Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grain of the Week - 17 - Flaxseeds

I had never heard of flax seeds till the fad hit. All around me it was being in almost everything. The very first time I saw flaxseeds I thought they were horsegram but looked thinner and shinier.

Flax seeds is supposed to be the world's most healthiest food. It is native to the Mediterranean, Western Asia, Middle East and India and are found in both yellow and brown colors. Both are similar nutrition wise. Wikipedia

Flax seeds have high levels of Omega 3 Fatty acids, are very high in fiber and rich in antioxidants. Moreover research has shown that flax seeds protects against breast, colon and prostrate cancer. Source - WebMD.

Ground flaxseeds are better than whole as far as consumption goes. Eating whole flaxseeds may not give the benefits as they might pass through without getting digested and hence not providing the health benefits. Source. Flax seeds being rich in fiber should be taken with lot of water, else will cause constipation as is common with foods with high fiber.

I have seen only brown flax seeds and used them ground in muffins, cakes and idli podi. I have also made these savory muffins with flax seeds powder.

Most diets in the US do not have enough fiber and this might be an easy and nutritious way of adding more fiber to the diet. Flax seeds are also used as a egg replacement. The texture of the ground flax meal lends itself nicely to baked goods. They can be added to muffins, cakes and pancakes and even sprinkled in smoothies.

Storing whole flax seeds is much easier than ground flax seeds. Because of the oil content ground flax seeds tend to go rancid faster. It is easy to powder the flax seeds as and when they are used. A coffee grinder comes in very handy for powdering.

Where Bought? Lancaster Dutch Market (Amish run), also available in most grocery stores.

Till I went looking for information about Flaxseeds I had no idea that they were native to India.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vermicelli Payasam (Pudding) with Almond Paste and Chia seeds

Back home most festivals and auspicious days are celebrated with something sweet. Depending on the festival the sweet is made on the auspicious day itself or prepared ahead of time. Living away from the atmosphere of festivals I hardly ever get anything done before the day. It was no different for this year's Tamil New Year. In the evening made this quick and easy payasam.

Chia seeds are the thing now at least for me. I also hear that it has a lot of health benefits. I know I know that is the way with most fad foods but it doesn't hurt that it tastes good. Once it is soaked in liquid and swells up a little the texture is something that I like. So no surprise here that I added them to payasam and of course it did taste good. I add almonds to the payasam as it adds some texture and a rich taste without reducing the milk for a long time.

Vermicelli Payasam (Pudding) with Almond Paste and Chia Seeds
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:20-25 minutes
  1. 1/4 cup of vermicelli (or as required - see note:)
  2. 4 cups of milk
  3. 2 tbsp of almonds soaked in a bit of milk
  4. 1/4 cup of broken cashews and raisins
  5. 2-3 tbsp of chia seeds
  6. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar
  7. 2 cardamoms
  8. 2 tsp ghee

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the milk occasionally stirring to avoid sticking to the bottom.
  2. If you are using vermicelli that is not roasted, dry roast them in a pan till they start to brown a bit. Set aside.
  3. When the milk comes to a boil add in the vermicelli while stirring.
  4. Pound the cardamoms and add to the boiling milk.
  5. Blend the almonds to a smooth paste and add to the boiling milk after it has boiled for about 20 minutes and the vermicelli is cooked.
  6. In a small sauce pan, heat the ghee and roast the cashews till brown and the raisins till they swell up.
  7. Turn of the heat when the desired consistency for the milk has reached.
  8. Add in the chia seeds and let sit for about 10-20 minutes and then serve.
  9. Note: Add more vermicelli if you want a thick pudding. I like it a little bit milky so the amount specified.
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whole Oats and Brown Rice Dosai (Indian style crepes)

I was a bit apprehensive when I bought the whole oats wondering how I will use them up. I needn't have worried. They were great tasting when cooked in whole and as a substitute for rice in this recipe. The next logical step was to try making dosai of course. I initially wanted to try making idlis but the batter was bit too loose and I fermented the batter longer than I should have.

Grind the oats and brown rice. Grind the lentils and mix it salt and let it ferment overnight.
On a dosai pan pour a ladle of batter, swirl it around so it spreads on the pan, drizzle oil on the sides. Let it brown, flip and if required cook on the other side.

Dosai on the other hand being not as picky as idli was the next logical step. Dosai is always my backup plan when I try a batter with a new grain. The surprising this the oats dosai was a lot tastier than the rice dosai according to my family, so much so that they are ready to ditch the rice dosai altogether.

I have some more oats left and I will definitely try making idlis with them. I am not giving up on that yet.

White Oats and Brown Rice Dosai
Preparation Time:overnight soaking and fermentation + 30 minutes
Cooking Time:25-30 minutes
  1. 2 cups whole oats groats
  2. 1 cup brown rice
  3. 1 cup urad dal
  4. 1 tbsp methi seeds
  5. salt to taste

  1. Soak the oats and brown rice overnight after rinsing in changes of water till the water runs clear. Add the methi seeds to the brown rice.
  2. Soak the urad dal for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the soaked oats along with soaked brown rice and the methi seeds to the wet grinder/blender. Grind to a fairly smooth consistency. Remove to a vessel big enough to allow rising and fermenting.
  4. Add in the soaked urad dal and grind it till it doubles in volume about 20 minutes. Remove to the same vessel. Wash out the grinder and pour the water into the batter and mix it with the salt to pourable consistency. Not too thin.
  5. Ferment overnight till it rises. It will not rise as much as the rice batter but will rise some.

To make the dosai
  1. Mix the batter well. Heat a dosai pan and with a cloth spread oil over the pan. Pour a ladle of the batter. Spread in circular motion towards the end of the pan.
  2. Drizzle a few drops of oil over the edges. Cook till you see brown spots appear. Flip and cook on the other side if required. Cooking only on one side keeps the dosai crispy.
Serve with chutney or sambhar of choice. We had them with cauliflower-potato kurma.

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