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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mandiya Sharbat (Ragi/Finger Millet drink)

Summers in the Western parts of Odisha are a scorching affair. Temperatures that hover around 50 degrees Celsius and hot searing winds make life miserable. Apart from having Pakhala, a watery rice dish that is known to have cooling properties, people prefer all sorts of chilled/cooling drinks . Little wonder that the sale/intake of soft drinks shoot up sharply. ( If you tend to disagree, try and remember when was the last time you were served a traditional drink at someone's house.)

But there are a whole lot of natural drinks that were very popular in Odisha till a few years back. Bela-panna, Lembu pani (lime juice), dahi sharbat (kind of lassi) , gholaa dahi (buttermilk) and mandiya sharbat (ragi drink)were the drinks of choice.

Ragi or Mandiya is known for its cooling properties on the boy and is regularly consumed as Ragi malt/porridge(palua in Odiya) down South. While it is usually consumed in the cooked form, people in Odisha make a simple cooling drink with Ragi powder and a little sugar/jaggery/mishri. Some fresh curd and very little cardamom may also be added to improve the flavor. The drink is usually consumed in the morning on an empty stomach but one can have it at any time of the time.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 5-6 mins

Ingredients -

3 tbsp Ragi powder (Mandiya Chuna)
2 tsp powdered jaggery
1/2 cup fresh yogurt
180 ml water
a pinch of cardamom (optional)
2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Preparation - Take the ragi powder, jaggery, water and cardamom powder in a blender jar. Buzz for 1-2 minutes till jaggery gets dissolved.

Strain the liquid to remove any undissolved solids. ( One can also drink it without straining. )

Pour into a tall glass and stir in the fresh yogurt.

Add ice cubes and serve immediately.

( The drink tends to separate into layers if allowed to stand. Nothing to panic about. Just stir again and drink it. )

Notes - There is also a savory version of this drink. Will publish it soon.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pasta in Mango Sauce

I have come across a lot of people who are totally clueless when it comes to preparing pasta. They believe that pasta needs to be smothered in a whole lot of cheese and sauce. And they somehow end up choosing recipes that are unnecessarily complicated and lengthy.

But the reason I love pasta is its simplicity. For me it is something akin to roti. Quickly rustle up a subzi or get some yogurt and you are good to go. A simple marinara sauce or some mayonnaise-yogurt combo with pasta does it for me.  Hence I am forever on the lookout for such super simple recipes. This time I had some ripe mangoes and red peppers sitting in the fridge and I decided to incorporate them in my pasta. Added some raw mango for that extra zing and I loved the end results. A beautiful dish which was quite something on the tongue. Eureka...I had discovered another summery pasta recipe.

[Did you know ?? - White spaghetti made from Durum wheat  and boiled for 12 minutes has a GI of 34 which ranks it among the low GI foods. But when it is boiled for more time, for example 20 mins , the GI value increases to 58.]

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 15-18 mins

Ingredients -

1 cup farfalle pasta
1 cup peeled and diced ripe mangoes
1/3 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
1 tbsp grated raw mangoes ( u can also use paste instead)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
3-4 finely chopped garlic flakes
2 pinch oregano
1 1/2 tsp Fortune Rice Bran oil
salt to taste

Cooking - Bring 7-8 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add enough salt so that the water so that it tastes too salty. Once it gets to a rolling boil, add the pasta. (Depending on the brand it takes 12-15 mins to become al-dente. Do give a stir 2-3 times in between.)

Once the pasta has cooked for 7-8 minutes, heat a wok. Add the oil. Once oil has warmed, add the garlic and allow it to turn a light brown.

Add the chilli flakes and wait for 10-15 seconds before adding the raw mango. Stir for 1-2 minutes and then add the ripe mango cubes/chunks. Cook for a 4-5 minutes till they become mushy.Sprinkle the oregano.

By this time, the pasta would be done. Strain the pasta while retaining a few tablespoons of the water used to cook it.

Add the pasta to the wok along with the red peppers. Give it a shake of two and cook for 1 minute. Add a little of the pasta water if its getting too dry. Remove from the wok.

(The flavor of the ripe mango is reduced while being cooked. Mix in more ripe mango while serving.)

Garnish with a few mango slices and serve immediately. (But it tastes good even when cold)

Note - Using the pasta water in the sauce has a dual purpose. It adds saltiness and the starch content in it acts as a binding agent which ensures that the sauce binds well with the pasta.

Saunth/Soonth Chaas ( Dry Ginger Buttermilk )

Quite unexpectedly, I ran out of ginger yesterday. Had become addicted to adding it to my buttermilk. So, I thought of experimenting with its closest substitute, dry ginger. It is quite difficult to powder this ingredient. I dry roasted a bit of it on a tawa and then transferred it to the masala grinding jar of my mixie. When it did not get powdered completely, I just passed the coarse powder through a sieve and used the fine portion for adding to the buttermilk. The taste was different from the usual ginger flavored buttermilk but it was quite nice and I ended up with a new variant.

Read on for the recipe-

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1/2 glass yogurt
  • 1 1/2 glass water
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take all the ingredients in a blender. Buzz for a minute.

(Add some ice cubes to the blender jar. This will not only chill the drink but all the fat will also float to the top and can be easily removed.)

Pour into glasses and serve.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pudina Paratha (Mint leaves Indian bread )

Parathas are wholesome, filling and can be made with a variety of stuffings. With the kids at home these days, it is time to treat them to such a leisurely breakfast. This is another variety of paratha that I made yesterday. Also made a cooling aam-panna to go with it.

Read on -

Preparation Time - 10-15 mins

Ingredients -

  • Whole wheat flour ( 1 1/2 cups)
  • onion ( 1 small, chopped )
  • mint leaves ( 3 tbs, finely chopped )
  • cumin seeds ( 2 tsp )
  • ajwain(carom) seeds ( 1 tsp )
  • dry chilli  ( 1 no )
  • crushed green chili (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • oil/ghee for frying paratha ( 2 tsp )
  • buttermilk/yogurt for kneading the dough

Preparation - Dry roast the cumin, carom seeds and red chili till the seeds start to pop. Grind into a fine powder.

Take the flour in a plate. Add the chopped onion, mint leaves, green chilli, 1/3 tsp of the roasted masala powder and salt. Mix well. Add buttermilk/yogurt little by little to get a stiff dough. Cover with moist cloth and keep aside for 15 mins.

Make 4-5 balls out of the dough. Roll out the balls into parathas/circles.

Cooking- Heat a non-stick tawa. Put one paratha, add little ghee/oil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and add some more oil/ghee. Cook till done.

Repeat for the other parathas as well.

Note -Serve hot with some cooling aam panna / lassi or shikanji. ( Kneading with buttermilk/yogurt ensures soft parathas even when cooked/fried with very less oil. )

Paper Boat Drinks (Review)

The schools have closed for the summers and most kids are now grounded at home. The heat and the hours spent playing is definitely taking a toll on them and one can see them demanding stuff like cola and other chillers. After all that is the stuff being played out on TV all day.

But the question is do we want our kids to grow up without sampling a bit of our foodie heritage. What about all those natural stuff that we grew up on. Those drinks that form an indelible part of our childhood memories and were much cherished by generations. While loving grandmothers and mothers had all the time in those laid back days to make it with their own hands, Paper Boats brings that very same goodness packaged in a quite innovative manner in eco-friendly pouches.

I must say it was an ad in the TOI that drew me to these drinks. I quickly bought and sampled four of the flavors and have repurchased them a few times too. Got it online from Bigbasket.com. You can order them Here . And BTW i paid a visit to their website which is quite fun. I especially loved the bit where they show how to make a paper boat. Yep, you can find it on the landing page itself. So sweet.

Loved the packaging!!!

Aamraas turned out to be my favorite followed closely by the 'Jamun Kala Khatta' (Maybe you can blame this on the fact that I am a huge fan of mangoes and that might have colored my judgement. But the sweet thick nectar-like stuff does make me go crazy.)

The flavours is in order of my preference.


Jamun Kala Khatta



I liked the 'Jaljeera' flavor the least. It was maybe too sweet for my liking.

Ratings -

The drinks score a 4.5 for their packaging, quantity and overall appearance.
They are true to the natural taste and free of any preservatives. Hence taste takes a 4.5.
Priced at Rs 30 each, they are easy on pocket too. (But if you compare to drinks like Maaza and others, they are slightly expensive which might influence some customers.) Hence I would give it a 4.5.

Overall, I rate it a 4.5/5. And yes, I have re-purchased Aamraas and Kala Khatta. Also looking forward to trying out the new flavours 'Imlee ka Amlana', 'Golgappe ka Pani' and 'Aam Panna'. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beetroot Raita (Detox Mondays)

Though beetroot is one of the healthiest vegetables known to us, some people avoid it owning to the rather strong and distinct flavor it has. Same is the case with my in-laws who otherwise have quite healthy eating habits. While it can be a bit overwhelming in the raw form, adding to the curries and stir fries tends to tone it down and make it more palatable. However, if you still want to have it raw despite being unable to stand it (believe me there are quite a bit of people who fall in that group), you can add it to raita, lassi or even smoothies. Curd seems to enhance the natural flavor of beetroot and I am quite in love with this combination.
( A small tip though. Try using grated beetroot instead of pureeing it as it gives a better taste. )

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 5 mins

Ingredients -

1 medium sized beetroot
1 cup fresh yogurt
1 green chilli (crushed)
salt to taste
fresh coriander for garnishing

To roast and make a powder -

1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
2 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1 dry red chilli

Preparation - Wash and peel the beetroot. Grate it and keep aside.

Beat the yogurt lightly.

Cooking - Heat a pan. Add the seeds and broken red chilli. Allow seeds to start popping before removing from flame. Once cooled, make a fine powder using a spice blender or even a regular mixie.

Take the beetroot, yogurt , green chilli and 1/2 tsp of the above powder in a mixing bowl. Add salt to taste and adjust the water. Mix thoroughly.

Serve immediately or chill it for 20 mins in the fridge.

Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, rotis or paratha.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lagan ka Murgh ( Hyderabadi Chicken Curry )

Have been watching a lot of Khana khazana and you tube these days. While there are so many impressive recipes that I do want to try out, I have been rather partial to recipes that offer a higher ROI in terms of taste. For some reason(s), I dread spending more time in the kitchen these days.

This is one such recipe that I caught on youtube. The mind-blowing taste belies the minimal effort that goes into its making. It was a chef from Marriot (Hyderabad) who was detailing the recipe. He just threw in all the ingredients in a lagan, gave it a mix and put it on the stove. It can hardly get simpler than this. By the way, the lagan a wide and deep vessel with a thickened bottom used in Indian cooking (more like Mughlai cuisine me thinks). But the only problem was that he was measuring everything in grams. Since I do not have a weighing scale (kitchen purpose ones are easily available these days), I have converted everything into spoons and cups.

Read on for the 'asan sa' recipe -

Preparation Time- 35 mins (Includes a lot of standby time)

Ingredients -

500 gm chicken on the bones
1 tbsp poppy seeds
3 tbsp broken cashew
1 tbsp chiroli (charmagaj)
2 tbsp grated dry coconut (copra)
1 tsp red chilli powder ( I only had the Kashmir variety in stock which gave the dish a reddish hue )
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
2-3 clarified butter or desi ghee
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 cups tomato puree (freshly made)
1 1/2 cups fried onions ( I used two medium sized onions, sliced thinly and deep fried )
1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves
1 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
3-4 crushed green chillis
1/2 cup yogurt (and just a little more)
salt to taste

Preparation - Dry roast the poppy seeds, cashews, chiroli and dry coconut. The coconut should start turning brown. Remove and allow to cool down. Grind into a smooth paste with as little water as possible.

Take a lagan or a deep and thick bottomed vessel. Put in all the ingredients except for chicken
(take care to crush the fried onions before adding to the vessel ).Add 1/2 cup water and mix together.

Wash and marinate the chicken with salt and a pinch of turmeric.

Cooking - Put the vessel on medium flame. Allow the contents to come to a boil. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces, mix thoroughly and cover the vessel with a heavy lid. Cook covered on a medium low flame for 15 mins (give a stir once in a while).

Check if the chicken is done. Else cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the vessel once done.

Garnish with coriander and serve hot.

Note - I did not use coconut as I did not have any in stock but the curry still tasted heavenly. However, if you are partial to the flavor of coconut, do add it. One can also add some thick coconut milk instead.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chocolate Kheer

Time for some sweet indulgences!!! This time I decided to add some molten dark chocolate to my usual rice kheer. Added a new dimension to a classic recipe but changed the color to a dark brown which seemed odd for a kheer. I love the nutty brown color too much. Maybe I will try this next tie with some white chocolate.

Read on -

Preparation Time - 1 hour 15 mins

  • Fragrant rice ( 1/2 cup )
  • milk ( 1 litre )
  • ghee ( 3 tsp )
  • sugar ( 2-3 tbs )
  • cashews/almonds ( 1/2 cup )
  • cardamon ( 2 nos )
  • condensed milk ( 1/2 cup )
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate cubes ( or 4 tbsp of cocoa powder )

Cooking: Wash the rice and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add 1/4 of the milk, ghee ,sugar and salt. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 whistles. Remove from fire and allow to cool down slightly.

Boil the milk separately. Fry the cashews and keep aside.

Transfer the contents of the pressure cooker to a wok. Add boiling milk and cashews. Allow the milk to boil till it thickens ( Takes about 1 hour ).

Meanwhile melt the chocolate cubes in a double boiler.

Add cardamon powder and condensed milk to the kheer. Cook for 2-3 more mins. Remove from the flame and keep aside.

Stir in the liquid chocolate while the kheer is still hot. Pop it into the fridge once the temperature comes down sufficiently.

Drizzle with some white chocolate sauce and serve. (Tastes best when chilled)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kashmiri Chicken Korma

Finally a Chicken recipe after a long time!! Had been cutting down on its intake because of summers but the sporadic rainfall during last weekend gave us a chance to indulge in some yummy chicken gravy. Wanted to make something new and this bookmarked recipe came to my mind. Quite easy and takes minimal effort.

Made a few changes in the preparation method. The original recipe calls for sauteing the onions and spices in ghee/oil and them making a smooth paste out of it. But I chose to boil/cook them in water till tender and then make a puree out of it. This saves quite a bit of butter/oil from going into the dish (and finally adding up on the waistline). This is a distinctively sweet-sour gravy with the added pungency of the dry Kashmiri chilis. But one can reduce the sweetness if one is not very fond of it.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 40 mins

Ingredients -
  • 500 gm chicken pieces ( use boneless if you wish )
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 3 green cardamom, crushed
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup thick yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • freshly chopped coriander for the garnish

For making gravy -
  • 1 medium sized tomato (fully ripened)
  • 1 large sized onion (optional)
  • 4-5 garlic flakes
  • 1 inch long ginger
  • 2-3 dry red chillis
  • 2 tbsp broken cashews
  • 2/3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp pepper seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • a fistful of raisins ( optional, add only if you want it more sweet )
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Roughly chop the onion, ginger and garlic. Cut the tomato into 4 pieces.

Marinate the chicken with salt and turmeric.

Cooking - Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add all the ingredients mentioned for the gravy. Boil for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool down and then transfer to a blender. Make a smooth paste out of it.

Heat the oil + butter in a wok. Add the marinated chicken pieces and fry on medium to high flame till they turn brown on the outside. Then add the masala paste along with chili powder and cook for 7-8 minutes till it starts getting thick and oil just starts to ooze out.

Add 3/4 - 1 cup hot water and bring to boil. Simmer for a few minutes.

Rub the kasuri methi between your hand to warm it and then add to the wok. Also add the crushed cardamom and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Switch off the flame. Stir in the beaten yogurt . Switch on the burner and cook for 3-4 minutes on a low flame and adjust salt if needed. Remove from wok.

Garnish with the coriander and serve hot.

Note - One can also add some more cream/use milk instead to water to make the gravy rich. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Panasa Cutlet ( Low calorie recipe )

Cutlets are a great way of making use of any leftovers. Every time we have any leftover vegetables or even fish/chicken, I fashion them into cutlets which give them a fresh lease of taste and look. However, since cutlets seemed so mundane to me, I never thought of featuring them in my blogs. However, I have been seeing quite a few cutlet recipes floating around these days, so thought of adding my bit too.

I have seen quite a lot of folks avoiding them as they are invariably cooked/fried with a lot of oil. My sincere request to all of you to invest in a good quality non-stick tawa/frying pan and enjoy these yummies without the guilt. This is a classic odiya style recipe sans the breadcrumbs bit. If we are having it with hot rice or pakhala, I do not use breadcrumbs. But it is a must when the cutlets are to be served as a snack. One can also avoid the potatoes if one has high sugar levels. Use some soya kheema and a bit of chuda powder instead.

Read on -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 3 cups boiled jackfruit cubes
  • 1 cup boiled potato cubes
  • 1 medium sized onion ( finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated/crushed garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 4-5 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

For the outer layer

  • 2 tsp besan
  • 2 tsp rice flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preparation - Mash the jackfruit and the potatoes. Break any lumps but do not make it too smooth.

Make a thin batter out of the rice flour, besan, salt and chilli powder.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2-3 mins. Now add the mashed jackfruit and potatoes. Sprinkle all the
powders except garam masala. Mix and fry for 4-5 minutes on medium flame.

Sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves. Mix and switch off flame.

Allow to cool down to a tolerable temperature. Then pinch small balls out of the mix and fashion into round/diamond/heart shaped cutlets.

Dip into the batter and gently roll over the bread crumbs to make a uniform coating. Make similar cutlets out of the remaining mix.

Heat a non-stick tawa/frying pan. Drizzle with a little oil or use a oil spray.

Place the cutlets over it and cook on both sides for a few minutes till little brown spots appear. Remove from the tawa/frying pan.

Serve immediately with some ketchup or even as a side dish with hot rice and dal.

Green Mango Rice (Mamidikaya Pulihore)

Green mangoes are much in season and I am trying to make the best use of this opportunity. From chutneys to dal, summer drinks to main meals, I have added it to everything. There is something about the tongue tickling mouth watering tang provided by these green mangoes that makes me go bonkers.

I was feeling quite lazy yesterday afternoon and was hesitant to cook something. But a growling tummy has its own way of kicking one into action. When I finally sauntered up to the fridge, I saw some leftover rice. Immediately, the thought of some indo-chinese style fried rice cam to my mind but as I rummaged though the cut-vegetables boxes, I found a few slices of raw mango. I usually cut up the veggies on the weekends to save some time on busy weekdays. That is when I decided to make some lip-smacking mango pulihore.

Read on for my version of this South-Indian delicacy -

Preparation Time - 8-10 mins ( I have used cooked rice but if you do not have it, add another 10-15 mins )

Ingredients -

2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup grated green mango ( you can increase/decrease as per liking )
a handful of peanuts
2 tbsp skinless urad dal
2 dry byadgi chillis
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a sprig of curry leaf
a generous pinch of asafoetida
2-3 tsp oil
salt to taste

Cooking - Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Add mustard seeds and broken red chilis. Once the mustard starts spluttering, add curry leaves with asafoetida. Fry till they wilt a bit or  turn brown.

Add the urad dal and peanuts. Turn up the flame so that they crackle a bit.

Add the raw mango and stir for 1 minute. Finally add the rice .

Sprinkle salt to taste and gently mix in. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Serve hot with some papad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gobi Kasuri

A simple preparation of cauliflower with dried fenugreek leaves, the bitter but aromatic flavors of this herb lift the dish out of mediocrity and catapult it into another league. Unlike the Punjabi version which has an overdose of Kasuri methi, I have aligned it more with the Odiya cauliflower stir-fry 'Phulakobi Santula but with distinct notes of the latter herb . Cauliflower like its other cruciferous cousins ( say broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts ) is very low on GI and loaded with cancer preventing antioxidants. However, given the propensity of Indians for deep frying or steeping this vegetable in heavy gravies, much of the benefits are lost. This vegetable tastes best when blanched for few minutes and then sauteed with less oil. A very low calorie dish, this one is especially recommended for those who suffer from diabetes and other heart ailments.

It goes very well with rotis but tastes equally good when paired up with white rice. Since it is quite dry it makes for a good lunchbox recipe. Read on -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Cauliflower ( 1 no, medium )
tomato ( 1 large )
onion ( 2 nos, medium )
red/green chilli ( 1-2 nos )
red chilli powder ( 1 tsp )
ginger garlic paste ( 1 tsp )
turmeric (1/3 tsp)
kasuri methi ( 1/2 cup)
pancha phutana ( 1/2 tsp)
garam masala ( 1/3 tsp)
oil ( 2-3 tsp) (I used Pomace olive oil for this recipe and t came out good)
salt to taste

Preparation: Dice the cauliflower into large sized florets . Cut the onion into thin long slices. Cut the tomato into long slices along its length and remove the seeds.

Soak the kasuri methi leaves in warm water.

Cooking: Bring water to boil in a large saucepan. Add salt and turmeric, followed by the cauliflower florets. Boil for 5-6 mins. Drain excess water and keep aside.

Heat a wok. Pour the oil into it. Add the pancha phutana and green chilli followed by the onions. Stir fry till the onions turn golden.

Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 3-4 mins till the raw smell goes off.

Add the tomato slices. Sprinkle red chilli powder and a little salt. Cover with a lid and cook till the tomatoes soften and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Oil should start separating by this time.

Add the cauliflower florets along with the kasuri methi leaves. Stir fry on high flame for 3-4 mins. Cook covered on low flame for another few minutes till the cauliflower florets imbibe the flavors of the kasuri methi.

Add the garam masala and mix well. Remove from the stove. Serve with rice, rotis or parathas.

Note - One can also skip the tomatoes and add amchur instead.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Watermelon Lemonade (Detox Mondays)

A perfect thirst quencher for the scorching summers!!A tall glass of watermelon lemonade provides more than just the day's supply of antioxidants (watermelon is rich in lycopene). Loaded with vitamins and minerals, it is a very powerful cleanser and diuretic ( speeds up the removal of toxins from the body which catapults it to the league of detox drinks ). It also helps regulate the blood pressure and blood sugar levels when consumed on a regular basis. The watermelon seeds are iron rich so think twice before discarding them.

Check out the recipe-

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

2 1/2 cup watermelon cubes (seeds removed or you can keep them)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar syrup
few mint leaves
ice cubes

Preparation - Take the watermelon cubes along with water in a blender. Buzz for a minute or two. Use a strainer to get a clear juice or use can even drink it as it is (which will be thicker).

Put some ice cubes and crushed mint leaves in a tall glass. Pour the watermelon juice. Add lemon juice and sugar syrup.Gently stir in to mix all the ingredients.

Serve immediately. (Do not mix the lemon if you are going to keep it in the fridge for a few hours)

Note - Use of sugar syrup is optional.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oriya Thali For Diabetics/High B.P. (Detox Mondays)

Yes, Its Monday again. Time to makeup for the weekend sins/over-indulgences. But this time we will be sharing some real food instead of just a detox recipe. It is something that can be inculcated in our everyday diet for its long-term health benefits and not some one-off detox solution.

Oriya food is perhaps among the healthiest cuisines in the world. The emphasis on copious amounts of vegetables and the restrained use of spices and oil make it a delight for people suffering from various ailments. The only drawback seems to be too much of rice in our everyday diet. Though par-boiled rice which is consumed by most Odiya folks if better off than the polished raw rice consumed predominantly in Southern India, we need to include more whole grains in our diet. Making multi-grain rotis an integral part of our meal plans can easily address this problem.

Though almost all vegetables and pulses have their benefits, some are more beneficial for people suffering from diabetes and heart disorders (mainly high B.P. and cholesterol levels). For example, Chana dal is higher on fiber content and vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower are very low G.I.. Even the humble okra (bhindi) is known to reduce blood sugar levels. I have tried to include some of these in my thali (all of them are quite simple recipes that already exist on my blog but I have just put them together).

The items shown above are - Multi-grain rotis, Chana dal fry, Phula kobi kasa/santula (cauliflower curry), kalara bhaja (stir fried bitter gourd), bhendi bhaja (stir fried okra) and tomato-cucumber salad.

Lobiya Ghuguni

I must thank my husband for his suggestion. He caught me soaking the beans at night and asked if I planned to make a Ghuguni with it. And this is how this recipe was born. Both of us loved it. And that is why we are sharing it with you.

For the uninitiated, 'Ghuguni' is a watery preparation made with yellow/green peas in Odisha/West Bengal. It relies on very less spices and one can easily make out the distinct flavour of the lentil. Needless to say,  it is quite a healthy dish. Black eyes beans being a good source of soluble fiber, helps prevent type 2 diabetes by keeping blood sugar balanced after we eat and also removes cholesterol from the body by binding with it. In addition, it is rich in Vitamin A, folate, calcium and manganese. So, if you have been ignoring beans in your diet, its time to bulk up (on the fiber content). Read on for a super healthy recipe -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

Black eyes peas/Lobiya ( 1 cup )
potato ( 1 small)
tomato ( 1 medium)
onion ( 1 medium),
ginger-garlic paste ( 1 tsp)
cumin seeds (1/5 tsp)
cumin powder (1/3 tsp)
coriander powder (1/3 tsp)
chilli powder ( 1/2 tsp)
garam masala powder (1/5 tsp)
oil (2 tsp)
coriander leaves (2 tbsp)
turmeric powder (1/3 tsp)
salt to taste.

Preparation: Wash the black eyed peas till the water remains clear. Soak for about 8 hours or overnight.

Put in a cooker along with potato, salt and turmeric powder. Wait for 2 whistles. Remove and keep aside for steam to escape before opening lid. Drain off the excess water.

Cut the onion and tomato into small pieces. Peel the potato and cut into medium sized cubes.

Cooking: Heat oil in a deep vessel. When it starts smoking, add the cumin seeds and broken red chilli. Once it starts spluttering, add onion pieces. Fry the onion for about 2-3 mins or till translucent.

Add ginger-garlic paste. Cook till the raw smell goes off, then add the tomatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Fry for about 5 mins. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder and chilli powder. Stir for another 2 min.

Add the boiled peas, potatoes and 1 cup hot water. Adjust salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-6 mins.

Add the garam masala, mix in and remove from fire. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

We had it with crisp dosas. But it would taste equally good with roti/paratha as well.

Methi Sagaa Kharada (Stir fried Fenugreek leaves)

Methi or Fenugreek leaves are great for diabetics and people suffering from high cholesterol levels. Additionally, regular consumption of methi leaves also benefits skin and hair. These bitter but fragrant leaves can be a little overwhelming when consumed on its own. But they lend their aroma and taste when cooked in combination with other vegetables or even made into delicious methi parathas/rotis.

While the North Indian style preparations of methi call for use of garam masalas and tomatoes, people in Odisha prefer to savour its original taste. Usually only a little amount of a vegetable like aubergine or ridge gourd is combined with it and made into a stir fry. But I have added some potatoes as well to reduce the bitterness and make it palatable for my kid. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

2 cups fenugreek/methi leaves (cleaned and chopped into small pieces)
1 cup aubergine (chopped into medium sized cubes)
1 medium sized potato (boiled, peeled and cubed)
1 medium sized onion (chopped into thin long pieces)
1-2 dry red chillis
1/2 tsp panch phoran/pancha phutana
2-3 garlic cloves (crushed)
2-3 tsp oil
salt to taste
a pinch of turmeric

Cooking - Heat oil in the wok. Add broken red chillis and pancha phutana. When the seeds start spluttering, add the onions and garlic. Fry till translucent.

Add the methi leaves and fry on medium to high for 2-3 minutes.

Add the potato and aubergine cubes along with salt and turmeric. Cook covered while stirring at regular intervals.

Remove from the flame after 6-7 minutes or once the methi leaves and aubergine are cooked through.

Serve hot with rotis or rice.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gobi and Chenna Paratha

When the kids start school, one invariably runs out of options for the tiffin/lunchbox sooner or later. With time being a constraint and junk not a healthy option, a variety of parathas/upmas and sandwiches are the best alternatives available to working mothers. This is one such 'Paratha' that is filled with the goodness of cauliflower and chenna(panner). Best part is that it takes very less time to make and can also be made in the microwave (Just brush on some oil on the rolled out paratha and place it in the microwave for 2 mins) .

Read on for the easy recipe-

Preparation Time - 15-20 mins

Ingredients -

  • Whole wheat flour ( 1 1/2 cups)
  • chenna ( 1/3 cup )
  • cauliflower florets (1/2 cup)
  • onion ( 1 small, chopped )
  • coriander leaves ( 1 tbs, chopped )
  • cumin powder ( 1/5 tsp )
  • red chilli powder ( 1/5 tsp )
  • salt to taste
  • oil/ghee ( 2 tsp )
  • warm ghee ( 1/2 tsp ).

Preparation - Boil water in a saucepan. Add salt and a little turmeric. Add cauliflower florets and boil for 3-4 mins. Drain and transfer to a bowl containing cold water. Allow to stand for 2 -3 mins. Darin excess water. Buzz in a hand blender/food processor for 1 minute along with the chenna to get a coarse mix.

Take the flour in a plate. Rub in the warm ghee.

Add the chopped onion, chenna, cauliflower paste, cumin powder, red chilli powder, coriander and salt. Mix well. Add water little by little to get a stiff dough as the chenna and cauliflower also have quite a bit of moisture. Cover with moist cloth and keep aside for 15 mins.

Make 4-5 balls out of the dough. Roll out the balls into parathas/circles.

Cooking- Heat a non-stick tawa. Put one paratha, add little ghee/oil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and add some more oil/ghee. Cook till done.

Repeat for the other parathas as well.

Note - Skip the chenna or replace with some grated silken tofu for a vegan version.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paan Kulfi

A must try for all those who love their 'Meetha Paan', this one is a sheer delight for the senses. Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup khoya
  • 5-6 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Gulkand
  • 1/3 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch cardamom
  • 1 big betel leaf (sweet/mild variety)
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour + 2 tbsp cold milk (optional)

Preparation - Grind the betel leaf and fennel seeds with a little milk. Do not make a very fine paste.

Dissolve the cornflour in cold milk and keep aside.

Cooking - Bring the milk to boil in a thick bottomed saucepan. Dissolve the sugar in it.

Add the khoya and condensed milk. Keep stirring till khoya completely dissolves.

Check if the milk has thickened sufficiently. If not add the cornflour slurry. Stir continuously on a medium flame till the mixture has thickened. Switch off the burner.

Add the gulkand and the betel leaf-fennel mixture into it. Mix well.

Strain the mixture to remove any coarse particles. (Though this is optional, I wanted this kulfi to have a melt-in-the-mouth texture)

Allow to cool down and them pour into kulfi molds.

Screw on the tops and then put in the fridge for 6-7 hours.

Remove from the fridge and dip in water. Now rub the mold between your palms and take off the lid. Turn it over a plate and tap gently to remove the kulfi fom the mold. (If it is not coming out, use a sharp object to ease it out)

Serve immediately.

Note: Immerse the molds in water before pouring in the kulfi. This will help to remove it easily.

Lobiya Usal (Black Eyed Beans curry)

Have been experimenting with 'Lobiya'/'Chawli' or Black eyed beans in recent times. This Maharashtrian Usal recipe was one of them which proved to be a big hit with the family. Had it with some bread (did not have pav in stock).

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 40 mins


1 cup black eyed beans
1 medium + 1 small sized onion
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
1/3 tsp fennel seeds
1/3 tsp coriander seeds
1 medium sized tomato
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (Use more if you like, it is a spicy curry)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 Kashmiri red chilli
3 tsp oil
salt to taste

Preparation - Wash and soak the black eyed beans overnight.

Cut the medium sized onion into thin long pieces. Roughly chop the small one.

Cooking - Transfer the beans to a pressure cooker with 1 1/2 cups water with salt and turmeric. Cook for 2 whistles on high and then on a medium flame for 5-6 mins.

Allow steam to escape before opening lid. Check if the beans are soft and can be easily crushed between the thumb and forefinger. If not, cook for another whistle.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the broken red chilli followed by the roughly chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Fry on medium flame for 3 minutes. Add coriander and fennel seeds. Fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add the coconut and fry till it turns brown. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind into a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add the onion pieces and fry till light  brown. Add the masala paste and fry for 3-4 mins.

Add the chopped tomato along with the masala powders and salt. Cook till the tomato is mushy.

Add the boiled beans along with 1 1/2 cup water. Cook with lid covered for 7-8 mins. If it is still watery, cook uncovered on high flame for 2 minutes to get desired consistency.

Serve hot with a dash of lime and some coriander leaves. (I served it with toasted bread.)

Note - I used only about 1 tsp of fresh coconut but since it is a Maharashtrian dish the coconut is an integral part of it. It adds another dimension ( somewhat like sweetness but not exactly ) to this recipe. With more coconut and more onions in the masala paste, the gravy also tends to be richer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Rice Kheer (Bhaja Chaula Khiri)

Whether be it the 'Khai anjula' during the marriage ceremony, the griha pravesh of the new bride or the first time she lights the hearth, rice is considered to be an indispensable part of the Hindu marriage rituals. That is because it symbolizes prosperity and the new bride as the 'Lakshmi' or Goddess of prosperity is supposed to bring in loads of good fortune and money to her husband's family. Little wonder that the rice kheer occupies a very important position in most religious ceremonies. As a new bride, I too prepared the rice kheer with much trepidation ( and quite a bit of help ) as a part of the first meal at my in-laws home. And since then, I have quite mastered the technique of getting it just right.

So, on my last trip to Odisha, I had prepared Kheer on popular demand and it turned out to be a hit ( no surprises here ). But when one of the guests who sampled it asked me whether I had roasted the rice before making the dish, I was stumped. So I called up my Mom and asked if she knew the recipe for 'Bhaja Chaula kheeri'. Turned out that she was aware of it even though she never made it that way. Not much different from my usual method, this just required roasting the rice for a few minutes before adding it to the milk. But it gives a different taste and the rice grains remain a bit more chewy/firm in this version. (Check out the other version : Here)

Have used khoya and condensed milk to reduce cooking time. But you can actually use reduced milk or best cook the rice grains with milk till it reduces to about 1/4 th of the original volume for that authentic flavour.

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 45-50 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1/2 liter milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked rice ( Jeera rice or Gobindobhog rice )
  • 3/4 cup khoya
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp sugar ( I prefer medium sweet, but you can add a little more )
  • 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 liter full cream milk
  • 1/3 cup soaked rice ( Basmati rice )
  • 1/2 cup sugar ( medium sweetness )
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds ( peeled ones )
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp ghee

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add a little crushed cardamoms and the soaked rice. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes.

Add 2 tsp sugar and stir at intervals. Allow it to just start caramelizing (check pic below) so that we get a lovely buff colored kheer.

Add 1/3 cup water, 1 cup milk and the cashews to the cooker. Close lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Remove from flame.

Open the lid as soon as the steam escapes. Use a heavy spoon to whisk the contents and try to break down the rice grains( Else use a good quality hand blender for this step). We need to do this when the mixture is very hot so be careful not to splash any liquid onto ones hands. [1]

Add the remaining milk to the pressure cooker along with 1/4 cup water. Close lid and cook for another 2-3 whistles. Remove from flame.

Allow steam to escape. Open the lid and put it back on the flame.

Add the crumbled khoya ( i used store bought one), condensed milk, raisins and cardamom. Stir continuously till the khoya dissolves and mixture reaches desired thickness. (Took 7-8 mins for me)

Switch off the flame.

[1] ***  When using full cream milk, the cooking time will be very high (nearly 1 1/2 hours) on a low flame. But the taste is rather different and much more creamy.

Once you have broken down the grains with a heavy spoon/hand blender, you need to add the remaining milk and almonds. Cook on low flame while giving a stir occasionally. After reaching a certain thickness, one needs to stir it continuously so that it does not catch at the bottom.

Finally add the cardamom powder and remove from the flame.

Serve warm or chilled. (both taste great)

Note - This stays good for up to a week when kept refrigerated  .

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