Thursday, December 30, 2010

Simple Lunches - 23 (Frozen Okra stir fry)

The year that was ...
I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to learn about the sources of the foods we consume and in the process share them in the blog. I learned a lot and along the way got disheartened that so much of what we consume today is loaded with chemicals, sugar and salt. But every dark cloud has to have a silver lining right? So over the course of the year I have come to an uncomfortable truce with the supermarkets.

I try my bestest to follow Michael Pollan's advice to keep away from foods which have more than 5 ingredients and to avoid foods that grandma would not recognize. But try finding foods within that ingredient count. That is another matter altogether. Climbing Mt.Everest is probably easier. Often these rules get broken for foods that have to be bought - bread, cereal, muffins and bagels. Sometimes for frozen stuff which come in very handy for those hungry evening times.

The debate over whether organic, locally grown or conventional produce is best is an ongoing one. Price, quality or sustainability? I do what works best for me, there is no hard and fast rule. If I see an organic head of cauliflower alongside a locally grown one I pick the locally grown one. I tend to always buy organic milk and preferably free roaming organic eggs. Chicken I buy only from my beloved Amish market. Organic, fresh (truly) and very reasonable. What more can one ask. I am sorry to admit I have cut down greatly on eating fish for the simple fact that I am afraid. This will change in the coming year.

To tell you the truth the best time was in the spring/summer when I was able to grow my own vegetables. Besides being a soothing and rewarding activity the taste was hard to beat. This has only increased the longing to go back to my grand-folks profession. One can dream can't they?

Coming from a culture where clean plates is emphasized meaning you eat everything that has been served I have changed enough to emphasize not to eat more than it is possible, and that to simply clean the plate because there are several others in the world without food. We cleaning our plate is not going to help them. We have to find ways to deal with that problem. So I ask my kids to serve what they can and to serve more only if they want more. In the unlikely event when they over serve they are not to stuff themselves.

Obesity is the biggest epidemic of our times and to learn from a young age not to overeat is not just an important lesson but an essential one. The one thing that endeared me to the First Lady was her Let's Move campaign. This is one campaign that everyone leaving aside party stripes should jump on blindfolded.

It is best to ignore hypocrites like Sarah Palin(got my goat with her recent comment) who have no clue the changed circumstances and world order that the US finds itself in today. Disparaging Hollywood and then encouraging your daughter to act and dance on TV is one thing, spewing hateful rhetoric and then accepting millions for the books from the same elites she so freely condemns but making fun of a campaign that emphasizes kids to eat healthier and become more active?. I know it is best not to pay heed to dimwits like her. But,

She clearly crossed the line when she made fun of the Let's move campaign. Let the mama grizzly feed her kids tons of sugar and fat and park them in front of the TV to watch the inanities she spews but leave the rest of our kids out. She who sees conspiracy in everything also wants kids to exercise their god given right to eat junk. So be it but keep it among your family. Thank you.

Seriously how did eating locally, healthier become elitist? Isn't this how our forefathers lived? How did eating right become a liberal agenda?

Take a look at this post by my friend Kay in her healthy living blog.

To round out the year here is a simple lunch suggestion. Buying okras has always been an unpleasant experience(broken stems anyone?). Bhindi subji is a big favorite in DD's friend's house. It is in ours too but buying them is a chore. On checking with her friend's mom she mentioned that she never bothers with fresh okra and uses frozen ones. I was skeptical at first wondering about the slime and the hours it was going to take to get that out and how soggy it was going to get. I was wrong on all counts. Cooks very fast, the slime is not noticeable and the end product is far from soggy.

The trick is to not thaw the okra and add it directly to the pan to cook. Never cook okra without lemon juice or amchur powder. Yogurt or even tamarind pulp works. They all help in reducing the slime. I do not know the science behind it but it works.

Frozen Okra Stir Fry
1. 1lb Cut frozen okra
2. 1/2 cup onions sliced
3. 1/2 tbsp sambhar or red chili powder + 1 tsp turmeric powder
4. 2 broken dried red chilies
5. 1 tbsp lemon juice or 2 tsp amchur powder
6. seasonings: curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds
7. salt to taste
8. 2 tsp of oil

1. In a wide mouthed pan, heat the oil and add the seasonings, when the mustard splutters add the red chilies and when it turns slightly black
2. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes till they are translucent
3. Now add the okra and let it cook covered for 4-5 minutes till the okra pieces are separate
4. Open the lid add the lemon juice or amchur powder, turmeric powder and sambhar powder and saute for a few minutes
5. Close the lid again and let the okra get fully cooked. Open and stir gently occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom
6. Open the lid and saute till the desired texture is obtained
We like it a little bit soft but if you like it crunchier saute a bit longer.
Lemon juice, amchur powder, tamarind pulp or even yogurt all help in reducing the slime. They generally add some tartness so use accordingly.

Serve as a side for soft chapatis or any rice dish.

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year with good eats and lots of laughter.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mysore Rasam

Season's Greetings! It is the holiday season alright and it is raining cookies all over. The blogs have been full of mouth watering attractive cookies. Our newspaper has been carrying recipes and pictures of cookies for a few weeks now. The kids have been behind me, imploring me to make atleast a few. I have a couple of recipes bookmarked.

Baking does not come naturally so any excuse comes in handy but with a resolution to get to it before the year end. Hopefully. I bet this rasam makes up for the lack of cookie baking :) Just kidding guys.

The only South Indian restaurant around our parts for a long time - Udipi Palace had this Rasa Vadai which became a huge favorite. I am going under the impression that was Mysore Rasam, could have been Udipi Rasam for all I know.

The rasam unlike the rasams I make is thick and serves as a combination of both rasam and sambhar. This is perfect remedy when you are under the weather and want to wake up your tongue with a zing.

What is also different about the Mysore Rasam is the addition of coconut and jaggery. I skipped the former and added a bit of the latter. The other ingredients to be roasted and powdered are very similar to this hotel sambhar. The more I read about the rasam I realize the origins of this rasam is not Mysore but somewhere in Tamil Nadu. But who cares it is tasty.

Mysore Rasam
1. 1/2 cup of toor dal cooked with 4 times the water till it is soft and mushy
2. 1 tbsp chopped onions or shallots
3. 2 garlic cloves chopped
4. 1 cup tamarind pulp from a small lime sized ball of tamarind
5. 2-3 tomatoes chopped (the redder the better)
6. salt to taste
7. 1 tsp ghee
8. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds
9. handful of chopped coriander leaves
10. 2 tsp of jaggery

For the spice powder
1. 1/2 tbsp channa dal
2. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
4. 1/2 tbsp pepper corns (adjust to taste)
5. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
6. a small tiny piece of asfoetida
7. 1 tbsp coconut (optional, I did not add)
8. 1 tbsp dried curry leaves powder
9. 6-8 red chilies

Roast channa dal first till brown and the rest of the ingredient till they change color. Roast the coconuts last. Make a powder in a spice grinder or a paste in a blender

1. In a wide mouthed vessel, heat the ghee and add the seasonings.
2. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook
4. Now add in the tamarind juice and the spice mix and let it cook for 4-5 minutes and the liquid comes to a boil
5. Pour in the mashed dal with as much water as required
6. Add salt, jaggery, coriander leaves and switch of the heat when the first bubbles start to appear

Serve with rice or eat as a soup.

Have a great holiday. Will see you all shortly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A cure for common cold ?

It is an absolute bummer when friends and family are visiting and you are struck down with an annoying cold. Winter, Holidays and Cold - unfortunately all seem to go hand in hand. The cold does a number on your well made holiday plans and besides you being miserable makes everybody around you miserable too.

Well it does not have to be that way. A few years ago DD got a nasty cold and having found the perfect host it just wouldn't go away. As I was talking to DH's sister, she asked me why I had not tried the kollu paruppu (horsegram) treatment? How could I have forgotten that? Well... But that amazing lentil my friends is the surefire treatment for common cold.

Last week, started sneezing on Friday, head ache and body ache by Saturday with nose watering like a tap. While sleeping under the blanket felt great I dragged myself out of bed and made some kollu paruppu and what do you know by Monday morning I was well on the mend. It also fixed DD2 who had a severe chest congestion along with a bad cold.

You don't have to take my word for it when you come down with a cold, give it a go and see for yourself.

Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Water cleans out those germs. Don't forget to throw in a grape fruit into the mix now and then.

Where can you get Horse gram in the US?
1. A few of the Indian grocery stores carry them.
2. I have also seen a few online stores carry them.
3. Bring them along when you visit India, which is what I do.

The recipes for the Kollu Paruppu and Rasam are here. I also make a slightly watery chutney and skip the rasam. The recipe for which follows.

Kollu Paruppu is one of those recipes which is not going to make you want to taste it by its looks. It is a rustic and down to earth lentil with an earthiness that makes you feel warm all over.

Kollu Paruppu Chutney - II
1. 2 Cups of horsegram picked through and washed
2. 2 -3 tbsp of shallots or red onions chopped
3. 3 garlic cloves chopped
4. 4-5 red chilies (or to taste)
5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
6. 1 tsp cumin seeds
7. 1/4 tbsp pepper corns
8. a sprig of curry leaves
9. 1/4 cup of tamarind pulp for a small grape sized piece of tamarind
10. salt to taste
11. coriander leaves for garnish

1. Cook the horsegram in 4-5 times the water in a pressure cooker for 10 whistles and let cool. (Horsegram takes a while to get soft. If not using a pressure cooker soak them for 3-4 hours before cooking)
2. In a pan heat a tsp of oil, saute the onions, garlic and when the onions are brown add the red chilies, coriander, cumin and curry leaves and let them turn color
3. Cool and blend to a slightly coarse paste
4. Mash the lentils coarsely (I use a hand blender) with a masher roughly using a blender
5. Add in the tamarind juice and let it boil for 5 minutes
6. Add salt, the ground paste and let cook for another 4-5 minutes
7. Add in chopped cilantro. (The consistency depends on your liking)

Taste best with rice and some ghee. Goes well with idlis or dosais too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bisi Bele Bhath Spice Powder

The first thing that needs attention when I enter the house is the kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes. Once that is done the evening rush at home starts. Whatever help is available to make the dinner preparation is welcome.

One pot meals with rice and dal are the easiest and quickest. After lunch at the office one day got bisi bele bhath stuck in the head and just could not get it out. The good thing about bisi bele bhath is the rice, dal and the vegetables are all cooked to mush and there is no pressure to keep the rice shiny and separate.

The only involved process is making the powder. Making a slightly larger quantity makes another day's dinner faster. Roast and powder all the spices but the coconut for storage. Roast and powder the fresh grated or dried coconut just before making the rice.

I skipped all of the aromatic spices from the recipe to keep the flavors simple. Please free to add cloves, cardamom or cinnamon if you prefer.

the spices blended with the roasted coconut

Based on the recipe from Monsoon Spice

Bisi Bele Bhath Powder
1. 1 tbsp channa dal or Bengal Gram
2. 2 tbsp of Urad Dal
3. 15 dried red chilies
4. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
5. 2 tsp cumin seeds
6. 1/2 tbsp peppercorn
7. 1/4 cup washed and dried curry leaves
8. 1/4 tsp asfoetida
9. 2 tsp methi seeds
10. 1 tbsp of grated or frozen fresh coconut (one serving)
11. 5 cloves, 1 inch piece of cinnamon, 1-2 cardamom (optional)

1. Dry roast the channa dal first and set aside
2. Add the urad dal, coriander seeds, cumin, pepper corn, methi seeds and roast till they start to turn color
3. Roast the red chilies and asfoetida
4. Place the curry leaves in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or roast for a couple of minutes till they get crisp
Cool and make a coarse powder and store in an airtight container.

When you are making the rice,
5. Roast the coconut till it is nice and brown, cool powder and mix with the spice powder and use.

3-4 tbsp of the powder is required for 1 1/2 cups of rice and 1 cup of dal + 2 cups of vegetables.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savory Muffins with Butternut Squash, Feta Cheese and Flax Seeds

I don't bake all that much but I gawk a lot at food blogs that bake I mean. It is much easier that way. No precise measurements, no oven temperatures to monitor, no rising or sinking to worry about. But it is the season, all this gawking gets to you and you are forced to give a few of them a try.

I have several bookmarked cookie recipes but I am not there just yet. Muffins on the other hand have not disappointed me yet. I caught sight of these savory muffins on 101 Cookbooks and they looked fantastic.

What impressed me most was the usage of butternut squash. I had one of them sitting on the kitchen counter that was harvested during the summer. Yes, squash, pumpkins and their like store for a long time in a cool dry place. Feta cheese was another winner and the big jar of flax seeds that needed to be used up. The recipe did not call for flax seeds but lot of you had mentioned that baking was a good way to use up the flax seeds and what better opportunity than these muffins.

ready for roasting

Let me warn you, if you are going to roast squash be sure to roast twice the amount. They were under constant threat before they went into the batter. Roasted squash is too tasty to resist.

muffins ready for the oven

Recipe Source: 101 Cookbooks
Muffins with Butternut squash, Feta Cheese and Flax Seeds
1. 2 cups of butternut squash
2. 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
3. 1/2 cup of flax seeds powdered
4. 1 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp olive oil
5. 1 tbsp pepper (or to taste)
6. 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper
7. 1 - 1 1/4 cups of milk
8. 2 eggs
9. 2 tsp baking powder
10. 1 tsp salt or to taste
11. 1 cup of feta cheese
12. 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese

1. Peel and dice the squash, I made really small dice. Sprinkle them salt, olive oil, pepper(I used both cayenne and black pepper) and place on a cookie sheet in a sing layer and roast for 15 - 20 minutes till soft
2. Meanwhile sift the flour and baking soda
3. Whisk the eggs and add in half the milk butter and olive oil and whisk a bit more
4. Add half of the roasted squash (should be cool by now), Parmesan cheese, black pepper and cayenne pepper
5. Add the squash mixture to the eggs and add the flour a little by little and get it mixed into the liquid followed by the flax seed powder. Add more milk to get a moist batter.
6. Line the muffin tins, scoop in the batter, top with the roasted squash, feta cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Perfect for a snack or a meal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quick and Easy Mint Rice

15 years ago a few of our friends were visiting from Minneapolis. It was before America lost its naivete and terrorism was made an everyday word. I get nostalgic for those days once in a while. No long queues in the airports. Reach the airport a mere 5 minutes before the plane leaves and you still make it with plenty of time.

Just like now, it was a time when the Republican's were in control of the Congress and 'Contract with America' was in effect. President Clinton refused to blink when the Republicans threatened to shutdown the government and the Federal government went into shutdown.

This in no way stopped us from visiting DC and enjoying the sites. Around 8.00PM we slowly meandered towards the Capitol Hill. We were not asked for tickets, no patting down to check for God's knows what. Anyway after we finished our self-guided tour we wandered towards the Senate chambers. The guard posted there asked if we would like to witness Senator Dole who was the Senate majority leader at the time give a speech in the chambers. Of course we did. Besides a few spectators and a few more in the chambers there was hardly anyone. Open government at its best even when it was shutdown.

These days nobody gets to anywhere inside the Capitol Hill without a ticket and not a second after 4.00PM. Let that not stop you from visiting, it is one majestic symbol of a free country.

All this came into mind with a sense that those days are never going to come back when President Clinton took over the White House podium from the current one and held forth on a variety of subjects last Friday. I am not sure why the guy(I mean the current President) is called a great orator, his tongue seems to be stuck to his jaw and the umhs and aahs more pronounced than ever. Looks like someone who is in deep agony and his face shows he is not enjoying the job. Oh Well!

Now on to the recipe,
If you have mint or coriander handy this recipe takes exactly 15-20 minutes to put together. The abundance of mint from summer gets frozen and I always have mint handy during winter. One evening tired and hungry this recipe proved to be a life saver.

Set the rice to cook while the mint paste is getting done. I use an electric cooker to cook the rice so they are nice and separate.

Quick and Easy Mint Rice
1. 1 1/2 cups of Basmati rice cooked with a few drops of oil
2. 1 cup of mint leaves or coriander leaves
3. 1 cup onion sliced
4. 4 cloves of garlic + 1 inch piece of ginger
5. 6 green chilies or 4 red chilies (as per taste)
6. pulp from a small piece of tamarind 2 tbsp worth or a tomato
7. seasonings : 1/2 tbps split urad dal, curry leaves and cumin seeds
8. 1 -2 cups of green peas and corn kernels (any vegetable of choice can be used)
9. salt to taste
10. 2 tsp of oil

For the paste
1. I a pan heat a tsp of oil and add the ginger and garlic, let them saute for a few minutes, add in the chilies and saute for a minute more. Finally add the mint leaves and saute till they are nice and wilted. Cool and blend with the tamarind pulp to a slightly coarse paste.
2. In a wide mouthed pan heat the rest of the oil. Add in the seasonings first the urad dal when they turn color add the cumin and curry leaves, followed by the onions and saute till they turn translucent
3. Add in the peas and corn with salt and let them cook for a few minutes
4. Now add in the blended mint paste along with a 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Check for salt. There should a little bit of moisture left when the rice is added
5. Now add in the cooked rice and mix it in well and let the rice heat through

Serve with raita and potato chips/sticks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Flax Seed Idli Podi - III - Spiced flax and dal powder

What does one do when life (DH) hands you a bag of flax seeds more than you have ever seen in your life?

It was supposedly bought to make the onerous task of making the texture of oatmeal better. But oatmeal being oatmeal not much can be done who get it single and separate. So I have all of this flax seeds and not many recipes that come to mind. The only one that came to mind and I was capable doing quickly was Idli Podi.

The formula I usually use is 3 cups of dal to a cup of dried chilies. In this recipe, half a cup of flax seeds was substituted for one of the dal. Going by the end result a cup would not have been a bad idea. There is always a next time and no dearth of flax seeds.

What are the other recipes possible with flax seeds? Ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Flax Seed Idli Podi
1. 1 cup of split white urad dal
2. 1 cup of split moong dal
3. 1/2 cup of horsegram (kollu)
4. 1/2 cup of flax seeds
5. 1 cup of red chilies
6. 1 cup of loosely packed curry leaves
7. a small piece of asfoetida
8. 2 tsp of salt

1. Roast the dal one by one till they start to turn a nice and golden brown
2. Roast the horse gram till they start to make the pat pat sound
3. In a very very low heat saute the flax seeds - in half a minute they star to bounce and fly so remove it quickly from the heat. If you are not careful you will have more flax seeds on the floor than in the pan
4. Toast the red chilies for a minute or two
5. Toast the curry leaves in the microwave till they are nice and crisp and all the moisture is completely gone
6. Toast the asfoetida and salt for a minute

Cool, and blend to a fine powder.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cocotte Eggs with mushrooms served with spiced cheese breadsticks

Who would have thought that volunteering in schools would be so exhausting. Well I am not the one exhausted this article in the NY times says there are moms who have burnt themselves out volunteering at their kids' schools. I have mixed feelings (guilt) about not being to volunteer for the field trips, holiday celebrations and what not that requires parents volunteer. I am eternally grateful to parents who infact do it.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against volunteering. In fact I appreciate everybody who takes the time to volunteer at their place of choice. I do like to volunteer but I do not bend over backwards to volunteer at my kids schools. I go every now and then maybe to put to rest my guilty conscience?

I console myself thinking how I would have felt having my mom turn up at school to help my teacher. Ugh! I would have hated it. One of the kids in DD's class whose mom seems to live in the school begs her mom not to be there on every field trip.

I have heard parents say how they rearrange their jobs to make it to their children's field trips and every other occasion that the school hosts. Laudable but one I would never attempt or even aspire to.

Do your regularly volunteer at your kids school? Do you like it?

Last weekend our usual weekend breakfasts - idli, dosai, upma did not sound all that exciting. I had bookmarked just the recipe for my egg loving family from Jacques Pepin, my favoritest TV chef.

If you are looking for a fancy holiday breakfast or brunch recipe you just have to give this a second look. The ramekins I had bought for making a recipe that still has not materialized proved to be very useful. If you watch the show Pepin uses a dish similar to a small cream jug but any small dish should work.

While you are getting the eggs ready hand over the making of the cheese bread sticks to the kids.

You will need a wide mouthed pan with lid large enough to place the ramekins to cook.

Based on the recipe by Jacques Pepin on the TV show More fast food my way.

Cocotte Eggs with Mushrooms
1. 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped mushrooms (I used cremini)
2. 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or white onions
3. 1/2 tbsp pepper (or to taste)
4. salt to taste
5. 2 - 3 tbsp of milk
6. 4 Eggs
7. 1 tsp of butter

1. Heat a pan with the butte and add the chopped onions and let them saute till they are brown.
2. Add in the chopped mushrooms and let it cook for 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the salt and pepper and let the mushroom cook completely
4. Add in the milk and turn off the heat.
5. Spoon in 2-3 tbsp of mushroom mixture (3-4 tbsp depending on the size of the dish)into the ramekins
6. Crack an egg on top of the mushrooms
7. Fill the pan with water just enough to submerge half the ramekin and let it come to a boil. Place the ramekins inside cover with a lid and let cook for 6-8 minutes or till the egg is cooked as much as you like.

Spiced Cheese breadsticks
1. 8-10 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread cut into sticks
2. 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper and cumin. Mix all three together
3. 1/2 tbsp of olive oil

1. Sprinkle some olive oil on a cookie sheet or toaster pan
2. Place the bread on it and sprinkle the cheese mixture
3. Set to toast for 4-5 minutes

Spiced Breadsticks with the eggs and mushrooms is ready for savoring.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lamb stew Miss Masala style

I have SAD. No it is not the grammar it is the disorder that I am talking about here. Cloudy, cold, gloomy, dark, rainy days make for lack in energy and lethargy. Those days makes me want to curl up under the blanket and stay there. Sounds good but not a plausible solution.

In winter when days gets shorter SAD hits head on. Is it just me? seems that a lot of other people drag along and are grumpy especially when it is cloudy and drizzly outside. Even when it is freezing cold if the sun is out the possibilities seem endless.

When there are kids, house work, work work, meals, drop offs and picks ups to deal with there is no time to let SAD to bowl you over. Research says the condition affects women more than men.

One way I deal with it to get out and exercise and it most definitely keeps SAD at bay. I have discovered a liking for early morning swimming which has helped immensely. I keep coming back to the topic of exercise and activity, more to stress the fact that it helps to keep energy levels high, a lighter mood and a positive frame of mind. It certainly makes for a whirlwind morning but it is certainly worth it.

Food is another important component in dealing with SAD, no surprise - carbohydrates and sugar aggravate the condition.

Did I mention that Winter is not my favorite time of the year? Several times in fact Sorry!. If you have the Winter Blues or more scientifically 'Seasonal Affective Disorder' read this article - Winter's limited light darkens many moods.

Not to make light of the condition, it is debilitating for some while some find ways to deal with it.

Now on to more pleasant and tasty things. By the way did you all have a good Thanksgiving celebration? I decided to forgo the Turkey and try cooking lamb for the first time. DH likes lamb but I could not muster the courage because most lamb I have met were chewy and smelly and generally not very appetizing. The butcher at Whole Foods suggested 'Lamb Shoulder Arm Chops' as best of the cuts he had for making stew. It is very essential to get good quality meat to get the right texture.

Thanks to Sandeepa I got myself armed with 'Miss Masala'., If you want to do elegance without too much effort, this is the book you should turn to.

I was looking for a lamb stew recipe, and what do I find in the book - a lamb recipe with the fewest ingredients you can imagine for a meat dish. Flavorful and completely satisfying, Miss Masala style.

Recipe Source: Lamb stew from the book 'Miss Masala'
Lamb stew
1. 2 lb lamb (cut into cubes with bones)
2. 2 cups red onion sliced thin
3. 6-8 garlic cloves minced
4. 1 tbsp ginger grated
5. 1 Cup plain yogurt (bring to room temperature)
6. 1/2 tbsp black pepper
7. 1 tbsp coriander powder (I roasted and powdered whole coriander seeds)
8. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
9. whole spices - bay leaves (2-3), cloves (a few), one small piece of cinnamon
10. salt to taste
11. 3-4 tsp of oil

1. Wash the meat with turmeric powder and set it aside
2. In a wide mouthed, heave bottomed pan heat 2 tsp of oil and when hot add the lamb and get it browned for a few minutes and set it aside
3. In the same add the rest of the oil and when hot add the whole spices, let them sizzle for a couple of seconds
4. Add the onions and let them saute for a few minutes, add the garlic and ginger and saute till they get well browned
5. Add the lamb saute for a few more minutes and then add the pepper, chili and coriander powders
6. Bring the heat all the way to low and add in the whisked yogurt, mixing it well (this is important to avoid the yogurt from curdling)
7. Add 3 cups of water, cover the lid and let it cook for 30 minutes
8. Open the lid and let it cook for 15-20 minutes or until the required consistency is reached. Towards the end of the cooking add salt. The meat at this time should be soft and melt in the mouth

Serve with rice or any bread of choice

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Claypot Fish - Tilapia with mangoes

Happy Thanksgiving!
The only form of turkey I like is minced turkey. Turkey Biryani is something that's on my list to try but not this year. If you are like me and turkey is not your thing this delicate fish curry is something to try this Thanksgiving.

I was on my blog stroll one hungry evening when I landed on !Vazhyila! , a fantastic blog with a lot of Kerala delicacies. I landed on this fish curry. It was middle of the week and to wait for the weekend to cook the fish seemed like an eternity.

I had fish in the freezer, raw mango in the fridge and clay pot in the cupboard. Decided to put all three to good use. I usually saute the onions and cook it a bit in a regular pan before transferring them over to the clay pot to finish. Any light fish would work.

Here are a couple of articles for your Thanksgiving reading

1. Divided we eat an article in Newsweek

2. This is the article that affected me the most. CBS had the most recent Harvest of Shame, on TV. The faces of the migrant workers have changed from Whites and Blacks to Latinos but their plight is precarious as ever. Toiling under the sun for minimum wage and living in cramped and dirty conditions. When we enjoy our bounty this Thanksgiving we should spare a thought for the folks who work hard to bring us the cheap food we all enjoy.

Tilapia(fish) with mangoes
1. 4 fillets of Tilapia cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2. 1 cup of finely chopped onions
3. 1 raw mango pit removed and cut into cubes
4. 5 garlic cloves sliced
5. 1 -2 tbsp ginger sliced thin
6. 4 green chilies sliced
7. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder
8. 1 tsp roasted and powdered methi seeds
9. 2 tsp turmeric powder
10. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard seeds, methi seeds few and cumin seeds
11. salt to taste
12. 1-2 tsp of oil
1. Wash and pat dry the fish and keep it aside
2. In a pan heat oil and add the seasonings followed by the onions, garlic , green chilies and ginger and let saute till the onions are starting to brown
3. Add in the chopped mangoes, saute for a minute or two
4. Add the chili powder and 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil for about 10-15 minutes, add salt, the mangoes should be soft by now and the curry the required consistency. It will get a bit more watery when the fish pieces are added in
5.Place the clay pot on the stove in a medium heat and transfer a bit of curry into the clay pot, place the fish pieces and pour the rest of the curry on top
6.Cook for 8-10 minutes. Towards the end add the powdered methi seeds powder.

Serve with rice.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kala Chana - Black Chickpeas with onions and spices

The last post seems to have struck a chord and the comments are worth reading.

While reticence is the hallmark of relationships in the culture I grew up in, external displays of affection is a hallmark of the culture that I find myself in now. The first time someone extended their hand in the manner of greeting I reluctantly grasped. The manner of greeting very different from the way we greeted people back home, both hands clasped together in front in the manner one would clasp their hands for prayer. No touching and no transmission of germs during Flu season.

While shaking hands was one thing, the first time someone gave me a hug was something else altogether. I awkwardly tried to hug them back not being completely sure if one was to tap the shoulder of the other person or just let it stay there. Having long hands is not necessarily a good thing when hugging they fall down and touch the butt of the person being hugged. And very soon I realize I am not tapping the shoulders but the butt. Luckily none of them have called me up on it. Slowly but surely I learned to hug without any awkward touches. Who knew it was such a hard thing to do. From far it looks pretty easy.

This simple and the most genuine form of affection here would have caused a scandal back home. Say for example I had given a hug to one of my friends especially one of the opposite gender. It would have not only created a big drama, it would have been sufficient grounds for my dismissal from college.

Different strokes for different folks that is all. While in Rome be a Roman. Adapting to a different culture is not always easy but humor and good spirits gets you over the humps.

With Thanksgiving round the corner there will be a lots of hugs to go around along with great company and good food. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

During Navaratri and on Lakshmi Pooja day we are showered with plates of poori halwa and black channa as we happen to have two goddesses at home. The black channa with just a minimum amount of spice but very flavorful and tasty, a dish I wanted to recreate.

The recipe I used as guidance was from Saffron Trail - Kaala Chana. Though the recipe was different from the dry sookha style I had in mind, it was something I wanted to try sans the ubiquitous tomato.

Black Chickpeas with onions and spices
1. 2 Cups of black chickpeas soaked overnight and rinsed completely
2. 2 red onions chopped fine (2-3 cups)
3. 5 garlic cloves minced
4. 1 tbsp of garlic grated
5. 4 green chilies slit
6. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
7. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds + 1 tsp cumin seeds roasted and powdered
8. 2 tsp amchur powder (optional)
9. salt to taste
10. 2 tsp oil
11. seasonings - cumin seeds

1. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 8-10 whistles till soft
2. In a pan add oil and season with cumin seeds
3. Add the chopped onions, green chilies, garlic and ginger and saute till the onions are dark brown about 15-20 minutes. I added a tbsp of water every time the onions stuck to the bottom
4. Add the powdered coriander cumin powder, chili powder and give a good mix
5. Now add in the cooked chick peas with about a cup of the cooking liquid
6. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, add salt towards the end when the required consistency has been reached

Serve with chapatis or rice

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Murukku the easy way

I love you amma! Appa if you are reading this I love you too. It feels a little weird even typing that sentence. Perhaps the first time I have even said that publicly. As Indians it is very unusual for us to verbalize the fact that we love our near and dear ones. It is more or less is a Western concept I guess.

If you see Indian movies and there is no way you will fail to notice how expressive the hero and heroine are. (like DD says 'Is there nothing besides love as themes in Indian movies?') They vocally express their love for each other the hero and heroine that is. The hero as a loving son(is there any other kind? in movies) hugs and kisses his mom for making gajar halwa. There is always a loving mom for our romantic hero. It slips my mind what Tamil movie moms routinely cook for their sons. This overt public display of affection happens only in movies period.

Well I digress, the expression of affection in the first sentence was because my mom sent me an easy to use murukku press just in time. The one I had before was so hard to press that I came very close to never making murukkus again ever.

Decided on an impromptu murukku making session with a friend which meant there was no time to soak or grind like the recipe here. So decided on making murukku with rice flour instead. It turned out to be quick and easy, with 2 pairs of hands and an easier murukku press it was a much more pleasurable experience. The rice to urad dal flour ratio is 4:1.

Murukku with rice flour
1. 3 Cups of rice flour
2. 3/4 cups of urad dal powder (roast split urad dal powder till slightly brown, cool and powder)
3. 3 tbsp of butter
4. 2-3 tbsp of red chili powder (or to taste)
5. salt to taste
6. 2 tsp of ajwain
7. 1 Cup of water
8. 2 cups of oil to deep fry

1. Bring the water to a temperature slightly above room temperature
2. Pour in the water a little by little to make a stiff but pliable dough (too much water will make the murukku absorb a lot of oil)
3. Keep the dough covered with a moist towel
4. Fill the dough into the murukku press and make desired shapes
5. Drop them one by one into hot oil
6. Fry till they turn a bright golden color (when the bubbles in the oil subside
remove and dry on paper towels)
7. Let cool and store

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ragout (Stew/Soup) with Chicken Sausage, Beans and Broccolini - Jaques Pepin style

OK I've got to admit, Michele Obama sure had some cool moves on their recent Asia trip. As for the POTUS himself we won't go there. Folks back home say reruns of dance moves is all they saw on TV for a few days.

Talking of TV, of all the cook shows, Jacques Pepin's recipes and dishes are the ones that I mostly try out. I adore the minimal ingredients that he uses to dish some delicious looking dishes. The ones I have tried also tasted good which is always a very good thing.

A few days ago I saw this recipe for a Ragout with beans, sausage and broccolini. It looked good, was a one pot meal, had beans and was carb. free. I have used chicken sausage to be specific chipotle chicken sausage. Guess any kind of sausage or any soy based fake meat can be used.

White beans work best for this recipe. I wouldn't add kidney or black beans. I have used small navy beans. The original recipe uses Cannelinni beans.

Stew/Soup with Chicken Sausage, Navy beans and Broccolini
1. 3 chipotle chicken sausage, casing removed and crumbled
2. 1 bunch of broccolini about 2 cups chopped
3. 1 1/2 cup of dried navy beans soaked overnight
4. 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
5. 3 garlic cloves chopped
6. 2 tsp of cayenne pepper
7. 1/2 tsp of black pepper
8. 3 cups of chicken broth (or water)
9. salt to taste
10. 2-3 tsp of oil
1. Cook the navy beans to soft, I cooked them on the stove top for 20 minutes
2. In a pan heat oil and when hot add the sausage and let it cook till it loses the reddish tinge and is cooked through
3.Add the chopped onions and let it get browned, add in the garlic and saute
4. Add the chopped broccolini and let it cook for 3-4 minutes
5. Add in the drained cooked beans, cayenne and black pepper and give a good mix
6. Pour in the chicken broth, let it come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium heat, cover with the lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes more.
7. Taste and add salt if required.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A quick and simple sweet - Besan ladoo with roasted cashews and almonds

Sorry, Deepavali sweet making is visiting this blog a little late. Hope you all had a great Deepavali celebration and Wishing you a Very Happy Festival Season.

Thinking that Deepavali was over the weekend like it usually happens here in the US, I was reminded at work that it was Friday and not Saturday. During lunch time while we were discussing what sweets were to be made I got a great tip for making the sweet I had on mind.

I was thinking of besan ladoo (had a big pack of besan that needed to be finished). I was glad I was'nt the only one who had postponed Deepavali sweet making to the weekend after Deepvali. Anyways as we were discussing how to make besan ladoo one of my lunch mates mentioned about coarsely powdered nuts to the besan rather than chopped roasted pieces. The powdered nuts were the best part of the sweet.

If you have a pack of besan sitting in the back of the fridge this is a good opportunity to get them out and make a quick and tasty sweet.

RC's had these beautiful looking besan ladoos , the very few ingredients and the besan languishing in my fridge were big motivations for giving this a try.

The addition of nuts made them taste like a sweet my friend's mom made for her and packed a box for the DDs when we went to visit. She had used whole wheat flour, a bit of cream of wheat, nuts and raisins.

My friend came over for an impromptu Deepavali sweet and savory making session. I will post what we made in the next post.

Makes about 40 ladoos
Besan ladoo with roasted cashews and almonds
1. 3 cups of besan
2. 1 cup of roasted and coarsely powdered almonds and cashews
3. 1 1/2 cups of ghee
4. 2 tsp of powdered of cardamom
5. 2 cups of sugar ( I used super fine regular sugar)
6. 2 -3 tbsp of raisins (optional, I forgot to add them)

1. Heat a wide mouthed pan, add about 1/4 of the ghee and the besan and in medium heat roast the besan till it is golden and besan smell has completely disappeared. Mine took about 40 minutes
2. Add the ghee in between in small quantities and continue roasting. Do not leave it unattended they tend to char pretty quickly. Almost towards the end add the cardamom powder.
3. Meanwhile roast the cashews and almonds. I used the toasted the almonds for 8 minutes and cashews for about 5 minutes. Cool and powder coarsely.
Also if using raisins roast them in ghee and set aside.
4. Towards the end of the besan roasting add the powdered nuts and raisins. Let cool.
5. Mix in the sugar and the remaining ghee.
6. Take about a tbsp or 1 1/2 tbsp of the powder and using your hands shape them into smooth rounds.

If you do not want to add the full amount of ghee add half of the amount and use a spoon to eat them as they won't hold their shape.

This post will be an entry for Nupur's, Blog Bites 9 - The Holiday Buffet.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spicy Besan (chickpea flour) pancakes with Chard leaves

Besan or kadalai mavu (in Tamil) is a pantry staple in most Indian kitchens and so it is in my kitchen. Having something does not necessarily mean it is being put to good use. I had exactly 2 uses for my besan. One, on those rare occasions when I made bhajji, the second but the most often use was for washing away smelly dishes.

Last of the Chard leaves

Did you know? Besan is great for removing odors(fishy, oniony, burnt, any smell really) from vessels or even my kitchen sink. Try it for yourself you will see.

The unsought after besan flour is now all the rage ever since I discovered vegetables stir fried with besan like this and this. In all this besan love I got a packet of besan even before it was over.


Just as well since these besan pancakes were waiting to be tried for a long time. Most recipes I saw called for coriander leaves. I did not have any, this recipe on Veggie Belly gave a perfect opportunity for using those last of the Swiss chard leaves left. I am glad I did, the frost all this week would have killed them otherwise. The other recipe I consulted was from Show me the Curry.

Ajwain is my new spice of the year and any savory dished cooked with besan you absolutely cannot leave it out. These pancakes are delicious on a lazy weekend morning.

Spicy Besan Pancakes
1. 1 Cup of besan
2. 2 tbsp of cream of wheat
3. 1 tbsp rice flour (optional)
4. 1 tbsp grated ginger
5. 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
6. 1 tsp turmeric powder
7. 1 tsp ajwain seeds
8. 1/2 tsp of baking powder
9. 2 cups of finely chopped chard leaves
10. salt to taste
11. 1 cup of water + 1 tbsp of yogurt

1. Whisk together dry ingredients, ginger and the chopped chard leaves. Add in the whisked yogurt and water slowly as you are mixing and make the batter as thick as pancake batter (moist but not runny)
2. Heat a griddle or flat bottomed pan and add a laddle of batter, spread it as thick or as thin as you would like
3. Add spray or oil on the sides, let them cook on one side till slightly golden
4. Flip and cook on the other side

Serve with any spicy chutney. We had them with tomato chutney. You could choose from one of these chutney recipes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Turkey Kheema Paratha

I always wished I had a sister. Growing up surrounded by boys close to my age in all shapes and sizes and not many girl cousins that wish was always simmering under the surface and now it has only gotten even stronger. New research shows that my happiness might be at stake because of the fact.

Brother and boy cousins no offense to any of you. I had great fun with all of you running around like a tom boy and doing things that most boys do. Those girly feelings and emotions never had a chance. My brother and cousins, they are still the best in their own way. They are not sisters that's all :)

cooked turkey kheema

Those of you who have sisters talk to them a lot, those sisterly chats you have with them is supposed to make you happier. Read this article in the New York Times - Why Sisters Chats Make People Happier. Those of you with sisters might say duh!

Stuffed parathas always make me happy cooking them and seeing the family, myself included enjoying them. If you happen to have some minced meat, I have used turkey, any minced meat would work these tasty parathas is something you ought to try.

After tasting minced turkey from the Lancaster Dutch market I cannot bring myself to buy anywhere else.

Turkey Kheema Paratha
1. 1 lb minced turkey
2. 1 cup of finely chopped shallots
3. 1 tbsp grated ginger
4. 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
5. 1 tbsp red chili powder
6. 1 tsp cumin powder
7. 1 tsp fennel seeds (or roast and powder) + 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
8. salt to taste
9. 1 tsp of oil

1. Prepare the chapati dough and let it rest. I usually add salt and a few tbsps of yogurt to make the dough.
2. In a wide mouthed pan heat the oil, add the fennel and cumin seeds followed by the onions and saute till they turn translucent
3. Add the grated ginger and garlic and let them brown
4. Add the powders and mix it in
5. Now add the minced turkey and salt and saute for a few minutes. Cover the lid and let it cook
6. Open the lid and let the liquid evaporate and make sure the turkey is completely cooked. Set aside to cool
7. Now take a lemon sized ball of dough and roll it a cirlce of about 4 inches in diameter
8.Place the minced turkey in the center, gather the edges and make a ball
9. Roll the dough but carefully so the stuffing does not spill out. Make the paratha as thick or thin as want
10. On a hot gridle place the rolled out dough, spray oil on the sides and on top. Cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side

Serve with raita or pickles.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rajma Rice

Beans are a godsend when one is trying to cut carbohydrates from the diet. When rice is a major part of the diet and the bulk of cooking involves making dishes to be eaten with rice, cutting out rice is not an easy task. Reducing the quantity of rice is a bad idea, after a while hunger strikes and gorging on something from the pantry is even worse.

Beans offers a good way out in reducing simple carbohydrates like rice. Increasing protein in the diet in the form of beans and lentils seem to do the trick. Soaking beans a couple of nights a week has become a habit now. They get added to vegetables, rice and sometimes even sambhar. To counteract the flatulence problem I use ginger liberally. Another important thing to note is to not use the soaked water and to rinse the beans at least a couple of times after soaking. I usually discard the water in which the beans were cooked as well.

A few days ago I soaked Red Kidney Beans as I have been having Rajma dreams. The traffic in the evening had other things on mind. Backup on the roads for no apparent reason and I was late,tired and frustrated with half a mind to store away the soaked beans for a later date. It was doable if I switched Rajma and rice to e Rajma rice. Thus was born a one pot meal which made the whole family happy.

Rajma Rice
1. 1 1/2 Cups of Red Kidney beans soaked overnight rinsed and set aside
2. 1 1/2 Cups of Basmati rice (or any rice of choice)
3. 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
4. 4-5 garlic cloves sliced
6. 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped fine
6. 2 tbsp grated ginger (don't skimp on the ginger folks!)
7. 2 tsp of cumin powder + 1 tsp turmeric powder
8. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder (substitute with sliced green chilies)
9. a handful of coriander leaves chopped
10. seasonings: cumin seeds and curry leaves
11. salt to taste
12. 1-2 tsp of oil

1. In a sauce pan add the beans and cover them with water and let it cook for 8-10 minutes, for enough time till they are ready to be added to the rice. The intent is to cook them partially so they finish cooking with the rice
2. In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the seasonings let them be for a few seconds
3. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent, add in the ginger and garlic and saute till the onions start to brown
4. Add in the chili,cumin powders and turmeric powders and mix it in
5. Now add the tomatoes and cook till they are mushy and soft, add in the coriander leaves
6. Add in the rice to the onion mixture, and also drain the beans and set it aside
7. Set the water for the rice to boil on the side (this is not a required step just speeds up the cooking process)
7. Saute the rice, add salt and the required amount of (boiling) water and when the mixture comes to a boil, close the cooker lid and let it cook in medium heat for 8 minutes.
8.Let the cooker cool completely and fluff up the rice

Serve with raita of choice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Corn and Rice spiced with dal powder(Podi rice) - perfect lunch box dish

Evenings are always busy but somedays are worse than others. With no mood to eat outside, being able to whip something quick is just the thing needed. Having idli/dosai batter ready is a blessing on such days. A minmal work tomato mashers or a quick sambhar and dinner is ready.

This solves the dinner problem but opens up a lunch problem. Not being fond of eating out and the time wasted in driving to get lunch means not able to leave on time and the snowballing effect is no fun. Like lemon rice, this flavored rice with idli podi is a nice one to have up your sleeve. Adding corn, green peas or some cooked black channa are all ways to make this a perfect one pot meal.
Make sure you cook the rice the previous day just before going to bed for a quick finish in the morning.

Moreover this is a dish that the whole family enjoys. The kids like anything with Podi. So 4 happy lunch boxes are ready in 15 minutes tops.

Corn and Rice Spiced with dal powder
1. 1 1/2 Cups of Basmati rice - cooked so that each grain is separate (add a few drops of oil to the water
2. 1 cup of frozen corn
3. 1/2 cup of chopped onions
4. 1 tsp of red chili powder or pepper powder
5. seasoning 2 tsp of split urad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves
6. 2-3 heaped tbsp of Idli Podi
7. salt to taste
8. 3/4 - 1 tbsp of sesame oil
9. 1-2 tbsp of roasted unsalted peanuts

1. Cook and cool the Basmati rice
2. In a wide mouthed pan heat 1-2 tsp of oil, add the urad dal and when it starts to brown add the mustard seeds and when it pops add the curry leaves
3. Add the onions and saute till they are translucent and starting to brown
4. Add the corn, chili powder and salt, cover with a lid and cook for about 3-4 minutes till the corn is cooked and the water has completed evaporated
5.Add the rice and mix it in well
6.Now sprinkle the idli powder and drizzle in the sesame oil. Mix well so all the rice is well coated. Add salt after tasting
7.Sprinkle in the peanuts if using

Along with some potato chips a scrumptious lunch is ready.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Green Beans with besan

Gossip! What is the instant reaction when you hear the word? Over the years my opinion about gossip has undergone several iterations and as of now the predominant feeling about it is one of well being.

The dictionary meaning for the word,
gossip - idle talk or rumor about the private affair of others
gossip - light familiar talk or writing

It is the second meaning I am talking about here.

Don't jump to the conclusions that I am some sort of gossip queen in the mold of desperate house wives as in the first meaning. I am not just about to convince everybody that vicious, hurtful gossip is a good thing.

On other hand, harmless friendly gossip gives a sense of belonging and happiness. It is social networking the old fashioned way. In societies where socialization gets top billing (read Indian society) people are healthier and generally more happy and less prone to getting sick. I am not making this up, there is research to back it up. In the same vein people with extended families are less prone to depression and isolation.

I heard on the radio (where else but NPR) that touching decreases stress hormones and increases the hormone oxytocin which is supposed to calm people. And rightfully also called cuddle hormone.

I have rarely heard of people feeling depressed in India especially women compared to the West where everyone has feelings of depression in some form or the other. The loneliness is what gets people here in the West methinks. I might be completely wrong about the prevalence of depression in India due lack of mental health counseling and the reason perhaps why it is not obvious.

Seeing a friendly neighbor on the way to the door, stopping and chatting (or gossiping) about what is going on with folks - whose daughter or son is getting married, going off to college, who is expecting a child or grandchild. Talk that helps release yes you got it the cuddle hormone. It has definitely made me feel better. The happiness when your friend stops by for an impromptu chat? Is there anything better?

We all know of the well connected friend whom we call to get information about where to get the tastiest and the cheapest samosas for the upcoming party, the best dance teacher or the best voice coach or whatever. How do you think she gets her information?

What is your opinion about gossip? Do you think I am completely bonkers or there is some truth to it? Please do share, we are all ears :)

Now to the recipe,
Let me let you in on a gossip, keeping sambhar powder handy a tasty curry is never too far. If you do not have sambhar powder handy feel free to use red chili powder. Tomatoes give a slightly sour and moist feel to the curry you, leave it out if you do not want it.

Green beans with besan
1. 2 cups of green beans chopped
2. 1/2 cup of finely cut onions
3. 1 tbsp of grated ginger
4. 3 slightly tart tomatoes chopped (or + 1/2 tbsp amchur powder)
5. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
6. 2 tbsp besan
7. 1 tsp ajwain
8. seasonings: cumin seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds
9. salt to taste

1. In a wide mouthed pan add a few drops of oil along with besan and roast till it becomes golden color, set aside to cool
2. I a pan heat oil and add the seasonings and ajwain, let the mustard seeds splutter
3. Add in the onions and let it turn translucent
4. Add the sambhar powder and saute for a second
5. Add the tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy
6. Now add in the beans and salt, saute for a few minutes and if required add a 1/4 cup of water, cover the lid and let it cook for 8-10 minutes till the beans are soft
[Here it depends on personal choice if you like the beans to be crunchy cook for a little less time if you like it softer cook for a bit longer)
6. Open the lid and let the water evaporate completely
7. Sprinkle in the roasted besan and let it coat the beans, add another tsp of oil at this stage and saute for 4-5 minutes till well roasted

Serve as a side for rice or chapathi.