Friday, April 20, 2007

Methi Dal - JFI-WBB: Green Leafy Vegetables

I love to cook green leafy vegetables in any form. Who wouldn't??? I keep adding spinach, methi, amaranth, etc. in my cooking regularly once a week. Spinach has a rich source of Iron. Of course, all greens contains Iron in different proportions. We very well know that iron content in our body will give strength and prevents from anemia/weakness. It helps keep your body brisk all day.

I remember a greens seller in my hometown who sells fresh green leafy vegetables everyday on our streets. She had many different varieties of greens. Of which i remember only few of these,
Thandukeerai(Keerai in tamil means Greens),
Araikeerai(Amaranth contains vitamin A),
Vendayakeerai(Methi/Fenugreek leaves),
Vallaraikeerai(said to be good for memory power),
Mudakathankeerai(cures arthritis),
Sirukeerai(small leafy greens),
Murungaikeerai(leaves of drumstick tree),
Thooduvalaikeerai(removes congestion due to cold),
Manathakkalikeerai(good for stomach & mouth ulcers),
Ponnangannikeerai(improves eyesight),
Kezhanellikeerai(cures jaundice)
Pasalaikeerai(Palak or spinach),

The list is long and there are many other varieties of indian greens which i do not know the names exactly. Mom says even now she buys greens from her. She sells greens that are freshly picked, early morning from the fields in her village, nearby to our town and we get them right at our doors.
I love methi for its rich aroma. Though it has a slight bitter taste, when pressure cooked with dal, reduces the bitterness. It's also rich in Iron and fibre content and believed to have many medicinal properties. Methi is supposed to cool the body and is good for diabetic patients. I made Methi dal for the JFI-WBB event by Indira of Mahanadi and Nandita of Saffron Trial. Here are the steps to make it.

Methi dal with rice and lemon pickle


1 bunch of Methi, pluck the leaves
1 cup of toor dal
1 medium onion and tomato, chopped
Pulp of a lemon-sized tamarind
1 tbsp of sambar powder.
1 tsp of turmeric.
Salt to taste

1 tbsp of oil/Ghee
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of asafoetida
5 to 6 curry leaves

Rinse methi leaves in three changes of water, till the water looks clear.
Similarly wash toor dal too. Pressure cook toor dal, methi leaves, tomato, turmeric with little salt till 4 whistles. Let it cool and when pressure is released, mash them and set aside. Heat oil in a pan, fry onion till translucent. Add this to the pressure cooker contents. Stir in tamarind pulp, sambar powder with salt and let all this boil till the dal thickens.
Finally heat oil and toast the seasoning ingredients one by one in order provided. Add this to the dal.
Serve hot with rice and a side curry.

This recipe can be adapted with any other greens. Sending this to JFI event.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Adai - Lentil Dosa

There were days when we hated a particular dish during childhood and would cry to eat 'em when mom says it's good for our health. Later when we start cooking, we make them over and over again, saying that it's so delicious. I am sure you all would have been thro' this. I don't know what makes the food we dislike in childhood to be an all time favaourite when grown up. Once such thing is "Adai" to me. I have literally fought with my mom to make me something else when she prepares Adai during my childhood days. But when i started cooking, it's tastes heavenly now(Don't know why???). Since our everyday meal is based on my husband's likes, food i hate the most has now become my ultimate favourites.
Adai, as we call as lentil pancake, is a mix of four types of lentils and rice.
It is a protein rich diet since it contains lentils. Apart from proteins, adai also contains dietary fiber. It's also an ideal diet for diabetes. This tiffin is mostly made in south india. It's also a tradition to make Adai on the festival of lights(Karthigai Deepam). The proportion on which the lentils are added alongwith rice gives it the crunchy, rich taste. Here's how i make it.

Raw Rice - 1 cup
Chana dal - 3/4 cup
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup
Moong dal - 2 tbsp(1/8 cup)
Red chillies - 5 nos.
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Curry leaves & corriander leaves
Coconut pieces - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Salt to taste

Soak rice and dals alongwith the red chillies for 2 hours. Grind into a coarse batter adding little water at a time. Do not add lot of water to the batter, let it be thick. The dals should just be split while grinding and not ground to smooth. Add salt, mix well and set aside for atleast 4 hours. Adai can be made in the same day on which it was ground. There is no need for fermenting.
Heat a dosa griddle. Mix finely chopped onions, curry leaves, corriander leaves, finely chopped coconut pieces. Pour the batter in the griddle and make it as dosas. Coat the sides of the adai with oil. Let it be there for two minutes on one side in medium heat and flip it over to the other side. Let it become crunchy. Cook on medium heat since the batter is thick, it might take sometime some time for this to cook. The coarse texture of dals and rice in the batter will give it a crunchy taste.
Serve it with Coconut/Peanut chutney, powdered jaggery, and chutney podi(Milagai podi). Traditionally in south indian hotels, Adai is served with Aviyal(A coconut curry made with vegetables). I like my adai with sugar and ghee mixed together.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Mushroom masala with fresh green channa

I like trying different combinations of vegetables and legumes in my curries. Yesterday i got all excited and decided to combine Mushroom and green channa. I haven't heard of this fresh green channa(Garbanzo beans)when i was in India. Recently found frozen green channa in the indian grocery store. I have always used dried kabuli channa or brown channa. These green channa are so fresh and do not require soaking in water overnight. That's one thing i liked about these. I usually think of making channa masala for the next day and would forget to soak it overnight. Any form of channa or garbanzo beans is rich in protein and fiber, and low in fat and calories. They are a good source of folate, folic acid, calcium, Vitamin B and iron.
And speaking of mushrooms, i like fresh white ones. One thing about the mushrooms is it gets dark when kept for long time. Proper wrapping with ziploc or storing them in air-tight containers can help. Mushrooms combined with green channa was so delicious as a side dish. Here is some of 'em for you.

10 to 15 nos.- White button mushrooms
1 Cup - Frozen or fresh green channa or garbanzo
1 - Medium Onion Chopped
3 - Medium Tomatoes chopped
1 tsp - turmeric powder
1 tsp - red chilli powder
1 tsp - corriander powder
1 tsp - cumin powder
1 tsp - garam masala
1 tsp of Kasuri methi
1 tsp - cumin seeds for tadka
1 tbsp - oil
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro to garnish

Remove stems from mushrooms, clean and with a neat cloth wipe the surface of the mushrooms to remove any dirt. Cut into halves or any shape. Wash channa into two to three runnings of water, drain and set aside. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Let the cumin seed splutter. Add turmeric powder to them. Then add the onion and fry till transparent. Add mushrooms and saute for two minutes. Add Chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook till the tomatoes are mushy and mixes with the mushroom. Stir in red chilli powder, corriander powder, cumin powder and mix well to coat the mushroom with the masala. Let the spices cook for two minutes. Add green channa and enough water and let it cook covered for 10 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. By then the mushrooms should be soft and green channa doesn't require more time to cook. Mix the kasuri methi and cook for another minute and then garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot with naan or your favourite rotis.

Add quarter cup of milk or cream before adding the garam masala. This would give the dish a rich creamy colour.