Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Green Mung Bean Chilla with Carrots and Radish Ribbons and Peas Tossed with Simple Lemon Dressing.

How colorful is your meal today?

While I was going through my pictures, I found this long pending picture of bright colors. I enjoyed preparing this meal as much as I enjoyed eating. The Green Mung Bean Chilla is my all time favorite. I always add different vegetables to the chilla batter like spinach, fenugreek leaves(methi), carrots, shredded cabbage, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, thinly sliced green beans and such. In this preparation I tried to balance the colors of the dish by mixing spinach in the batter and bright white and orange salad on the side.

Nutritional Benefits-:
Green Mung Beans- 
  • They are also know as green gram. They are famous for the protein that they have in them, but apart from that, green mung beans are also awesome source of iron. 
  • They are also high in folate, which is water soluble vitamin-B necessary in production of new cells, DNA and RNA. 
  • It's even better to sprout and then use them, as vitamin C which is found in sprouts is missing in the beans.
  • This crunchy and deliciously sweet root vegetable has ample amounts of  beta-carotene, vitamin -A, Vitamin K, minerals and anti- oxidants.
  • Carrots have tons of nutritional value attached to it. Vision health, anti- cancer benefits, cardiovascular benefits to name a few.
  • Another root vegetable high in Vitamin C.
  • Radish is excellent for digestion as it stimulates digestive juices.
  • They are beneficial for symptoms of flu, cold, cough, respiratory problem.
  • Radishes can dissolve phlegm, reinforce energy as well as clear a stuffy nose.
  • White radishes (the root and the leaves) work as natural antibiotics against some bacteria.
  • Radish is a good mouth and breath freshener, laxative, regulates metabolism, improves blood circulation.
There is an old saying about radishes - "When radishes come to market, nobody will go to pharmacies."

Chilla is traditionally made up of besan (gram flour) and spices. In this recipe, I haven't added besan at all. The batter is made up of sprouted green mung daal and soaked rice ground together with some chopped spinach thrown in it.
I have also added some ginger and garlic paste along with cumin and coriander powder. 

Soaking time-:Overnight/ 5-6 hours at least
Sprouting time-8-10 hours, depending on the weather.
Preparation time-:15 minutes.
Cooking time-:15 minutes
Serves 3-4 people

For chilla-
  1. Soaked sprouted green mung daal-1 cup
  2. Soaked rice- 1/2 cup or more if you want your chilla to be crispy.
  3. Ginger- 1/2 inch piece
  4. Garlic-1/2 inch piece
  5. Chilies-1small
  6. Chopped spinach-3/4th cup
  7. Cumin and coriander powder-1/2 tbsp each
  8. Salt to taste
  9. Oil for spraying 
For the salad-:
  1. Carrots- 1 medium
  2. White Radish-1 medium
  3. Peas- a handful
  4. Lemon juice-juice of half a lemon
  5. Salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Add the soaked rice and sprouted mung beans to the blender. Add ginger, garlic, salt, chilies and blend everything well.
  • Pour in to a pot and add cumin and coriander powder, chopped spinach to the batter and mix well.
  • Heat a griddle / tawa over medium heat and once it is hot, with the help of a ladle start spreading a the batter on the tawa.
  • Let it cook on one side for about 3 minutes and then flip and cook the other side.
Putting the salad together-:
  • Peel the carrots and radish from all sides and make the ribbons out of them.
  • Toss them together along with peas
  • Mix some lemon juice with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour it on top of mixed radish, carrots and peas.
This is a perfect meal to eat with your eyes first!!!

The eye pleasing meal is headed to 2 events.

  1. Dish it out- Lentils/legumes and vegetables
  2. Breakfast recipes- from My Culinary Creations.

Nutritional Benefits Source-:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tawa Bhendi Masala

Who doesn't like Bhendi/Bhindi/ Okra/ Lady's fingers/ gumbo??? It has a pleasant, mild taste and so it can really take any kind of masalas you can think of. I make bhendi in 3 different ways-:
  1. Bhendi fry- Which is stuffed with masalas and deep fried. I make it occasionally as it is deep fried.
  2. Masala Bhendi- Cut okra in a slightly big pieces and then stuff it with gram flour along with bunch of other spices. Sometimes I also put potatoes in this preparation, when I am short on Bhindi.
  3. Chinch gulachi bhendi- This is a very traditional maharashtrian version of preparing bhendi. It is kind of curry, which has jaggery (gul) and tamarind(chinch) in it. I am hoping to post this version in the near future.
Nutritional Benefits-:
  • Bhendi contains healthy amounts of Vitamin A and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta carotine, xanthine and lutein. Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A.We all need vitamin A for healthy skin, immune system,good eye health and vision. When it comes to vitamin A, it's always a good idea to have more beta- carotene rich food than to consume supplements. Excess amount of vitamin A from the supplements, makes our bodies toxic.
  • They are also excellent source of Vitamin C.
  • The pods are also good source of important minerals like iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.
Today, the recipe I am going to share with you is a little twist to Masala Bhendi. Tawa Bhindi Masala. Tawa is a fry pan which is round in shape, you can find it in any Indian kitchen as it is used to make roti's (Indian Flatbread) everyday. This recipe is very simple to make, and that's why this is the recipe for someone who is a newbie and would love to get into adventures of Indian cooking.

Preparation Time-: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time-: 15 Minutes

Serves- 2 people as a side dish.

  1. Fresh Okra/ Bhendi- 200 grams/ about 20-25 pods. Cut the top stem and discard and then slice the remaining into thin pieces.
  2. Tomato- 1 medium sized diced
  3. Onion- 1 small finely chopped
  4. Cumin Powder- 2 tsp
  5. Coriander Powder- 2 tsp
  6. Turmeric- 1 tsp
  7. Red chilly powder- 1/2- 1 tsp, depending on how spicy you like.
  8. Cumin Seeds- 1tsp
  9. Asafoetida- a pinch
  10. Cilantro- for garnishing.
  11. Salt to taste
  • Heat some oil on Tawa. Add Cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric and mix well.
  • Add chopped onion, saute.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, Saute.
  • After about 5 minutes when the onions and tomatoes become translucent, add the sliced bhindi.
  • When bhindi gets cooked, add the spices(cumin and coriander) and the salt.
  • Garnish with cilantro.
If you want you can certainly put other masalas like Garam masala. I usually don't because I like the mild taste of cumin and coriander powder, which I think goes well with the Bhendi. 
If you want you can add tomatoes or add lemon for the sourness.

Few Things you have to keep in mind  while cooking bhindi-:
  1. Never put a lid on bhindi while cooking as it will retain the moisture and will make it sticky.
  2. Always add something sour to bhindi preparation, it helps to reduce the stickiness.
  3. If you are adding lemon instead of tomatoes, always add at the end of the preparation when you turn off the stove.
You might have guessed by now that Bhindi is a sticky vegetable:) So stick with it and it will nourish you!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Steaming hot idlies- A great source of Vitamin B-12 for vegetarians/ vegans

Got to try some Idli Chutney while you are hanging out in southern part of India right??? Although it isn't really a hangout for me, I know for the fact that I don't need a reason to enjoy each bite of this wonderful hot steamed Idli!

Idli/ idly is one of those delicious nutritious snack/lunch item that I can eat in any season of the year. It tastes even better in chilled winter when you can enjoy them dipping in the spicy hot Sambar. In summer I usually prefer the idli with coconut chutney. It also tastes great with number of different kind of chutney's as well, but coconut is my personal favorite. (Scroll down to see other options for the chutneys)

The mixture of rice and Urad daal makes a perfect carbs-protein combo which I absolutely love. The fermented batter increases the vitamin B-12 content in the food. It's a great item to include in a vegetarian/ a vegan diet. Fermentation of Idli is caused by the air-borne wild yeast which is drawn by the urad daal and fenugreek seeds from air.  Being steamed, idli is easy to digest.

So let's get cooking..:)

Soaking time- 4-5 hours

Preparation time- 15 minutes.

Fermenting time- overnight/ 10- 12 hours depending on the temperature.

Cooking time- 15-20 minutes.

Makes 10-12 idlies depending on the size of your idli maker.

  • 2 cups of parboiled rice or any short to medium grain rice
  • 1 cup of skinned whole urad daal. 
  • About 2 tbsp of fenugreek seeds.
  • 4-5 tbsp of cooked rice/ soaked poha
  • Salt to taste.
  • Cooking oil spray for coating the idli moulds.
  • Start by washing and soaking rice and urad daal and fenugreek seeds separately in a room temperature water for about 4-5 hours.
  • If you have a wet grinder, which I am thinking about buying, you will get awesome results, but if you don't have one, you can certainly use a nice blender. Grind the rice and the daal seperately and then mix together well. While grinding the daal you can add the fenugreek seeds into it and then grind. Make sure you make a smooth paste. while grinding the rice add the cooked rice or soaked poha to it. This is what makes idli soft and  fluffy.
  • Mix both the the batters together and don't forget to use your hands to mix it well so that the heat from your body will help in starting the fermentation process.
  • Cover and keep the mixed batter aside to ferment overnight or at least 10-12 hours.
The above procedure is the general guideline to make the idlies. However there are some variations that you should know about.

  • Different types of rice results in to different end result. Please remember to use short to medium grain rice. I have used the parboiled rice and sona masuri as well, both work well.
  • You can also use black lentils with the skin on it instead of skinned whole urad daal. The only difference you will notice is ,you will see the black fragments of the lentils into the batter and the idlies won't have the white color.
Fermentation Guidelines-:

  • If you are happened to be in a hot climate, you can keep the batter in the corner of your kitchen in a glass or a stainless steel container. Cover it lightly with the lid, don't close it completely.
  • The fermented batter doubles in size, so make sure you keep the batter in a container which has enough space needed for the batter to rise.
  • If you live in a colder region, or making idlies in winter you have a few options to ferment your batter well-:
  1. Heat the oven to the lowest temperature. Turn it off and then keep the batter inside the oven for the whole night.
  2. Without turning the oven on, just turn on the light in the oven and keep the batter inside to ferment overnight.
  3. If you don't have the oven, just keep the batter in the warm place, near your cooking range or in a warm corner of your kitchen.
  • After the batter ferments, and whenever you are ready to make the idlies,  add the salt to taste and mix the batter. Do not overmix, as the trapped air bubbles will get released. We need these air bubbles as they help make the idlies soft and fluffy.
  • Spray the idli maker and keep ready. Add a spoonful of batter into the idli moulds and steam them for about 15 minutes on a medium to high flame.
  • When done allow them to cool down for a minute and then take them out of the moulds.
  • Enjoy the hot idlies with your favorite chutney.
I have tried my idlies with my Split Pea Soup in place of sambar and I loved it. It was a great change in taste to the traditional idli- sambar combination.

Some of my favorite chutneys-:

Coconut- Coriander chutney is at the top of the list when it comes to my personal favorites,which is pictured above. The recipe of which will be coming in my next few posts. When I make only chutney with idli and not the sambar, I sometimes like the dry chutney. Here are some of my favorite chutneys.
If you have your favorite chutneys that you enjoy with steaming hot idlies, I would love to try them out. If you try any of my favorites, I would love to hear about it too.

These idlies are headed to Priya's May 2013 edition of Healthy me & Healthy us event hosted by Jayanthi.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Coolest Drink for Summer!

Hello from hot and humid Chennai! It will be 2 months soon since we are in Chennai. We came here in the first week of April, it was just as humid and hot as it is today. Officially the start date of summer is May 15th. Although I don't agree. The summer for me started on April 2nd for me....the date I arrived.

If you are happened to be in one of such climates where you feel that you need some drink that really cools you down, this is the drink you should try. It has all the cooling ingredients. I just decided to put all the cool things together and the results had to be amazing. It has fresh coconut water, mint leaves, chia seeds, and cardamom and a squeeze of lemon.

I know it's not the best picture, but this is what I was able to capture sine I am some 8000 miles away from my SLR....:( I took this one with a random Nokia phone, the name of which I am not even curious to know.

Getting back to the drink.....

I think cardamom really takes it to another level. There are two types of cardamom used in Indian cooking. One is big black cardamom, which is usually used in heavy dishes like biryani, pulav , punjabi currys and the other is green cardamom which is used in light and sweet dishes like kheer, and drinks and such. It's a great digestive tonic, has awesome anti- inflammatory, anti- microbial, diuretic properties and helps in detoxification of body. It also has soothing effect on muscles, nervous system and gives mental clarity.

So here it goes-:

  • Fresh coconut water of 1 coconut.
  • Mint leaves just slightly teared apart with your hands.
  • Chia seeds- about 2 tbsp
  • Green Cardamom- about 2-3, peel and discard the outer shell and use only small black seeds which are inside. Crush them and add.
  • A squeeze of lemon. Lemon if you are drinking in the morning and lime if you are drinking in the evening. Lemon makes your body alkaline if you have it in the morning and acidic if you are having it in the evening. Always use lemon in the mornings and lime in the evenings.
Mix well keep it for about 15 minutes to let the flavors come together and then indulge...:) The chia seeds will swell, the mint leaves will release nice aroma and flavor, cardamom will do it's job and your body will bless you about 2 hours later. That's right, at this very moment as I am writing this blog entry, I could feel my body feeling cool from inside, and I am not feeling restless as I feel every evening due to the hot conditions here in Chennai.

The one thing you should always have on your list when you visit south indian cities like Chennai, is SPICES. Oh..boy I can't stress it more, they are local and fresh, the smell makes me feel like living here forever.( I hope my hubby is not reading this..:)) The freshness is something that will last on your tongue forever. It's unbelievable!!!

Another thing you should have on your list is a visit to Nalli Silks while in South India. Absolutely gorgeous collection that one shouldn't miss..:)

Oh.. and the drink will be shared on Zesty South Indian Kitchen's Favorite Recipes Event:Drinks.
Thanks Swathi for hosting the event and let me link it to it. I hope you will like my addition.

A friend of mine has shared this amazing song on FB that I want you all to listen to. It's been just an hour and I am already hooked on to it. Loving it. I guess it's perfect background for writing a blog post.
Here it goes...Enjoy!!