Recipes: Sweet Aval or Poha

During the last Krishna Jayanthi festival, while I was speaking with my mum, she told me that Lord Krishna loves aval or poha which are flattened rice flakes and that I should include this dish when I make my neividhyam to the Lord. I had not made this recipe before so I asked her the recipe and this is what she told me. The result was a sweet dish which was not too rich and once that took me barely 15 minutes to make. All the ingredients are usually pantry staples, so if you are in a hurry and have these ingredients on hand, you can make a quick offering to God in 15 minutes or less. The colour of your dish will depend on your jaggery, so try and get the darkest jaggery you can find.

Sweet Aval or Poha

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup aval or poha
  • ½ cup powdered jaggery
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 5-10 cashew nuts

Method:

  • Wash the poha well, drain and keep it aside
  • In a pan, heat the ghee and when the ghee heats up, fry the cashew nuts to a golden brown colour. Drain into a kitchen towel and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add the powdered jaggery and 1 tbsp of water and bring the jaggery to a nice rolling boil.
  • When the jaggery has completely melted, add in the washed and drained poha and mix well.
  • Add the cardamom powder and coconut and mix well.
  • Add in the fried cashew nuts, mix well and switch off the gas.
  • Remove to a serving dish and serve hot.

Note: I used organic powdered jaggery, so I didn’t have to strain it. If you are using the lump jaggery, chop enough to make ½ a cup and heat it with a tablespoon of water. Once the jaggery syrup has cooled down, strain it to remove any impurities and continue with the recipe.

Recipes: Badam Doodh or Almond Milk

A very refreshing drink made out of milk and almonds, Badam or Almond Milk. Flavoured with cardamoms, saffron and rose water, this exotic, but simple and easy-to-make drink is the perfect drink when you have a sweet craving. Almond milk is rich in vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant which can help lower the risk of serious health conditions like stroke, heart disease, and even cancer. You can also make this for neividhyam or as an offering to God, which is what I made it for. Tasting great hot and cold, my family prefers this cold as that is when the flavours have had time to meld together, giving you a yummy almondy drink.

Badam Doodh or Almond Milk

Ingredients:

  • litre full cream milk
  • 30-40 almonds
  • 4- 6 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 generous pinches saffron
  • ½ tsp rose water

Method:

  • Soak the almonds in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and remove the skin
  • Blend the almonds with some of the milk until the almonds become a fine paste. Keep aside.
  • Heat the milk in a deep-bottomed pan on medium-high and let the milk come to a boil.
  • Once the milk starts to warm up, take a couple of teaspoons of the milk and add it to the small cup in which the saffron strands are lightly crushed. Mix this a bit and keep aside for later.
  • Once the milk in the pan has come to a boil, add the sugar and stir well until the sugar completely dissolves.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the blended almond paste and stir and mix well.
  • Reduce the flame to a low and stir constantly for about 10 minutes so that the milk and almond paste do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the raw smell of the almonds disappears, add in the crushed saffron and the cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Once the saffron and cardamom have mixed well, switch off the gas and add in the rose water. Mix well one last time and keep aside until it is completely cool.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until it is cold. Enjoy your almond or badam milk

Recipes: Gujarati Khatta Mung aka Whole Green Gram Dal in a Buttermilk Gravy

Dal is a staple in most indian households with some variety of the protein packed dish made across the country. So, in order that we don’t get bored with the same kind of dal, I am always on the lookout for interesting takes and variations.

I saw this dal in one of my friend’s Facebook posts and it looked interesting enough to try it. My version may not be the most authentic one, but I enjoyed making and eating the dal. This is a staple in most Gujarati households, but you won’t find this in most restaurants. So let’s see how this is made…

Gujarati Khatta Mung aka Whole Green Gram Dal in a Buttermilk Gravy

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole green moong dal, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • ½ to 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2-3 tbsp gram flour or besan
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1-inch piece of minced ginger
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish

Method:

  • Drain the soaked moong dal and in a large pan, cook the soaked and drained moong dal with just enough water to cover it for about 5-7 minutes until it is just cooked and tender. Make sure it does not get mushy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the yoghurt well and add the gram flour, turmeric powder, asafoetida, some salt and about a cup of water and whisk till it is smooth with no lumps. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil in another pan and when the oil warms, add the mustard seeds and let the seeds crackle. Then add the cumin seeds and stir for a couple of seconds, followed by the curry leaves. Stir till the curry leaves start to become crisp. Then add the slit green chilles and the ginger and saute for about 30-40 seconds.
  • Now add the cooked moong dal into this tempering and then the yoghurt gram flour mixture and allow everything to come to a nice rolling boil. Let this simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes.
  • Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.
  • Turn off the flame and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice and a simple vegetable stir fry for a homely lunch.

Recipes: Matar Paneer

A dish you find in pretty much every Indian restaurant, Matar Paneer, which means Peas and Paneer, is a yummy dish from the state of Punjab which has fresh or frozen green peas and cottage cheese or Paneer in a smooth onion tomato gravy, spiced with garam masala. Usually served with Indian flatbreads like rotis, you can also have it with steamed rice.

One Sunday, bored of making the same old dishes, I decided to make a super easy mater paneer. This version, which may not be the most authentic version, is very easy and doesn’t take much time to make. I used frozen peas, but if you have fresh peas, the dish will be even better.

Matar Paneer

Ingredients:
– 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
– 1 cup frozen paneer, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then drained
– 2 medium sized onions, chopped roughly
– 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
– 1 bulb garlic, peeled
– 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
– 10-12 almonds
– 2 tsp cumin seeds
– 1 tsp ajwain or caraway seeds
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds
– 2 cloves
– 2 cardamom pods
– ¼ tsp turmeric powder
– 1 tsp red chilli powder
– 1 tsp cumin powder
– 1 tsp coriander powder
– 1 tsp garam masala powder
– 1 tbsp kasuri methi
– Salt to taste
– 2 tbsp ghee or oil
– Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method:
– Heat 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a pan and when it is warm, add 1 tsp cumin seeds and let them pop.
– Then add the ajwain seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and cardamom pods and stir for a couple of seconds.
– Now add the almonds and stir for a minute or two. Then add the garlic and ginger one by one and stir between adding the next ingredient.
– When everything is stirred well, add the onions and stir until the onions are translucent.
– Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and stir until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy. Switch off the flame and let this cool.
– When completely cool, blend together into a smooth paste.
– In a separate pan, heat the balance ghee or oil and the balance cumin seeds and let the seeds pop
– Then add the frozen peas and the turmeric powder and some salt and cover and cook on a low to medium flame until the peas are around 80% cooked.
– Add in the blended masala paste and then the powder masalas – red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and let it come to a rolling boil.
– At this point, add in the soaked and drained paneer and salt to taste. Add the garam masala powder and crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and sprinkle it over the gravy.
– Let everything come to a nice boil and put the flame on a simmer and cook for 10 minutes more. Thin it if needed at this point.
– Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or rice. I served it with a simple jeera rice made with basmati rice.

Recipes: Spinach Dal Medley

Dals are an integral part of an Indian household and whether it is a south Indian Sambar or a plain dal from Punjab, every state, in fact every household has some type of dal preparation which is unique to themselves. I usually make dal at least twice or thrice a week and sometimes when I can’t think of something to make, I just throw something together, hoping what ends up is something edible. This dal was the result of one of those experimentations. I had some spinach which was starting to go bad and so decided to make this power packed protein and iron filled dal. The other good thing about this recipe is that it is a one pot recipe!

Spinach Dal Medley

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped spinach
2 tbsp each of the following dals – toor dal, yellow moong dal, orange masoor dal and chana dal
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp ghee or oil

Method:
Wash the dals thoroughly and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Wash the spinach thoroughly to remove all the dirt it may have.
In the pressure cooker, heat the ghee or oil and and when the fat warms up, add the cumin seeds and let the seeds pop.
After the cumin seeds pop, add in the ginger-garlic paste and stir for a couple of seconds. Now add the finely chopped onions and stir until the onions turn translucent.
Now add thechopped and washed spinach and let it wilt.
Then add the washed dals and stir for a bit. Add enough water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.
When the pressure reduces, open the cooker and put it on the gas again and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste, salt and red chilli powder as well as the garam masala powder and stir well and also check for seasoning.
Let the dal come to a nice rolling boil. If it is too thick for your liking, thin it as per your taste.
Serve hot over steamed rice with a stir fried vegetable of your choice. This also makes for a very tasty spinach lentil soup.