Chitranna – seasoned rice

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Some books happen to be in your collection even if they belong to others . I am talking about my sister in law’s book (a wedding gift, actually)  Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Book. I have borrowed it multiple times that I finally just stopped returning it to her. I will have more luck to permanently make it mine if I stop mentioning it so frequently. Now that this book is one of the chosen books for this year’s Cooking from Cookbook Challenge, I will talk more about the recipes in it than about the stealing part.

I tried the recipe for Chitranna from the book. I am not sure about the authenticity of the recipe, since it had sesame seeds, coconut and lemon juice in it. But Chitranna is a generic term for seasoned rice, so I guess people will have different takes on it.  I served it with Vegetable Sagu from the same book, but that recipe is for another day.

I couldn’t take the pictures on the day I prepared the rice. The next day I could click it with some new props. The cute yellow bowl is a gift from Pavani and that beautiful napkin with that perfect shade of yellow is a gift from another friend. Given the fact that I selected it from a shop at the Philadelphia Flower show, held it under his nose and insisted that he buy it for me, I have every right to be as pleased as I am with it. You guys should only concentrate on the pale yellow color and not wonder what  those French cheeses have in common with such a homely Indian dish. That piece of cloth makes me very happy, so please excuse my enthusiasm for pairing it with dishes that has absolutely no connection with it.

Enjoy the recipe as it goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • lemon juice as needed
  • salt
  • To roast and powder : 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds, chana dal and urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies

Pictorial:

  1. Cook rice with salt as needed. Let it cool completely. Set aside.

Roast 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds, chana dal and urad dal in a little oil. Powder it in a mixie with 1 teaspoon of pepper powder. Set aside.

Heat a little oil in the same pan and roast peanuts till they are browned a bit. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan again and add the mustard seeds and red chillies. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. Let it cook for a few seconds.

Add one cup of grated coconut and toast it lightly on low fire until its browned a bit. Add salt as needed. Now add this to the cooled rice along with roasted peanuts and the ground sesame powder. Mix well, adjust salt as needed and serve!

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Asparagus soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe:  Asparagus Soup

My refrigerator is almost always low in essentials. As I am typing this post, all I have in the vegetable trays are tomatoes (tons of it, thankfully) and some broccoli. But as long as I have tomatoes and onions, I don’t go into panic mode. Because there is tons of Indian dishes you can make based on these two humble vegetables.

But no such easy way out when you are trying other cuisines. So I was pretty lucky that I had asparagus stocked up because that’s was my choice for my last Swedish recipe. Asparagus soup. I tried this recipe from the book The Scandinavian Kitchen. The soup is easy to prepare and tasted good. The author Camilla Plum explains that Asparagus has always been an expensive treat and the green asparagus is relatively a recent addition to the kitchens there.

Read for the recipe.

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You would need:

  • One medium onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of parsley
  • water or stock as needed
  • 3/4 cup milk or cream
  • salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar

Slice one medium onion, two stalks of celery and a bunch of asparagus. Discarded the white bottom part as it would be too fibrous. Save the tips for later. Add all this to a thick bottom pan.

Slice the middle portion (after you discard the bottom 1″ and save the tips) into small pieces and add it to the pan with 4 cloves of garlic, salt, parsley, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add enough water or stock to cover the vegetables. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked completely.

Let the soup cook completely. Puree it and pass it through a sieve to remove any fibrous part. Bring it back to a boil, adding 3/4 cup of milk or cream and the saved asparagus tips. Adjust seasonings and serve.

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Artsoppa- Pea soup

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe: Artsoppa – Swedish pea soup

I find it easier to select when my choices are few in number. When its a vast ocean of choices, I always feel lost. So when it came to this week’s Swedish theme, I picked my recipes from the library books. Since the vegetarian choices are pretty limited when it comes to Swedish cuisine, it actually made my job a lot easier :D.

All I did was to compare the two books I had and look for common recipes. This pea soup was there in both the books, though both had different takes on it. This soup usually has meat on it, but I skipped it my take of the recipe. I read it in Wikipedia that this soup is traditionally served on Thursdays along with pancakes for dessert.

So read on for this recipe that is adapted from Niklas Ekstedt’s book Scandinavian Classics.

1ärtsoppa pea soup

For 6-8 servings, soak 2 cups of split or whole peas overnight. Dried yellow or green peas would do. The next day, add 2 liters(8 cups) of water or stock, one sliced onion and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and oregano and cook until the peas are completely soft.

I did this on my Instant pot. About 20 minutes in Manual mode. Once the pressure releases naturally, season with salt and pepper and serve. I sprinkled some dried nuts, seeds and fruit mix on top for some crunch.

3ärtsoppa pea soup

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Cardamom cake

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BM # 74: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Swedish recipes
Recipe: Cardamom cake 

I didn’t rely only on the internet for this week’s theme (which is Swedish recipes, BTW), but I headed out to the library too to look for Scandinavian recipes. The first trip to the library had me coming home with two books for everyday recipes. Since Swedish vegetarian choices are pretty limited, I picked up two more books the next time I went back to the library. Baking books this time!

So for Fika last week during the snow storm(Fika is coffee time, but mostly with some baked goodies), we had this soft, spongy cardamom cake with a refreshing cup of coffee. I distributed most of this cake to my neighbors and friends and the feedback has been excellent. Baking during snow storms is fun and the house smelled amazing!!

This is one of those simple recipes that gives you amazing results. Its a keeper for sure! I didn’t make any change to the original recipe other than replacing almonds with cashew nuts. There are so many other recipes I want to try from that small book aptly named Swedish cakes and cookies, but I am resisting the call of butter and sugar for the sake of fat content inside my body :D.

I am struggling with my photography now (its a phase that comes and goes), so I have not been able to do justice to this soft and light sponge. So don’t judge the cake by the picture and give it a try for sure!

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Recipe source: Swedish cakes and cookies book

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 200gms/2 sticks/1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Pearl sugar/chopped almonds/nuts for decoration

Method:

  1. Grease and line a 9X13″ pan with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until it turns light yellow and thick. Add the baking powder and cardamom powder, beat again.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (butter, milk and flour) and mix everything carefully. There shouldn’t be any dry lumps in the batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 55-65 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Once its out of the pan, let the cake rest in the pan for about ten minutes. Slice and serve once its cool.

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Chia cardamom pudding

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BM # 74: Week 2, Day 2
Theme : Are you pudding me?
Recipe: Chia cardamom pudding
My neighbor mentioned making chia payasam for her son with all Indian flavors. She cooks chia in milk over stove top with a pinch of cardamom and sugar. Then she decorates it with cashews and raisins roasted in ghee. When you top off with saffron strands, you have a great pudding style payasam. 

I liked the idea and so made something similar except that I went for the overnight refrigeration method. I skipped roasting the nuts as well since I had this for breakfast. Chia gives you the perfect pudding texture without much effort from our end ;-). 

Enjoy this simple recipe that makes breakfast an extremely easy affair!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cups chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar(or more per taste)
  • A good pinch of cardamom powder
  • Few strands of saffron

Method:

  1. Mix the chia with milk, sugar and cardamom powder until no pumps remain. Add the saffron as well. 
  2. Refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled or you can microwave it for 30 seconds before serving. Decorate with saffron strands and some nuts and dry fruits. 

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Dulce de Leche pudding

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BM # 74: Week 2, Day 2
Theme : Are you pudding me?
Recipe: Dulce de Leche pudding

I love anything sweet and I love them even more if its easy to make. That’s how I got hooked onto puddings. The book Puddin’, my happy find of the year, has been a good influence in that direction. Its a wonderful book to rely on when it comes to feeding a crowd. I have slowly started substituting milk for cream in some of the recipes to reduce the calories a bit and I also serve much smaller portions than the book recommends. I find that smaller portions work out better when it comes to rich desserts like these.

My husband, who doesn’t like sweets much, likes dulce de leche a lot. I remember gifting him Dulce de leche for one of his birthdays :-). It was special because we don’t get it in India and I made it by pressure cooking condensed milk. I still remember him watching a movie and working his way slowly through that can of cooked condensed milk. Sweet simple times :-)!

I had made this pudding when one of my friends came over for dinner to our place. I had lost touch with a lot of friends over the years. So imagine running into a close friend after almost 10 years when you are shopping at Costco! I didn’t even have a clue where she was in this big world and it seems that she was just 20 minutes away from my home all this time! Those are moments and feelings that cannot be expressed in words :-)

Anyway, coming to the recipe here, its simple to prepare, tasty, creamy and smooth and just delicious. But I am biased towards anything sweet, so don’t just take my word, prepare it and see for yourself.

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Recipe source: Puddin’ by Clio Goodman

Serves: 10 small servings 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch/cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks(I skipped)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2  (14 oz) cans of dulce de leche

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk everything except the dulce de leche until no corn flour or sugar lumps remain.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking all the time until it starts to thicken. When you lift the whisk off the pudding and it leaves a shadow, the pudding is done).
  3. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Now add the dulce de leche and whisk into the pudding.
  4. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and refrigerate until time to serve or at least 2-3 hours. You can cover with a cling wrap on top of the surface to prevent the pudding skin from forming, but I didn’t bother.
  5. Decorate as you wish and serve.

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Sahlab – Milk pudding

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BM # 74: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Are you pudding me?
Recipe: Sahlab / Milk pudding

Its rare that I get so attached to a book, but the book Puddin’ has had that affect on me. I have tried about 3-4 recipes from that book and not a dud so far. The bad part is that I didn’t click pictures of those, but they were delicious nonetheless. What I like is the ease of preparation, especially when it comes to a crowd. Ten minutes, maybe fifteen and you are done!

The negative side of that book is that it uses whole milk and cream. A.lot. For someone who is trying really hard to stop expanding in size and trying harder to shrink a little bit, that’s not the right book. So for this theme, I wandered into the world of internet looking for “waist friendly” puddings. That’s how I came across this recipe.

Sahlab is a popular Middle Eastern drink. It is a silky smooth milk pudding made with a ready made mix called Salep which contains root of a special orchid. I used corn flour, which is the recommended substitute if you can’t find Salep. This pudding is extremely simple to prepare and tastes nice on a cold winter day. Do give it a try!

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Recipe source:

Serves 3 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour or sahlab powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or per taste
  • Cinnamon/ nutmeg/chopped nuts/coconut flakes for sprinkling on top

Method:

  1. Heat milk with sugar and corn flour whisking continuously until the milk starts to thicken. It took about 8-10 minutes for me.
  2. Pour onto a cup, sprinkle nutmeg and chopped nuts on top and drink cold or hot.

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Ragi puffs chivda

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BM # 73: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Ingredient swap
Recipe: Ragi puffs chivda

When I met Pavani,Usha and Mireille last month, we exchanged the ingredients for this week’s theme. I picked three ingredients but the funny fact was that I couldn’t guess any of it. Things looked familiar, but spotting them right away would have been impossible for me. If not for Mireille and Usha, I would have spent a lot of time sniffing and tasting and googling about those. :D. Anyway, thanks to my smarter friends, I was able to find out what was in each bag. 

Last and final ingredient for the theme is Ragi puffs. If I am guessing right, these are meant to be eaten as such for a crunchy snack, the concept is same as rice puffs or pori/murmura. I used them in a chivda mix along with oats, rice flakes and cereal. The usual elements of chivda like peanuts and roasted gram are there to add to the crunchy taste. 

Read on for the recipe. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup rice flakes/poha
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • a good pinch of asafoetida/hing
  • 1/4 cup peanuts/ broken cashews
  • 2 tablespoon pottu kadalai/roasted chana dal
  • 1 green and red chilli each
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • salt as needed
  • 1/2 cup ragi puffs
  • 1/3 cup corn flakes or cereal of your choice – Special K, vanilla almond here

Method:

  1. In a heated pan, dry roast the oats first. Once its toasted, transfer it to a medium to big bowl. We will use the bowl for mixing everything together.
  2. Now, toast the rice puffs or rice flakes in the same pan. Once toasted, add it to the oats mix. Once the rice flakes are done, toast the ragi puffs next and add it to the bowl. Do not toast the cereal. It should be added directly to the chivda.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Tip in the green and red chillies and hing. Follow it up with peanuts and roasted chana. Keep an eye on the nuts and saute with a spoon to prevent it from burning. Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder along with salt as needed.
  4. Now add this mix to the big bowl with oats and poha and ragi puffs. Add the Special K cereal as well. Add two more tablespoons of oil to prevent it from drying out. Mix everything well carefully. Transfer to an airtight container.

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Lentil bulgur kofte

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Its shameful admitting that your pantry supplies are low to the world multiple times. But unfortunately, that has happened too many times with me. So now I accept it as a fact in my kitchen and move on. But moving on meant some real big changes to the recipe here.

I started with the Turkish recipe for red lentil kofte made with Bulgur, my second ingredient from Pavani. To begin with I didn’t have masoor dal, but I had whole masoor dal. So that seemed a reasonable comprise, though it meant the beautiful orange color had to be sacrificed. Second and more importantly, I didn’t have parsley or coriander which are really important to the recipe. Thirdly, spring onions had to go cause I had none. And then, there wasn’t any lettuce leaves to serve them on.

My solution was a simple one. Make substitutions and omissions, enjoy the result but don’t claim that its the original in anyway. So here I am, a recipe inspired from Mercimek  Koftesi, but with many many changes to call by its original name. It was really tasty, so despite the adjustments, I really loved it. Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe adapted from: My Cooking Journey

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils, I used whole masoor)
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, pureed or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika/chili powder
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped ( I didn’t have any)
  • 4 spring onions, chopped (I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Soak the dal the night before, this step is optional.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the chopped onions until they turn pink. Add the spices, seasoning and tomato paste/pureed tomato. Let it cook until the raw smell goes off.
  3. Add dal with two cups of water and let the dal cook until its done. There should be a little water left in the dal mix for the bulgur to cook. Wash bulgur, let it drain and add it to the onion-dal mix. Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 20-30 minute to let the bulgur cook. You have to use fine bulgur here, so its a good idea to pulse in a blender if you have coarse bulgur.
  4. After 20-30 minutes, the mixture would have absorbed all the water. Its time to add the chopped parsley or coriander leaves and spring onions along with lemon juice. Taste test and adjust seasonings. When the mix is cool enough to handle, take about 2 tablespoon and shape it into a kofta. Serve on lettuce leaves. I added sriracha for me and my husband and served the plain ones to my son.

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Banana Wheat germ pancakes

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BM # 73: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Ingredient swap
Recipe: wheat germ pancakes with banana

Last month we had a mini blogger meet at Pavani’s place. It was a perfect timing since Valli had an interesting theme for February – Ingredients swap. So instead of mailing each other, we were able to exchange it when we met. All of us had about 3-4 ingredients to share and picked whatever we fancied from the lot. I ended up picking all three ingredients from Pavani.

My own (ingredient) shopping for the event was a hurried one. Its in my blood to postpone things to the last possible minute and you can’t question habits ingrained that deep. I realized much later that I had a lot more interesting ingredients right in my pantry itself. Well, may be for the next meet, I will be a little more smarter and shop my own pantry before rushing to the store.

I picked wheat germ from the lot for the first post and made a banana based wheat germ pancake. Its the first time I am using my tripod, so I was able to get some hands free maple syrup shot. Its an entirely different thing whether the pictures are good or not. Whats more important is the fact that I used the tripod ( last year’s birthday gift ) before my next birthday. So hurrah for that!

In my enthusiasm to get a good picture, I ended up pouring too much syrup and making my son very happy as a result. Eating pancakes drenched with syrup is a happy sacrifice from his end for my little space on the web :-). Read on for the recipe.

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Recipe adapted from: Prevention RD

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • about 1/2 cup milk

Method:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Blend the banana, eggs, oil, vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients. Mix in enough milk to get the batter to the consistency of cake batter.
  3. Heat a pan. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter. Let the pancakes cook on a medium heat until the bubbles subside, flip carefully and let the top side cook as well. Take off the pan when golden brown. Serve with syrup.

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