Beetroot Hummus

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Hummus

In the last decade or so, Beetroot has gained the status of super food. Research shows that it could help lower blood pressure, improve stamina, reduce cholesterol etc. It is a good source of potassium, folate, calcium and other minerals.

I made Beetroot curry the other day after which I had a leftover boiled beetroot in the fridge.  I had boiled chickpeas as well so thought I’ll whip up beetroot hummus. It’s an easy dip to make and very healthy too!! Other than Tahini (Sesame seed paste) the rest of the ingredients should be available in your pantry.

Ingredients

Beetroot – 1 (boiled)

Chickpeas – 1 cup (boiled)

Tahini – 2 tbsp

Garlic – 2 -3 cloves

Cumin powder – 2 tsp

Cracked Pepper – 1tsp

Olive oil – 1/4 cup

Lemon Juice – 2-3 tsp

Salt to taste

Method:

Boil or roast the beetroot and cool it. Once its cooled, peel the beetroot, dice them in to pieces. Place it in the food processor and blend to a coarse paste.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth.  Adjust seasonings as required. Drizzle olive oil and serve with freshly cut vegetables or crackers.

Hummus 1Notes:

I pressure cooked my beetroot with the skin and peeled the skin when cool to handle.

I soaked my chickpeas and pressure cooked it.  Canned chickpeas can be used as well.

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Keerai Molagootal (Spinach dal curry)

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IMG_4467Molagootal is a quintessential dish of Palakkad Iyers and is very accommodating in the sense that there are no restrictions to the vegetables you can use to make this dish.  There is elavan-chenai molagootal, pudalangai molagootal, cabbage molagootal and the list goes on.  My favourite one is keerai molagootal.

I make some kind of molagootal at least once a week.  It’s easy to prepare with very few ingredients, can be made in less than half hour and the result is a very satisfying dish!  I’ll end up making molagootal if I can’t think of what to make or if I hadn’t planned ahead for the day’s menu.  Molagootal goes very well with puli inji, thogayal or even pickle.

Although the name says Molagootal, there is no addition of Molagu (Black Pepper) in this dish… at least not in the recipe my amma and the extended family use.  This dish is equally enjoyed by the older and the younger generation in our family…ultimate comfort food!

Keerai MolagootalIngredients:

Spinach – 2 bunches

Tuvar dhal – ½ cup

To grind

Grated coconut – ½ cup

Jeera – 1 tsp

Raw rice – ½ tsp

Red chillies – 2

Water to grind – 2 – 3 tbsp or as required

To temper

Coconut oil – 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Urad dal – 1 tsp

Method

Clean, chop and wash the spinach thoroughly. I usually soak the chopped spinach for 10 minutes or so in order for all the dirt to settle at the bottom and drain the leaves in the colander. I repeat this process until the water is clear of any dirt. Alternatively, you could use frozen spinach.

Cook the tuvar dhal in the pressure cooker till well done. Make a paste using the items given under “to grind” using water.  Cook the spinach on the stove top (or pressure cook) till done.

Add the cooked turval dhal to the spinach and boil for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the ground paste to the spinach and dhal mixture and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Take a small pan and add a tablespoon of coconut oil.  Once hot, add the mustard seeds and when it starts to splutter, add urad dhal. When the urad dhal turns golden in colour, add the tempering to the molagootal. Serve with steaming rice and enjoy it with Puli inji, thogayal or pickle.

Kasi Halwa

IMG_4802I think I must have been around 10 or so when I first tasted this delicious sweet.  Not sure if it was Thatha’s (grandfather) 80th or my cousin’s wedding.  Funny I don’t remember the event but I sure remember how divine it tasted!!

Kasi halwa is not something that is often made at home, at least not in our house or in our extended family. Who could believe that a humble pumpkin can be transformed into a delectable sweet??

This is my 2nd time making this sweet…I had bought 2 big white pumpkins…one pumpkin went into making Aviyal for a get together and I was left with another big pumpkin. Our family friend was home for lunch last Sunday and this was going to be the dessert.  But when I finished making it, the quantity was too little, I thought “this would not be enough for everyone” (basically it was too little for me to share with anyone…hehe). I made another sweet for them in the end.

Enough of my rambling, here goes the recipe…

IMG_4799Ingredients:

White Pumpkin  – 4 Cups

Sugar – 1¼ cups

Ghee – 4 – 5 tbsps.

Cardamom – 1 tsp (powdered)

Saffron – a pinch

Cashews – 10 – 12 nos.

Raisins – 1-2 tbsps.

Method

Take half a white pumpkin, remove the skin, seeds and the soft flesh from the middle. Grate the pumpkin and keep aside. Take a pinch of saffron and soak it in a tablespoon of warm water.

Take a heavy bottomed pan and add 2 tablespoons of ghee. When the ghee is hot, add the cashews and raisins and fry till the cashews are golden brown and the raisins have plumped up.  Keep aside the fried cashews and raisins. In the same pan, add the grated pumpkin along with the juice and cook till all the water is absorbed. The quantity of the pumpkin will reduce considerably after cooking.

When the pumpkin is soft and all the water has been absorbed, add the sugar and the soaked saffron and mix thoroughly. Sugar will start to melt at this stage, keep stirring the mixture on a medium heat.

Add the remaining ghee and cook till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan.

Remove from heat and add in the powdered cardamom, fried cashews and raisins.

Scrumptious Kasi Halwa is ready to be devoured!!IMG_4800

Tomato Rasam

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According to Wiki, there are thirty different types of rasam!! The humble rasam is a ubiquitous dish in South Indian households and in most Tambrahm households it is a must have dish every day.

I make rasam once a week definitely and usually on a Saturday.  Weekends, especially Saturdays are very busy with classes, sport, grocery shopping etc.  That’s one day I don’t want to think about what to cook…so rasam and some vegetable is usually the menu at our place.  D absolutely loves rasam and he makes a well in his thayir sadam (curd rice) and fills it up with rasam…just like his thatha (grandfather).

Steaming rice with ghee, piping hot rasam and some potato curry Crispy Potato Fry ~ Urulai Kizhangu Kaara Kari is a heavenly combination!!

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Ingredients:

Tamarind – gooseberry size

Tuvar dhal – ¼ cup

Salt – to taste

Turmeric – ¼ tsp

Asafoetida – ¼ tsp

Rasam powder – 2 tbs

Curry leaves – a sprig

Coriander leaves – 2 tbs

Tomato – 1 or 2

Tadka / Garnish

Oil / ghee – 1 tsp

Mustard – 1 tsp

Cumin powder – 1 tsp (optional)

Pepper powder – ½ tsp (optional)

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Method:

  1. Cook the tuvar dal in pressure cooker till well done.
  2. In a dish, add salt, turmeric, asafoetida, rasam powder and add the tomato pieces and a tablespoon of coriander leaves
  3. Add 1.5 to 2 cups of water and extract the juice out of the soaked tamarind and add it to the dish.
  4. Let this mixture boil well until there is no raw smell of the tamarind. I let the quantity reduce a bit.
  5. Add 1 cup of water to the cooked tuvar dal and mash it well. Add the mashed and thinned out tuvar dhal to the tamarind mixture. Depending on the consistency you like, you can add another cup of water.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer. Rasam should not be allowed to boil, it should just be frothy as shown in the picture.
  7. Take a teaspoon of oil or ghee and add mustard seeds and when it starts to splutter, you can add in cumin and pepper powder for extra flavour. Garnish with coriander or curry leaves.

Notes:  For a vegan version, skip the ghee and add oil.

I prefer to squeeze my tomatoes than add them as cut pieces.  Some people grind the tomatoes and add the juice.IMG_3647

Black Chickpeas Salad (Karuppu Konda Kadalai Sundal)

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We all know legumes are a great source of protein for vegetarians.  These little fellas are packed with nutrients and are a great source of dietary fiber.

When I hear KKK sundal (btw, at home we just say kadalai sundal), I’m reminded of navarathri. Kadalai sundal is a must during this 9-day festival dedicated for the 3 goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathy.   When I was growing up, if amma was running short of vegetables, Kadalai sundal would take the avatar of a side dish.

I try to incorporate legumes on a regular basis in our diet and sometimes I make this salad as an evening snack and at other times (when I’m running short of vegetables) as a side dish.  Sundal is usually garnished with coconut but the crunch from the carrots, the tang from the lemon juice and the zing from ginger…takes this sundal to the next level!!

Ingredients:

Black Chickpeas (Kala channa) – 1 Cup

Carrot – 2 medium size

Coconut – 2 tbsp.

Red chillies – 1-2

Ginger – ½ an inch

Curry leaves – a sprig

Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp

Split Urad dal – 1 tsp

Channa dal – 1 tsp

Juice of half a lemon

Salt – 1 tbsp or to taste

Turmeric – a pinch

Coconut oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

Soak the channa overnight or at least for 8 hours.

Pressure cook the channa till it’s well cooked but still holds its shape (3 whistles and simmer for 5-7 mins). Open the pressure cooker, after it has cooled down.  While the channa is cooking, grate and keep aside the carrot and ginger.

In a pan, add the coconut oil and when hot, add mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter, add split urad dal and channa dal.  When it starts to turn golden in colour, add the red chillies, ginger and curry leaves and sauté it for 30 secs.  Add in the carrot, a pinch of turmeric and salt if you’ve not added it to the channa already.

Add in the cooked channa into the above mixture and sauté it for 3-4 minutes.  I usually add a couple of tablespoons of water from the cooked channa. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and garnish with coconut. Your healthy snack is ready to be served.

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Notes: I add salt to the channa before I pressure cook.  But if there is hard water in your area, the channa may not cook properly.  In such cases, you could add salt later.

If you prefer, you may sauté onions and add it to the salad instead of the coconut.

Instead of Black chickpeas, you could use normal chickpeas / garbanzo (kabuli channa) or any other legumes.

 

Kaju Katli

img_2300I got introduced to kaju katli only late in my life.  But I fell instantly for these little diamond beauties.  Shree Mithai in Chennai used to make the best kaju katlis and I was happy to just buy and eat. I’ve always thought a very elaborate process would be involved in making this heavenly tasting sweet. When I came across the recipe on the internet I couldn’t believe there are just 3 ingredients required to make this sweet.

Everyone in the family loves kaju katli and it is a sweet I make regularly for Deepavali.

Ingredients:

Cashewnuts – 1 cup

Sugar – ¾ cup

Water – ¼ cup

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Method:

Take a heavy bottom pan and slightly warm the cashewnuts (no need to roast). Transfer the cashewnuts to a coffee grinder or a mixer / blender and grind it to a fine powder.

Mix sugar and water thoroughly in the same heavy bottom pan and let it come to a rolling boil. No need for single thread consistency. Add the cashewnut powder and mix well making sure there are no lumps.

Keep stirring well and within few minutes the mixture will start to get thick.  Take a tiny quantity of the mixture and pour it on a plate and roll it into a small ball .  If you can roll it, move the pan away from the heat and pour the contents on a clean surface and let it cool slightly.

Knead the mixture like chappathi dough and the result should be a glossy surface.

Roll it out to ¼ inch thickness and cut them into diamond shapes. Gather the ends, knead and repeat the process.

Yummy Kaju Katli is ready to be devoured.

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Vegan Lemon Blueberry Cake

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I can’t believe that I’ve already made this cake twice in one week. It was my husband’s birthday last week and I wanted to bake a cake with one of his favourite ingredients…lemon! He believes a not so great food item can be lifted up with a squeeze of lemon.

This cake is made with basic ingredients and a very easy one to put together.  The lemon gives the cake a nice tangy taste and the blueberries impart a lovely colour. The tanginess of the lemon combines beautifully with the sweetness of the blueberry. The result was a soft, spongy, melt-in-the-mouth cake.

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Ingredient

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Olive / rice bran oil
  • ¾ cup maple / agave or rice malt syrup
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease a bundt pan. I used olive oil spray to grease the pan.
  2. In a bowl, add all the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix thoroughly.
  3. In another bowl, add oil, maple syrup, water, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently (do not over mix) making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Fold in the blueberries.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan and spread the batter evenly.
  6. Bake the cake around 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake completely before unmolding.
  8. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Another option is to serve with lemon drizzle.

Notes:  You can make a lemon drizzle by mixing 1 cup of icing sugar and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice and pour it on the cake.

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Palak Paneer / CottageCheese and Spinach gravy

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 Cubes of melt-in-your-mouth paneer floating in a bed of green creamy spinach sauce makes for one of the most popular gravies/ curries – Palak Paneer.

Palak Paneer

 

It is a standard in the North Indian cuisine,(Punjabi to be specific).  I had it for the first time in my college canteen and it was instant love !I seem to have passed on this craze to my children too as their mad love for “green paneer” as my son calls it ,compels  me to prepare it at least once a week. No one’s complaining ! 😉

This is my version of the popular dish :


Ingredients:


  1. Fresh Palak (Spinach) – Around 250 grams
  2. Onion – 1 medium chopped
  3. Tomato – 1 chopped
  4. 3 green chillies ( Use according to tolerance)
  5. 4 to 5 small to medium garlic cloves
  6. 1/4 inch garlic
  7. Cashews – 5 to 7 (soaked for half an hour)
  8. 1/2 tsp jeera powder
  9. 1/2 tsp dhaniya powder
  10. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  11.  3 cups of water for blanching the spinach
  12. Fresh cream – 2 tbsp

Procedure


  1. Clean the spinach in a big colander under running water.Remove the stem if it is too thick.Keep the tender stalks and leaves
  2.  Boil water in a pot and add the washed spinach leaves. Sprinkle a pinch of salt.
  3.  Once the spinach reduces, ( should take only about 3 to 5 minutes), remove from water and transfer into another bowl filled with cold water. This process is blanching.It also retains the beautiful green colour of the leaves. Do not throw away the stock.It can be used during gravy preparation, or stored for later use.
  4.  Meanwhile grind the chopped onions ,chillies, garlic, ginger, tomatoes in a mixer/ blender to a smooth paste.
  5.  Heat a pan with two teaspoons of oil and add the above paste to it . Saute till the raw flavour of the onions and garlic is no longer there. The oil should start separating at this point.
  6.  Add salt, dhaniya (coriander) powder, jeera(cumin) powder and garam masala and saute it for a couple of minutes.
  7. Blend the blanched spinach to a smooth puree.
  8.  Add the puree to the pan with the masala paste.Saute.
  9.  Add a little stock kept aside till it is a gravy consistency.
  10. Grind the soaked cashews to a fine paste and add it to make the gravy thicker and to give it a creamy consistency.
  11.  Add more salt if required.
  12. Cut the paneer in cubes and add it to the above gravy.Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  13. Swirl in a spoonful of fresh cream on top, just before serving.

PalakPaneer Collage

Your mouth-watering palak paneer is ready ! Serve with hot phulkas,pooris, pulao or jeera rice. It’s subtle flavours and creamy texture will leave you wanting for more.

PalakPaneer2

Notes:

  1. Do not cover the palak while cooking or immediately after cooking. It loses it’s beautiful green colour.
  2. You can add a table-spoon full of curd just after you add the spinach puree step to give the gravy a tang, if you like it that way.
  3. Do not add too much garam masala. It may impart tartness to the gravy. Also , the gravy loses some colour.
  4. Instead of garam masala, you may saute in fresh spices.
  5. Do not overcook the spinach. It doesn’t take too long to cook. It will lose its nutrients and colour if boiled too long.
  6. You may saute the paneer in a little oil before adding it to the gravy, depending on your taste.We like it just like that .
  7. If your paneer is in the refrigerator, remove it before the cooking process starts, and place the amount to be used in a flat plate with a little warm water to soften it up.

 

Red Capsicum chutney

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This chutney calls for only 3 ingredients besides oil and salt.  One of the main criteria for me to try a new recipe…the ingredient list should not be too long. I love recipes that are simple but still deliver excellent results.  One such recipe is red capsicum chutney.

I first came across this recipe in a blog called Saffron Hut in 2007 and I’ve been making this chutney ever since.  Unfortunately, Saffron Hut has discontinued blogging but there was a time I was addicted to this blog and have tried most of her recipes with great success.

Here you go with the recipe:

Ingredients:

Red Capsicum – 2 large ones or 3 medium ones

Dry Red chillies – 1 or 2 according to taste

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Oil – 1 tbs

Salt to taste

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Method:

Chop red capsicum roughly. Take a pan and heat a tablespoon of oil.  When hot, add the cumin seeds and dry red chillies.  When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add in the chopped red capsicum.

Sauté the capsicum till all the water has evaporated. Cool and grind the mixture to a smooth paste. Add salt as per your taste.

At this stage, it is ready to use.

If you are planning to store the chutney for a few days, pour the chutney back into the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes.  This will extend the life of the chutney.

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This chutney tastes good with bread, chapattis, as a spread on wraps and as a dip.

 

 

 

Spaghetti with Tofu balls

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This is a typical conversation that goes on in our household on a weekend:

Me: What would you guys like to have for lunch?

Husband: Whatever is convenient for you.

Me: That doesn’t help me…D, what would you like to have?

Son: Vegetable pot pie…no, pasta…actually Spaghetti with tofu balls. That’s my favourite!!

Every time I ask D for suggestions, he’ll end up requesting me to make this dish.

Making tofu balls does take a bit of time but you can make a large batch and freeze it.  But I never get there J. Apart from the ones that are had with the spaghetti, the rest are wolfed down by the men as snack.

Now to the recipe…

Ingredients:

Rolled Oats – 1 cup

Almonds – ¾ cup

Sunflower & Sesame seeds – ¼ cup

Chia seeds – 1 tbsp

Onion – 1 (chopped)

Carrot – 2 (grated)

Ginger – 1 inch (grated)

Garlic – 2 cloves (chopped)

Oil – 4 tbsp

Tofu (firm) – 500 gms.

Mixed herbs- 1 tbsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Cumin powder – 1tsp

Chilli powder – 1tsp or more

Salt – to taste

Spaghetti – 500 gms.

Pasta Sauce – 500 ml

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Method:

Take a heavy bottomed pan and toast the following separately and keep aside:

Oats, Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Sesame seeds and chia seeds.  Once cooled, powder all the above ingredients using a food processer / blender

Add 2 tbsp of oil in the same pan and when hot, add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic. When the onions start to brown, add in the grated carrot. Sauté the mixture for a couple of minutes and add in the spices and the powdered ingredients. Switch off the flame, crumble the tofu and add it to the mixture.

Once cool enough to handle the mixture, make lemon sized balls and arrange it on a baking tray. Brush or spray the tofu balls with some oil and bake it in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

While the tofu balls are in the oven, cook the spaghetti al-dente (check the packet for instructions) and heat the pasta sauce (I use store bought pasta sauce).  I also add sautéed onions and capsicum to the pasta sauce.

To assemble, place the spaghetti on a plate, add a few tofu balls and top it with the pasta sauce. Hope you like this yummy dish.

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