Moong Dal Pulao

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It’s been a while since I visited the virtual world, so starting with baby steps again. I am here with a recipe you can try on weekends when the vegetable supply, as a rule for me, is low. This is like a stylish version of Pongal since the base combinations are moong dal, rice and pepper corns. Instead of being mashed up and lumped all together, here the aim is to bring these base flavors in a pulav style, where each grain is separate.

This recipe  is from Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Cookbook. The recipe is simple and not very time-consuming compared to the regular Indian cooking. The pulav needs a few masalas, a coconut based ground paste and rice and moong. Its sprinkled liberally with fried onions at the time of serving, which adds a TON of flavor to the dish. I used the  ready-made pack, but you can saute two onions until crisp and mix it into the pulav at the time of serving. I serve this with coconut milk based egg curry , but a simple raita would do as well.

This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt as needed
  • 1 cup fried onions (ready-made OR 2 medium onions sliced thin and fried in 4-5 tablespoons ghee until brown)

To grind and make a paste:

  • 3 tablespoons grated coconut
  • 1″ piece ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 green (or red) chillies
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 2 cloves, 1 cardamom, 1″ piece cinnamon*
  • 1 medium onion, diced**

*I used cinnamon powder

**I add it sometimes,depending on the state of my pantry contents

Method:

Wash the dal and rice together. Drain and set aside.

Grind the cococnut, coriander leaves, ginger, garlic, chilies, cinnamon and cloves  with a little water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat ghee in your pressure cooker or a heavy bottom pan. Add the cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the chili powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.

Add the masala paste and saute until the raw flavor goes away, about half a minute. The liquid would evaporate, but take care not to burn it.

Add the rice and dal mix. Fry for a minute or so until its coated well with the masala paste.

Add 3 cups of water (we had a total of 1.5 cups of rice and dal mix, so double of that), salt as needed. Pressure cook for 3 minutes if you are using your instant pot. Else cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is done.

At the time of serving, add some roasted cashews and a handful of fried onions. DO NOT skip the fried onions, they add a lot of flavor to the dish. If you donot have ready made fried onions, then cook two very thinly sliced medium onions to 4-5 tablespoons of ghee and fry until the onions are brown and caramelized. Top the pulao with the prepared fried onions.

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This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Meal in a bowl Soup

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BMN # 83: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Soups and Stews
There are some books that you always reach out for when looking for an idea for a meal. One of my favorite books to browse is The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right. The main reason I like the book is that flavor variations that each recipe gives. Like for soups, there is this basic recipe that you follow. But if you change the ingredients every time – be it the choice of vegetables, starch or seasonings, you end up with a different flavor each time you serve it. So same basic recipe which starts with  sauteed onions and a tomato & broth combination, ends up being different every time. The author has named the soup section as Meal in a bowl Soups. And I have used the same for this post title. You cannot explain the concept better I guess!

This time I decided to go with a clear soup with whatever veggies were left in my fridge. So you have a zucchini,fennel, celery soup. I wanted it to be light, so I was debating whether to add the beans or not. I ended up adding it finally to my bowl and then heating it up again. I served the soup with an egg on top. That yellow color perks me up on a cold day.

Read on for the recipe.

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The recipe makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups veg broth or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 5-6 tomatoes roughly pureed
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano/basil
  • 1/2 kilo (1 lb) vegetables of your choice*
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce like Tabasco or Sriracha
  • 1 sunny side egg, optional
  • salt, pepper and pepper flakes as needed

*I have used a mix of sliced celery, zucchini and fennel.

Method:

  1. Bring broth or water and the tomatoes to a boil. Turn off the heat.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, saute onions until it turns brown. Add beans and washed rice. Pour the tomato broth mix and bring to a simmer. Add the dried basil or oregano and salt and pepper as needed. Let the vegetables cook in a slow simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables and the rice is completely cooked through.  Taste test and adjust the seasonings
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in some hot sauce if preferred. Let the soup sit for five minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve with a sunny side egg on top if preferred.

Note: I added the beans only at the time of serving as I didn’t add them when the soup was cooking.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#83 

 

 

Guava empanada

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There are many times when I spend a good amount of thought and time looking up recipes and cooking elaborate meals. But there are other times, when cooking is all about putting together a couple of things and coming up with an enjoyable treat. This one belongs to the latter category. The recipe was inspired from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. I had the guava paste and the frozen empanada discs. I skipped the cream cheese and overcame my fear of deep frying to make this treat.

I wasn’t sure whether its actually a recipe, given how simple it is. I am glad I took pictures despite my hesitation because sometimesI feel that life is complex as it is. We really need to remind ourselves of the simple enjoyments in life in as many ways as possible. So enjoy a good evening with a sweet jam in a salty pastry served with a hot cup of tea!

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Ingredients:

  • ready made Empanada discos
  • ready made guava paste
  • oil to deep fry

Method:

  • Defrost the empanada discs by taking them out about 20 minutes from the freezer. Once they are defrosted, stretch it a little by rolling them out using a rolling pin.
  • Cut a piece of guava paste to fit comfortably inside the disc. Fold the empanada in half and seal the edges with a fork. Repeat with the rest of the discs.
  • Deep fry in hot oil without crowding the pan or bake for 20-25 minutes until browned.

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This recipe goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

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I have a tried and tested recipe for brownies. Its the one I always rely on and it was from my Hershey’s baking book. I have never had a failure from that book and so naturally, its been one of my favorite cookbooks. Unfortunately that book is in Chennai and I am here in US. So when I chanced upon another Hershey’s book at the library sale, I picked it up immediately and decided to trust the same way I trusted my first book. I have been trying some recipes from this book too, all with good results.

My main reason for liking Hershey’s books is that the recipe is almost always simple. I didn’t even have to take out my hand mixer for this recipe. All it needed was a whisk and a mixing bowl. I had to use one more bowl for melting the butter, but even with that, the effort was less and clean up was a breeze. So when my son said he wanted to do something special for his teacher for Teacher Appreciation week, this is the recipe I zeroed on.

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The entire bake was done by the kid except for handling melted butter and hot water. He also helped heavily with sampling ;-). These brownies tasted excellent and I am just waiting for a reason to bake these again!

Read on for the recipe and step wise pictures.

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Recipe source: Hershey’s Make it Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line a 9X13″ pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, sift cocoa and  baking soda together. Mix it well. Add 1/3 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until the mixture thickens.

Add 2 cups of sugar and mix it in. Now, add two eggs and the remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter. Stir until everything is well combined and smooth.

Add the flour, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk everything well. Add the chocolate chips and mix it in carefully.

Pour carefully into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or so, until a skewer comes free of liquid when inserted in the middle of the brownies. Cool in the pan itself and cut into squares and eat!

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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