Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

It’s Chakalaka, Baby!

Chakalaka ~ South African Vegetarian Dish
Chakalaka

African food, at least here in the west, is usually restricted to East African staples like the delicious Ethiopian dosa, the Injera or entrees such as the equally delectable Moroccan chickpea stew (normally served over couscous) common to North Africa.

But what of the quintessentially South African Chakalaka?

As one examines the recipe, it’s not hard to imagine South African cooks venturing out into their vegetable garden one hot day, picking onions, red peppers, tomatoes and any other readily available seasonal produce. As the vegetables cooked, they probably craved some of the flavors they remember smelling as they walked down a street with Indian houses. Inspired, they might have thrown in a liberal dose of curry powder into the simmering vegetables in the pot. Since many variations also include tinned baked beans, hungry laborers might have adapted it as a quick and satisfying one-pot meal at the end of a hard day of slogging it in the gold mines.

With my well-equipped Indian kitchen, Chakalaka was a breeze to whip up. Indeed, the Indian influences are not surprising. Indians have been in South Africa longer than Caucasians have been in Canada! So at least for 7-8 generations. In fact, our beloved Mahatma Gandhi cut his revolutionary teeth in South Africa.

But back to Chakalaka (don’t you just love the sound of the name?)

While the jury is still out on whether Chakalaka is a chunky ketchup or a sauce or a cooked salsa (could be either); on whether it should be served as a side dish or a condiment (served as both) and if it should be eaten hot or cold (served either way), this spicy and always vegetarian concoction has now come to be identified as the definitive taste of South Africa. There’s even a restaurant in London named for this dish. Featuring a standard base of onions, tomatoes and peppers; this versatile dish is open to endless experimentation.

Other bloggers tell us that traditionally, Chakalaka is often served as a sauce with a maize porridge (Mielie Pap) that is eaten predominantly by the local black population. It’s also served with bread or the ragi-like Samp, made of maize. It can also be spotted as an accompaniment at South African barbecues called Braais (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”)

In the spirit of making a mean Chakalaka that is true to its African roots as well as its spirit of assimilation and innovation, my version is based on a number of recipes found online as well as one that was featured in the Toronto star.


Red, Orange and Yellow ~ Peppers in Autumn Colors

Recipe:
(Makes enough for approx 30 tablespoon servings)

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced
4 fresh green chillies, slit
1 big red onion, finely chopped
A pound (4 to 6) juicy tomatoes, finely chopped
3 bell peppers, chopped into 1cm X 1cm pieces
2 carrots and 2 potatoes chopped into 1cm X 1cm pieces
Curry powder - 1 heaped tablespoon.
Red beans - one cup, pre-soaked and pressure-cooked to tender
Salt - one teaspoon, or to taste
Fresh coriander for garnish

In a saucepan, heat up the oil and saute ginger, garlic, chillies and onions to soft. Add the salt and curry powder. Add the tomatoes and cook till mushy and of sauce consistency. Add peppers, carrots and potatoes. Cook till they are of a desired softness. Add the red beans and cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add coriander. Check seasoning levels and serve with rice or breads of your choice.

A small confession. After adding the beans, I tasted it and found the heat was a bit too much. So I caved and added a teaspoon of jaggery at the end. Unsuspecting victims, tasters of the dish said it took them to whole new levels of delayed heat which overwhelmed the palate after the initial deceptive sweetness. But they all agreed they couldn’t get enough of it!

Chakalaka with Chapatis and Pomegranate
Chakalaka with Chapatis and Pomegranate ~ Meal Today

~ Article Contributed by Janani Srinivasan
Photos by Indira Singari.

Kitchen Notes:
Other vegetables can also be added to Chakalaka - cauliflower, zucchini, string beans etc
For curry powder - if you have access to it, I recommend the fiery Sri Lankan Niru brand powder so ubiquitous in Toronto. If not, any other store-bought or homemade will do. The South African recipes recommend a local brand called “leaf masala”.
To be true to the grassroots appeal of this dish, you could use a can of baked beans from the local supermarket. Vegetarians check labels to ensure it’s free of lard or any other animal ingredients. If you can soak your own from scratch, that’s even better.
More on Chakalaka : Chakalaka 101, and Culinary Musings from Cape Town

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper, Red Beans (Chori), Peppers, Janani Srinivasan (Thursday October 11, 2007 at 6:30 pm- permalink)
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Chinese Spinach Curry (Thotakura)

Thotakura Palakura Tomato Kura:

The summer season for vegetables is coming into full swing here in Seattle. It’s overwhelming to see so many American as well as Asian vegetable varieties and it is getting impossible not to lose mind and money. The choice is endless and I love to be greedy. But, how many and how much one can buy, cook and eat? So, I am trying very hard to keep my cool at farmers’ markets and pick only the ingredients I’ve known from my childhood days that speak to my heart.

One fresh vegetable that I am enjoying to the fullest along with green brinjals is fresh amaranth. (Thotakura in Telugu). The label at the local farmers’ market says Chinese spinach or red spinach and one bunch is usually priced at one dollar. I have been buying this vegetable almost every week since May simply because I love the fresh amaranth taste. It is one of those “looks simple and yet yields results far outweighing the effort” kind of vegetable. In today’s recipe, another Nandyala classic, the fresh amaranth is paired with spinach and tomatoes. A stellar combination and a scrumptious curry!

Chinese Spinach, Red Spinach, Fresh Amaranth, Thotakura
Bunch of Fresh Chinese Spinach/Red Spinach/Amaranth/Thotakura ~ From Local Farmers Market

Recipe:

1 teaspoon peanut oil
¼ teaspoon each -cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves
1 big onion - finely sliced, about one cup
2 tomatoes - finely chopped, about one cup
5 green chillies -finely chopped
1 teaspoon - ginger garlic paste
½ tsp each- turmeric and salt
1 bunch fresh amaranth (leaves and tender stems) - finely chopped, about 5 cups
1 bunch fresh spinach - finely chopped, about 5 cups
I have also added about ½ cup chori/adzuki beans (pre soaked in water overnight). This is my choice and optional. Chickpeas, kala chana etc also taste good.

Heat peanut oil in a wide skillet. Add cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves and let them sizzle a moment before adding the sliced onion, tomato, green chillies and red beans. Also stir in the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and salt.

Let everything stew together for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the whole thing comes together into cooked soft mass with tender chori (adzuki) beans.

Now add the fresh amaranth and spinach. Stir to mix and cook covered on medium-high for about five minutes until the leaves wilt. Remove the lid and cook another five minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for few minutes so that the flavors could mix well.

Serve the curry warm with chapatis or sorghum roti and a cup of yogurt plus fresh fruit for a complete meal.


Chapatis with Fresh Amaranth-Spinach-Tomato Curry

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Red Beans (Chori), Thotakura (Amaranth) (Monday July 2, 2007 at 9:12 pm- permalink)
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Sautéed Sprouts ~ Moong, Moth & Red Chori


Tiranga Sprouts: Moong, Moth and Red Chori Bean Sprouts

Sprouts for breakfast is still a solution for early morning hunger in Bharat’s many “long-life” rural villages, where they are considered essential to good health and longevity. One of the few people in the world to start off the day with sprouts, Bharatiya - the old world kind, point to the fact that sprouts are quick and easy to prepare. For our grandparents, the hearty ruchi of filling sprouts was as appetizing as that of bagel and bread for many of our generation. Even today, my grandparents and in-laws start the day with sprouts. Their explanation is that sprouts offer abundant nourishment, stamina and energy that last all morning. It is also well known fact that sprouts aid to digestion and assimilation.

Among all legume and lentil sprouts, the moong beans make the popular choice. Mellow and subtly sweet, freshly sprouted moong beans are easy to like and easy to digest. Equally good are moth (Matki) and red chori bean sprouts. Together, in three vibrant colors, the Tiranga sprouts make a very satisfying snack or meal.

Vijay and I, we both are big fans of Tiranga sprouts. Vijay goes for raw; I on the other hand prefer when they are lightly sautéed and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The oil-less sautéing imparts a heartwarming sweet aroma and makes them an irresistible kind of snack for me.


Sautéing the Sprouts in an Iron Skillet

Method:

Half cup each - freshly sprouted moong, moth and red chori beans
Half teaspoon each - salt and pepper
Iron Skillet and 5 minutes of your time

Heat an iron skillet or kadai on medium flame.
Place the sprouted beans.
Saute them continuously mixing for about five minutes.
Turn off the heat, when they are still soft yet crunchy.
(Avoid prolonged saute. It makes them extremely crispy, which in turn would cause hard dental workout and we don’t want that.)
Sprinkle salt and pepper. Mix and serve hot.
Lemon juice, finely chopped onions etc can be added if desired.


Sautéed Sprouts with Salt and Pepper ~ An Heartwarming Snack

Notes:
Tirangā – तिरंगा (Hindi) = Tri Color (English)
Moong, Moth and Red Chori beans are available in Indian grocery.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), Red Beans (Chori), Sprouts (Molakalu), Moth (Desi Chori) (Tuesday June 26, 2007 at 9:58 pm- permalink)
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Ruchira ~ Cookbook Review and Recipe Sprouted Beans Usal


Ruchira by Kamalabai Ogale

“Ruchira ~ Selected Maharashtrian Vegetarian Recipes” by Kamalabai Ogale is a sweet little cookbook that I have been using for just over a year. The cookbook is an English translation of 25-year old original by the same name “Ruchira” in Marathi language.

Ruchira is chock full of honest content. A total of 94 recipes in 11 categories, nearly all recipes are within reach of competent home cooks. Many recipes are quite simple to prepare, the instructions are easy to follow and the rewards are great. The difference is not in the dishes offered, but in the ingredients and how the Marathas use them. The text should be read first to get a feel for the Maharashtrian cooking. Then head for the kitchen to cook one of the divine recipes. Next to going to Maratha heartland, Ruchira offers a great way to treat ourselves to cooking real Marathi way.

If you are looking for a book that will teach you to cook the best Maharashtrian food, then I will definitely recommend Ruchira. It’s a precious little gem!


Sprouted Moong, Moth and Red Chori Beans

“Sprouted Beans Usal” from Ruchira cookbook has become one of my favorite recipes. What makes this recipe standout from our own Nandyala style moog bean curry recipe is the addition of kala masala, and jaggery. Subtly spiced and well balanced, I’ve become a loyal fan of sprouted beans usal.

Recipe:

Grind to Paste:
5 peeled garlic cloves, 8-10 green chillies (small, Indian type), 1 teaspoon cumin and two to four tablespoons of grated fresh coconut.

Heat and Simmer:
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a big saucepan.
Add one cup each - moong, moth and red chori sprouted beans.
Add about three cups of water.
Cover and simmer the beans, until they reach fall-apart stage.

Add and Mix:
To the cooked beans, add the ground paste.
Also a tablespoon each- kala masala and powdered jaggery and
Half teaspoon each - turmeric and salt.
Mix and simmer another five minutes.
If the Usal(curry) looks too dry, add about half cup of water.

Popu or Tadka Touch:
While the beans are simmering with spices, do the tadka in a small pan.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add and toast few fresh curry leaves, pinch of cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida. (This technique is called popu or tadka.)
Add the tadka to the sprouted beans. Mix and turnoff the heat.
Sprouted beans usal tastes great with chapatis/rotis/parathas.


Sprouted Beans Usal with Paratha ~ From Maratha Heartland to Our Home
My Entry to RCI~Maharashtra hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove

Notes:
Thanks for this lovely gift Veena!
I’ve prepared Kala Masala following the recipe outlined here.
Ruchira Available at Aggarwaloverseas.com
Recommend “Ruchira” to local libraries.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), Red Beans (Chori), Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu), Moth (Desi Chori) (Monday June 25, 2007 at 7:08 pm- permalink)
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Moong, Moth and Red Chori Bean Sprouts

Series of Sprouts ~ Tiranga Sprouts


Moong Beans, Moth Beans and Red Chori Beans ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Moong Beans - Green colored beans
Moth Beans - Brown colored beans. Available in Indian stores.
Red Chori Beans - Reddish-brown colored beans, smaller than adzuki (chori) and Rajma beans. Available in Indian stores (packet label - “Red or Desi Chori”).

Moong, moth and red chori - three beans, three different colors, but they are similar in size and almost in taste. Very fast and reliable sprouters, they produce delightful looking sprouts that taste mellow and crisply sweet. Consumed raw, curried or dal’ed, the sprouts of moong-moth-red chori combination make a perfect meal any time of the day.


Moong, Moth and Red Chori ~ After a Day of Soaking in Water

Soak moong, moth and red chori beans in water overnight.
Drain and gather them in a loosely woven cotton cloth.
Tie a knot and hang the cloth at a kitchen window or warm area in the house.
Keep the cloth moist by spraying water at regular intervals.
Because they are similar in size, the sprouts make an appearance at the same time, usually within a day.
When the sprouts grow to the size of beans, remove and enjoy raw or curried.


Moong, Moth and Red Chori Sprouts ~ To Start the Day off Mellow

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), Red Beans (Chori), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sprouts (Molakalu), Moth (Desi Chori) (Sunday June 24, 2007 at 11:12 pm- permalink)
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Red Cabbage, Beetroot and Redbeans Curry

Beetroot is one vegetable that I am trying to incorporate into my diet more often. I need iron and beetroot is famous for its folate and iron content, with added bonus of some natural sugar.

Along with steamed and plain stir-fry, one other way I prepare a beetroot curry is by cooking in combination of red cabbage and red beans. Beetroot stains everything it touches and perfect to cook with red cabbage. When it comes to red cabbage, the vegetable may sound fancy but it is almost similar to regular cabbage in taste and texture. When red cabbage cut to half, the color is more purple than red, sometimes solid, sometimes combined with delicate streaks of white. Looks beautiful but it can’t escape the typical cabbage smell and taste. Together with, beetroot and red beans, this ruby red curry is a good, decent one to have on a rainy day with gray skies like the one we are having today.


Soaked Red Beans (Adzuki), Grated Beetroot, Shredded Red Cabbage

Recipe:

1 red cabbage - Shredded using a mandoline
4 small beetroots - peeled and finely chopped lengthwise
½ cup of red beans (chori, Adzuki) -
soaked in warm water for about 3 hours to rehydrate and drained.
1 red onion - finely sliced lengthwise
6 dried red chillies+2 garlic+½ tsp of salt - grinded to fine paste
½ tsp of turmeric and salt (or to taste)
Popu or tadka ingredients along with 1 tsp of peanut oil

In a big skillet, heat peanut oil. Do the popu or tadka (toast curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds). Add and saute onions and red beans for about five minutes.

Add the beetroot pieces. Sprinkle two tablespoon of water. Cover the skillet, and cook beetroot and red beans until they reach the tenderness you desire. At this stage, add the shredded red cabbage. Because cabbage cooks fast, we add it only after beetroots are cooked properly.

Add the red chilli-garlic paste that we have prepared along with turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook for another five minutes.

Serve hot with chapatis or tortillas with a cup of yogurt on the side.
(I have also added few teaspoons of toasted fresh coconut (Deepavali Puja) to the curry at the end.)


Red Cabbage~Beetroot and Red Beans Curry with Chapatis ~ Our Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Cabbage, Beetroot, Red Beans (Chori) (Tuesday October 24, 2006 at 6:42 pm- permalink)
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Cauliflower-Potato Curry (Aloo Gobhi)

I ran out of excuses. I avoided cooking cauliflower till now this year. But when priced at one dollar, I couldn’t think of any more excuses and bought the fresh, big, Lilly white cauliflower from the local farmers market. Even though, it is available year round, Autumn is the season for cauliflower here in US, so the low price.

On my short list of vegetables, I am reluctant to cook, cauliflower occupies the number one spot. It’s unfortunate, but my brain, it doesn’t heart the brain-like cauliflower. Only way I can eat this vegetable is when combined and cooked with other vegetables and some sort of beans following my mother’s recipe. The only thing I did different this time from the original was, instead of dried peas, I used small red beans. Clean, colorful and full of flavor, this hearty stew is extra good with rice or chapatis.

Cauliflower, Onion, Red Potato, Carrot, Red Beans, Dried Coconut, Poppy seeds, Cilantro, Ginger, Garlic, Cinnamon, Cloves, Red Chilli Powder, Turmeric and Salt

Recipe:

Vegetables
1 fresh, small-sized cauliflower, trimmed and florets cut/separated
1 potato, and one carrot - peeled, and cut into bite sized cubes
1 onion - finely sliced lengthwise
6 ripe, juicy tomatoes - chopped
2 fistfuls of soaked red beans
(Peas, chickpeas or other types of beans also work)

For Masala:
4 tablespoons of coconut powder (dry or fresh)
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
Small pieces of cinnamon and two cloves
Few sprigs of cilantro, small piece of ginger and two garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
½ teaspoon of salt and turmeric
Take all the above in a blender, add half cup of water and puree them into smooth paste.

cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and onions, Red Beans, turmeric, red chilli powder and the green ball is the paste of ginger, garlic, cilantro, coconut, poppy seeds, cinnamon and cloves

Heat one tablespoon of peanut oil in a large, wide pot over medium heat. Do the popu or tadka (toasting mustard seeds, cumin and minced garlic). Add the onion, fry it till golden. Add the cut tomatoes, increase the heat, cover and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes soften when pressed with the back of a spoon.

Because cauliflower can cook easily and when overcooked gives out unpleasant Sulfur smell, first add the cut potatoes, carrots and red beans to the tomato gravy. Cook them until they are almost tender fork, and then add the cauliflower florets to this mix. Add the masala paste and half cup of water. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Finally stir in the finely chopped cilantro and serve, either warm or at room temperature.

Cauliflower-Potato Curry with Chapatis (Aloo Gobi with Roti)
Cauliflower-Potato Curry (Aloo Gobi) with Chapaties ~ Our meal today.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Potato, Cauliflower, Red Beans (Chori) (Thursday November 10, 2005 at 5:07 pm- permalink)
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Pizza with Red Beans & Tomato Chutney

Red Bean Pizza

When it’s this easy to make flavorful, delicious pizza at home, I can only imagine restaurants suffer. Why? This homemade crisp pizza tastes as good or better as any thin crust pizza I have ever had in a restaurant.

I started with few leftover chapatis of yesterday. I added the tomato chutney layer and topped with red beans and cheese. Baked in an oven for few minutes, the outcome was a scrumptious looking, saliva inducing meal. An impressively, easy way to satiate the pizza cravings without doing the back-breaking pizza labor.

Red Beans, Onion, Garlic, Chilli, Tomato, Cheese and Chapati

Recipe:

1. Pressure cook: One cup red beans(soaked in water overnight beforehand) to tender or use the canned red beans.

2. Prepare chutney: In a skillet, add oil and cook coarsely chopped one onion, two tomatoes, three cloves of garlic and four chillies to brown. Cool, then add salt and blend to coarse puree.

3. Take fresh or leftover chapatis, about 4 to 6. Cut each chapati to 4 wedge-shaped pieces of equal size.

4. Slice to thin strips or grate cheese. I used Monterey Jack cheese in this recipe - About half cup.

Layering Chapati pieces, Tomato, chutney, red beans and cheese in an iron skillet

Before Meal Time:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In an iron skillet or in an ovenproof dish:
First, place the chapati pieces, then on top, add and spread tomato chutney to a thin layer. Sprinkle some red beans, cheese and cilantro. Continue until the last chapati, ending with a layer of the chutney, beans and cheese on top. Place the skillet in the oven and bake at 400°F for about 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts and chapatis start to brown. Remove, slice and serve.

The whole combination of baked chapatis, spicy tomato chutney, red beans and cheese came out very well and tasted real good.

Slice of Red Bean Pizza

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Tomato, Red Beans (Chori), Wheat Flour (Durum Atta), Cheese (Monday September 19, 2005 at 11:44 am- permalink)
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