Mahanandi

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

Palak Tofu

Photo Purchase Keywords: Soy, Spinach
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It’s appalling to see the cookery programs like ‘America’s Test Kitchen’, and others still touting and using nutrient-nil, all-purpose flour for sauces. There are many natural and quality ingredients readily available at the market place right now for cooking purpose.

Almonds, cashews, coconut, chestnuts, dalia, sunflower seeds, peanuts and poppy seeds, to name a few.

Cost-effective and nutrient rich, just few tablespoons of any of the above in paste form would be enough to thicken the sauce or gravy and turn them to tasty. It’s 21st century, and proven information is out there on how harmful the all-purpose flour diet can be to a human body. Still, these so called chefs posing as cookery educators seem to relish falling back on the faux traditions. They won’t hesitate to leave their spouses and relationships behind when they become unhealthy. It’s puzzling why they continue to enjoy and propagate this dreadful all-purpose flour abuse on humankind.

If you are one of those struggling to break away from all-purpose flour addiction, the following recipe will work wonders to train the taste buds fearlessly boo the bland bechamel.

Palak (Spinach) and Tofu
Spinach and Soy Bean Curd (Palak and Tofu)

Recipe:

For Palak (=Spinach) Puree:
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup, finely chopped onions
4 green chillies, Indian or Thai variety- finely chopped
2 cups, finely chopped tomatoes (2 large tomatoes)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 bunch, fresh spinach, cut to big pieces, about 6 cups

For Palak Tofu:
1 teaspoon peanut oil
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup poppy seeds (or ½ cup cashews), powdered
2 tablespoons kasuri methi (livens up the Palak Tofu)
½ teaspoon each - garam masala, salt and turmeric
15 tofu cubes, about 1 inch sized

Palak Puree Preparation :

Heat oil in a wide skillet to a smoking point. Add onion, green chillies and tomatoes. Cook them to soft brown mush. Remove the contents to a plate.

Add the spinach to the skillet, and saute until the leaves collapse. Remove to a plate and wait for at least 5 to 10 minutes for them to cool down.

Take the cooled onion, chillies, tomatoes and spinach in a blender. Add a pinch of salt. Blend to thick puree. Set it aside.

Palak Tofu Preparation :

Clean or wipe the same skillet and then add and heat oil. Add and toast the cumin. Add the spinach-tomato puree. Sprinkle the powdered poppy seeds, kasuri methi, garam masala, salt and turmeric. Along with about a cup of water. Stir well. Add the tofu cubes. Simmer on low heat for about ten minutes. Serve warm.

Palak Tofu, as you can see is a very easy preparation, takes about 20 to 30 minutes. That’s all, and makes a memorable meal when eaten with chapati, paratha, rice, pasta, or millet.

Palak Tofu (Soy Spinach)
Palak Tofu, to Satiate the Sharp Hunger Pangs ~
Meal Today, and for Rajitha’s WBB: Soy Event

note:
Calorie count - poppy seeds

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Soy (Tofu, Yuba), Poppy Seeds (Wednesday January 30, 2008 at 11:56 pm- permalink)
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Gasagasalu ~ Bendakaaya

Okra ~ Poppy Seed Curry:

When people think of Andhra kuralu (curries), they think of chana dal, chilli and coconut podi flavored ones. Although these are very commonly added to spice-up the vegetables, in our homes in Nandyala, Kurnool regions, along with peanuts and sesame, poppy seeds also make frequent appearance. Alone or together with coconut, both in dry style curries like the one I prepared today with okra and in sauce form like the one blogged here.

I realize that poppy seeds are not a familiar ingredient to many of you fellow Bharatiya. Their creamy-nut like flavor is really worth getting to know. You won’t regret trying, I assure you.

Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus, Gasagasalu)Poppy Seed PowderOkra (Bendakaya, Bendi, Ladies Fingers)

Recipe:

20 young and fresh looking okra (Bendakaya, Bendi)
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (Gasagasalu, Khus Khus)
3 dried red chillies - Indian variety
Salt and turmeric - to taste or ½ teaspoon each
Popu or tadka: 1 tablespoon peanut oil,
Pinch each - cumin, mustard seeds and 6 curry leaves

1 Trim the ends and cut the okra to quarter to half inch wide rounds. For a gummy free okra experience, follow the tips outlined here.

2 Roast poppy seeds in a dry, hot iron skillet for about 3 minutes, until they just start to color and release their aromas. Add dried red chillies and a pinch of salt and pound or blend all the ingredients together. Keep working until a nice, moist paste is formed. I usually use a spice grinder or Sumeet small jar for this purpose.

3 In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and toast the tadka ingredients first and then add the okra pieces. Mix once and fry the pieces, very rarely stirring, until they are free from moisture. A well seasoned cast-iron skillet charms the okra to a beautiful crispiness. If you have one, use it for this recipe. When okra pieces transform from clinging kids to leave me alone type teenagers, it’s time to introduce the adulthood delights with spices. Add the poppy seed powder, turmeric and salt. Mix gently and saute for few more minutes.

Serve the curry hot with rotis/chapatis or with rice and dal. Okra-poppy seed curry makes a great tasting side dish.

Okra-Poppy Seed Curry
Okra-Poppy Seed Curry with Ragi Roti and Olive Chutney ~ Meal Today

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala
Poppy Seed Based Recipes from Archives:
Brinjal-Potato Curry ~ on Oct 25th, 05
Banana Pepper-Baby Potatoes in Poppy Seed Sauce ~ on April 21st, 06
Moong Dal Payasam ~ on June 9th, 06
Ridgegourd (Turai/Beerakaya) in Poppy Seed Sauce ~ on May 22nd, 07
Ratatouille:India Inspired ~ on July 10th, 07

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Benda Kaaya(Okra), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Poppy Seeds (Tuesday August 28, 2007 at 9:45 pm- permalink)
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Ratatouille ~ India Inspired

Cheeseless and Cheerful, India Inspired Ratatouille
Cheeseless and Cheerful ~ India Inspired Ratatouille

When it comes to international cuisine, French cuisine ranks among our favorites. Then again, we are devotees of Tibetan, Thai, Mexican and Italian … well you get the picture. But back to French food, if we may. So delighted are we of the new Pixar animated movie, we decided to recreate one of our favorite French recipes at home. Cheeseless and cheerful ~ The Ratatouille.

Dictionary defines Ratatouille as “A vegetable stew, usually made with eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and onions, seasoned with herbs and garlic”. Ratatouille, Pulusu, Kurma or Subzi …different names in different languages but the underlying wisdom is the same. Isn’t it? When vibrant and fresh looking vegetables are available, the recipe served will make happy people happier and comforts those who aren’t. Really, we don’t have to do much in order to make a miraculous meal.

The India inspiration is addition of poppy seeds. When added to bobbling vegetables in the pot, the powdered poppy seeds will bring sweet aroma and subtly enriches the ratatouille in a typical Indian way.

Cheeseless and Cheerful, India Inspired Ratatouille
Farm Fresh Vegetables from Pike Place Market for Ratatouille ~ Round Zucchinis, Red and Green Capsicum, Shallots, Purple Garlic, Baby Carrots, Fresh Peas, Tomatoes & Green Brinjals (Total Cost $8).

Recipe:
1 teaspoon peanut oil
¼ tsp each - cumin, mustard seeds and 6 curry leaves
4 garlic cloves and 2 shallots - finely chopped
6 each - tomatoes, brinjals, carrots & 2 each - zucchinis, capsicums ~ cut to chunks
Half cup each - freshly shelled peas and finely chopped coriander leaves
Quarter cup poppy seeds - powdered fine in a spice grinder
¼ tsp red chilli powder, salt and turmeric or to taste
**************
In a big saucepan, heat the oil until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Lower the heat to medium. Add the curry leaves and toast to pale brown. Toss in cumin, mustard seeds. When seeds start to jump, add the garlic and shallots. Stir fry few minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and peas. Cook, covered for about ten minutes. The vegetables start to get tender and you will see lot of water in the pot. At this stage stir in poppy seed paste, chilli powder, salt and turmeric. Sprinkle coriander leaves, mix and simmer another ten minutes, until the sauce becomes thick but pourable.
Serve warm with rice/chapati/bread or pasta.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper, Vankaya (Brinjal), Poppy Seeds, Zucchini (Tuesday July 10, 2007 at 9:06 pm- permalink)
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Beerakaya Gasala Kura

Ridge Gourd in Poppy Seed Sauce:


Poppy Seeds (Gasa Gasalu, Khus Khus)

The tiny, cream colored poppy seeds are a must have thing in many Indian kitchens. In Andhra, in addition to sesame and peanuts, poppy seeds are also used extensively both in sweets and in savory preparations. When added to sweets like payasam, bhakshalu and to laddus etc, they offer a nice, nutty texture and crunchy contrast.

When it comes to savory - poppy seeds are lightly toasted first and ground to prepare creamy sauces for curries. Nut like, with a subtle, soothing flavor and rich taste, it’s impossible not to like poppy seed sauce. Plus it’s low calorie when compared to nut based sauces.

Both vegetables and meat are cooked in spice flavored poppy seed sauce. The most popular being, ridge gourd (beerakaya), green brinjal (Poluru Vankaya) , potato and chicken. My mother prepares a terrific ridge gourd curry in poppy seed sauce called “Beerakaya Gasala Kura”. Here is my mother’s recipe.


………..Poppy Seed Powder Shaped to Round Ball ………………….Ridge Gourd……………..

Recipe:

2 fresh, firm looking ridge gourds
Peel the outer ridges and the skin lightly. Wash, and remove both ends. Cut ridge gourd to small, bite sized pieces. - about 5 cups.

For Poppy Seed Paste:
¼ cup poppy seeds - in a hot skillet, toast them lightly. Remove to a spice grinder. Grind to smooth without adding water. (It takes at least 5 minutes to grind poppy seeds to fine consistency like shown in the above photo.)

Seasoning:
4 green chillies, one garlic clove and one teaspoon of grated ginger - Grind them to smooth in a mortar or in a blender.
¼ tsp each - salt and turmeric
¼ tsp each - cumin, mustard seeds and few curry leaves.

In a wide skillet, heat a teaspoon of peanut oil. Add and toast curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to splutter, add ridge gourd pieces. Stir in the poppy seed powder along with green chilli-garlic-ginger paste, salt and turmeric. Add about quarter cup of water. Mix thoroughly. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring in-between. Ridge gourd cooks fast and when the sauce starts to thicken, turns off the heat. Serve warm with sorghum roti or with chapati.

Apply same method, but replace ridge gourd with banana pepper/ brinjal /potato/chicken to cook terrific tasting poppy seed based curries.


Beerakaya Gasala Kura with Ragi Roti ~ Our Meal Today and My Entry to RCI~Andhra Event

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd), Poppy Seeds (Tuesday May 22, 2007 at 7:38 pm- permalink)
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Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam)

A Cup of Moong dal Payasam
A Cup of Moong dal Payasam for Indian Sweets~101

If I have to choose between a cup of payasam and a slice of cake, I’d always go for the cup. Here, mothers prepare cakes lovingly; back in India, payasams are the norm. Every Saturday my mother would prepare payasam for puja naivedyam. I believe she prepared payasam mainly because of us, four little darlings:), who would come home from school hungry for something sweet. We had half-day school on Saturdays and afternoon meals at my mother’s home always included a type of payasam. Creamy rich with full of cashews and golden raisins, it was like spoonful of heaven on a warm afternoon.

Together between my mom and mother-in-law, there are recipes for at least a dozen different payasams. Who would really need a cook book when you have this type of rich resource right a phone call away? Because they all follow a basic method, it’s not that difficult to remember the procedure. Moong dal payasam is one such easy recipe I picked up from the family.

Moong dal is cooked in sweetened and thickened, rich poppy seed milk. Light golden hue, incredible, inviting aroma and delight to the senses - this is how I would describe this payasam.


Roasted in Ghee - Yellow Moong Dal

Recipe:

Moong dal, yellow (pesara pappu) - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 5 cups
Poppy seeds (Khus-khus, gasa gasalu) - ¼ cup
(Soaked in ½ cup of warm water for at least half an hour, to soften them)
Cashews and Golden Raisins, each - ¼ cup
Cardamom (Elachi, aluka) - 6
Ghee (neyyi) - 2 tablespoons

Prep Work:

1 In an iron skillet or tava, heat a teaspoon of ghee on medium heat. Add and roast, yellow moong dal until the color changes from yellow to light red and releases the wonderful fragrance. Remove them to a plate. Aromatherapy starts with this first step.

2 In the same iron skillet or tava, heat a tablespoon of ghee on medium heat. When it is hot, add and toast first golden raisins and then cashews. Golden Raisins puff up like little gold balloons and cashews turn from creamy white to light gold. Take care not to burn. Remove them to a plate.

3 Powder cardamom seeds to smooth powder in a mortar using the pestle or in a spice grinder.

Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins
Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins

In a pressure cooker, take roasted moong dal, sugar, milk and soaked poppy seeds along with the water it’s soaked in. Mix and close the lid. Pressure cook until two whistles. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid and with a wood-masher or immersion blender lightly mash the dal. Pressure-cooking is my method; I follow it mainly for the convenience of not stirring and for the speed. In actual recipe, they would take all the ingredients in a wide, thick-bottomed vessel and cook until the dal reaches fall-apart stage. If you don’t have a pressure cooker at home, then follow the second method. It may take little bit more time, but the end result will be worth the trouble, I promise.

Add the toasted cashews and golden raisins along with the ghee they toasted in. Also stir in the cardamom powder to the cooked payasam. Have a taste and add sugar and milk, if needed. Simmer the payasam on medium-low heat about 20 to 30 minutes, until it reaches thick, creamy consistency. Serve warm or cold.


A Cup of Moong Dal Payasam with Poppy Seeds, Cashews and Golden Raisins

Poppy seeds can block the cooker nozzle and that may create a mess, if they not soaked in warm water beforehand. Soak poppy seeds in water first, if you are to cook this in a pressure cooker.
Chana Dal Payasam - Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Milk, Moong Dal (Washed), Indian Sweets 101, Poppy Seeds (Friday June 9, 2006 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
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Banana Pepper - Baby Potato Curry

Vegetables which are at normal prices at our local grocery store now are banana peppers and baby red potatoes. Banana peppers are mildly hot and the new crop, baby red potatoes are mildly sweet. These two are cooked in tomato gravy thickened by the addition of creamy-white, rich poppy seed (khus-khus, gasa gasalu) paste. The taste of the curry is like that of made with almond paste.

Banana Pepper, Baby Potato and Khus khus (gasa gasalu)
Banana Pepper, Baby Red Potato, Poppy Seeds(Khus Khus, Gasa Gasaalu)

Recipe:

Heat in a big saucepan, over medium-low heat:
1 teaspoon of peanut oil

Toast to do the popu or tadka:
1 teaspoon each of cumin, mustard seeds, minced garlic and few curry leaves

Add and Saut�: (listed in order)
1 onion - chopped
4 juicy tomatoes- chopped
8 baby red potatoes -peeled and cubed
4 banana peppers - cut into small rings crosswise

Stir in:
¼ cup poppy seeds(gasa gasalu)-finely powdered using a spicemill/coffee grinder
1 tsp of ginger-garlic-coriander paste
2 tsp of cumin-coriander seed-clove-cinnamon powder
1 tsp of salt
½ tsp of red chilli powder and turmeric

Add 2 cups of water and mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring in-between. When the gravy reaches the consistency you desire, turn off the heat. Let the curry sit for 10 minutes and serve warm.
Tastes superb with chapatis or with rice.

Banana Pepper- Baby Alu Curry with Chapatis
Banana Pepper- Baby Alu Curry with Chapatis ~ Our meal today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Banana Pepper, Baby Potatoes, Poppy Seeds (Friday April 21, 2006 at 2:37 pm- permalink)
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