Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poppy Seed Powder | Indian Basics for Cooking

Poppy Seeds or Gasa Gasalu in Telugu, "Gasa Gasa" in Tamil, "Khus Khus" in Hindi is quite a common ingredient in my Kitchen.  

Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are extracted. Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil, a healthy edible oil that has many uses. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. (Source: Wiki)

Apart from knowing that this is an essential part of my pantry, I never really looked deeper behind the name. So reading on Poppy Seeds gave me a heady feeling!

Growing up I have always seen Amma using that Flat Stone that we simply call as Rurbu Rai (will get the correct spelling once I speak to Dad or Hubby dear, the experts in Tanglish at home). Refer to Sandy's post to what I am talking about.

Using that stone, it is pretty easy to grind Poppy seeds to fine paste. Poppy seeds are a must in all Non Veg gravy, Veg Kurma at home. So when I no longer had this stone at home nor my Mixer jar small enough to grind me small amount of this paste, Athamma suggested I make a powder of this and store. 




This is how we make the powder at home.

Heat a pan dry. Pour the poppy seeds on to the hot pan,


Quickly with a ladle stir well so as not to burn the seeds. The moment the seeds reach the right temperature, they start crackling.  That's when you switch off the flame.


Transfer to a dry plate and allow it to cool completely.


Once it is completely cooled, take the dry roasted poppy seeds in a dry mixer jar, pulse it couple of times. If you run it, you will end up extracting oil from you. So gently pulse it, till you see the seeds blended well.

End of 3 -4 times you may have ground almost all the seeds. Unless you are using a small jar, you may not be fully powdering it. 

Again spread over a plate and dry it well. Before storing this in a jar, ensure the jar is dry and the powder is cooled down well.

This stays well for more than 10 days when refrigerated well. I haven't tested the shelf life beyond that. 
Take as much needed and put it back right away for longer shelf life. There is no need to freeze this, but it may work well too. 

Many readers have asked how I grind just what is needed for the recipe, this is the tip. I normally grind 85% of the quantity this way, small amount for using as a whole seed. All recipes in this blog that calls for poppy seed paste/powder is used by this method.

Poppy seeds have a creamy and nut like flavor, and when used with ground coconut, the seeds provide a unique and flavour-rich base for Kurmas, both Veg and Non Veg. I also use these in Pulaos etc.

Poppy Seeds add great taste to many Indian Sweets, where it is used in both powdered or/and whole form.
Since this poppy seed powder is such an essential and basic one in my kitchen, sending this to Jaya's B2B -- Back to Basics

Check out other Indian Basics for Cooking, if you are interested!

Back to Main Recipe Index

Go to "Spice your Life" Blog Index


Enter your email address:


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Low Calorie Sambar Vada | Medu Vada in Sambar | Indian Vegan Recipes

On Friday I finally made the Khichidi again. That was after many weeks absence and thought it was agreed it was going to be part of a regular Saturday menu. I am a person who never bored with routine. But looks like even I have skipped my Menu Planners.

This results in dire situations when I am frustrated not to know what to cook. Then I had to resort to the life saver the Khichidi. Yes I am yet to blog on that. Will get around doing it someday. Having done this on Friday, I realized I had nothing for Saturday. So it was Sambar Vada. Remembering that I am planning to take up my diet regime again seriously, wanted it to be a low calorie one.

Sunday was wonderful. The breakfast was the usual Channa Masala with Poori. Then seeing Konda not being best of her health, hubby dear said he will take us for the beach. The rounds of applause and the roaring sounds that followed would lead anyone believe that we don't take the kids anywhere, which is not the case. Still with a outing in  question they were so excited.

The day promised to be very cool. So we set out for an outing to the beach. Kids took their footballs to play on the beach. Seeing the horse flying by, they were eager for a ride. But after their return, Konda and Chinnu declared they don't like the horse ride, as the ride was very fast and they were jostled so much that their back ached. Soon it turned to be very windy, we decided to leave after spending couple of hours.

Rest of the day just passed in a blur, I went to help Amma cook for our relatives who came for dinner.
Back to the Sambar Vada that I made on Saturday, I wanted to try making it low cal as it was anyways going to be dunk in Sambar.

I ground the batter for Medu Vadas same as always in the mixer. But anytime grinding it in the grinder gives you a Medu Vada that is soft and fluffy inside and crisp on the outer. I confirmed this when I ground the batter on Sunday for our guests. 



If you are using the Mixer to grind and want to use the Appey Pan for these Low calorie Vadas, I suggest you add a pinch of cooking soda or allow it to get more water once you add the onions.

I knew the difference as I made the vadas first time without any of those Onions for the kids. They were a bit hard. But since you soak these in hot sambar for a while, they become soft and taste the same, well almost!


I can vouch that the taste was the same, except you won't get to feel that crispy outer skin that you normally associate with deep fried vadas.

I will have to get around the sambar somebody other day!


Once the vadas are fried, soak them in hot Sambar for making them get all soft.

Have a great week ahead!

Back to Main Recipe Index

Go to "Spice your Life" Blog Index


Enter your email address:


Friday, July 23, 2010

Carrot Halwa ~ A First Love | How to make Carrot Halwa in Microwave | Indian Sweets

You may have already read about how I make Carrot halwa on a stove top or in a Rice cooker. Carrot Halwa was one of the latest posts as it gets done at home quite frequently. Especially in the Rice cooker, where the taste and the texture is a class apart. I had to resort to the stove top after the rice cooker was packed and stored in the loft.

To be honest, I had quite forgotten that. Since I promised Nive that I will send two more halwas, I decided I was going to make the Carrot Halwa again, this time in Microwave. Then it struck me that I should not pass out the chance of an entry for Chalks and Chopsticks. It is an event conceived by Aqua and hosted by Sra this month!

Reading the round ups, I end up thinking why I wasn't even trying. This month I was determined I will get a story of something. So Carrot Halwa kindled good old memory!

Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction, doesn't bear resemblance to actual facts.

Since I had a 4 page story written, requested Sra for an opinion. She suggested I could remove the melodrama out of it (of course not in those terms..:)) The original version can be found in my other blog. I somehow always felt pathos brings out more drama!

Do read that version too and let me know which was more appealing!

Much thanks to Sra, for spending time on this, amidst her hectic socializing..:)

Please don't skip the story for the juicy carrot halwa, but if you must, please hit the scroll down indeterminate times!

Carrot Halwa in Microwave

*************************************************************

With the cool breeze flowing into the car, Maya looked at her Dad telling her something. She didn't hear him; her thoughts were on something else. Taking a deep breath, she sat back. She was so eager to start her new college and form new friendships.

They were moving into a new apartment, new neighbourhood, and a colony very similar to the one they were leaving. Daddy asked her to help him pack things they can't trust the workers with and had an early start to avoid the traffic. As the car was slowing down, Maya saw a bed of yellow flowers on the road path. Somehow those beautiful flowers on the floor were more inviting than anything else.

Maya got down helping Daddy; she was all of 17, and a looker. Heads always turned when she walked past. Though with a head full of dreams and ambitions beyond her vision, she hardly ever noticed. Yet she was always piqued that she never had steady girl friends. While boys flocked to her sides, girls kept their distance. And because she was such a tomboy, boys ended up being her best friends.

Days passed into months, they slowly settled in the new place. Maya was enjoying her college and her friends. Best of all, Maya was enjoying the wonders of Mills & Boons.  She was so engrossed in that world, every corner turned Maya used to think a TDH hero would come pouncing forward.

Her new friends played tennis and convinced her to join them. One fine evening when she walked into the court, she felt conspicuous of many eyes eying her in varying expressions. The game wasn't new to her, but she felt very out of place.

When the game began, her eyes were drawn to the opponent who was smashing every other shot at her. End of the game she was fuming and determined to get the better of him. Introduced or not, she wasn't bothered. She wanted to give him a piece of her mind; little did she know she would barter her heart too.

Being a tomboy, she never cared a dime on what a guy thinks. But at that moment, she was speechless. She wondered if she was day dreaming, and was literally gaping at the person from books in front of her, who was actually grinning at her.

She was finally introduced to Dev, the chocolate boy of the gang. Maya didn't remember anything beyond that. But come rain or cyclone, Maya was seen on the court very promptly.

This was really funny because, for all she existed she was invisible to Dev. Just as she was clueless on why she had so many admirers, she was clueless as to why he never bothered to look. Maya was determined to change the situation.

At the yearly Tennis club cultural event, it was decided to have a potluck dinner. Each player was asked to bring along something. They had fun deciding the menu, when it came to the desserts, one wanted Ice creams, and some said payasam was easy, while somebody was insisting on Carrot Halwa. Most agreed making Carrot Halwa for huge crowd was tough.

Maya was surprised to see Dev cheering so much for Carrot Halwa. He said special occasion called for special dishes and even offered to help grate the lot if the need be. Maya was surprised to find her offering to make it.

Was it a disdain that she saw in Dev's expression? She really didn't care any longer. She was determined she was going to make Carrot halwa no matter what the end result was going to be.

Then the reality sank in. How was she going to tell Mom that she offered to make Carrot Halwa? Grate about 7 - 8 kilos of Carrot? Trying to impress somebody is good, but being stupid is not one of it.

With the trepidation setting in, Maya walked back home. But Mom was all excited about Carrot Halwa.  On the D day, Maya went shopping with Mom to buy the carrots. Mom makes Carrot Halwa often, but this is the first time Maya ever give it a thought.

She was determined to make the best ever Carrot Halwa

She was so engrossed in grating that she gave a start on hearing the door bell. With bits of carrots all over her, she jumped out to open the door, only to get the shock of her life. Standing on the door step was Dev along with few friends. They came to help grate the carrots, and even got the graters!

Mom was really impressed with her friends. Events blurred in her memory, finally it was time for Dev and the rest to leave. They left saying they look forward to eating the Halwa for dinner.

Maya helped Mom in making the halwa, most of the time standing next to the stove, making sure the milk wont’ spill over. If grating was a tough nut, getting that carrot cooked in milk was tougher. But she knew the result was a sweetest of all!

Finally with the halwa all packed in a container, Maya got dressed for the party. It was a gala evening with lot of fun events. But Maya was in a trance. When it was time for dinner, Maya had butterflies. She didn't know what was going to happen, but knew something will.

It was a fun evening, with the excellent food and company. When somebody asked Dev why wasn’t eating much, Maya was worried about what was wrong with him. He replied he was saving himself for the dessert!

When they moved on to the desserts, she saw Dev filling his plate with big scoops of Carrot Halwa. A friend next to him asked how without tasting he was helping himself to double dose. Dev turned to say "When it was made with so much love, it is bound to be delicious" with that he looked at Maya with a twinkle in his eyes.
************************************************


Even though grating the carrots are still a laborious process, cooking this in microwave made this dish a breeze!

I thought showing this in step by step was much more easier

Wash and grate the outer skin. Then grate the carrots after trimming the ends.


Take the grated carrot in a microwave safe bowl.

Micro 1 cup of milk for 2 mins. Pour the hot milk on the grated carrot, cover it with a lid and allow it to rest for 5 mins.
 
Remove the lid, using a ladle, mash and mix the carrot with the milk well.


Set the timing for 20 mins and Micro the carrot again.


After 7 mins, remove and add the remaining milk. Stir well and put it back.


Check again after 7 mins or so, add the sugar, mash well. The sugar will get almost dissolved by the heat.


 Put the bowl back for the remaining time. The carrot will be done by 20 mins.



 If you feel you need to put it back for couple of minutes more, you can do at this stage. But see that browned patch? That was what happened, a small piece of it was burnt. But it tasted great!

Micro ghee along with cashew for 2 mins. Cashew will turn really crisp.

 Pour this over the halwa and you are done.


Stir the halwa with the cashew well.
 See the way it looks!


It took me about 30 mins for the entire halwa to be made. This includes the grating part. Since I used fresh baby carrots, the job was done quickly.

Though this should take about 20 - 30 mins to get fully done, make sure you check in between to prevent it from getting burnt.


Carrot Halwa in Microwave ~ Gajar Ka Halwa

Ingredients Needed

Carrots, grated - 1 & 1/2 cup
Milk - 2 & 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Roasted cashews - handful
Ghee - 2 tsp

Method to prepare:

Wash and grate the outer skin. Then grate the carrots after trimming the ends. Take the grated carrot in a microwave safe bowl.

Micro 1 cup of milk for 2 mins. Pour the hot milk on the grated carrot, cover it with a lid and allow it to rest for 5 mins.

Remove the lid, using a ladle, mash and mix the carrot with the milk well.

Set the timing for 20 mins and Micro the carrot again. After 7 mins, remove and add the remaining milk. Stir well and put it back.

Check again after 7 mins or so, add the sugar, mash well. The sugar will get almost dissolved by the heat.

Give it back for the remaining time. The carrot will be done by 20 mins.

Micro ghee along with cashew for 2 mins. Cashew will turn really crisp. Pour this over the halwa and you are done.

It took me about 30 mins for the entire halwa to be made. This includes the grating part. Since I used fresh baby carrots, the job was done quickly.

Though this should take about 20 - 30 mins to get fully done, make sure you check in between to prevent it from getting burnt. You can store this in fridge for a week. Before you eat, you warm it in Microwave and enjoy. Else you can even add more milk, micro for a min.

If it gets cooked more, the halwa turns crystallized and it goes so well with Vanilla Ice-cream. This was the combination I served for my guest and I was indulging for 3 days.

Now I remembered why I don't make Carrot halwa!

I missed taking a picture of this bright orange looking Carrot halwa with Vanilla Ice cream. Will click it again surely!

Sending this to Nivedita's Celebrate Sweets - Halwa event!

To PJ who is hosting my MEC event this month themed on our Favorites!
And finally to Suma who is hosting Healing Foods - Carrot, an event started by Siri

Back to Main Recipe Index

Go to "Spice your Life" Blog Index


Enter your email address:


Monday, July 19, 2010

How to make Sambar Rice in Microwave | Sambar Sadam Recipe | Step By Step Recipes

I know I have made Sambar Sadam in many different ways. Yet I couldn't stop myself from making it in Microwave! Though I won't say it was a breezy one in terms of time. Anytime making this rice in Pressure Cooker gets thumbs up. But making Sambar Rice in Microwave sure has its advantage.

I finally found that one can get lot of things done while the rice gets cooked safely in the Oven. You need not fret over the fact that water from the cooker gets drained out. Or that you got to keep standing next to it to ensure it doesn't get burnt. Not that I am saying it will. But on the chances of course.



Else you can see yourself painting, doing that much needed exercise or even just sleeping! I am not saying I did all these but saying I could do all these things.

Yesterday being a Sunday, I again had loads of dishes done. Much to my own amusement, did quite a few of them in Microwave! Well I am sure I am going to be told never to cook again in a microwave.

Sunday was quite fun. We started the day with power outage which lasted for 4 hours. One plus point was the fact that kids actually thought of some games to play rather than the usual TV. Lunch was vegetarian, so made Pappu Chaaru with Beans Parupu Usli. What was different was the fact that I made the Parupu Usli in Microwave! Well I know I know, you will surely get to read about it.

Then I made Carrot Halwa as I had invited a friend for dinner. Kids had a major fun time with my friend. By the time we slept it was well way beyond our usual time.

Sambar Rice in Microwave
Cooking Time : 1 hr 15 mins
Cooking Method: Microwave mode, default setting.

Coming to the Sambar Rice that was made in the Microwave, lets see in step by step method.

Wash and Soak rice for 15 - 20 mins.

Cooking the Dal

Cooking Toor dal is quite difficult as it is very hard. So to easy the process, you can wash and soak it in hot water. For that micro 2 glasses of water for 3 mins, soak the toor dal in the hot water with lid covered for 10 mins. Else this might take about 20 - 25 mins of micro cooking.

Using a ladle, mash the dal well.


Roast the cashews in 1 tsp of ghee.


Soak the tamarind for extracting the pulp, else you can use if you have already prepared ahead.


Have all the vegetables ready for use


After doing the curry leaves, add the onions, tomatoes together. Micro for 5 mins.

 The tomatoes will be nicely mashed

Then goes the Sambar powder.

 Mix well and again micro for 2 min.


Add the chopped vegetables, micro again for 5 mins. Sprinkle some water for the vegetables to get steamed.

Mix the dal and soaked rice together. Pour the cooked vegetable masala to the rice bowl. Add 6 cups of water. Stir well and micro for 30 mins.

In the intervals of 10 mins, stop and stir well. This step is not really mandatory, you can stir in between 15 mins. But it ensures the rice is cooked well.


Check if the water is enough and the rice is getting cooked.

Stir again and keep it back!


At this stage it looked it needed some water, so added it.



Add the remaining cup of water. Add more if it is required.

At this stage when the rice looks well cooked, add the tamarind extract, salt and fried Cashews.


End of 30 - 40 mins, the rice is really well done.

How to make Sambar Rice in Microwave 
Ingredients Needed:

Raw Rice - 2 cups
Toor Dal/ Pigeon Pea - 1 cup
Mixed Vegetables - Carrot, Beans, Peas, Radish, Drumstick, Brinjal (I used only first 4)
Onions - 1 medium (Shallot is the best)
Tomatoes - 2 medium
Sambar Powder - 1 & 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves few
Cashew Nuts- 5 whole
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 -3 tsp
Mustard Seeds, Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind Extract - 1-2 tsp
Water - 2 & 1/2 for dal
for making the rice - 7 cups

Method to prepare:

Wash and Soak rice for 15 - 20 mins.

Cooking the Dal

Cooking Toor dal is quite difficult as it is very hard. So to easy the process, you can wash and soak it in hot water. For that micro 2 glasses of water for 3 mins, soak the toor dal in the hot water with lid covered for 10 mins. Else this might take about 20 - 25 mins of micro cooking.

Using a ladle, mash the dal well.

Roast the cashews in 1 tsp of ghee.

Soak the tamarind for extracting the pulp, else you can use if you have already prepared ahead.

Making the masala:

In a microwave safe bowl, take the oil along with mustard, curry leaves, micro for 1 min.

Then add the onions, tomatoes together. Micro for 5 mins. The tomatoes will be nicely mashed.

Add the chopped vegetables, micro again for 5 mins. With the moisture that is already in the bowl, the vegetables will get steamed.

Then goes the Sambar powder. Mix well and again micro for 2 min.

Mix the dal and soaked rice together. Pour the cooked vegetable masala to the rice bowl. Add 6 cups of water. Stir well and micro for 30 mins.

In the intervals of 10 mins, stop and stir well. This step is not really mandatory, you can stir in between 15 mins. But it ensures the rice is cooked well.

At this stage when the rice looks well cooked, add the tamarind extract, salt and fried Cashews. Add the remaining cup of water. Add more if it is required.

End of 30 - 40 mins, the rice is really well done.

Notes: When cooking with Toor dal, always make sure you soak in hot water for best results and quick cooking.

Sambar Rice is supposed to be very gooey, so adding more water is expected. This also ensures that the rice is well cooked.

I have added only few vegetables, you can add as per your preference.

This is simpler way of making Bisi Bela Bath, of course I can't claim this is anyway close to the taste that you get from that. But for a simpler taste you can settle for this.

Check out my other Sambar Rice that was cooked in Pressure Cooker. Well I have one Rice Cooker method too, which might surface sometime.

For those of you are bored to see so many Microwave Recipes, I can't help it. I really got to prove to Hubby dear that his investment has not gone waste..:)

And also I am clueless on what new thing I should prepare. If you have something in mind, ask away!

Until next time, which would be a sweet dwelling, have a great week ahead!

For other Rice Ides, check out the Rice Dishes

Sending this to PJ who is hosting my MEC event this month themed on our Favorites

Sending this to Susan's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite event, hosted by Siri this month.

Back to Main Recipe Index

Go to "Spice your Life" Blog Index


Enter your email address:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yellow Moong Dal in Microwave | Pesarapappu Kura for Poori | Step By Step Recipe in Microwave

Pesara pappu Kura was to my knowledge almost the first dish I learnt to cook myself. It is one of those dishes that can cook itself anytime. Cooking Yellow Moong Dal is not tough and this dal is one of the staple dals that get featured on our Sunday breakfast menu.

This Sunday I really thought I had enough of Channa Masala with Poori week after week. Mind you, except the elders nobody raised a voice in opposition. Infact seeing their favorite Channa not on the table I heard 2 voices protesting strongly. I sternly said I had enough and we should explore other wonderful dishes too.

Within minutes I heard one sweet little voice that said "Amma this is so tasty, please make this every day for me" That was Chinnu who asks for me to make a particular dish everyday if he likes it. Then Konda too joined him to say it was very nice.

Though I always make this dal in Pressure Cooker, this time I wanted to try the same in my Microwave Oven.


I was thinking of soaking the dal in water for 10 - 15 minutes. But felt soaking in hot water will be better. So Micro 1 cup of water for 2 mins in micro, while you wash the dal.

Soak yellow moong dal in hot water for 5 minutes with lid covered.

Micro the dal for 15 mins with 1 & 1/2 cups water.


Then saute chopped onions, green chilies, cumin for 2 mins


Followed by tomatoes and turmeric for 2 mins

Tomatoes get really mashed well.

Finally add the cooked dal along with 2 cups of water and salt. Micro for 5 mins


Dal is ready to be served




Ingredients Needed

Yellow Moong Dal / Peserapappu - 3/4 cup
Water - 3 & 1/2 cup
Onions - 1/2 of a small one
Tomatoes - 1 medium
Green chillies - 4
Turmeric powder - a pinch

Tadka

Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - few springs

I didn't add Red chilies and Curry leaves. Hence chopped Green chilies while sauteing so it had normal spice.


All of us felt that this version of dal was much tastier than the usual Pressure Cooker one.

Since this is one of my favorite dish prepared entirely in Microwave, sending this to PJ who is hosting my MEC event this month themed on our Favorites!

Sending this to Susan's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite event, hosted by Siri this month. 

Back to Main Recipe Index

Go to "Spice your Life" Blog Index


Enter your email address:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...