Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dhuli Urad ki Daal te Danthal de sabzi - Punjab da Khana

BM # 39
Day : 23
State : Punjab

The term Punjab comprises two words: "punj meaning five and ab meaning water, thus the land of five rivers.

After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjab province of British India was divided between India and Pakistan. The Indian Punjab was divided in 1966 with the formation of the new states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the current state of Punjab. 

Sikhism is the predominant faith in Punjab followed by more than 60% of the populace. The holiest of Sikh shrines, the Sri Harmandir Sahib (orGolden Temple), is in the city of Amritsar and we have visited this many times.The Kadah, which is a wheat flour based halwa is served as Prasad.

I have grown up amidst Punjabi friends and thoroughly enjoyed their cuisine.The philosophy of life for most of the Punjabi's is to eat, drink and make merry. They are real lively people who are extremely fond of eating good food and it is not only good food but also rich food. They love to dance and make merry at even the smallest occasion. The can liven up any function with their Bhangra. The functions have huge spreads and they use a lot of dairy products, butter and ghee. Most of the dishes are cooked in ghee and the taste actually enhances with it. Their curries and dishes are incomplete without the use of onion , garlic and ginger.

Since Punjab grows lot of wheat, people here are fond of stuffed parathas, though they love to eat bhaturas and kulchas too. The makki ki roti is a winter specialty combining it with sarso ka saag and gud (jaggery). When we talk of Punjabi Cuisine we immediately connect to their world famous Kaali daal, Sarso ka Saag , Raajma Chaawal. This is the only cuisine which is most popular world wide.Their tandoori chicken is a treat for non veg lovers.

Even though I belong to a Sindhi community, I have always preferred Punjabi Cuisine .Today I have cooked a simple  lunch cooked in a Punju house in winters.

I have the Dhuli Urad Dal..this is the white gram which is cooked with onion and tomato.Make sure you do not over cook this, else it becomes sticky and lumpy.
Next dish is Danthal ke Sabzi . These danthals are cauliflower stalks. They are stuffed with a dry spice mix and cooked on slow flame.
These are served with Aaloo Kulcha and a big dollop of butter...not to miss the Punjabi Lassi. Without the lassi the meal is incomplete.
For salad they normally like to have onions and fresh green chillies.

Urad ki Dhuli Daal
1 cup urad daal
2 onions, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
5-6 tomatoes, pureed
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste

Heat oil.
Add bay leaf , onios, ginger garlic paste and saute till pink.
Add the soaked, washed and drained daal.
Saute till absolutely dry.
Add tomato puree and all the spices.
Saute till the moistuure from the tomatoes is totally gone.
Add 1 cup water and pressure cook the daal for 2 whistles.

Danthal ki Sabzi
6-8 cauliflower stalks

Spice Mix
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
Clean the hard areas of the cauliflower stalks. Make slits- cross wise. Fill in the spice mix. 
In a pan heat 2 tsp oil.
 Add the stalks.
 Cover and cook on slow flame.
I always put 1/2 cup water on the lid while the veggie is cooking. 

Aaloo Kulcha
4 boiled potatoes
2 onions, green chilies finely chopped
1 pinch red chilly
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp pomegranate seeds
Coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Peel and mash the potatoes.
Mix all the ingredients under stuffing.

For the covering
2 cups wheat flour
1 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp curd
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Salt to taste

Mix both the flours.
Add curd, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the flour. 
Knead the flour with warm water to make a smooth dough.
Make 8-10 balls of the dough.
Take one ball of the dough and roll it to a flat disk, put the potato mix and bring the sides up and close the ball. 
Flatten it lightly, dust and roll the ball into a flat disk of 6-7 inches.
Bake or roast the kulcha and serve with a dollop of butter.

Needless to say that this kind of meal can ever fail..too good to resist!! For a Super Punjabi Thali check here. and dont miss to read about the  Punjab Dhabbas, which will make you drool.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brinj with Onion Raita - Pondicherry Special

BM # 39
Day : 22
State: Pondicherry

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India formed out of four enclaves of former French India. It is also known as "The French Riviera of the East.The union territory of Pondicherry in the country of India was a French settlement for a long time. The French way of life has left a deep impact on the lifestyle of the people in the union territory of Pondicherry. It is not very unlikely that French Food will also become an inseparable part of the all time hit cuisines in Pondicherry. 

The French and the Indo style have given birth to an innovative taste that is simply marvelous. The influence of the neighboring areas like Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala is also visible. The concoction of the various kinds of cuisines is something to be savored and relished. 

 Meat or fish is sauteed with dry spices and ghee is often used in the cooking. Tomatoes are sparingly used and coconut milk is the base for most dishes. Beef, Mutton and sea food are specially cooked during festivals. Eggplant, drumsticks and mangoes (when in season) are used for vegetarian dishes or mixed with meat and cooked together.  

Pondicherry is the only state where I got stuck, inspite of having links sent by Priya Suresh, somehow I was not able to decide. Finally after a chat with Valli I made Brinj. This was a non veg recipe, where they use lamb, but I substituted it with vegetables.Brinj is a simplified version of Pulao. This rice has Mughal influence and is normally cooked in Christian and Muslim homes.I served it with Onion raita. The recipe source is from the book “The Pondicherry Kitchen” by Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis. 

And now on to the recipe...
3 cups basmati rice
7 cups water
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables
3 big onions, sliced
10 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1' ginger, finely chopped
2 green cardamom
1 small piece cinnamon
10 peppercorns
2 tb sp ghee
Salt to taste

Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tb sp ghee, add the whole spices, ginger garlic and onions, saute till pink.
Add 2 cup water and boil till reduced to half., 
Strain and keep the water aside.
Heat the other tbsp ghee and add the vegetables, saute.
Add rice and saute till dry.
Add salt , red chilly powder and water and let the rice cook.
Alternately you could transfer this to a rice cooker.

Onion Raita
This is simply beaten curd with finely chopped onion .Do add some salt and red chilly and roasted cumin powder.I did not temper it, but you could temper it with mustard and curry leaves.

I must tell you that while the water was boiling a beautiful aroma filled the house and everyone ran to see what was cooking.How ever the final preparation did not satisfy me to that extent, The rice tasted really good, but I was looking for something beyond that.I will be making the same rice all over again, but will substitute vegetables with wadis, 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Badi Choora, Pakhala Bhat , Chuda Ghasa - Orissa Special

BM # 39
Day : 21
State : Orrisa

We start with the third week of this long marathon and today it Oriya Cuisine.

Cuisine of eastern state of Orissa is simple, just like the inhabitants of the state.The food pattern is largely the same as that seen in the neighboring states of Bihar and West Bengal.

Rice is the major food crop and the staple food of the people of Orissa.A large number of the people are vegetarians because of the religious nature.As this state is on the coast line, a large number of people also relish sea food.Oriya people are very fond of chewing paan or betel leaf. Most of these paans contain tobacco.

Oriya food is a colorful tapestry of spices and flavors. Paanch Poran or Paanch Putna is extensively used. Paanch Poran is a blend of five spices. The spices being mustard, cumin , fennel,kalonji and whole red chilly.The food is cooked in mustard oil with very little oil .Curd and coconut are extensively used.

A traditional Oriya meal consists of Dal, vegetable curry, leafy vegetable, khatta, chutney and pickle.A plate of salad with onions, cucumber, tomato and ginger is a must. During the festivals the variety  in the food increases.

Small cakes or Pithas, which are both sweet and savory are extremely popular. One of their most popular dessert is the Chenna poda, which is a caramelized cheese cake and extremely delicious. This is one of the dessert that we made for Indian Cooking Challenge.

Traditionally the Oriya food is served in bell metal. During the community feasts the food is served on banana leaves or plates made of sal leaves.

While talking of the odhisi cuisine the traditional Mahaprasad of Jagannath Temple cannot be missed. The temple kitchen feeds 10,000 people everyday.

For today I have cooked the ever so popular Pakhala Bhat combining it with spicy Badi Chura and Chuda Ghasa  which is a subtle sweet.

Pakhala Bhat is just like curd rice, but a liqiudy version, very cooling and refreshing.This will surely feature on regular basis in our menu. Badi Choora is the combination served with the Pakhala Bhat. Badi's are dry lenti dumplings.These are available in the market and can be made at home too, but of course one needs a few days to dry them. This is like a bhel version, very flavorful, spicy and tangy.Chuda Ghassa is a non cooked sweet normally made to offer Lord Ganesha. Since the badi choora is nice and spicy , this sweet was going very well with it. In fact the whole combination complimented each other.

Pakhala Bhat
1/2 cup rice
4 cups water
2 tb sp curd
Green chilly
Coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
Boil the rice in 4 cups of water..
Add salt.
Once done , cover and keep it overnight.
Do not drain the water from the rice.
Let the cooked rice be in that same water
The next day add curd, green chilly and chill it.
Serve with coriander leaves.

Badi Chura
Few badis
1 onion, finely chopped
Few green chillies, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves
Lemon juice
Heat oil and deep fry the badis.
Let cool and then pound them , or crush them coarsely in a mixer.
Add all the ingredients and mix well.
Adjust the spice and lemon according to your taste.
Badis are dried lentil dumplings, which are available in plenty of varieties

Chuda Ghasa
500 gms rice flakes or poha
1 big fresh coconut
250 gms jaggery
2 pinches cardamom
Coarsely grind the rice flakes.
Add powdered jaggery, coconut, cardamom.
Mix rubbing with hands till you get a uniform mixture.
The recipe demanded

Pinch camphor
Pinch black pepper
 I did not use these,since I know that my family would not like the combo.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pumpkin Oambal - Nagaland Special

BM # 39
Day : 20
State: Nagaland

On the 20th day we are cooking from Nagaland. The information of this state gave me extreme on....

The Naga cuisine is primarily non-vegetarian, although vegetables are included in the cooking. The food is extremely hot and spicy as the Nagas use Naga King Chilli in most of their dishes. This is the hottest chille pepper in the world.

The state comprises 16 main tribes whose occupation is primarily agriculture. Hunting is done traditionally as a pastime in this region. Each tribe of Nagaland has a distinct style of cooking.

Rice eaten with meat or vegetables is the everyday food of the Naga people. Dal is included along with the meat curries, but smoke dried pork curry with fermented soya beans and snails is a traditional Naga food. 

Plain rice, vegetables like potato, and meat are the main ingredients used in the Naga cuisine. As Naga people are hunters, the meat also includes that of other animals such as dogs, cat, rats, birds, snakes, spiders, monkeys, bear, and even elephant. It is shocking to know that these Nagas use solidified animal blood, to prepare curries.

Apart from meat, bamboo shoots, lettuce, soyabeans, mustard leaves, and yam leaves are also used in cooking. The Naga tribes ferment their food, especially meat, in order to preserve it. The food is fermented by first boiling it and then putting it out in the sun . The fermented food is parceled with a banana leaf and stored next to the fire until further use.

With all this information on Naga Cuisine it seemed absolutely difficult to find a vegetarian recipe from this state. This is the only vegetarian recipe, I could search.It seems authentic, but at the same time I could be wrong. I was glad that Archana , my fellow blogger  had shared this link with some other friends, that surely was a relief.

Anyway lets get on to the recipe which is from here.

500 gms pumpkin, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup tamarind water
1/2 cup jaggery
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp raisins
2 dry red chillies
1 cup water
1 tsp mustard oil
Salt to taste

Mix the pumpkins with tamarind water.
Fry the mustard seeds in hot oil till they start sizzling.
Add chillies, bay leaf and raisins and stir for few minutes.
Add the pumpkin tamarind mixture and cook for a couple of minutes.
Now add the jaggery mixture and boil at a low flame for a couple of minutes.
After removing from the fire add the lime juice and mix well.

This was a chutney which had a nice pleasing taste, the mild sweetness of pumpkin was enhanced by jaggery and raisins.Tamarind gave it a litle tangy flavor which we all loved. 

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cauliflower Stalk Bai - Mizoram Special

BM # 39
Day : 19
State : Mizoram

The food of Mizoram has a characteristic blend of Chinese and North Indian cuisine; thereby giving it a distinct flavour and taste. The dishes mostly include non-vegetarian preparations though vegetables are also eaten along with meat.

The local people love to eat fish, mostly cooked or sauteed in mustard oil, which has a distinct flavor. Mizo people like bamboo in their food and also enjoy preparing delicacies made with duck meat.

The North eastern states did give a tough time to all of us, Mizoram was equally challenging.I must have read a number of articles and finally landed on the vegetarian Bai recipe.

Bai. is basically a non-vegetarian dish that is cooked by steaming vegetables and teaming it up with pork, spinach , bamboo shoots and served with rice. I landed on this vegetarian Bai recipe , which included rice in it, thus making it a complete meal.

This to me was more like a soup, quite bland for my taste, but later I added some chilly and soy sauce for the kids and they quite liked it.

To make it even more delicious, you could add some vinegar, and some sauces that you like.

Cauliflower Stalk Bai
Stalks+leaves of one cauliflower, chopped (add a few florets if you’d like)
1 large potato, diced
1 handful sliced beans 
1 large chili, sliced 
1 tsp cooking soda
1 salt to taste
1 liter water
1 handful rice

Bring the water to boil in a pot.
 Add the salt and cooking soda.
 Once the frothing has reduced, add the cauliflower stalks and the potatoes.
 Add chili and beans.
Add rice.
 Stir. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
 Let the pot boil open, stirring it every few minutes.
 The dish is done when the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Pukhlein a Rice and Jaggery Sweet - Meghalaya Special

BM # 39
Day : 18
State : Meghalaya

Megh is rain in Hindi and Meghalaya has been rightly named after this word, as it means abode of clouds.This is the wettest place on earth and a perfect holiday destination.So on the 18th day we shall cook from Meghalaya.

Meghalaya is one of the of the seven sisters and home of three Mongoloid tribes, Its cuisine is different than the other north eastern states.The staple food of the people is rice with spicy meat and fish preparations.

This state has three main tribes Khasi, Garos and Jayantias, and the foods they prepare are similar to rest of the North East region. Fish cooked is bamboo hollow, fish baked banana leaves are a favourite among the people too. Spices and fat are again used sparsely, ginger, garlic, onions and green chillies is all that is needed to cook up the dishes from here.

Amongst the three tribes there is slight variation in the style of cooking. Garos use lots of soda in their cooking. Khasis prefer fermented fish dishes and also pork dishes.

Apart from this Khwai is a Meghalaya speciality . A day for a resident of Meghalaya starts with a mouthful of khwai, which is betel nut with lime. Initially I had a good mind to do a post on betel nut, as I just could not find any vegetarian recipe. Fortunately when I was in Delhi the staff boy who is from North East helped me to do this recipe .

1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup jaggery
Oil for deep drying
Dissolve the jaggery in water, strain this water.
Cook this to a thick syrup.
Let cool.
Add the rice flour and make a thick batter.
Make balls and pat them flat.
Deep fry to a golden.

The basic was like malpuas, but with a vast difference in taste.Much later while browsing I realized that Puklein is also made in South, of course by a different name. Adhirasam. I have never made them, but while reading the recipes, I found them to be similar. I read about Puklein here, but on search one can't find a recipe for the same.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chak - Hao Kheer - Manipur Special

BM # 39
State: Manipur

Manipur is one of the seven states of north eastern India. We shall cook from this state on the 17th day .This is one of the most beautiful states and is known as Switzerland of India.

Mani means a jewel and Manipur is a land of jewels. It's rich culture excels in every aspect as in dance, theatre, sculpture. I have always loved the costume that they wear for their traditional dance , the reason being my possession of my favorite doll as a kid . I was gifted a manipuri dancer doll by my uncle. The traditional outfit changed every year when i would celebrate the dolls birthday.Mom would make a beautiful dress for her and we had a small party where my friends got gifts like chocolates, small shoes , jewellery for the doll. I remember carrying her along with me after getting married, but in time it naturally had to be discarded. It sure is a nostalgic feeling.

Coming to today's dish. The search for Manipur led me to a few vegetarian dishes, and I tried one of their salads. Somehow no one liked it, as it lacked flavors. The salad had to be finished with powdered dried fish! I spoke to my parlour girls who are Manipuri, but I had no luck with vegetarian dishes. My search ended when I visited the Satvik Fair held in Ahmedabad. We had a stall of Manipuri students.They gave me the option of two three dishes,one being Ooti,which was on my list.Rest of the dishes required ingredients which are impossible to get here.They have a variety of mushrooms that they eat. These guys had sampled a few dishes, and even sold them. I tasted the dishes but felt we need to acquire taste. The Chak - Hao kheer was something I really liked, the purple color looked unique and the taste was as good as our kheer. I requested these students to give me some raw rice, unfortunately they could give me just about 1/4 cup.Coming to black rice! what is black rice?

Black rice is an excellent source of fibre, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Its colour changes to dramatic purple when cooked, so it is also known as “Purple Rice”. The purple color is due to the anthocyanins present in the rice which act as antioxidants. In China and some South-East Asian countries, it is commonly known as “Forbidden Rice”, as it was reserved exclusively for royalty in ancient China.

Coming to the recipe....
1/4 cup Black rice
125 ml milk ( full fat)
1/4 tsp Cardamon powder
Sugar to taste
Rinse the rice and soak for about 5-6 hours.
Drain the rice and transfer to a pot .
Add milk.
Cook on very slow fire making sure to stir it once in a while.
Cook till the rice is done, you could add more milk, if the rice absorbs this milk.
Adjust the milk according to the consistency of the kheer that you require.
Add sugar , raisins and cardamon powder.
Serve hot or cold.

The rice has a sweet nutty flavor and you actually do not need any nuts, though I added some raisins.
Chak-Hao kheer is served during all festivals and celebrations.
Here are some of the pics that I captured at the Manipuri stall at the Satvik Fair.

Jelly Ear ..this is a variety of mushroom, shaped like an ear!!

a dish made from jelly ear!!

The Chak-hao kheer and Black rice

Paknam is a dish made with another variety of mushrooms , where turmeric leaves are used

Thats the big red hot chilly that is a speciality of East ern India.

Manipuri students who put their stall.

All the dishes made by the Manipuri students had ingredients which are not easily available, they had called for these ingredients from Manipur.I have pics of two recipes and you can see that we have not even heard of these ingredients!

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