Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MLA Dosa ( Pesarattu / Green Moong Dosa with a filling of Upma )

Many many moons ago when I first stepped onto the Hyderabad soil, I had hardly bargained for the surprises in store. The language, the culture, the food and even the obnoxious auto-wallahs came as a shocker to me. However with the passage of time, I was able to make peace with everything except the food. Used to the mild and less than runny dals, I just could not fathom pairing my rice with rasam ( glorified tamarind water as I called it ), oily shriveled fries and curd. It was tough and the pickle become my only solace except for the weekends when they served Chicken/egg curry. Being on a student budget, Biryani seemed to be a rare luxury that could only be savored on special occasions. Sadly, the scenario did not change much even after I got a job and moved on to a better (read 'more posh') hostel. The cooks were sourced from Andhra and they catered to a South Indian majority.

However, there was a silver lining to this gastronomic cultural shock. And that was the availability of the South Indian tiffin centers that sold Idli/Dosa/Upma during most times of the day. So, if on a particular day we felt nauseated by looking at the hostel menu, we ended up eating a masala dosa for lunch/dinner. It was during one such visit to a joint that I ordered the MLA dosa on a whim. The name had piqued my curiosity but the grandiose imagery that I had conjured up in my mind disappeared the moment it arrived at the table. I realized that I had been tricked into ordering the Pesarattu which I had been avoiding like the plague. I glanced at my roomie with the most innocent 'Puppy eyes' look that I could manage. But she was happily digging into her Choley Bhature and was quite oblivious to my distress.

Left with no option, I gingerly broke a piece of the Pesarattu, wrapped it around some of the upma, dipped it in some spicy chutney and popped it into my mouth with a bundle of misgivings. And was pleasantly surprised !! Turned out that my fears were completely unfounded and it tasted quite mild actually if I were to discount the spicy chutney. I was happy to have discovered yet another ally amongst the inscrutable South Indian menu.

While it took me a few trails and finally the help of my Andhra neighbor to nail this recipe, I am still in the dark about the real story behind the discovery of this dish. Whether it is the popular one about this dosa being a favorite on the Raj Bhavan canteen menu to the more credible one about a sycophant who combined the two favorites to please a member of the Legislature, each one has enough spice to keep one guessing. Try it out for yourself even as figure out the one that captures your imagination.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

For the Pesarattu -

  • 1 cup whole green moong dal ( even split ones will do )
  • a fistful of poha/avalakki/chiwda/chuda
  • 1 green chili
  • a small piece of ginger
  • 1-2 pinch cumin seeds
  • salt to taste

For the Upma -
  • 1 cup rawa ( I use Bombay rawa )
  • 1 tsp channa dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion
  • 1-2 green chilis
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • a pinch of asafotida
  • 1/2 tsp ginger juliennes
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp ghee 

Others -

  • Oil for making the dosa
  • chopped onions for garnishing (optional)


Preparation - Wash and soak the moong dal overnight. Rub it to loosen the skin. Remove about 50-60 perecent of the skin for a better taste.

Transfer the moong dal, poha, chili, ginger, cumin and salt into a mixer jar. Grind into a fine paste with a consistency that is similar to the dosa batter.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the rawa and fry till it gives off a sweet smell. Remove and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and broken green chili. Once it gets spluttering, add the dals and fry a bit. Then add the chopped onions and curry leaves. Fry till onion is translucent.

Add 2 cups water and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and then the roasted rawa.

Cook till all the water is absorbed. Remove from the flame. Cover and keep aside.

Heat a dosa tawa. Take some of the green moong batter and spread it a little thick.

Once it is a little done, scrape off some of the batter for crispy and thin dosa.

Drizzle the oil on the sides. Place some upma in the center and garnish with onion/ginger/carrot . Fold and remove from the tawa.


















Serve hot with onion-tamarind chutney !!

















Note - If you are very particular about the bright green color, use a few coriander leaves for making the gravy. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kiwi and Black Rice Phirni ( An exotic rice pudding )

Important - This is an original recipe and has been published for the first time. Please do not copy/reproduce without approval of the owner.

Thanks to my numerous food posts on Facebook and other social media, I keep getting bombarded with requests from foodie friends . "Kabhi hame khane par toh bulao" is the most common rant that I get to here on a day to day basis. So, when a special friend arrived last weekend, it was time to create yet another magical recipe just for him. Is there a better way of making someone feel special ? Not really when the person in question is a die-hard foodie.

So, did I pull on my thinking cap ?? Or scour the supermarket shelves for some inspiration ? No. I did not do anything of that sort. I had a Black rice Phirni waiting for me in the drafts. The timing seemed perfect to debut my special dessert. Now I had been planning to prepare it for sometime but the inclement weather in Blore had dulled my taste for all things sweet. But as the sun shone bright, it seemed that the weather Gods were in tandem with my wishes.

I used jaggery as a sweetener to bring out the naturally nutty taste of the black rice. Instead of using nuts of any kind, I decided to top it up with a fruit. Makes it healthier and the acidity in the fruit acts as the perfect foil to the sweetness of the phirni. Luckily, I had quite a few options stocked up but I decided to pick on the Kiwi as it makes for a lovely contrast with the lavender hues of the black rice .

Read on -
























Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 liter whole milk 
  • 4 tbsp black rice powder
  • 4 tsp jaggery or as per taste ( I used the light hued variety )
  • 2 kiwis ( for topping )
  • 1/2 cup cold milk for mixing with the rice powder

Preparation - Soak the black rice grains for 4 hours. Drain and spread on a plate to air dry. Once the surface moisture evaporates, grind it into a powder.

Mix the rice powder in the cold milk.

Cooking - Boil the milk till it reduces to half of the original volume. 

Pour in the rice mixture and keep stirring till it starts to thicken a bit. Once the consistency reaches that of a custard, mix in the powdered jaggery.

Remove from the flame and allow it to cool down a bit.

Pop it into the fridge for a couple of hours.

Just before serving, peel and chop the kiwi into thin half-moon slices.

Pour the phirni into dessert glasses. Top it up with the kiwi and serve.




































Note - Jaggery can cause the milk to curdle as it contains residual traces of alum. Hence I usually prefer to add it just before removing the phirni/kheer from the flame.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sweet Quinoa Pulao ( Inspired by the aromatic 'Kanika' from Odisha )

In the Coastal pasts of Odisha, it is almost 'du rigueur' to prepare arua-dalma-khatta on the festival days. When one is abstaining from onion and garlic, it makes sense to prepare a combination that is light and well as tasty. But having grown up in Western Odisha, I am more inclined towards having a sweet pulao (kanika) / khechudi and alu-dum on such days. Much of our taste preferences are acquired during our growing years and hence we often balk at the thought of trying out new ingredients or combinations. That was pretty much the case with me before I started blogging and turned really adventurous with food. So it was no surprise to me when this combination was initially met with raised eyebrows at my in-laws home but they too loved it after trying it for the very first time ! However it is another story that they would pick the dalma-khatta combination if they have a choice.

So, on last Sankranti, I thought of preparing the a sweet pulao and aludum (without onion-garlic) for lunch. Just as I opened the cupboard to take out the rice, I glanced at the half used packet of quinoa that had been lying used for sometime. Since the cooking methods is rather similar, I decided to swap the rice with quinoa to give my meal a healthy twist.

So, here is the recipe of 'Sweet Quinoa Pulao' or 'Quinoa Kanika' -


















Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4-5 pepperorns
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 1 petal of mace
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar ( adjust as per taste )
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp chopped cashews
  • 3 tsp raisins

Preparation - Wash the quinoa under running water. Let it soak for 30 mins. Drain.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a deep saucepan. Add the whole spices and wait till they turn fragrant.

Drop in the cashews and raisins. Fry for 20 seconds .

Add the rinsed and drained quinoa to the saucepan. Roast it for 5 mins to give it brownish shade and also to ensure that it's typical smell goes off. Now add 2 cups water and let it cook uncovered . Once it is almost 80 percent done, add the sugar and salt.

Once the water is absorbed, fluff it up .

Serve warm with the aludum or just it itself.

















Note - It is important to wash the quinoa with plenty of water so that the bitterness goes off.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cauliflower-Moong Dal Stir Fry

The flavour combination of moong dal and coconut is quite popular in Odisha . There are quite a few vegetables like cabbage, jackfruit, green papaya and even leafy greens which are prepared with the addition of these two ingredients. It is usually consumed during the 'no onion no garlic' days when the menu is kept light and predominantly 'Sattvik'.

However last week, I tried cooking cauliflower with roasted moong dal and coconut as I had run out of vegetables and more importantly, the inclination to cook a hearty lunch. A tiny cauliflower and some grated coconut was all I could salvage from the fridge. So, I tried a stir fry that I usually do with cabbage. It turned out to be quite delicious and I packed the same for husband's lunchbox along with some rotis. He quite liked it since it was very light, just enough moist and yet tasty. Even my four year old put it as 'not spicy' and finished his portion. Hence adding this recipe to the 'Lunchbox collection' on my blog.

Read on for the recipe -







Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 3 tsp freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tsp ginger juliennes
  • 1/5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 dry red chilis 
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil



Preparation - Wash and dry the cauliflower florets.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add broken red chili and mustard seeds.

Once they get spluttering, add the curry leaves and ginger juliennes. Fry for 30 seconds.

Now, add the cauliflower florets and sautee on a low to medium flame.

Dry roast the moong dal till fragrant. Wash and cook with 1 cup water is a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles. The dal should be just cooked and not very mushy.

Add cooked dal to the cauliflower florets when it is about 90 percent done.

Cover and cook for another 2-3 mins or till the excess water evaporates. ( this is the point where you can decide whether to keep it a bit firm or make it mushy. I end up cooking it a bit more so that my kid does not crib about having to chew too much, )

Remove lid and add the grated coconut. Mix in and switch off the flame.

Serve it along with rotis.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Torani Kanjee ( Fermented rice water and vegetable soup from Odisha )

Kanjee is one of those coolants from Odisha that also doubles up as a soup .Or maybe it is just an excuse to sample this delicious liquid goodness throughout the year !! And why not when it is available in multiple flavors. There is a pariba kanjee, khada kanjee, saga kanjee, dahi kanjee and the most delicious of all, the 'Torani Kanjee'. Hats off to the Odia ladies of yore who had the ingenuity to make delicious meals out of frugal resources !! It is tough to believe that bringing about a slight change in the ingredients can alter the taste to such an extent.

One needs to plan well in advance to prepare this dish. Water discarded from cooked rice is collected over days and stored in an earthenware pot which allows it to ferment and develop a sour taste. It is a bit of a technical process wherein we retain half of the previous day's rice water and mix it with the current day's lot after it has been cooled and diluted. It is a slow and elaborate process which is worth the wait. I still get nostalgic remembering the huge pots in which my grandmother used to brew and simmer this thing. It has a particularly strong aroma ( somewhat pungent actually ) that is sure to tickle the olfactory ducts of the neighbors. Hence the generous quantity in which is it prepared.

While one can enjoy the 'Kanjee' all around the year, the abundance of vegetables and leafy greens (especially 'kosala sagaw') during the winter months make it a must-have during the fall. There is something very soothing about sipping 'Kanjee' from a big bowl while enjoying the wintry sun. So, here is the recipe of the 'Torani Kanjee' which I got from Mom after a lot of advice and deliberation. 'Keep the torani carefully covered', 'do not let it become too stale and smelly', 'remember to throw away half of the pervious lot when you mix in the fresh one', and so on. Guess it is ingrained in a mother's psyche to keep the advise coming even after we are completely grown up.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -


  • 2-3 litres of torani (rice water)
  • 1/2 cup radish slices
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin pieces
  • 1/4 cup green papaya slices
  • 1 small eggplant ( cut into semi-circles) 
  • 6-7 okra ( cut into inch long pieces
  • 10-12 fat garlic cloves
  • 4-5 dry red chili
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinch kala jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp mustard oil
  • 3-4 pieces of ambula ( dried green mango )
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Collect the excess water after cooking rice. Dilute it with a cup of water. 

Drop in a piece of ambula and cover the vessel with a thin cloth . Let it stand overnight.

Again collect the rice water on the next day. Dilute and allow to cool down completely. 

Throw away half of the previous day's rice water along with the ambula. Add the fresh lot along with another fresh piece of ambula. Let it stand overnight.

Repeat this process for 3-4 days. Once the torani starts to smell a bit pungent and taste sour, we can proceed for the kanjee.

Cooking - Dilute the torani with 2-3 cups water and transfer to a deep saucepan. Add salt to taste and a bit of turmeric. Bring it to a full boil. (be careful as it tends to rise and come out of the vessel )

Add the chopped vegetables to the torani. Let it boil on a medium flame till all the vegetables are cooked.

Check for salt and sourness. If it lacks enough tang, drop in 1-2 pieces of ambula.

















Heat the oil in a tempering pan.  Once it starts to smoke, reduce heat. Add the broken chilis, mustard and kala jeera .Quickly follow with the crushed garlic and curry leaves. Once the garlic turns brown on the edges, pour the contents of the tempering pan over the kanjee.

Let it boil for another 2-3 mins before removing from the flame.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

















It can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days .
















The veggies I have used -


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Product Review : Nutrus Green Coffee

Last week, I received a sample of Nutrus Green Coffee for a review. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by the product which claims to be India's first Green Coffee with probiotics . Since 'probiotics' refers to live bacteria/yeast that are ingested for their beneficial properties, it can be described as some kind of a health drink. The product claims to help you lose weight but not over night. Sounds quite sensible, doesn't it ??
















Here is what I have to say about the product -

It has a nice flavor which is milder than the instant coffee I usually drink. Since we are not supposed to add sugar to it, it is definitely lower in calories. And it is refreshing too ! Most importantly, it tastes good and in fact, is much better than 'Green Tea' which inevitably has a bitter note.

Pros of the product - 

1. It is easy to prepare. Take a cup of hot water and stir in the contents of the sachet. Cant get any easier.

2. Taste is a definite plus unless you happen to be an Expresso addict.

3. Claims to help in reducing weight (have been taking it for 1 week only so cannot vouch for it)

4. Rich in antioxidants.

5. Modulates Glucose and Fat metabolism.

Cons of the product -

1. It is on the expensive side. Costs Rs 225 for 20 single-use sachets.

2. Availability is an issue as of now. Can buy online at an extra cost (delivery charges).
















Final verdict - I love the taste of this product and hence I don't mind giving up my regular tea/coffee for it. As for the weight loss claims, I would like to try it for a few more days before giving the final verdict. Since I already lead an active lifestyle with regular exercise and healthy meals, I will not be making any drastic changes in my routine apart from swapping by morning and evening tea with Nutrus Green Coffee . Will update this post after a month.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chicken Do Pyaza ( My Low Calorie Version )

Chicken do pyaza is one of those delicious sides that has been 'off radar' for quite sometime. Not because it lacks in flavor but because we had had an overdose of it. That coupled with the fact that food is turning increasingly exotic. [And may I add 'outright outlandish' ? After all I am gonna eat it and not frame it up in my living room . There are better ways to appreciate art rather than eating it.]

Coming back to me and my lazy ways with food. It was yet sluggish day (what else do you expect when the sun stubbornly refuses to put in an appearance ?) and I just wanted something light and tangy to go with my rotis. I was reminded of my carefree PG days when I rarely ventured into the kitchen. And most importantly, when 'takeaway' dinner was either Chicken do pyaza or Hyderabadi Chicken with chapattis. That feeling of nostalgia inspired me to try out a easier and lighter version of the 'do pyaza'. And I loved the results.

So, here is the simple and low calorie version of this restaurant favorite -


















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 500 gm chicken ( with bones )
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 3-4 green chilis
  • whole spices ( 1 green cardamom, 3-4 cloves, 2 inch cinnamon, 1 bay leaf )
  • 4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Grind 1 onion into a smooth paste.

Wash the chicken and marinate with onion paste, GG paste, powdered masalas (except garam masala), 1 tsp oil and salt.

Peel the tomato and chop into fine bits.

Peel and chop the remaining onion into big chunks. Put small slits into the green chilis.

Beat the curd with 3-4 tsp water, sugar and a little salt.

Cooking - Heat oil in a non-stick wok. Add the whole spices. 

Once they release fragrance, add the marinated chicken and toss on high flame.

Once the chicken starts to change color, reduce the flame and cover the wok. 

Remove cover after 3-4 mins and add the finely chopped tomato. Sprinkle a little salt.

Cook covered while stirring at regular intervals. Once the chicken is almost done, add the beaten yogurt and the onion chunks. Also, throw in the green chilis. 

Stir continuously till the yogurt forms a nice thick gravy and coats the chicken pieces. Sprinkle garam masala powder and mix.

Garnish with cilantro and remove from the flame.


















Note - Check out more chicken recipes HERE .