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March 29, 2020

14 Varieties of Idli to try on World Idli Day !!

World Idli Day 2020 is celebrated on 30th March (tomorrow). Yes, we need to celebrate our Humble Idli thus :) 

Apparentlyorigin of this day can be traced to a man named Eniyavan who is a passionate idli enthusiast. He decided to dedicate a day for idli. Such day soon became a food trend in the world

Some food historians also believe that Idli originated from Indonesia while some experts say that the term idli came from the word “iddalige” which is a food made from urad dal batter. This was mentioned in a Kannada work back in 920 AD. In addition, the Sanskrit Manasollasa from the 1130 AD mentions the term “Iddarika” which is a dish made from urad dal. During the 17th century, the Tamil people first mentioned the food as “Itali”. These references all point out to the same thing: since the start, idli has been made from urad dal, rice grits, and a long fermentation and steaming process to create the fluffy and tasty idli.

Steamed, soft, mostly GF and almost always vegan, this is a perfect blend of protein, carbs and is easy to digest as well. 

Everyone in the family would love these Idlis. Both Instant and fermented Idli varieties are listed below.In case you make extra Idlis, no worries. Listed below are also 3 scrumptious snacks which can be whipped up in a jiffy with leftover Idlis.. 

Do try and let me know which of the following 14 varieties you and your family loved !

In the above picture, From extreme left, going row-wise we have:

Snacks with leftover Idlis

March 16, 2020

Mullangi Soppu Thovve | Vegan and GF Radish and Moringa leaves Dal | No onion-garlic recipe

In Kannada, Mullangi means radish, soppu means greens. Thovve in a literal sense in Kannada means dal (lentils). It also has another meaning as a dal-based dish, eaten with rice and / Chapatis in a Karnataka household.  It oozes comfort food quality and is made regularly in households. Thovve is generally thickish and has veggies and dal in almost equal proportion. 

We make thovve more in summers - its light, filling yet nutritious with a variety of gourds, mangalore cucumber, or greens. If you add a bit of ground masala and tamarind along with other spices ,it becomes Huli Thovve (huLi - tart/tangy) which is served at weddings and special occasions. HuLi Thovve however is made with very few select vegetables and no greens are added.

We use greens in a variety of dishes from Thepla, Sambhar, Podi (spice powders) Poriyal (dry saute), Dal etc. Aruna gave us #GoGreen - as the theme this week where we could make any dish with green leaves. Rich in mineral content and iron, leafy vegetables helps prevent iron deficiency. Inclusion of these greens in our everyday diet, especially for children helps build strong health. 

Today's dish is an ultra simple vegan, no onion no garlic dish made with radish leaves and fresh moringa that's flooded the markets. This dal / thovve with some cooked quinoa and a bowl of aloo-capsicum sabji made our light summer lunch recently.

Let's see how to make it in under 30 mins. 

Low cal, low carb Mullangi Soppu Thovve
Cuisine: Indian, Course: Side dish, Spice level - low
Serves: 2~3


You need:
Radish leaves - 1 large bunch - wash well and chop fine
Oil - 1 tsp
Moringa leaves - 1/4 cup (opt.) - wash well and chop
Moong dal - 1/4 cup (soaked for 30 mins in 1 cup water)
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Tempering : Mustard seeds 1 tsp, broken red chillies - 2
Garnish - fresh / frozen grated coconut 2 tsp

How to:
In a kadai / pan, heat the oil. Splutter the tempering, once done, add the chopped radish and moringa leaves and saute for 2-3 mins on low flame. Now add the soaked moong dal along with soaked water, add salt and turmeric and 1/4 cup more water.
Cover and cook for 15 mins till dal is cooked and mushy. check for salt and spice. Add the grated coconut and serve hot. 
You may add a dash of lemon juice to this, but we like all the thovve as is. 

March 15, 2020

Indian Style Mustard and Raw Mango Pickle | Summer Pickles | East Indian Pickles

Summer and Pickles go hand in hand. Especially the instant variety, which is much sought after at home. Although mom makes her batch of the signature Lemon-Bittergourd pickle (which my elder one loves a lot), I prefer the quick and instant varieties. The hubby, by the way, is an excellent pickle maker too - who usually indulges in making exotic (and unusual) pickles, each lasting for a week or so ! 
I had already posted a quick mango pickle here (which is usually served at south Indian wedding luncheons), but here’s a version with mustard and fenugreek powder, and had a longer shelf life as it has a little more oil and spices going in.

This tastes best when it stands for at least 1-2 hours. It needs no tempering and goes best with Curd rice / Parathas / Indian or Middle Eastern Flatbreads  

Did you know the origin of Pickles ? This very interesting article says that:

"Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pĆ³kel, meaning “salt” or “brine,” two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during the cold winter months.”

M is for Mustard and M is for Mango, and M is for March :) both ingredients are chosen for our monthly Alphabet Challenge where we cook any dish of our choice with the ingredients beginning with the english name of the alphabet. 

So, let’s get pickling :)  I have made an ultra short video here of the process as I had very little time. Knowing that the raw mango season has just started, I shall be making this pickle again with a detailed video sometime soon !

If you are a pickle-loving family like us, check out other delicious pickles here on the blog:

Prep time - 10 mins, Cook time - 10 mins,  Makes - 100 grams of the pickle

You need:
Raw Sour Mango - 2 nos (Medium) - wash, wipe well and chop into small chunks
Salt - 2 tsp
Spice powder - fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp, Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 TBSP
Asafoetida / Hing (skip for GF) - 1/2 tsp
Sesame Oil - 1/4 cup
Lemon juice - 6 TBSP (or large of 3 large lemons)


How to:
In a large dry bowl, add the cut mango. Air it out for 5-10 mins to let any residual moisture out. 
Heat a thick iron kadai, add the mustard seeds. let it splutter well , transfer to a plate, add fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and let that aroma waft out (3-4 seconds), transfer to the mustard plate. Let it cool, powder fine.
In the same dry pan, fry the salt (too!!) , red chilli powder and turmeric separately. This is to ensure there is no moisture from the dry spices too (I follow this method for ALL my pickles to increase the shelf life). Add these 3 to the chopped mango pieces.
In the hot kadai, heat the sesame oil and let it smoke for 10 seconds. Switch off heat and let it remain in the hot pan.
Now mix the raw mango, spices, salt and the spice powder well. Add the spice powder in batches, adding only enough to coat. Else the fenugreek-mustard pungency can overtake the tart mango taste.
Now cool the oil well and add to the pickle. Add lemon juice in the end.
Mix well. Let it sit for 1-2 hours before serving.
Use a dry spoon whenever you access the pickle and store in an airtight glass jar and refrigerate it for further use.

March 12, 2020

Rajma Chawal | Indian Style Bean Curry with Rice | Easy Gluten Free Vegan Indian Dishes

Beans and Rice - How many zillion combos can you make with that ? That’s exactly the possibitiles that the bloggers at ICC (No ,not the Cricket Body!!), but Improv Cooking Challenge poses every month, where a set of ingredients are given, and multiple dishes (varying across cuisine and courses) are dished out. 

Despite signing up a few months ago, I couldn’t participate. But Rajma-Chawal (Kidney Beans curry + Rice  : an Indian favourite) fit the bill appropriately and here’s my version of making the ever-popular dish from India. Rajma a.k.a Kidney beans features regularly in my house in other dishes, so this dish got made exclusively for this event :)

The spice levels in the dish are medium, and as it's a very forgiving recipe , it can be made in bulk, stores well and also feeds a crowd. 

So, let’s get cooking! 

Considering that this bean is not so popular at my family, I have found the following ways to feed the uber-protein-rich bean to the family :

In Indian households, there are a zillion ways to make today’s dish. This is a method I learnt from a neighbour and considering I make it rarely, it works for me. Some purists would add Kaali Urad dal (black Split gram) also to Rajma, but I make it only with the beans.

Soak time - 10 hours, Cook time - 15 + 15 mins ; serves - 2 to 3 

What you need:
Rajma ( I used the Kashmiri / small variety) - 2/3 cup (1 cup=200 ml)
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Whole spices - Bay leaf - 1 , whole cardamom - 1 , cinnamon - 1 inch
Garnish - lemon juice 1 tsp + chopped cilantro 1 tsp

Masala / spice paste:
Onions - 2 large
Tomato - 1 large
Red chilli - 2 medium
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp

Dry spices :
garam masala - 1 tsp
Red Chilli powder  - 1 tsp
Amchur / Dry mango powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Jeera / cumin powder - 1 tsp

How to:
Wash and soak the beans for 8 hours or overnight. After that, drain all the water, add fresh water and cook till tender (and slightly mushy). Drain and retain the water in which you cooked the bean. 
In a pan, heat oil. Add the whole spices, saute for 1 min. 
Then, saute the onion-tomato paste till oil leaves the sides - about 2-3 mins on medium heat. 
Now add the turmeric, dry spices, salt and the cooked beans along with some of the cooked water.
Mix well and let it simmer on low flame for 8-10 mins till the dish turns creamy
Garnish with chopped cilantro and lemon juice and serve hot with steamed Rice / any flatbread

March Improv Cooking Challenge - Let's see what the others have dished for this theme of Beans and Rice 

March 9, 2020

Soya Seekh Kebab - How to make Vegetarian Seekh Kebab | Video Recipe

While running through the list of options to make this Holi, I narrowed it to Thandai and a seekh kebab. With the elder girl still writing her boards, and the Corona Virus striking hard on all events and hospitality - tourism sector , any celebrations even in our own residential complex was ruled out. 

Holi is festival that marks the arrival of spring/ summer (although where I live, there’s not too much distinction). Holi is also of eats that are cooling in nature, light, airy and perfect for the weather, some of them like Gujiya and Malpua also relished deep fried as part of the celebrations. 

Holi parties (when held with fervour) are an excuse to eat , drink and celebrate. Although we have a muted Holi this gear, you can make this Kebab even for Iftar / Diwali parties or pretty much any potluck / house parties you host through the year. 

While reading a bit about seekh kebabs, I came across this wonderful article which talks about how Seekh kebabs in particular came to be about:

“The story goes like this. Seekh Kebab, originally known as Shish Kebab was introduced to us by the Turks. *Bubble burst*! In Turkish, Shish actually means a “sword” or skewer and Kebab means “to roast”.Legend has it that Shish Kebab was first originated on the open field as the Turkish soldiers would take shelter in the forests during night time and hunt for any wild meat that they could find. They would then skewer it on their sword and roast it.This method was used by Turkish tribes during the war as they pushed west from their homeland in Central Asia while they first invaded Anatolia.Also, in the Arab world, the same preparation is called Shish Kabab or Lahm Mishwy (grilled meat). The true Shish Kebabs are pieces of marinated lamb affixed to flat or four-sided bladed metal skewers. These are grilled over a fire suspended by a skewer holder, without the meat ever touching the grilling grate.”

 The ingredients are given here, pls do check out the video embedded below for the method: 


It does take a bit of prep work, but like all kebabs , the result is DELICIOUS ! As a family, we love kebabs, so if you do too, check out the various (vegetarian) kebab option on this blog.

Soya Seekh Kebab-  Gluten Free, Vegan
Spice level - medium high
Course : Appetiser / Snack / starter

Prep work - 40 mins, cook time - 10 Mins, makes - 12 .

What you need:
Medium Soya chunks - 150 grams
Hot water - 3 cups
Oil - 2 tsp + 4-5 tsp required to shallow fry 
Boiled potatoes - 3 large 
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Chopped mint and coriander - 2 tbsp each 
Green chillies - 2 to 2 
Lemon juice - 1.5 tsp 
chat masala - to garnish 

Dry spice powders :
Roasted Jeera powder (bhuna jeera) - 2 tsp 
Garam masala - 1 Tbsp
Amchur (dry mango powder) -1 tbsp
Clove - cardamom powder (made with 3-4 cloves + 2 cardamoms) : pounded well
Turmeric - 1 tsp 
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp 
Salt - to taste 

This recipe is part of the #HolionMyPlate theme that we have dished for #FoodieMondayBlogHop

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