June 30, 2020

Warm Barley Summer Salad with Kiwi and Roasted Peppers | Summer Salads

Salad and summers go hand in hand. Although technically , as I write this post its raining heavily since 2 days where I live. But its summer the rest of the Northern Hemisphere and barbecue and roasted veggies and salads make their appearance. 

Salads at home are mostly rustled and liked by the better half and I Personally love warm salads like today’s Barley Summer Salad with Roasted Veggies. The inspiration to use barley as a diabetic friendly ingredient actually came from my friend Archana’s Barley BhelpuriApart from the usual Barley Water , Barley Sattu Sherbet (Summer Drink). Navdhanya (9 - grains) Adai, the Barley-Beet Cutlet on my Instagram feed and Barley Dosa (recipe coming soon!), we pretty much dont use Barley that much - something I am glad that has changed now. 

But thanks to a pack that needed using up, I made this salad and another dish that features barley as a star ingredient. Barley as a grain has amazing health benefits as listed here, chief amongst them being diabetic friendly. Barley packs lignans, a group of antioxidants linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. Barley’s high fibre content may also help prevent gallstones

If you have cooked pearl barley on hand, this salad takes less than 5-10 mins from start to finish.   

TIP: Reserve that cooked water to make a porridge. Or just drink it up as is in small quantities to beat the heat), As this was my main meal, I have used a larger quantity and medium spice. One can always add or subtract ingredients as preferred. 

Sending this salad to #Ssshh Cooking Challenge - Salads theme suggested by yours truly. I was paired with Priya Satheesh who gave me ingredients - Barley and Lemon juice- to make this salad. Priya's Kozhukattai recipe using Black Eyed peas (karamani) and Pineapple-Walnut Chutney interested me very much. Head to her blog to read this interesting sald with apple and chickpeas

Every month, based on a common theme we have bloggers paired up who suggest ingredients and we cook based on that.  


Prep time - 10 mins, Soak + Cook time - overnight + 15 mins. Serves - 1~2

You need:
Cooked Pearl Barley - 1/2 cup (120 ml)
Vinaigrette - lemon juice 1 tsp, Salt.pepper, Red chilli flakes, Olive Oil 1 tsp - whisked well
Bell peppers - 1/4 cup
Onions - 1/2  medium (sliced thin)
Cucumbers - 2 TBSP
Kiwi (orchard fruits like pear / Apples work well) - 4 TBSP

I put together a short stop-motion video below with help from my daughter to assemble this quick and delicious salad. Hope you would also like this!

How to:
In a non stick pan or on an open flame, roast peppers till slightly charred.  (or toss them with warm olive oil for 1-2 mins). Cool and chop into bite sized pieces.
In a bowl, add the vinaigrette and the veggies. Mix well. 
Add the tossed peppers . kiwi and barley and stir once again
Check for salt and pepper / spice. Serve immediately along side any grilled meats or serve as a meal by itself on a hot summer day!

June 29, 2020

Lentils + Scallions Soup with Homemade Veg Stock | Gluten Free,Vegan,Soy Free,Nut Free

Soups are my to-go snacks for most school-day evenings. And the monsoons make them even more special to indulge in a variety of soups. Although the schools are running on the online mode, the craving to sip on a hot broth in windy days like these is always present. If you are a reader of this blog, you know we love our soups.  Do check out more than 25+ varieties of vegetarian soups on this blog.

And with my homemade vegetable stock (made with leftovers / peels / discarded parts of veggies etc), its a sure winner as I have a bottle of home-made , low sodium and very versatile stock always in the refrigerator. So a soup barely takes 15 mins if you have the stock ready.

Alternatively, you can use plain (filtered) water too to make any soup, but stock (and homemade at that - you save precious money too!) gives that extra body and oomph that plain water may not give. My little one loves the Lemon Coriander a lot, and my personal favourites these days are Apple Soup and Badam Palak Shorva (Almond Spinach broth)

Today’s soup came about as I was looking for Healthy Kid Friendly snacks for kids, as Narmadha suggested for this week’s theme for FMBH. We always boil lentils (Pigeon pea (Toor dal) or Split green gram (moong dal)) for Rasam / Sambhar as part of everyday meals. I especially loved Narmadha's Hot and Sour Veg Soup.

So, to make this, I cooked a little extra, and that adds a lot of flavour to this soup. I have added spring onion and a few more veggies. But you can always customise the veggies in a soup. 

This is totally GF and vegan, but feel free to toss the veggies in a little butter / ghee if you prefer.     

Prep time - 15 mins. Cook time - 10 mins Serves - 2~3 kids

What you need:
Homemade Vegetable Stock - 2 cups (1 cup = 240 ml)
Cooked lentils (I used Moong dal / split green gram) - 4 TBSP ( YOU MAY ALSO use raw lentils - soaked for 10 mins) 
Water - 200 ml
Turmeric - 1/8 tsp
Salt - to taste (if your stock is salted, adjust accordingly)
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Spring onions  / Scallions (greens) - chopped - 4 tsp
Spring Onions (whites) - chopped - 2 TBSP
Garlic - 1/2 tsp (minced fine) - optional
Olive Oil - 1 tsp
Finely minced veggies - I used a mix of cabbage,beans,cauliflower - mixed - 3 TBSP  


How to:
  1. In a small pressure cooker / soup pot, add oil. Sautés the spring onion whites and garlic. Then add the turmeric, veggies and sauté them for further 2 mins. Now add the vegetable stock, water, salt and pepper. At this stage add the cooked lentils (mashed well) and half of the Spring Onions.
  2. Pressure cook for 3-4 Whistles. 
  3. Once pressure is released, check for salt and spices and adjust accordingly. serve with a garnish of the rest of the spring onions and mix well. 
  4. Serve hot. 

June 1, 2020

Balekai Bajji | How to make Vazhakkai Bajji | GF, Vegan Raw Banana deep fried Fritters

Monsoon - the very word conjures up memories of crispy hot pakora (deep fried lentil fritters) and many other monsoon treats, of hot soups, of chai (the Indian style milky tea), of lazing around in my grandmom’s armchair and gazing at the raindrops sliding down the window pane, of broken, lost and missing colourful umbrellas at school or college ☔️ and many more. 

And, brace yourself for a longgggggg post :) 

Food as en emotion ties us to different seasons in myriad ways. While to some, monsoon is a terrible inconvenience (think of the daily essentials / home delivery guys - the newspaper boy precariously balancing the paper on his Rickety bicycle while at trying to manoeuvre his way around seen and unseen potholes in the pouring rain, yet keeping the newspapers dry every morning while it reaches your doorstep without as much as a smudge or a drop of water. 

Or the Mumbai local train commuter who jostles for space , even a teeny weeny foothold on a crowded train in the monsoon all the while trying to catch the umbrella in the left hand while hanging on to life dear (and, a laptop) in the other only to be drenched in more water once he/ she enters the train with more dripping umbrellas all around him / her.

or the child like my younger one who’s been planning her first ever “head to toe monsoon drench session” ever since the summers (and the lockdown) set in a few months ago. Waiting and wishing for the skies to darken a bit ( and asking me everyday at twilight and dawn) - “ will it rain today, amma?” . Pure innocence and a hope.

And hope it is for the romantics who cuddle up on Marine Drive at Chowpatty (mumbai) in pouring rain, oblivious to people or the rain lashing around.

Monsoon brings to me some bittersweet memories - all conjured over the years. For the child in me growing up at Bangalore, it meant rains almost thru the year except for the summer vacation and Rains only meant one thing - you wear a rain coat and carry a handful of paper boats and let them sail on the tiny / large rivulets of water on the road outside your house. There was some satisfaction in seeing the boat - rickety as it was - sailing through to the end of the lane. When the rains stopped for rhe day, me and my friends would run to the end of the road to see whose boat had made it and whose was in tatters. 

And the next rainy day, rise, reset, repeat . 

Hope I tell ya !! 

And some stories that Archana set us thinking about this week at #249Monsoonmunchies. 

Hope is also that you aren’t bored with the post so far. If you have reached reading till here , then let’s make some bhajias with raw bananas - rhe perfect antidote to rain -washed evenings.

Other Monsoon munchies on the blog that we love, include:

Lemon Coriander Soup (our all time fav!!!)
Pasta Pakora (leftover cooked pasta, and voila, we have a delicious snack)
Paneer Chilly Bites (quick to make when the temptation kicks in)
Chilly Cheese Sandwiches (needs no introduction :p)
Keerai Vada (Greens added to Urad Dal Vada batter and deep fried)
Chawal ke Pakore (leftover cooked rice turned into a tasty yummy snack)


Vazhakkai (as Raw bananas are called in Tamil) is a healthy source of dietary fibre and we use it regularly in our cooking - to make avial , podimas, curry , kerala style erisseri etc . Today we use firm, green fresh raw banana to make bajji (tamil word for bhajia / deep fried fritter). 

Prep time - 15 Mins | fry time - 15 Mins | makes - 15 servings 

What you need:
Raw banana / vazhakkai / bale kai (kannada) - 4 medium sized 
Oil to deep fry : 1-2 cups 

For the batter :
Besan / gramflour / kadalai maavu / kadle hittu - 1 cup (200 ml)
Rice flour - 1/4 cup or heaped 2 tablespoons 
Salt - 1 tsp or to taste 
Haldi / tumeric - 1/4 tsp
Crushed ajwain / carrom seeds - 1/4 tsp 
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp or to taste
Chopped coriander leaves -1 tsp (optional) 

Peel the raw banana and slit them lengthwise in flat strips and reserve them in mildly salted water 

To make the batter - 

sieve both the flours, add salt, spices. Mix well. To this, add 4 tbsp of hot oil , mix with the spoon till the hot oil is incorporated in the dry flour mix.
Slowly add water - little by little- to take the batter to a thickish consistency. Rest it for 5 mins.

To fry:
Keep a deep bottomed pan / kadai with oil for heating.  Let the heat be on medium-high. 
Slowly dip a few pieces of the soaked ( and drained) pieces of the raw banana strips into the batter
Shake off excess batter and gently slide into the hot oil. 
Fry till golden brown on both sides.
Serve immediately with coconut chutney or just as is / with tomato sauce / green chutney.
Wash them all down with a generous cup of Indian masala chai . 
And make more memories with the monsoon once again :)

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