Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chef Damodaran's Speical Masala Potato Varuval (Roast)

OK! I like watching Chef Damodaran's 'Samayal Darbar' cooking programs on TV(I mean youtube). Most of the recipes are easy to follow and besides bookmarking all of them to try out it is pretty good entertainment. I was watching one of his programs where he was making Chicken Biryani and this lip smacking potato varuval to go along with it. Potato recipes are really hard for me to resist and this one was no different.

I gave it a try and it was well worth it. The only problem is, shallow frying would have been better but I did a roast which made the masala and potatoes separate from each other.

Mix the chili paste with the ginger garlic paste.
Add in the tamarind pulp and curry leaves.
Add in the barely cooked potatoes followed by the rice flour and mix it in as well.
Once the rice flour is mixed in. Heat oil in a pan and cook the potatoes.

It goes very nicely with any kind of flavored rice - tamarind rice or lemon rice in particular. We had them with some quinoa puliodharai.

Masala Potato Varuval -
Preparation Time:5 minutes + 20 minutes (for soaking)
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 4 Medium Size Potatoes (boiled so it just barely cooked and diced into cubes)
  2. 4 red chilies soaked in about 1/4 cup of water and blended to a paste
  3. 3 garlic and 2 inch piece of ginger - made into paste
  4. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  6. 1/2 tsp of pepper powder
  7. 1 tbsp tamarind pulp from a 2 inch piece of tamarind
  8. a handful of curry leaves
  9. salt to taste
  10. 2 tbsp of rice flour
  11. 1/2 tbsp of oil Or 1/4 cup of oil if shallow frying

  1. In a mixing bowl take the blended chili paste, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, coriander powder, pepper powder, salt, curry leaves and the tamarind pulp. Mix them together. Add in the potatoes and mix them together.
  2. Add in the rice flour and mix it in gently so that the potatoes are well coated.
  3. Heat oil a wide mouthed pan and add in the potatoes and toss them around till the potatoes are well roasted. If shallow frying, cook the potatoes in two batches.

Perfect side dish for any rice dish.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grain of the Week - 5 - Black Rice (Forbidden Rice)

The minute I looked at this rice I had to buy it. Shiny and black. Certainly looked exotic. I came home and started to look around for information about the rice.

In Manipur, the north eastern state of India - black rice has its importance as a glutinous delicious rice and served during ceremonies and feasts. In ancient China, Black rice was so rare that only emperors could eat it and no common man could lay a claim to it. Hence the name forbidden rice. Source Wiki.

Looking for new grains is actually quite fun. I pay attention to grains that normally I would not have paid much attention to. This black rice is one such grain. Now I am on the look out for recipes to use this beautiful looking grain.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Dahi Moraiyo - Thayir Saamai - Little Millet in yogurt

I have eaten a lot of pearl millet(cumbu) back in India but Little Millet (samai) or Moraiyo is something I have tasted once tried only now. Very similar in texture to rice but very filling and keeps you full longer.

The only time I have tasted Moraiyo was at work from a colleagues lunch box and she had made curd moriayo and it was pretty good. I have been wanting to try it ever since. Also a friend on FB suggested making tamarind rice with it. I tried lemon saamai and it turned out pretty good too.

I used the electric rice cooker because of the flexibility it provides while cooking a new grain.

Dahi Moraiyo - Thayir Saamai - Little Millet in yogurt
Preparation Time:5 minutes + 20 minutes (for soaking)
Cooking Time:15 minutes
  1. 1 cup saamai/moraiyo/little millet
  2. 2 cups of water or 2 1/2 cups of water if you want well cooked millets which are good for making curd millet
  3. 1/2 cup curd/yogurt
  4. 1/4 cup milk
  5. 4 green chilies chopped
  6. 1 tsp grated ginger
  7. 2 tbsp packed chopped coriander leaves
  8. seasonings: mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  9. 1 tsp oil or ghee
  10. salt to taste

  1. Wash the millet in several changes of water and let it soak for 10-20 minutes
  2. Add the soaked millet, water into an electric cooker and cook till done OR on the stove let the water come to a boil. Let it cook on medium heat till all the grains are cooked and soft.
  3. In a pan heat the oil/ghee and add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add the green chilies, saute for a minute. Add in the ginger and saute for 1/2 minute more, add the coriander leaves and saute for a minute more and turn off the heat. Let completely cool.
  4. Cool the cooked millet completely and to that add the sauteed seasonings from the above step along with salt.
  5. Add the yogurt and milk (slightly warmed) to the millet and gently mix it in gently.

Lemon Saamai can also be made with the cooked saamai. Similar to the rice recipe.

Lemon saami, thayir saamai and butternut squash poriyal

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Green Chili, Cilantro, Lime Barley

Barley, my friend Linda has been telling me can be easily substituted for rice. I quickly found that out when I made this recipe.

It was a Saturday and Burritos for lunch makes everyone happy. With some rice or barley, a stir fry (chicken, fish, vegetables), some beans, guacamole, some lettuce and with some sauces these lunches are always enjoyable. I decided I will replace the usual suspect - rice with some barley.

Soaked and cooking barley.
Cooked and seasoned.

I soaked the barley for some time and cooked it in an electric rice cooker. The electric rice cooker comes in handy whenever I want to try a new grain. I can take out the extra water if I think the grain is getting cooked faster than I thought it would and if there is too much water. That is what happened in this case. I added barley, water in the ratio of 1:3 which was a bit too much since I had also soaked it. I removed cup of water out midway and that was enough to cook it. Unlike rice, barley when cooked swells to about 3 times the size.

Green Chili, Cilantro, Lime Barley
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:20-25 minutes
  1. 1 cup pearl barley (depending on the type of barley the water and time of cooking will vary) washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
  4. 4 green chilies seeds removed and finely chopped
  5. 1/2 lime
  6. 1 tsp of olive oil or butter
  1. Cook the soaked barley in an electric cooker or on the stove top. If cooking on stove top, boil water. Add the soaked barley and cook on medium flame till the barley is plumped up and fully cooked. Took about 20 minutes in the electric cooker. Stove top might be slightly shorter time.
  2. Note: In both the electric cooker and stove top, keep checking in between to see if there is too much water and the barley is reaching cooked stage. Remove excess and let it cook till all the water is absorbed.
  3. In a wide mouthed saute pan, add oil and when hot add in the green chilies, fry for 1/2 minute. Add in the cilantro leaves and give a quick saute. Add in the cooked barley mix it into the cilantro. Squeeze lime juice and turn off heat.

We used it for a tostada filling.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grain of the Week - 4 - Moraiyo - Sawa millet - Little Millet - Saamai

In India there are several kinds of millets and it is difficult to keep them straight. The Indian store which used to be a place that I bought my regular rice and lentils has suddenly become a treasure house to find various kinds of grains.

I tasted Moraiyo at work when one of the girls I worked with, a Gujarati brought some during fasting. She had made curd rice kind of recipe with it and it tasted really good I was glad I found it in the Indian store this time.

I am unable to find the Tamil name for this grain. If anybody knows please let me know. As usual recipes are more than welcome.

Update: It is called Saamai in Tamil and Little Millet in English. Thanks for friends on FB.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Masala Aval Upma / Kanda Poha - Spicy Stir Fried Beaten Rice

Two events happened last week that made me appreciate how ordinary folks deal with life when a hard hand is dealt to them. It made me feel how petty my problems really are. Incidents like this seem to put everything else in perspective.

I was having a conversation recently with one of my colleagues a guy whom I have worked with for a while now and though I knew he has a step son who has cerebral palsy haven't spoken to him about it. That day we spoke a little bit longer and the talk meandered towards his family when we were talking about how people spend their free time after they go home from work. He said that his free time is usually spent taking care of his step son. He married the woman who is the boy's mother even after he knew the responsibility he is getting into. He does not complain, just matter of fact about his work load and difficulties in finding personal chill out time. If you did not know about the story you would never figure he has slightly more responsibilities than the average parent from his demeanor.

The other incident happened also last week. I guess last week was time for life lessons. We were taking DD2 for her first basket ball practice of the season. I noticed a group of girls playing basket ball and one of them was with a prosthetic leg. If you did not notice the prosthetic leg you'd never know she is handicapped in any way. The coach's wife was an extrovert and along with collecting the forms she also let us know that the girl in the prosthetic leg was her daughter. It was once of those moments when my mouth spoke before my brain had time to think. I asked her what happened before I knew if she was ready to talk about it or not. She explained they had to amputate her leg because she had bone cancer when she was 2 years old. She also explained how some people when up directly to the child and asked all sorts of questions. She said that her daughter was used to it and usually doesn't get bothered by it. I thought to myself I wouldn't have dared ask the child directly but I am glad I asked the mom. The mom went onto to explain about a soldier they ran into who was in a wheel chair who saw the little girl walk around and play. He walked up to them and said that was the last he was going to feel sorry for himself. Listening to their story made me ready to shed a tear.

There are a lot of people in the world who have a life very different from mine and still live life with grace and dignity. These days when I start to complain about trivial things I stop short. Trivial problems are just that trivial.

I was compelled to write about these incident because they affected me a bit I would say.

Now on to the recipe,
Aval Upma and Sweetened Aval Upma were recipes that my MIL makes whenever she visits or we visit India. The thing is I do not like Aval or beaten rice and so you guessed it I never buy it. DH though likes it a lot. See I am a selfish person putting my wishes in front ;) The upma that my MIL is our regional style just with a seasoning of onions and green chilies like how upma is made. This was till I met Poha cooked in the Maharashtra-ian India style of which we had more than our fill on our trip to Leh. Spiced up a bit more with fried pieces of potatoes and roasted peanuts what is not there to like.

Soaked aval and potatoes cooking in the masala.
Aval mixed into the masala and ready to be served.

The kids have decided that Saturdays' are for upma and are not too happy about it. That changed when I switched to making this Aval Upma. What preceded was a packet of beaten rice was bought and insisted upon me that it had to be cooked :). I am glad I did.

Masala Aval Upma/ Kanda Poha - Spicy Stir Fried Beaten Rice
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 2 Cups of Aval(Beaten Rice)
  2. 6 green chiles chopped into rounds
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onions
  4. 1 big Potato peeled and cut into small dices
  5. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
  6. 1 tsp of curry masala powder (any masala powder would work)
  7. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  8. 1/4 - 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1 tsp of oil
  11. seasonings - mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  12. juice from 1/2 a lime

  1. Take the Aval/beaten rice in a colander and run water through it for a minute. Set aside for 10 minutes. (see note:)
  2. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop add in the green chilies, saute for a minute and then add the onions and saute till they start to turn brown.
  3. Add the potatoes and saute for a minute or two. Add in the salt, chili, turmeric and masala powder and give a good mix. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water. Mix and cover with a lid and cook for about 3-4 minutes till the potatoes are just soft. Open the lid and saute till all the standing liquid is gone.
  4. Add the soaked aval/beaten rice and mix gently till the masala is well coated on the aval - 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add in the roasted peanuts, squeeze the lime, give another good mix but gently. Turn off the heat.
  6. Note: If the beaten rice is thick it is soaked in water. Water is added just enough to cover the beaten rice. I have tried this a couple of time and ended up with a mushy aval that is of no use. Be careful with the amount of water if soaking.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Grain of the Week - 3 - Barley

Happy Pongal!

I have heard a lot about Barley but have not cooked with it often. It is one of those grains that we know is an ingredient in a lot of cereals, fermenting agent in beer and malts but in its grain form not that popular. It is one of those grains with a very low glycemic index and a high fiber content.

I have cooked with Barley just once in a soup. My friend Linda over at OutofthGarden has been recommending I give Barley a try.

Pearled Barley is the most common type of barley that is available in most stores. Hulled Barley is perhaps the least processed. Some benefits of Barley from Dr.Weil.

Pearled Barley

Have any recipes with Barley please give a shout.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pepper Rice with Vegetables - Madagascar Pink Rice

If you order a plate of fried rice in India in a Chinese or any other restaurant it will be vastly different from any of the Far Eastern or Chinese fried rice. The color of the rice is still white and the flavors are subtle. No fish sauce, not sure if there is much soy sauce either. There might be trace amount of some green chili sauce and lots of pepper.

There are lots of Indo Chinese dishes that make good pairings but if not it is relished simply with tomato ketchup! This was the theme I wanted to keep for cooking the Madagascar Pink Rice. I wanted to taste the rice rather than the seasonings that it is cooked with. It is a very aromatic and tasty rice all by itself. Also I was cooking with the rice for the first time so I did need fancy embellishments which will overpower the taste of the rice.

Cook the rice as per directions. Rice cooker works best if you want well cooked but separate grains.
Chop the onions and green chilies into thin rounds. Cut the carrots first diagonally.
Stack the sliced carrots and then cut them into strips. Diagonally cut the beans and slice the bell pepper into thin slices after removing the seeds and the inner white ribs.
Melt the butter and saute the onions and green chilies till they wilt.
Saute the vegetables till they are cooked but still crunchy. Add salt and pepper and the cooked rice and toss gently.

If you do not have Pink Rice any long grain rice would do.

Pepper Rice with Vegetables - Madagascar Pink Rice
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 2 cups of Madagascar Pink Rice (or any long grain rice)
  2. 2 green chilies sliced into thin rounds and shake the seeds out.
  3. 1 cup each of carrots, beans and 1 bell pepper sliced into thin strips(French Cut)
  4. 1 bunch of green onions ends cut off and sliced into rounds
  5. 1/2 tbsp butter (for vegan version any light cooking oil)
  6. 1/2 tbsp pepper powder or to taste
  7. salt to taste
  8. juice from 1/2 lime

  1. Cook the rice as per directions to fluffy and separate grains. Pink Rice required 1 3/4 cups of water for one cup of rice. When cooked set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile heat a wide mouthed pan or wok and add the butter.
  3. When hot add the chopped green chilies and green onions and saute till they are wilted about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Now add the sliced vegetables and cook them till they are just about cooked but still crunchy. Mid way add salt. takes about 6-8 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Add in the pepper powder and gently mix.
  6. Now add in the cooked rice and gently mix it. Squeeze the lime juice and turn off the heat.

Serve with sliced boiled eggs and ketchup if needed.
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