Spinach Dal

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Cooking for Two

For Day 3 of Cooking for two theme, I am here with another simple recipe and a simple meal. Growing up, we never used to sit together at the dining table and eat a meal together. The dishes are left on the table and whenever you are hungry, you can go and serve yourself. Amma follows her body clock when it comes to hunger and appa follows the actual clock. I always wonder what would happen if we hide all the clocks…how will appa eat then?!

After my brother left home for work, he would visit us every month. It was during these visits that we started eating together as a family. He would insist on eating together and would wait until everyone is gathered at the table. Eating together, as we found out, was a wonderful experience and one which I sorely miss now.

In a typical Indian house, the woman eats last. For most part, this is because you would have cooked the exact number of servings and its a good idea to wait until everyone else has done eating. That way you know that the family has had enough food and you can finish off whatever is left. In most cases, there wont be enough leftover and the mother makes the sacrifice of eating rice without any curry on the side. Its something I have never understood. I always prefer making an extra serving so that everyone can sit together and enjoy a meal without worrying whether it will be sufficient for all or not. But that’s just me.

Anyway, here is a recipe I made for lunch today, cooked exactly for two people. My son is having his lunch at school and its only me and my husband for lunch. I decided to make it extra special by making a thogayal (a kind of chutney) and omelette too in addition to the ladies finger fry. My husband prefers rice but I had this meal with quinoa. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 1 cup chopped spinach/palak
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Wash toor dal couple of times till the water runs clear. Add this to a pressure cooker along with turmeric powder, hing and enough water so that there is about 1/2″ water on top of the submerged dal. Add roughly chopped onions, garlic and green chillies. Pressure cook for 6-8 whistles or until the dal is completely cooked and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally from the cooker. Mash the dal with a ladle so that its smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add chopped tomatoes and cook until its soft and mushy. Add the chopped spinach and salt as needed.
  3. Once the spinach is cooked, add the dal mix and half cup of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder, if you prefer more heat. Let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Simmer the dal for about 10 minutes and take off the heat.
  4. I served it with quinoa. I prepared an omelette, ladies finger fry and ridge gourd chutney to serve along with the dal.

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Spicy Tindora/ Kovakka

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Cooking for Two

Cooking for two is a challenge for me, because I always cook a lot more than what we need. The main reason for this is that if there is excess, I can always refrigerate it for another day…but if there is not enough food, it’s just not acceptable for me. I have an excellent appetite and after growing up with two siblings whose appetite can challenge mine, one thing I realize is that even though you think you have cooked extra food, the truth might be that it still may not be enough. In the last few years, I can see a definite decrease in my husband’s and my appetite, but even now, on really hungry days, I would rather have a little extra food than a little less food.

Its very recently that there has been a change in the way I cook. My husband works from home a lot, but on the days he decides to go to work, he takes lunch from home. Recently, he has started giving me a very short notice about packing lunch for him. So I have started preparing food just for him and once he leaves for work, I will start cooking again for me and my son. So, its a combination of cooking for one first and then repeating it for two people. The rice and dal is always prepared before I leave to drop my son, so that part doesn’t affect the short notice for lunch preparation.

Here is one of such lunches prepared. Its kovakka/tindora fry, prepared for one first and then prepared again for two people. This is a very simple recipe, yet it very delicious. The more oil you add, more crispier and tastier the vegetable is. But that choice is completely yours to make. Read on for the recipe.


Ingredients:

  • 20 ivy gourds, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt to the oil. Sauté for a couple of seconds until the chili powder changes color and becomes slightly darker.
  2. Add the sliced kovakka/tindora to the pan. Using a spatula, carefully mix well until all the pieces are coated with the chili powder and oil.
  3. Cover and cook in low heat for about 10-12 minutes or until the veggies are almost cooked, stirring couple of times in between. Once it’s almost cooked, take off the cover and let it cook in medium flame until kovakka is completely cooked and there is no moisture left in the pan. You will have to stir in between to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Serve with rice and sambar of your choice.

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Besan Doodh – Chickpea flour milk

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Cooking for Two

Spring is here and there is a definite improvement in the weather. We are not ready to shed our jackets anytime soon, but its so much better already. And there is so much to look forward to – greenery, cherry blossoms, lighter jackets, sandals, walks outside….that feeling itself is heart warming. My son is not a fan of summer.  He associates summer with bugs and the tiny flies that roam over your head and go right into your eyes if you are not wearing bug repellent. Its too hot for him but the biggest disappointment for him is that there is no snow in summer! Let’s wait and see how his view changes some years from now :-).

Anyway, coming to this recipe here. Its a traditional winter recipe from Punjab. Its supposed to be a good cure for cold and cough. I had bookmarked it when I saw it in Suma’s blog Veggie Platter two weeks back. Even though the winter is on its way out, its still cold here and a hot cup of delicious flavored milk is still very much enjoyable. A pinch of cardamom adds so much of flavor, so does the almonds. If you prefer, you can reduce the besan flour a bit and add more crushed almonds to increase the flavor of almonds. I liked the original recipe as such and I didn’t make any changes.

Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon ghee, optional
  • 2 tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon chopped or crushed almonds
  • a pinch of ground cardamom
  • a pinch of saffron

Method:

  1. Heat ghee in a nonstick pan. Add the besan flour and saute for a minute or two until it starts releasing a nutty aroma and starts turning slightly darker in color.
  2. Add about half cup of milk and mix with a spatula. You are looking for a lump free smooth mixture. Add 1/4 cup more milk, if needed to get the smooth consistency.
  3.  Once you get a lump free and smooth roux like mix, add the rest of the milk, chopped nuts, cardamom, saffron and sugar. Let it come to a boil and reduce it to a simmer.
  4. Cook for a further 6-8 minutes or until the milk has thickened a little bit and the besan flour is cooked through. Take off the heat and serve in a cup.

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Ragi Semiya

BM# 98: Week 2, Day 3
Theme : Dish for each meal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet it’s one of the most neglected time in my house. My son prefers cereal over everything else. My husband has a full cup of Indian style milk coffee and calls it breakfast. And I join either of them depending on my mood that day.

Growing up, it was almost always dosa for breakfast at home on working days. That was the only thing all of us ate without bickering too much. When we were young, Amma used to make special breakfast for weekends, like poori masala, sevai or chole bhatura.

I remember amma making sevai at home. It’s a rice noodle based breakfast that’s made from scratch. It is also a time and effort consuming process. You have to press out a rice ball into noodles using a tool specifically meant for that purpose. Ours was the old fashioned one that has three legs and sits on the floor. You use your body weight (we were kids, so we had to use our weight) to squeeze the rice ball and feeling of accomplishment is high when done right.

Thankfully there is readymade sevai available now on the market and the process of making is a lot more easier. The recipe here is semiya made from ragi instead of rice. Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source : Megha’s Cooking channel

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet (180 gm) ragi vermicelli
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Follow the package instructions for making the ragi vermicelli. That involves soaking in water for three minutes and then after draining, steaming in a greased pan for 5-7 minutes. Greasing is important to avoid the semiya sticking onto the vessel. I used idli plates for steaming.
  2. Take off the heat, remove the sevai to a separate vessel, fluff with a fork to stop it from forming clumps. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a thick pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the onions and chilies Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the carrots and broccoli. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes until the veggies are soft. Add the cabbage in and sauté for a couple more minutes. Once all the vegetables are cooked, add the semiya and mix carefully. Add shredded coconut, if desired. Take off the heat and serve hot with chutney or even sugar.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#98