state :-).

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This bunch of Andhra dishes was also suggested by a friend. I don’t know how much of these tasted authentic, but hey…at least I tried!

My friend not only gave me ideas for the thali, she sent across the chukkakura pappu (featured here) and vankaya kothameera karam as well. I too had made the same curry, so we devoured her’s immediately and went on to click my version for the thali.

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The menu:

  • Parippu podi : Powdered lentils (Podi) ground with chillies and spices. There are many variations for this recipe. This one is my MIL’s preparation.
  • How to eat: This podi is mixed with plain rice and topped with 1-2 tsps (or more) of ghee/oil. It is then eaten with any of the vegetables side dishes. The meal usually starts off with this before proceeding to the wet gravies (sambar, rasam etc)
  • Vankaya Kothamira Kaaram : A brinjal/eggplant preparation. Andhra-ites love brinjal in all forms. This version has brinjal cooked in coriander-green chilli combination. Tasted great.
  • How to eat: This is a side dish for rice.
  • Dondakkaya Veppudu : An ivy gourd (kovakka/tindora) preparation. This is one of the many ways to prepare the vegetable. This version has sesame seeds added to it.
  • How to eat: This is a side dish for rice.
  • Tomato Pachadi : A chutney kind of preparation made with raw tomatoes. I went easy on the chillies and ended up with a not so spicy pachadi. My friend later sent me an original and by god!! it was the fieriest chutney I have eaten and the tastiest one as well. I will be definitely trying her version again.
  • How to eat: This can be mixed with rice with a spoon or two of ghee and eaten. It also tastes great with curd rice (my personal experience).
  • Majjiga Pulusu with Ladies Finger : A yogurt based preparation. This one uses gram flour (besan) and not coconut. A sort of a kadhi.
  • How to eat: This is a gravy, it should be mixed with rice and eaten with vegetables as side dishes.
  • Miriya Chaaru : A light, but spicy rasam. The ingredients for the rasam are freshly made.
  • How to eat: A gravy that should be mixed with rice and eaten with vegetables and pappadam/fries, if available. This is the course before curd rice. 
  • Chukka kura pappu: A version of dal with a kind of greens. This was sent by my friend. She roasts the dal before going ahead with the preparation.
  • How to eat: This should also be mixed with rice and eaten with veggies on the side. 
  • Avakka Pickle : A type of mango pickle. This version has some portions of the mango seeds as well. My MIL’s preparation. This recipe comes close.
  • Rice : The star of the meal.
  • Ghee : Ghee is served with parippu podi and tomato pachadi.
  • Curd/ Yogurt : The final round of the meal. It is mixed with rice and eaten with the pickles.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 39

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Simple Soya Pulao

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I always used to think that pulao, fried rice and biryanis are more time consuming than regular cooking.

The truth is, in fact, they are not! The list of ingredients look long and intimidating, but if you look closely, it will be the spices or powders that are readily available in the kitchen. After the first couple of times, you get the hang of it and it’s easy from then on. It’s a basic ‘chop the vegetables, make the ground paste or marinade, mix everything with rice and cook together’ formula.

So try any pulao recipe for this weekend and spread the love for food around :-).

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Recipe Adapted from: Mallika Badrinath’s Festive Biriyani recipe from her ‘Rice Varieties’ book

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Soya Chunks**
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tsp each of chopped ginger and chopped garlic
  • 2 cups Mixed Diced Vegetables (carrot, peas, beans, cauliflower, potatoes etc)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ghee or oil – for sauteeing
  • Salt

For the yogurt mix:

  • 1/2 cup thick yogurt
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste

Method:

  1. Mix the items for the yogurt mix together. Keep aside.
  2. Wash and soak the rice. Set aside.
  3. Soak the soya chunks in water (I use plain water, but I soak for a longer time) until its soft completely. I leave it for an hour or so. Squeeze out the water from the chunks and keep aside. It’s important to squeeze the water out, else the chunks for absorb the spices well. I have torn the chunks into smaller pieces as well, it’s optional though.
  4. Heat ghee or oil in a pan and saute the onions and ginger garlic bits till the onions are done. Add the drained soya chunks and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Tip in the vegetables and let it all mix together.
  6. Add the yogurt mix, salt and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the rice and add it as well. Add 1.5 cups water and transfer to a rice cooker to finish off the cooking.
  7. Serve with Achari Bhindi, a simple onion -tomato raita or even plain yogurt.

**Note: Diced paneer and tofu would also taste great. The pulao can be prepared with out soya as well. Just omit it and carry on with the recipe, it won’t be a soya pulao , though.

Some people add only 1 cup water to the rice, that way the rice becomes even longish grains. soya_pulao-001

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Soya Chunks Chilli Curry

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I like cooking. I just don’t like doing it 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks in a year.

It gets boring. And it gets tiring.

I am either standing in the kitchen cooking something or sitting and browsing recipes for the next day. Half my life must have been spent on the ever puzzling,”What to cook for breakfast/lunch/dinner tomorrow?” question.

It’s a question with so many different answers. And this easy to make soya chunk curry is a good answer for a busy weekend.

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Recipe Source: Edible Garden

Ingredients:

  • Soya chunks              : 1 cup uncooked Soya Chunks/Meal Maker
  • Onion                            :  1 big, chopped fine
  • Tomato                        :  1 large tomato, puréed
  • Green chillies             :   1-2, per taste
  • Capsicum                     :   1 small, diced
  • Ginger garlic paste  :   2 tbsp
  • Dry red chillies         :  3-5 per taste
  • Soya sauce                  : 2 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup       : 1 tbsp
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak the soya chunks in water for an hour or until it’s not hard when you squeeze out the water. I just use plain water, but soak for a longer time. If using warm water, 20-30 minutes is fine.
  2. Once it’s soaked through, squeeze out the water and set aside.
  3. Dice the capsicum. Chop the onions and puree the tomatoes.
  4. Heat 1 or 2 tbsp oil in a kadai. Add the red chillies. Tip in the onions, capsicum, green chillies, ginger garlic paste and saute till the onion turns pink.
  5. Add the drained soya chunks, salt and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, tomato ketch up and 1.5 cups water (adjust the water according to the gravy consistency you want). Mix, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  6. If the gravy is watery, make a paste of 1 tsp corn flour/maida with water and add it to the curry and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Pair with vegetable fried rice and enjoy your meal!

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Notes:

Soya chunks absorb water. So the gravy might be less watery sometime after making this.

It’s important to soak the chunks fully and equally important to squeeze out all the water. Else the soya will not absorb the masalas and will taste “watery”.

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Baby corn Noodles

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Evening, when the kid comes from school, is the toughest time of the day. Because I would be wondering and worrying about what to serve him once he is home.

Earlier his lunch was break fast tiffin items. I would feed him rice and veggies, our staple food, once he is back home from school. But now, he is having rice for lunch. So what to serve for evening is a question.

It cannot be junk food. It cannot be fruits (his school snacks is fruits). It shouldn’t be a heavy meal and it shouldn’t be served for dinner as well.

This simple noodle preparation was the answer for one day. For the rest of the week, I am still searching.

Source : Health Food Desi Videshi

Serves as light dinner for 2

Ingredients:

  • Noodles, enough for two cooked per the packet instructions
  • Baby Corn                                  :            400 gm
  • Capsicum/Bell pepper          :            1 big, diced
  • Garlic                                           :             2 pods, chopped fine
  • Ginger                                          :            1″ piece, grated or chopped fine
  • Coriander leaves                     :            1/2 cup (stems are also fine)
  • Onion                                            :           1 chopped fine, optional
  • Soy sauce                                   :            1 tsp + 1 tbsp
  • Sesame oil                                 :             1 tbsp
  • Tomato Ketchup                    :            1 tbsp
  • Corn flour                                 :             2 tsp**
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Method:

  1. Cook the noodles per packet instructions. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Slice the baby corn the way you want it. Dice the capsicum. Chop the ginger, garlic and coriander leaves.
  3. Toss the corn, capsicum, garlic, ginger and 3/4th of the coriander leaves with 1 tsp soy sauce and required amount of salt and pepper. Keep aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a wide pan. Saute the chopped onion, if you are using. Toss the corn mix and give a good stir. Cook till the baby corn is almost cooked, but still has a bit of crunch in it.
  5. Add the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce, tomato ketch up. Mix corn flour in a little bit of water and add it to the baby corn.
  6. Mix nicely, add the remaining coriander leaves as well. Cook until there is a glazed coating all over the corn. Take off the heat.
  7. Lay on top of the cooked noodles and serve.

**I was out of corn flour that day, so I skipped it.

Noodles

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