Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mango Lassi with Basil Seeds and Honey

2016 apparently is well on its way to become the hottest year. June 2016 has already been declared as the hottest month on record. Imagine how it would be if this extreme heat is here to stay. I for one don't want to.

In the heat of the summer I bet at least a few of you are watching the Republican National Convention. Like me if you are a political junkie and can't keep away from it, you will be entertained and frustrated but won't know a thing if this is the candidate you really want to vote for. Speaker after speaker talked about how bad Hillary was than what their own candidate can do about any of it.

One thing I know for certain he would not do anything about the warming planet or anything else that does not in some way make money for his empire.

Although I don't know the long term solution for global warming I have a short term delicious solution for cooling off.

What is not to like in a combination of mangoes, yogurt, honey and some basil seeds. Basil seeds give some texture to a the lassi. Basil Seeds is also called sabja or tumkaria. If you'd rather use chia seeds, they work just fine as well. The mangoes that we get here in the US are not as sweet as the ones we get in India so I added some honey to it. I have found that mangoes sold as Marathon or Ataulfo or just called Yellow mangoes, are slightly oval in shape and not stringy. You can also use frozen mangoes or even mango pulp. Mango pulp has lot of sugar so no extra sugar might be needed.

Mango Lassi with Basil Seeds and Honey
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients(makes about 8 cups)
  1. 4 cups of mango cubes
  2. 3 cups of yogurt (I used home made yogurt from 2% milk)
  3. 1 cup of water
  4. 1 tbsp honey
  5. 1 tbsp basil seeds or chia seeds
  6. ice cubes for serving

  1. Add enough water to the basil seeds or chia seeds so all the seeds are submerged. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Peel and cut the mangoes and in batches blend the mangoes, yogurt and honey and transfer them to a container and refrigerate (optional).
  3. Take a glass or serving cup and add the ice cubes an the soaked basil seeds about a tsp and add the blended mango /yogurt mixture. Slightly mix the basil seeds with a spoon.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Saamai Ven Pongal - Little Millet with Lentils - One Pot Meal

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. We have been hit by a heat wave the last couple of weeks and staying indoors seems to be the most prudent thing to do. While staying indoors we are naturally attracted to the TV but switching on the TV brings with it its own set of problems.

If you look at it, there are ways to beat the heat and in a way it is bearable, what is unbearable is the bad news that each day seems to bring that is intolerable. Anyway we all have to eat and cooking is something that can take your mind off of the events going on around of which we have no control any way.

Every now and then I sit back and think about the amount of rice we consume and wonder how I can change that trend. Millets provide one easy alternative. Tasty and pretty easy to cook as long as you have a good recipe that millets work well in. Little Millet or Saamai as it is called in Tamil is conducive to making this recipe with moong dal. Saamai savory pongal is a one pot meal with lentils and spiced with ginger, pepper and green chilies and seasoned with nuts.

One good thing about this pongal is that you do not have to worry about the amount of water, the more the water the better the texture seems to get.

Saamai Ven Pongal - Little Millet with Lentils
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time:30 minutes
  1. 2 cups of saamai or little millet
  2. 1 cup of moong dal (no need to roast)
  3. 3-4 green chilies (chop or mince fine)
  4. 1 tbsp grated ginger (preferably freshly ground)
  5. 2 tsp pepper powder
  6. 1/2 tsp of cumin powder
  7. 2 tbsp roasted cashews
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2-3 tsp ghee (use any oil for Vegan)
  10. seasonings: mustard seeds and curry leaves

  1. Wash the millet till the water runs clear.
  2. In a pressure heat the oil or the ghee and add the seasonings mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves.
  3. Add in the green chilies and grated ginger and saute for a few minutes. Add in the pepper and cumin powders.
  4. Add the washed millet and moong dal. For one cup of millet add 3 1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of water for every cup of dal.
  5. Check for salt. When the water comes to boil close the lid and cook for 4 whistles.
  6. Roast the cashews in ghee or oil.
  7. Once the cooker cools naturally, open the lid mix the rice gently and add the roasted cashews.
Serve with coconut or any spicy chutney.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Gooseberry Thokku - Spicy Gooseberry Chutney

Happy Fourth of July! Folks. I have been struggling to get into some sort of rhythm in making blog posts this summer. With family visiting we have been cooking pretty much every meal which is 3 times more cooking than I normally do which also means I have abdicated my responsibility in the kitchen.

Without further ado I will move on to the recipe,

The couple of gooseberry plants in our backyard bear a lot of fruit. Unlike the Indian gooseberries these are berries that grow on bushes. Pictures here. I usually make jelly or jam with them. This time wanted to try making some spicy thokku/spread instead. They were delicious and the bright color made it look really good as well. Very simple to make.

Wash and stem the gooseberries and cook them in a wide mouthed pan till the berries disintegrate. Mash the berries with a back of the laddle and add sesame oil and let them continue to cook. Add salt.
As the gooseberries continue to cook in the oil they will start to swirl away from the edges of the pan. Add in the powdered mustard and fenugreek seeds powder, jaggery and finally the chili powder.
Mix the spices well into the gooseberry mixture. The whole mixture will from a mass in the center of the pan and the oil will start leaking around the edges. This is the sign that the pickle is ready. Turn off the heat.

Perfect as spread on bagels, toast and to mix with rice.

Gooseberry Thooku - Spicy Gooseberry Chutney
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time:45 minutes
  1. 4-5 cup of gooseberries
  2. 1 cup of sesame oil
  3. 2 tbsp of red chili powder (or adjust based on the heat)
  4. salt to taste
  5. To Powder
  6. 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  7. 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
  8. 1/2 tsp of methi seeds
  9. 1/4 tsp of asfoetida
  10. 1/2 tbsp of jaggery

  1. In a sauce pan or a wide mouthed pan, add the gooseberries and let them cook for about 10-12 minutes till they disintegrate and fall apart. (If needed sprinkle a few drops of water along with the berries if they look like they are sticking to the bottom of the pan, otherwise not required).
  2. Meanwhile heat a small sauce pan and roast the mustard seeds first for a minute or so till it starts to turn color, set aside. Now roast the fenugreek seeds till they just start to get some color followed by the asfoetida. Cool and make a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. Mash the cooked berries with the back of a laddle and set aside. *see Note.
  4. Now in a wide mouthed pan add half of the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the cooked and mashed gooseberries. Let it cook for about 8-10 minutes. Add salt and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  5. Once you see oil leaching from the sides and the mixture not sticking to the sides of the pan add in the powdered mustard - fenugreek- asfoetida powder and mix it in.
  6. Add grated jaggery and mix it into the gooseberry.
  7. Add the rest of the oil and the chili powder and cook for another 8-10 minutes. By now the oil will pool to the sides and the mass will be in the center of the pan. Turn off the heat.
  8. Cool the mixture completely and add them to sterilized jars. How to sterilize? *see Note
  9. *Note:Gooseberries have tiny seeds. If you do not want to feel them in the thokku,
    send the cooked mashed berries through a strainer.
  10. I do not follow the long sterilization process instead a quick and easy way. Take a clean, washed and completely dried glass bottle and microwave for 45 seconds to a minute.

The pickle will stay outside for 2 weeks. If refrigerated it can last upto 2 months.

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