Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mixed Lentil Handvo | Savory Lentil Cake

Handvo is a traditional Gujarati savory cake made from lentils and rice. It is a very common dish that is pretty versatile. Make a big batch of it and it can be served as dinner with chutney. Make them into small cupcake sized cakes and they become perfect appetizers. Many gujarati families also eat handva as breakfast, with a cup of piping hot tea. 

Though it is easy to make this dish from store bought flour, making the batter from scratch is a great way to customize the lentils that go into the handva. I have added udad dal, chana dal and moong dal in this one, along with rice. Also, the vegetables that go into this dish can be changed as per your taste and preference, I have used bottle gourd, onion, carrots, corn and peas. Bottle gourd is always used to give the cake a soft texture from inside. 



I have baked the handva in a big tray this time, however you can make these cupcake sized handva too, that make it easier to serve and everyone get their share of the crisp top and soft inside. If you do not like to bake it, you can cook it in a pan for 15-20 minutes on each side till the top is crisp and the inside is cooked. The flavor of gas-top handva is equally great and it has a crisp top as well as bottom!

Ingredients

For the Handva
Rice 1 cup
Mixed Lentils ( Udad dal, chana Dal, Moong Dal) 1 cup
Yogurt 1 cup
Grated vegetables (bottle gourd, onion,carrot, sweet corn, green peas) 1 cup
Chilli garlic ginger paste
Condiments ( red chili powder, turmeric powder)
Soda Bi-carbonate
Fruit salt (eno) 2 tbsp
Vegetable oil 1 tsp
Salt, Sugar
Cilantro 

For tempering
Vegetable oil
Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds, Asafoetida
Curry leaves
Sesame seeds
Green chilies chopped into 1 inch pieces


Method

To make the batter

Mix the lentils and rice in a container and wash it thoroughly. Soak it in water for 4-5 hours. After that,grind them together. Keep the mixture slightly coarse. Then, mix the yogurt and mixed lentils in a big bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix well. If the yogurt is not sour, you can add a couple of tbsp of sour cream too. Add a pinch of soda bi-carbonate and a cup of water or little more if required to soak the mixture. Let the mixture rest in a warm place overnight.

Next day, or after 6-8 hours, mix the fermented batter well. Also, add salt to the grated vegetables and let it stand. After 5-10 minutes, squeeze the water out of the vegetables and dispose the water. Take the fermented mixture, add the vegetables, chili garlic ginger paste, some cilantro, oil, chili powder, turmeric powder and sugar. Mix well.


Prepare the tempering

Heat the oil in a small wok. Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Now add asafoetida, cumin seeds, chili and curry leaves. Once the seeds splutter, add the sesame seeds and turn the heat down.

To bake the Handva

Grease the oven proof tray with vegetable oil and keep it ready. Preheat oven to 300 F. In the batter, add the fruit salt. Mix well and pour it in the tray. Add the tempering on top and bake for 30-35 minutes till the top is crisp.

Remove the tray from the oven and cool for ten minutes. Then remove the handva and serve with spicy mint and coriander chutney, sweet imli chutney and tomato ketchup.





To make the small cupcake sized handva, try this recipe from store-bought flour.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Asparagus and Spinach Soup


Spring and early summers are when we see Asparagus in all the stores and farmer's markets. This is the best season to enjoy the most tender stems in many different ways. Saute it in olive oil, make a tart out of it, make an Indian dish or just this humble soup packed with nutrients.

I was looking for some information on these cute green stems and I read that they can grow 10 inches in just 24 hours! Yes, you read it right, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board says so. Well, isn't that simply amazing and magical?? Besides, they also say: Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies in significant amounts for a healthy diet. Read more about asparagus on their website.


So back to the recipe, this is a simple spring summer soup made from asparagus (of course) and some spinach as well. I really like the bright green color spinach brings into this soup and a good flavor too. If you do not have/ like spinach, simply eliminate it and prepare the soup in the same way. I really love the tender asparagus tips sauteed in olive oil. I have added that along with some burnt garlic on top of the soup. You can do that, or just add some asparagus tips. Also, to keep it light, I have not added any cream. If you like it, add some cream to the soup and enjoy!!


Ingredients

Asparagus 2 cups
Spinach 1 cup packed
Onion 1/2 cup, diced
Garlic, 2-3 cloves minced
Ginger, 1 inch piece, grated
Black Pepper, Salt, slice of lime
Vegetable Broth/ Water
Butter (olive oil if desired)




Method

Wash the asparagus and remove the hard ends. Chop the asparagus into one inch pieces and set aside. Wash the spinach and roughly chop it. Reserve for later use.

In a heavy bottom saucepan sauté garlic and ginger in 1/2 tsp butter or Olive oil. Add diced onion and sauté. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add the asparagus. Reserve some tips for the garnish. Add 2 cups water or vegetable stock, 1 tsp salt, mix well and cook till the asparagus is tender. Once the tips soften, add the spinach and boil on high for 1-2 minutes. Turn down the flame. Adding spinach at this stage helps to preserve the bright green color.



Cool the mixture and blend to a smooth paste. Seive the mixture back to the saucepan and bring to a boil. The soup is ready to serve. For an interesting garnish, heat half a tsp of olive oil or butter. Add some sliced garlic and let it brown. Then add the reserved asparagus tips and some pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes and turn down the flame. Garnish the soup with these garlic flavored asparagus tips and a slice of lime. Enjoy the last few days of spring before summer sets in!!


Try other soups too!!

      

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mooli Besan | Daikon leaves in Gram flour

As a kid, I have walked through the markets of Mumbai and shopped for various vegetables with my mom. Then came the big chains like Hypercity, Reliance etc that started selling vegetables. These stores generally get the vegetables that are in demand all the time. But for specialty vegetables like yam, tuvar, green chickpeas etc one would still have to visit the local markets. Daikon leaves is also one of those vegetables. I used to love the way my grandmom and mom used to make daikon leaves with chick pea flour in Gujarati style. 

I moved to US and did not see these bright green leaves for a long time. I happened to see them at a local farmer's market this weekend, and I knew I had to grab them. I was surprised to see people buy the daikons and break the leaves and stem and leave them there. I asked the seller if I could take them all and he was more then willing to let me have them! So I bought a couple of daikons and he gave me a ton of leaves and stems. Happy with my find, I returned home and cooked this vegetable in minutes. 


Fresh daikon leaves and flavorful gram flour with Indian spices took me back to India and I truly relished Saturday lunch!! This vegetable is a cross between Maharashtra and Gujarat; with the basic recipe for Peeth Perun Bhaji from Maharashtra and spices (read Sugar) from Gujarat. Peeth Perun Bhaji basically means and vegetable sprinkled with flour, generally gram flour. So here is a quick recipe, full of iron and calcium and so yummy to eat!!


Ingredients 
Mooli/ Daikon leaves 1 bunch
Gram Flour 1 cup
Green chili, curry leaves
Indian spices( Turmeric Powder, Red Chili Powder, Dhania Jeera Powder, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds)
Oil
Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice
Cilantro


Method
Wash the daikon leaves thoroughly and cut the leaves and stem into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside. Do not use the tough portion that connects the stems to the daikon. If you like, you can use the daikon in this vegetable too. In a pan sauté the gram flour till it darkens in color. Remove in a bowl and cool. 


Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, followed by asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the green chili split lengthwise and curry leaves. Next, add the daikon leaves and saute. While the leaves saute, they will ooze out water and so let all the water come out and evaporate. Add salt to the leaves and keep mixing them and drying the mixture off. Once the leaves cook, they will wilt and reduce to 3/4th quantity. So make sure you start with enough leaves and stem!!

Once the mixture is dry, add the roasted gram flour and turmeric, red chili powder and dhania jeera. Mix everything well and let the flour cook. If the vegetable feels dry, add some more oil at this stage. Once cooked, in about 7-8 minutes, add sugar if desired and lime juice. Taste and add some salt if required. Turn down the flame. Garnish with cilantro, and serve hot with Phulka, papad, rice and salad. 




Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tapioca Pudding | Sabudana Kheer

Tapioca is one of the most versatile starch used in cooking. It can be mixed with potatoes and spices and fried to make Sabudana Vadas, stir-fried to make Sabudana Khichdi, dried and preserved in the form of papads or sev, or be converted into a yummy pudding like this one!!

As a kid, whenever my grand mother used to fast, my mother used to make a simple pudding from tapioca, milk and sugar. I used to fondly sit in my grand-mother's lap and lick the bowl clean. Years later; I have made this pudding, a slight variation of the age old recipe but added custard powder and dry-fruits to enhance the flavor. I have used a vanilla flavored custard, however you can use any flavor you like. I am sure it will taste just as good!



A very simple recipe: soak tapioca, heat milk and add everything in and thicken it to a desired consistency. This kheer can be served in its hot or cold and thin form with roti or puri for lunch or dinner; or thicken it further and chill it to be served as a dessert. This pudding has custard powder and if you are fasting and do not want to add it, just skip it and boil the milk for a longer time to thicken it on its own. Enjoy this pudding hot or cold, thin enough to puor or thick enough to enjoy with a fork!!


Ingredients
Tapioca Pearls/ Sabudana 1 cup
Whole milk 4 cups
Sugar 1 cup
Vanilla Custard powder 6-7 tbsp
Dry fruits (cashew nut, almonds, pistachios)
Saffron Strands
Cardamom seeds
Rose petals


Method
Wash the tapioca pearls and soak them in 2 cups of water. Once the pearls soak up the water, drain them. It should be ideally soaked for about an hour to ninety minutes. Set aside. Chop the dry-fruits into thin slivers. Lightly press the cardamom seeds to crack them. Mix the vanilla flavored custard powder in one cup of milk.

Boil the remaining three cups of whole milk in a heavy bottom pan. Keep stirring the milk so that it does not stick to the bottom. Once the milk boils and reduces in volume to three-fourths it is done. At this stage, add the saffron strands and mix well. Add the drained tapioca pearls and boil till the pearls are cooked. The sabudana pearls will change color from white to translucent once cooked. Next add one cup of sugar and mix well. 



Once it all comes together, add the milk with custard powder and mix well. Also add cardamom seeds and mix well. Reduce flame to medium and keep stirring so that the milk thickens. Add the dry fruits and mix. If you think the milk is not thick enough, melt some more custard powder in cold milk and add in. if it is too thick, add some plain milk and mix well. Taste and adjust the sugar if needed. Once the consistency is as per your preference, turn down the flame and transfer to another bowl. garnish with dry-fruits and thinly sliced rose petals. 

This pudding can be served hot as a sweet along with lunch or dinner. Else, chill it for a few hours and serve it as a dessert.  







Monday, April 13, 2015

Fettuccine in Kale Spinach Pesto

"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
- William Shakespeare

This quote is absolutely true. The month of April is such that everything from the flowers to the trees, and from the grass to the clouds are filled with a youthful freshness. Spring brings in joy that the cold days are gone and May is almost here!! 

Spring is the month that we see colors everywhere. And how can we forget Kale, those green leaves that promise a unique nutty and fresh flavor in everything that we make with it. I love to add Kale in a lot of dishes, Indian or non-Indian. Today, I have added the leaves of kale to some spinach, lemon juice and spices to make a kale pesto. Process them together, and add the prepared pesto sauce to fettuccine or any pasta of your choice and a perfect week night meal is ready.


Ingredients
Fettuccine Pasta 2 cups
Kale Leaves 1 cups, packed
Spinach 1/2 cup, packed
Garlic 2-3 cloves minced
Onion 1/2 medium diced
Lemon 1, juice and zest separate
Olive Oil
Mixed Herbs, Salt, Ground Black Pepper
Mozzarella Cheese 1/4 cup (optional)


Method
Heat water in a large pot and add salt. Once the water boils, add the fettuccine and cook till it is el-dente. You can use any pasta of your choice. Once done, drain and set aside.

Wash and separate the kale leaves from stems, add set aside. In a skillet add a tsp of olive oil and saute garlic in it. Add the onion and cook with a pinch of salt. Once done transfer the garlic, onion and the oil to a blender pot along with kale, spinach and blend to a paste. You may choose to keep it a little coarse too. Once processed, add lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper powder and mixed herbs. Use the pesto as required, and refrigerate the rest in air-tight container. This pesto can be used in salads, pasta or as a dip for chips. 



In a pan, heat a tsp of olive oil and saute any vegetables if you want to add to the pasta. I did not add any of that. Next add the pesto sauce and mix well. Put in the cooked pasta. Mix everything well and top with some shredded mozzarella cheese. This is absolutely optional. Serve warm with a bowl of soup and a side of herb bread. 



Have extra Kale? Try this Kale Muthiya.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jowar Dhani Chivda

Puffed Jowar is almost like mini popcorn; when mixed with papad and spices it makes a perfect snack that is super easy to make.


March is here and has brought Holi with it. While most of Holi is related to Thandai and sweets, there are a few yummy savory snacks for the festival. While Gujiya and Dahi Vada are famous, having this popped Sorghum seeds is pretty common in Gujarat.  

Having popped Jowar or Dhani on Holi is an age old tradition. Women use dhani in the holika puja along with dates and other puja essentials like kumkum, haldi, rice and coconut. 

I still remember how the markets used to be full of heaps of dhani in march and shopkeepers used to sell it by cup measures. We used to buy a bulk of dhani from them, use some for the puja and stir-fry the remaining and enjoy it for weeks!




After moving to USA, dhani seemed to be a distant dream. However, it was so heartwarming to see that my mother in law sent a packet full of dhani and papad chivda last year, straight from India. We enjoyed the snack for a couple of days and it was all gone. 

This year, I found a big packet of Dhani in an Indian store and brought it home. I wanted to replicate the chivda so asked my mom in law for the recipe. It is a simple mixture of dhani, papad and spices, but the flavors are such that this snack can be addictive!


Not only during Holi, this popped jowar should be enjoyed whenever we can get our hands on dhani. It is a light snack that is roasted and has a perfect combination of flavors. Don't forget to make this during Holi and here is wishing you and your family a Happy Holi!

Variations

This recipe is a mixture of dhani and papad. However, if you don't like papad, skip it and add the rest. Plus, adjust the amount of peanuts and dalia based on your preferences. And lastly, adding sugar is optional in the recipe. We LOVE it and it balances the salt and chilli. Add it if you like, leave it otherwise!


Ingredients

Jowar Dhani 2 cups
Papad 4-5
Peanuts 1/2 cup
Dalia/ Roasted Chana Dal 1/4 cup
Dry red chilli 1-2
Curry leaves 3-4
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Sesame seeds 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Oil 2 tsp


Method


Roast the papads on gas or in the microwave. Once they cool, break the papad in to bite size pieces and set aside. 

Heat oil in a pan and once hot, add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once the seeds crackle, add the peanuts and fry them till they are brown in color. Then add the roasted Chana dal and mix well. Let them become light brown too. Next add the dry red chili and curry leaves and fry them. Then add the sesame seeds. 



Mix well and add the dhani and papad pieces. Sprinkle sugar, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix everything well and let the mixture mix on medium flame. 


Once it is all combined, turn the flame down and let the chivda stand in the pan till it is a little cool. Then transfer to an airtight container and enjoy it for a week to ten days!!