Mahanandi

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

Modern Indian Cooking~ Cookbook Review and Recipe

Modern Indian Cooking

You know how it is with some cookbooks. You hold it in your hands, browse through a page or two and immediately know that you are going to enjoy preparing from it. I felt that way with “Modern Indian Cooking“, written by talented chefs Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna.

The difference between my cooking methods and my mother and grandmother generation lies in the globalization of taste. Traditional roots, but always on the lookout for some adventure that’s appropriate to the evolving palate. Chef Hari Nayak speaks such language in Modern Indian Cooking. He uses ingredients you might not normally see together, and they work. Wonton Chat, Paneer Picatta, Grilled Chicken with Kokum Compote, Konkan Chilli Prawns, Mint Puris, Semolina Crepes, Cardamom Brownies, Pink Peppercorn Chocolate Truffles - the book is filled with clean and contemporary combinations that are grounded in commonsense.

Being into the food photography and neat designs, I want to add some comments about the quality of the book. The design and layout are pleasing to the eye. Beautiful images of classic looking food against chic background fit with the theme that these are modern versions of classics. Some of the recipes have a series of small photographs that show the ingredients and the process of cooking the food. The recipe instructions are also laid out in a clear and concise manner without overcrowding the page. All and all, Modern Indian Cooking is a pleasant cookbook to have in the kitchen, and this is the first Hari Nayak’s cookbook I have added to my collection, but it won’t be the last.


The following is a recipe from Modern Indian Cooking. Baked samosas with spinach and mung bean using phyllo pastry sheets. I’ve prepared them with sprouted mung beans for a friends get-together last weekend and they were very well received.

Samosa with Spinach and Sprouted Mung Beans
(from MIC, page 25. Makes 2-dozen samosas)

1 cup, sprouted mung beans
4 cups, finely chopped fresh spinach
½ cup, finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon cumin-red chilli powder
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1-teaspoon oil or ghee

Puff or Phyllo pastry sheets
(mine was from Trader Joe’s-artisan brand.)

Filling: Heat oil in a wide skillet. Add onion and sauté to pale red. Add sprouted mung beans and spinach. Cover the skillet and steam-cook. Spinach supplies moisture, and it would take about 10-15 minutes for the sprouted mung bean to become tender-soft. At this stage, sprinkle turmeric, salt and masala powder. Mix and continue cooking for another five minutes or so. Turn off the heat, and wait for the curry to reach room temperature (cool).

Samosa Wrap: Meanwhile takeout the puff pastry sheet from the freezer. Wait until they reach from stiff, cardboard like to firm but pliable condition. Place the sheet on a lightly floured work surface and evenly roll out to thin. With a sharp knife, cut the sheet to equal looking 2 x 2 inch squares. Place a teaspoon of spinach curry in each square. Quickly fold the right corner over the filling to the left side and press the edges to make a triangle. Repeat until all are done.

Bake: Place the samosas on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. After about 10 minutes of baking time, turn to opposite side. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Serve warm with tamarind-date chutney or ketchup.

Baked Samosas
Baked Samosas with Spinach and Sprouted Mung Beans

Notes:
Available for purchase at Amazon, Powell’s
Book Cover is taken from Harinayak.com for review purpose.
Recommend this book to your local library.

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Spinach, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu) (Monday May 19, 2008 at 1:34 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Steam-Sauteed Spinach Moong Dal

Spinach Moong Dal Sandwich

My very young and impressionable cousins in India, who read my food blog, are curious to know why I don’t cook with “cool” stuff like cheese. I like cheese, don’t get me wrong, but I rarely bring it home. Cheese is costly, caloric and full of saturated fat. It is a well known fact that foods like cheese with little or no fiber are number one cause for constipation and flatulence, and that kind of diet is also responsible for several ailments from heart attack to IBS to colon cancer. Cheese may look white and pure, but the color cover ups the harmful hormonal menace. The hormonal effects from estrogen, progesterone, bovine growth hormone, this is what cheese conceals, in addition to artery clogging saturated fat. It really takes time to understand how evil the cattle industry, the source of cheese, has become. Thanks to the ad blitz sorcery and the sold-out food writers’ cover-up of agro-globalization gallop, my cousins seem to know only the glitzy side of cheese-centric food. I try to explain to them all these things in a light-hearted manner. In a rush to englut the regurgitations, I am worried that they could become victims of early aortic regurgitation.

One way to prevent that from happening is packaging the traditional, nutritious food in a new way. This steam-sautéed spinach moong dal, a recipe I have learned from a Gujarathi friend, is usually served with rice or chapati. But I stuffed it between two toasted crumpets, squeezed some lime juice, and for saturated fat touch, grated some fresh coconut.

Carbohydrates from wheat, protein from moong dal, organic, hormone-free fat from coconut, green leafy goodness from spinach and natural digestion aid from spices.

This dal-wich actually tasted better than any one-dollar, mystery-cheese burgers out there. And, I am hoping that my cousins would take this homemade, all natural, cheese-free sandwich to the heart and consider it as “cool”.

Moong Dal and Spinach
Yellow Moong Dal, Rehydrated and Fresh Spinach Leaves

Recipe:

Yellow moong Dal - Half cup (soaked in water for one hour, and drained)
Fresh Spinach - One bunch, finely chopped
Onion - one, finely chopped
Green chillies (Indian or Thai variety) - two, finely chopped
Turmeric - ¼ teaspoon
Salt - ¼ teaspoon
Cumin and mustard seeds - ¼ teaspoon each
Peanut oil - 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg and fresh coconut gratings - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Lime juice - one tablespoon, or to taste

Place a wide skillet on stove-top. Add and heat oil.
Add and toast cumin and mustard seeds.
When seeds start to pop, add the onions and chillies. Saute to brown.
Add the yellow moong dal. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water. Mix.
Cover with a lid and cook the dal to tender soft on medium-low heat.
Dal should be intact, but soft to bite. (Takes about 10-15 minutes.)
At that stage, add the turmeric, salt, nutmeg and coconut. Mix.
Add the spinach. Saute on high heat until the leaves collapse.
Sprinkle the lime juice. Serve hot with rice or chapati.

For our meal today, I toasted two english muffins (crumpets) to brown, and stuffed them with steam-sautéed spinach-moong dal. With a glass of chilled ruby orange juice on the side, it was a good meal.

Dal-wich
Spinach-Moong Dal Sandwich with a glass of Ruby Orange Juice
~ A Vindu for RCI: Gujarat at Mythili’s

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Moong Dal (Washed) (Tuesday February 26, 2008 at 10:18 pm- permalink)
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Cookery, Indic (2) ~ by Veena Parrikar


Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables
by Shyamala Kallianpur



Published in 1997 by Shyamala Kallianpur at Secunderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, India. ISBN 81-7525-059-3. (Click on the Bookcover for Author’s image)

If I were Eve in the Garden of Eden, the genesis of my fall from grace might not be the rosy apple, but the seemingly mundane edible greens. Such is the sway that this earthy bounty holds over my taste and imagination. They beckon me at markets with their dewy-fresh looks in variegated shades of green and their promise of glowing health. Thus, each weekend sees the grand entry of a motley bunch into my kitchen. Some of them get used up quickly in a zuNka, aloo-somegreenorother, or a soup. Then my inner child awakens and begins to clamour for something different. This would trigger a search through my cookbooks while the greens waited in anticipation and then shrivelled up with disappointment. For, my cookbooks have plenty of vegetable recipes, but leafy vegetables are almost an afterthought. Even in books that provide a respectable number of greens recipes, the varieties are restricted to spinach and methi, and sometimes mustard leaves. Part of this negligence stems out of certain inherent traits of edible greens; namely, they tend to be stubbornly local and seasonal. Most of them are not amenable to traveling long distances; hence, there are variations in the types of greens found even between neighbouring states. Cookery books intended to reach a pan-Indian or global audience cannot afford to waste space on recipes with main ingredients that are not found everywhere or at all times. It is perhaps a reflection of this constraint that the only cookbook in English on green leafy vegetables in India is self-published by the author.

Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables by Shyamala Kallianpur should not have gone out of print. It is the only book that provides recipes for over 30 different kinds of edible greens found in India. It has clear colour photographs of about 35 varieties of leafy vegetables. More importantly, greens are treated with the care and respect they deserve. With a couple of exceptions (such as the Sindhi Sai Bhaji), the recipes never involve pressure-cooking the leafy vegetables or overpowering them with spices. They are steamed, sometimes fried, or cooked just until soft or wilted. Thus, the greens retain their flavour, colour, and nutrients in the final dish. The author also demonstrates a meticulousness that is not often seen in Indian cookbooks. For example, she explains the difference between “roughly cut”, “chop”, and “finely cut” for leafy vegetables. She not only explains her rationale for giving the measurements for greens in volume, but further tells you how to measure them in the cup (“do not press….but just fill it”). There are many traditional recipes from different regions of India; however, there are also enough innovative dishes to satisfy the need to do something different once in a while.

The chapters are organized according to specific greens: the commonly available ones such as spinach, methi, amaranth, Malabar spinach (see photo below), and cabbage have separate chapters. Within these chapters, the recipes run the gamut from dry sabzi and gravies to soups, snacks, and salads; especially for the first four of the aforementioned greens. With 64 recipes for these greens, I am now never at a loss when faced with yet another bundle of spinach or methi. The chapter titled Other Leafy Vegetables deals with other easily-available greens such as bathua, green-stemmed and purple-stemmed colocasia leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, gongura, kulfa (purslane, paruppu keerai), ambat chuka (khatta palak), mint, mustard leaves, manathakali leaves, spring onion stalks, and saranti saag (ponnanganni). It is the last chapter, however, that I find the most interesting. Rather awkwardly titled, Some More “Other Leafy Vegetables” covers greens that grow in home gardens and are not available in the market, or not used much despite their market availability. Here you will find recipes for beetroot leaves, cauliflower greens, radish leaves, carrot greens, garlic leaves, pumpkin leaves, pomegranate leaves, drumstick leaves, tamarind leaves, brahmi, shepu (dill) taikiLo, omum (celery) leaf, and gherkin (kundru) leaf. There are only a few recipes for each of these vegetables, but the book gives a glimpse of the sheer expanse of possibilities that exists with edible greens.

Before writing this review I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to find the total number of edible leafy vegetables that grow in India. It is no secret that the undocumented heritage of Indian cuisines far exceeds the documented, but I can think of no other area, besides edible greens, where this truism applies more strongly. This study identified 42 species of plants with edible leaves or flowers in a single district in West Bengal. Our awareness is limited to only those greens that make it to the market, either through wholesalers or small village vendors who sell seasonal homegrown fare. Kallianpur’s book should have been just one in a long series of such works by various authors from several Indian states. This might be a tall order for commercial publishers, but an initiative funded by the government or NGOs with a nationwide reach might be one of the ways to highlight this rich culinary biodiversity and preserve it from the forest-fires of globalization.

Recipe: Kothchol (Indian Red Spinach with Bottle Gourd)

Adapted from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Cooking with Green Leafy Vegetables


Top: Malabar spinach, also known as Indian Red Spinach. Bottom: Bottle gourd

Ingredients:
Chopped Indian red spinach – 4 cups
Tender stalks of the spinach, cut into 2-cm length – 2 cups
Bottle gourd – ¼ kg (peeled and diced into small cubes)
Jaggery – 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 5 (sauté them in a little bit of oil first)
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon (soak it water for 10 minutes)
Tamarind – one lime-sized ball (use less if your tamarind is strong)

Tempering:
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed (no need to peel).

Method:
Take the chopped stalks in a vessel, add one cup of water, cover and cook on low heat till the stalks are tender. Then add the diced bottle gourd and salt. Cover and cook until the bottle gourd is just-cooked, but not too soft. Now add the chopped spinach, jaggery, and ground masala. Bring to a boil and simmer until the spinach is cooked. Remove from heat. Prepare the tempering: heat oil in a small pan or tempering vessel and sauté the garlic, but do not let it brown. Pour the oil and garlic pieces onto the hot cooked vegetables and cover them quickly. Keep for five to ten minutes, then serve hot with rice.


This is a typical dish from Shyamala Kallianpur’s Chitrapur Saraswat community.

Text and Photos: Veena Parrikar

Previously in the Cookery, Indic series:

Introduction
Salads for All Occasions - Vijaya Hiremath

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Coconut (Fresh), Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Bacchali(Malabar Spinach) (Monday February 4, 2008 at 12:03 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Palak Tofu

Photo Purchase Keywords: Soy, Spinach
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

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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Cookery, Indic ~ “Salads For All Occasions” by Vijaya Hiremath

Recipe: Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Salads for all Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath
Published in December 2005 by Jaico Publishing House

Traditionally, salad or koshimbir has formed a small part of main meals in India, taking its place alongside pickles and chutneys. This probably explains why preparing salads has always flummoxed me. Grains, vegetables, and lentils formed a complete meal, and salads were the step-children on my thali. I managed with the usual suspects - chopped tomatoes and onions with a splash of lemon juice and salt; grated cabbage and crushed peanuts with a splash of lemon juice and salt; steamed beetroot and grated carrot with a splash of lemon juice and salt; *yawn* and so on. I did not fare any better at the elaborate salad bars in U.S. restaurants and cafetarias. With the seemingly endless choices, one never quite knows when and where to stop piling one’s bowl. The end result was always a mishmash of ingredients, all of which I savour individually, but were disastrous together. I also have a distaste for the usual dressings, based as they are in oil and vinegar.

I was not interested in the plethora of salad books found in the American bookstores. Since our main meals at home are always Indian, I needed a book that used Indian ingredients, and produced flavours that would not clash with the other parts of our meal. I had purchased Varsha Dandekar’s Salads of India many years ago, and while it is an excellent cookbook in other respects, it is not about salads. Most of the dishes were really sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable preparations without gravy). There are other books on salads published in India, but they usually just reproduced Western salads. Vijaya Hiremath’s book, which I almost ignored at the bookstore due to the rather bland title, has ended my days of salad ennui.

The book is completely vegetarian, with over 50 salad recipes using a wide variety of easily-available ingredients. Sprouts prepared from whole grains and beans play a prominent role in many recipes, a feature which raised the book several notches in my estimation. Hiremath presents several fresh and innovative combinations of vegetables, fruit, greens, nuts, and sprouts. For example, Country Garden Salad, a jaded menu item that evokes images of limp lettuce and cottony tomatoes, appears in an elegant and attractive avtaar in this book. It is made with tender fenugreek leaves, white radish, carrot, cucumber, tomato, onion, and roasted sesame seeds and dressed with lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh grated coconut, cumin powder, and salt. The dressings are sauces prepared from fruit, vegetables, or dahi; chutneys or dry masala powders. The layout of the book is user-friendly: one recipe per page with the nutritive value for each recipe provided at the bottom. There are plenty of photos, which are mercifully devoid of Indian artifacts and fabrics cluttered around the food.

The recipes use a combination of weight and volumetric measurements, which might pose a problem for those readers used to measuring in cups and do not own a kitchen scale. The instructions are terse and lacking in nuances. For example, greens and vegetables being used in salads must be properly rid of excess water after washing them; otherwise, it dilutes the dressing. Novice cooks might not realise this and the recipes do not include such instructions. The book also suffers another deficiency that is common to some cookbooks produced in India: absence of an index, which forces you to scan the entire table of contents if you are pondering over what to prepare with a particular ingredient. Each recipe, with calories ranging from 250 to 350, is supposed to provide one meal for a single person; but, small eaters might find the quantity too large to be consumed in one sitting. All these drawbacks, however, are minor irritations and easily overlooked once you taste the delicious and nutritious salads made from this book.

Veena Parrikar


Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

From: Salads for All Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath

Ingredients
100 gms wheat sprouts
100 gms carrot
100 gms tomato
100 gms cabbage
1 cup spinach leaves

Seasoning
2 flakes minced garlic
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
150 gms thick curds (dahi)
Salt to taste

Sprouted Wheat
To prepare sprouted wheat, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Next morning, drain the wheat, and place the grains in a clean muslin cloth. Hang the muslin around your kitchen sink tap, and sprinkle the cloth with water. The wheat should sprout in two to three days in mild to warm weather. During this period, sprinkle water occasionaly if the muslin looks dry.

Centre: Spinach and sprouted wheat. Clockwise from left: carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, dahi with minced garlic and salt, roasted sesame seeds.

Method
1. Shred cabbage finely. If spinach is tender, use whole leaves; otherwise chop roughly or break into pieces with your hands.
2. Cut carrot into small pieces.
3. Quarter tomato.
4. Beat curds. Add garlic and salt and mix well.
5. Combine vegetables with sprouts.
6. Arrange spinach leaves on a flat dish.
7. Spread vegetable mixture over the spinach.
8. Pour curd mixture over the vegetables.
9. Sprinke sesame seeds before serving.

Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad
Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Spinach, Yogurt, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu), Veena Parrikar (Monday January 7, 2008 at 12:24 am- permalink)
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Marathi Usal with Sprouted Peas & Spinach

Sprouted Vatana (batani, peas) on a Spinach Leaf

Sreemathi Kamalabai Ogale, my authority on Maharashtrian vegetarian cuisine has written in Ruchira that usal can be prepared with fresh or rehydrated dried peas and also with sprouted ones. So, I reserved a cup of sprouted peas to try the usal recipe today. I couldn’t resist adding little bit of green - the fresh spinach from the local ritu bazaar. Two pretty and ordinary foods together became an extraordinary combination, all thanks to miracle like Marathi usal recipe. What a way to enjoy the sprouted peas!

Recipe:

1 teaspoon peanut oil
¼ tsp each - mustard seeds and asafetida
1 cup - yellow and green sprouted peas
1 bunch - fresh spinach, finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tablespoons fresh coconut gratings, 4 green chillies and ¼tsp cumin
(blend to smooth paste)
Salt to taste or ¼ tsp

Heat peanut oil in a wide skillet.
Add and toast mustard seeds and asafetida.
When seeds start to pop, add the sprouted peas and reduce the heat to low.
Sprinkle handful of water, cover and steam-cook the peas to tender.
Add the chopped spinach.
Sprinkle turmeric, coconut-chilli-cumin ground paste.
Mix and cook until the spinach collapses. Season with salt and serve hot.


Sprouted Peas and Spinach Usal ~ A Fine Sidedish for Rice and Chapati

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Sprouts (Molakalu), Peas (whole) (Tuesday July 24, 2007 at 9:05 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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Palakura Pullakura (Spinach~Mango Dal)

I mentioned few times here on Mahanandi that I do not know much about the cuisine of Telangana, one of the three regional cuisines of Andhra. One reader picked up on that and mailed me her family recipes from Telangana region. It is surprising and very encouraging to see such passionate sharing of family heirlooms. Thanks Vijaya! Among her recipes, Palakura Pullakura with spinach and unripe mango caught my attention. This recipe is different from the preparations to which I am accustomed. No toor dal, but moong dal and chana dal used together. I have never heard of this combination before. I wanted to try this for JFI-WBB: Greens and made it for lunch.

To my delight, it came out exceptionally well. The combination of moong dal and chana dal worked. Who knew? The pleasant, mild taste of spinach balances and complements the sour and strong taste of raw mango. I can certainly give an A+ to this recipe. Long live Telangana cuisine, may it be part of Andhra Pradesh forever!

Spinach and Unripe Green Mango
Spinach and Unripe Green Mango

Recipe:

Half cup each - moong dal and chana dal
One or about 1 cup - unripe mango pieces
One bunch spinach - washed and chopped
10 to 12 green chillies (small Indian variety) - finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

For popu or tadka:
1 tablespoon oil
¼ tsp each - chopped garlic, dried red chilli pieces, curry leaves, hing, cumin and mustard seeds

I roasted the moong dal first to light brown color, because I prefer the roasted taste to plain. Then took them in a pressure cooker. Added chana dal and washed the dals together once.

Next, I added the unripe mango pieces, spinach, green chillies and turmeric along with about 4 cups of water to pressure cooker. Covered and cooked for one whistle. The recipe instructions say do not cook more than one whistle, maintain chana dal integrity. So to do that, I turned off the heat after one whistle and waited for the valve pressure to get released. Once the valve pressure cleared, I opened the lid and added salt. Mixed and Mashed the dal lightly.

Time for the final step - popu or tadka. Heated the oil in a pan and toasted the popu ingredients listed above one after another in the order written. When mustard seeds start to jump around, I added the mashed dal to the popu and mixed everything thoroughly.

I also fried some papadams, sundried yogurt chillies and pumpkin vadiyams (courtesy of my blog neighbor Mythili of Vindu who returned from India trip recently.) to accompany the dal and rice. Served hot with rice and little bit of ghee, and a cup of yogurt on the side, our meal today was heartwarming and fulfilling. Thanks Vijaya for this family recipe and thanks Mythili for the tasty vadiyams. Here is to the power of sharing!


Palakura Pullakura with rice and ghee with a Side Snack of Sundried yogurt Chillies and Pumpkin Fritters

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Moong Dal (Washed), Mamidikaya (Green Mango) (Tuesday April 3, 2007 at 11:08 pm- permalink)
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Dazzling Dals: Split Pea~Spinach Stew

Split peas have always been one of those pantry staples that I forget, until the cravings hit me. Yes, I crave spicy split pea stews. Like toor dal, they have a pleasant, addictive taste and when cooked with vegetables plus chilli powder, they make a quick and easy main course dal dish. Rice, or chapati are not needed and the stew can be filling by itself. Good meal for days, when I would like to cut back on calories and still feel satisfyingly stuffed.

Green Split Peas, Spinach and Tomato
Green Split Peas, Spinach and Tomato

Recipe:

1 tablespoon of peanut oil
4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 onion - finely chopped
3 big, ripe tomatoes - finely chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - chopped
1 cup green split peas (green matar dal)
(soaked in warm water at least for 15 minutes beforehand to speed up the cooking)
1 tsp each or to taste - salt, chilli powder, turmeric & powdered cumin
4 cups of water

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and onions. Saute to pale-brown. Add tomatoes next, and cook covered on high heat for about 5 minutes. Open the lid, and press with the back of spatula vigorously to mush the contents. To this, add spinach and saute, till leaves wilt.

Add green split peas, plus the seasoning - salt, red chilli powder, turmeric and cumin. Add water and mix thoroughly. Have a taste and adjust salt, chilli powder to your liking. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the split peas reach fall-apart stage. (Split peas cook easily on stove-top, do not need pressure-cooking.)

Serve warm.

Split Pea - Spinach Stew
Spicy Stew of Split Peas and Spinach

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Peas (Split) (Friday January 19, 2007 at 8:16 pm- permalink)
Comments (23)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Paneer Naanini

Today’s meal is inspired by menu from Indian Bread Co. of New York. Rectangular shaped store-bought, whole-wheat naans are stuffed with spinach curry and crumbled paneer. Grilled in oven and served hot with split pea~spinach stew.

We like paneer naaninis for three reasons. One, they are quick and easy to prepare, two, they taste really good - all the great ruchi(flavor) of grilled naan with spinach and paneer goodness and three, just by changing the toppings, we can customize them to our mood/taste. Stuffed parathas in a new avatar, needless to say good food!

Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer
Naan layered with spinach curry and crumbled paneer - ready for grilling

Recipe:

2 naans
½ cup crumbled paneer or scrambled eggs/tofu
Spinach curry stuffing:
1 small bunch of spinach - finely chopped
1 big red onion and tomato - finely sliced
¼ cup of fresh peas
1 teaspoon - red chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt

Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a wide skillet. Add onion, tomato and peas. Cook them stirring occasionally until onions are soft. Add spinach, sauté until the leaves wilt on high heat. Sprinkle red chilli flakes, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook for few more minutes and remove from heat.

Slice each naan lengthwise (like shown above) in the middle into two layers. (Sharp knife and skilled hand are essential to slice the naan). Top with spinach curry and sprinkle crumbled paneer. Cover the naan with second half. Broil for about 4 to 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and remove as soon as brown spots start to appear. Cut into two or three pieces and serve hot with a cup of dal soup or stew.

 Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Dried Sweet Mango Pieces
Paneer Naanini with Split Pea-Spinach Stew and Spicy-Sweet Dried Mango Pieces (Maamidi Tandra Coated with Chilli Powder) ~ Our Meal Today

Source:
Paneer and Naans - from Indian grocery shop
Spicy-sweet dried mango pieces - from Trader Joe’s grocery shop

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach (Thursday January 18, 2007 at 2:23 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Sarson da Saag (Mustard greens, Spinach & Paneer)

Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens)
Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens ~ Japanese Variety)

“Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years. Mustard greens are a notable vegetable in many different cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Southern American. Like turnip greens, they may have become an integral part of Southern cuisine during the times of slavery, serving as a substitute for the greens that were an essential part of Western African foodways. While India, Nepal, China and Japan are among the leading producers of mustard greens, a significant amount of mustard greens are grown in the United States as well.”

- Says the WHFoods, a website which provides unbiased scientific information on nutrient-rich World’s Healthiest Foods. If you think history of this green leafy vegetable is impressive, check out the detailed nutritional information listed. It has antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E to mineral - Magnesium, that would help to deal with lung problems (asthma) etc, - almost everything that a health(label) conscious person desires in a vegetable. Not only that mustard seeds (aavaalu) that we use regularly in our tadka and mustard oil comes from this vegetable.

When it comes to cooking mustard greens, the famous Punjabi’s ‘Sarson da Saag’, is THE recipe. Mustard Greens (Sarson Patta in Hindi), spinach and paneer along with traditional Indian seasoning are all cooked together. Like Punjabis, the end result is attractive and vibrant - in a nutshell, wholesome food experience. Give it a try!


Fresh Baby Mustard Greens, Spinach, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Cashews, Paneer, Green Chilli

Recipe:

1 bunch fresh, baby Sarson (mustard greens)- chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - chopped
10 green chillies - small Indian variety
1 small onion - finely chopped
1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp of cccc powder (cumin-coriander-clove-cinnamon) or garam masala
15 cashews - roasted and powdered
15 paneer cubes - grilled or pan-fried to light gold
Limejuice to taste or 2 tablespoons
Turmeric and salt to taste or ½ tsp each

1. In a big skillet, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute the sarson, spinach and green chillies. Within 2 to 3 minutes, the leaves start to wilt and come together. Turn off the heat and remove them to a plate. Let cool and then take them in a blender or food processor. Grind to coarse paste by adding a pinch of salt.

2. In the same skillet, add and heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute onions to gold color. Add and fry ginger-garlic paste for few seconds. Add pureed sarson-spinach-green chilli and half cup of water. Stir in cashew powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Before turning off the heat, add paneer cubes and sprinkle in limejuice.

Serve hot. Tastes great with rice and roti or chapatis.

Sarson Da Saag with Chapatis
Sarson da Saag with Chapatis.

I purchased these fresh, baby mustard greens from an Asian grocery shop (Uwajimaya).
Recipe adapted from: Basant. I have added cashews to bring some nutty sweetness to the curry.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach, Cashews, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Monday November 6, 2006 at 4:29 pm- permalink)
Comments (32)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Ponganalu with Spinach and Sara Pappu

Somehow, I’ve been missing participating in Nandita’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging, an event celebrating the much neglected, overnight fasting breakers - the morning mini meals (breakfast/tiffin). “A twist in the plate” is the theme for this month’s WBB. Taking an old recipe and adding our own touch and improving it a little bit is the idea behind the theme.

Ponganalu, the classic Rayalaseema breakfast, the recipe is fine on its own. Leftover dosa batter, onions, chana dal, green chillies and cilantro, mixed and cooked in a special ponganalu pan. The result is small goblets or space saucer shaped rounds - fun and tasty on their own. My twist to this old classic is adding a bunch of finely chopped spinach and few tablespoons of sara pappu (chironji) and watermelon seeds. Mixed with dosa batter and cooked to crispy, crunchy perfection in ponganalu pan. Less batter, more ingredients and better ponganalu, that’s papa johns pizza, sorry:), that’s my “twist in the plate” ponganalu and my contribution to Weekend Breakfast Blogging.


Spinach, Sara Pappu and Watermelon Seeds in Ponganala Batter


Cooking Spinach Ponganalu in a Special Ponganala Skillet


Spinach Ponganalu with Peanut Chutney ~ For Nandita’s WBB-”Twist in The Plate” Event

Detailed Recipe and images of traditional Ponganalu - Here
To purchase a skillet similar to Ponganala Pennam - Click Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Charoli (Sara Pappu), Urad Dal (Washed) (Tuesday October 31, 2006 at 3:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Spinach ~ Garlic Dal (Palakura~Vellulli Pappu)

Toor dal and spinach - no onions but lots of roasted garlic makes this dal unique. You may already know, spinach and garlic make a great combination. In this recipe, garlic is finely chopped and roasted to gold color. Cooking in this manner completely changes the character of the garlic. The garlicy smell disappears and what standouts is the mellow sweet and cashew nut like taste, giving the spinach dal a flavorful boost.

Preparation is 3-step process. (1) Cook toor dal until it falls apart (2) saute garlic and spinach (3) mix cooked toor dal and spinach-garlic. Add seasoning and simmer the whole combination for few minutes.

Recipe:

Pressure-Cook:
½ cup of toor dal and half teaspoon of turmeric in 1 cup of water
Cook the dal until it falls apart
Mash the dal to smooth paste using a wood masher and keep it aside

Meanwhile Prep Work:
1 bunch of spinach - cut into small pieces
1 small whole bulb of garlic - peel and chop garlic into small pieces
4 dried red chillies - cut them into small pieces
Soak marble-sized tamarind in half-cup of water for juice

Do the Tadka:
Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a big saucepan. Add and toast:
Dried red chilli pieces
Few pieces of curry leaves
One teaspoon of each - cumin and mustard seeds

Saute:
Stir in garlic. Saute to until golden. Take care not to burn.
Add the finely chopped spinach and saute until the leaves wilt and come together

Stir in and Simmer:
Stir in smoothly mashed toor dal to this sauteed spinach-garlic mixture
Add a tablespoon of tamarind juice, also half teaspoon each of - chilli powder and salt or to taste.
Stir to combine. If the dal is too tight, add about half cup of water.
Mix; close the lid and simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat.

Serve hot with ghee and rice for a great satisfying meal.

Spinach-Garlic Dal with Rice
Pickle, Rice, Spinach-Garlic Dal and Ghee - Meal Today

Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Garlic (Vellulli) (Monday June 26, 2006 at 1:34 pm- permalink)
Comments (41)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Basil Spinach Pasta

Basil at My Kitchen Window Sill
Basil on My Kitchen Windowsill

We would have been broke if we had used herbs from the local grocery shops for our daily cooking. :) The herbs in these stores are that much expensive. 10 tiny finger-length branches in a cute little box would usually sell for 2 dollars and some change. The more upscale the grocery chain is, the pricier the herbs are. First few years here, I mostly cancelled the herbs from my shopping list. Later, I started growing them myself. A must to grow would be mint, and some summers I also grow basil and cilantro.

For this summer, I have planted basil in a small container. Kept it on my kitchen windowsill, where it gets plenty of sunlight, and watered it regularly. After a month, the container is full of well grown and overflowing basil. So, the time has come for the first harvest and for a flavorful meal. With trimmed branches of basil, some spinach and cashews cooked together, I prepared a special sauce for pasta for lunch. A different taste from routine tomato sauced pasta. If you like pasta in pesto, then this recipe is for you and the sauce is as good as it looks.:)

Basil, Spinach, Cashews, Green Chillies, Garlic, Tomato and Pasta

Recipe:

1 cup of basil and 1 small bunch of spinach
Medium red onion and tomato - one each, cut into big pieces
6 to 8 green chillies and 4 garlic cloves - sliced into big chunks
Half cup of cashews
Salt and peanut/olive oil to your liking
Pasta of your choice

1. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Saut? onion, garlic, green chillies and tomato to golden brown. Remove and keep them aside.

2. Saut? spinach, basil until they wilt in the same skillet. Remove and keep them aside. Wipe the skillet clean, add and dry roast cashews to golden color.

3. When they are all cool to touch, take them all in a blender, add a teaspoon of salt and puree them into smooth mixture.

4. Heat a teaspoon of oil and pour in the pureed mixture. Stir in half to one cup of water. Have a taste, add salt if needed and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce reaches the thickness you desire.

5. Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add and cook pasta until aldente usually for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir to combine and serve piping hot.

Basil-Spinach Pasta with Hard Boiled Eggs
Pasta in Basil-Spinach-Cashew Sauce with Hard Boiled Eggs
From Pot to Plate for L.G’s Green Blog Project

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Cashews, Pasta, Basil (Tuesday June 13, 2006 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
Comments (29)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

Spinach Curry (Paalakura Talimpu)

I make this spinach curry so often but I never got around to post the recipe or pictures till now. Part of basic everyday meal, versatile, feel good kind of curry and also simple enough to make frequently.

Recipe:

1 bunch of spinach, washed and chopped coarsely
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon, coconut powder or grated
Salt to taste, and pinch of turmeric
For popu - ¼ tsp each, mustard seeds and cumin

Spinach Curry on Whole Wheat Bread

Heat one teaspoon of peanut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.
Add and toast the mustard seeds, cumin and garlic (popu).
Add the onion and green chillies and saute, stirring, until soft.
Add the coarsely chopped spinach. Cover and cook them under high heat for about 5 minutes, until they collapse and reduce in volume.
At this stage, remove the lid and sprinkle the coconut, salt and turmeric. Mix and stir-fry for another 5 more minutes, uncovered, until the water from spinach reduces in quantity.
I also added some pre cooked black chickpeas (kala Chana) to this curry.

Serve hot. Make a curry sandwich or enjoy with rice, dal and ghee or with chapati.

Spinach Curry With Rice and Tomato Dal
Our another Everyday Meal ~ Spinach Curry with Rice, Tomato Dal and Ghee.

Going to be on road for couple of days.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Spinach, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Monday November 14, 2005 at 6:26 am- permalink)
Comments (25)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

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