Category Archives: Breakfast Ideas

Blueberry Muffins – A holiday memory

Yesterday, Indira asked if we could bake blueberry muffins today.

Never having noticed before that she is fond of this variety of muffins, I was curious as to the reason she wanted to make them.

She told me that she loves the muffins they serve for breakfast  on the flight from Nice to Zurich – we almost always  fly on Swiss, when we travel back each year to India – and that it is always a blueberry muffin.

So we picked up fresh blueberries in Carrefour yesterday and made these cupcakes today in the morning for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins

125-150 g of fresh blueberries

1 and 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose or whole wheat or semi-wholewheat)

1/2 a cup of sugar

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp of baking powder

3/4 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wash and dry the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and whisk everything together.

Add the milk and the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now pour in the flour mixture, stir it in well, then add the blueberries and mix them in lightly.

Put a tablespoon or so of the batter in to each of the cups of a muffin tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 25-40 minutes till the muffins are nicely browned.

While using  fresh blueberries as a baking ingredient does feel like a pity to me – the original recipe does say that frozen berries will do as well but the ones we buy here are too sour for my liking and I therefore tend to avoid them –  I have to say that these cupcakes are quite nice too, with the delicious taste of the berries spread through as the fruit softens on baking.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Cakes and Muffins, THE STUFF OF MEMORIES

Aloo Kulchas

During our stay in Jamshedpur recently- we were there for three weeks till we got to Mumbai this last weekend – I had the most amazing aloo kulchas at Gunchu Didi’s home, which she’d bought from the canteen in her school where they make these to order. In fact I liked them so much that when she and Usha Masi and Vijay Bhaiya cam home for dinner, I asked her to buy some for that evening too.

I can’t remember the last time an Indian bread made such an impression on me; not, I think, since the delicious, wonderfully soft and thin Maharashtrian polis that Vasanti made for us when we visited her in Pune once.

So this is going to be one of the first new recipes I am going to try my hand at once I get back to my kitchen in France.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Breads, Breakfast Ideas

Rava Idlis

This is another of Pooja’s recipes, adapted a little by me.

Maybe I ought to start paying her a royalty for all these inspirations !

Thanks to this one, the girls loved their gouter today and I am looking forward to having the idlis for dinner tonight, with sambhar.

In the background – Ruhin’s artwork, from a year or so ago, which Boudi creatively transformed in to a set of place mats for us.

Rava Idlis

1 cup of suji/semolina/rava, slightly roasted

1 and a 1/2 cups of smooth yogurt

1 large carrot, finely grated

1 or 2 tablespoons of cashew nuts, sliced in half

5-6 curry leaves, finely chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 teaspoons of sunflower oil

salt to taste

1 teaspoon of Eno fruit salt

Mix the yogurt in to the rava, adding a little water – about 1/2 to 1/3 of a small cup – if the batter seems too thick.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a small frying pan, then add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a few seconds and then pour this mixture in to the rava batter. Now mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly.

Lightly oil the idli mold, pour about 2 tablespoons of batter in each section and steam the idlis till done. This will take about 15 minutes.

Take the idlis out with a butter knife.

The top of some of the idlis was a little damp still when I took them out of their molds but the moisture dried up in a few minutes.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Starters and Snacks

Simple Scrambled Eggs

This is such a simple recipe that maybe it doesn’t need to be written down, but Noor asked me when I cooked eggs this way for dinner one day last week, to go with a vegetable soup, whether I’ll teach her when she is older how to make this dish.

So I figure she likes this a lot, so it may be worth writing about here too.

Scrambled Eggs

6 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

a teaspoon of butter (or a little more)

a tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Crack the eggs in to a bowl, season with salt and mix the yolks and whites till they are quite well blended with a spoon or fork.

Heat a pan, add the butter and when it  melts spread it all over the base of the pan with a cooking spoon, then pour the eggs in.  Cook the eggs on a low-to-medium heat, stirring very frequently (scrape at the bottom of the pan as well, to lift up the mixture since it will tend to stick) so that the folds that form are small. Take the pan off the heat while the egg mixture still looks a little wet i.e while the eggs are still not completely cooked. The pan will be hot for a little longer and this will finish the cooking process and allow the scrambled eggs to stay soft and creamy when they are served;otherwise they can become a little dry.

Just before taking the pan off the heat, add the cheese and fold it in. This is an optional ingredient but adds a very nice touch.

Add freshly ground pepper to each portion when it’s served.

This dish is ideally made just before it is brought to the table.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas

Sevai Upma

A long time ago, Priti and I shared an apartment in Bhopal for three months, while we worked on a project at the BHEL factory.

One of the many things that made it such a memorable time was the cooking we did together.

It was also where I got my tea habit, but that is another story.

This post is about the delicious sevai (vermicelli) upma that Priti used to make, the taste of which has stayed with me all these years.

So recently I asked her to mail the recipe to me  since I had forgotten both the process and the proportions of the various ingredients.

She sent me a picture too –

Here’s what she told me to do, in her words, with  some variations of my own in parentheses.

1 generous tbsp of oil to roast the vermicelli in
1tsp mustard seeds
2-3 carrots julienned
1 green capsicum  julienned (I used red bell pepper today)
julienned hari mirchi (I had no green chillies so I used half a whole red chilli)
1 sliced onion (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
1 cup measure of  vermicelli (I used a thicker variety since the usual kind was not available the day I went looking for it)
6-7 curry leaves
2 tbsp shelled peanuts (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
lime juice
salt

Steps :
1. Roast the vermicelli in the oil on a thick bottom/non stick pan.  You have to keep stirring the vermicelli otherwise it tends to burn quickly. I like to roast it fairly dark brown but not burnt-it’s a fine line (I agree – I found myself stirring constantly !)
2. Set aside the roasted vermicelli. In the now empty pan, add another 1.5 tsp (I used a little more) of oil , then add mustard seeds and curry leaves. If you are using onion cook them until brown. Then add the vegetables, stir 4-5 times (I covered the pan for a few minutes to cook the vegetables, stirring every once in a while)
3. Add  2 cups of water, salt,the vermicelli and the peanuts .
4. Cook, covered, on low heat. Watch for the water- if it dries out and the vermicelli does not become almost double it’s original size then add some more. Sometimes I just turn off the stove and let it cook in the steam.
5. Add lime juice; the vermicelli tend to unstick once the lime juice is added so you can add the juice, leave the upma covered for a couple of minutes and then transfer to the final serving dish.

Here’s how my version looks, which I have made for lunch today.

Some of the girls’ reactions –

After the first forkful, Indira said “ummm, very nice !”

A few minutes later – “It’s delicious, and I am going to call it pasta upma” (I guess that because the thicker vermicelli I used does it make it look

a bit like spaghetti !)

And Noor says “It’s excellent, this noodles upma“.

Thank you, Priti Aunty, for a very successful lunch.

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Home-made Butter

Our experience with this is here

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Dips,Chutneys,Sauces,Spreads, LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls

Rava Upma

Like poha, the girls have loved to eat upma since they were babies.

For me, it is a convenient option as it is one of those easy to cook and all-in-one meals – carbs plus vegetables plus some protein from the lentils.

This is what we had for lunch today, with yogurt on the side, clementine juice and then fresh pineapple – which Indira prefers to the canned variety – for dessert.

Though coconut chutney and/or sambhar are the ideal accompaniments for upma, I sometimes eat mine with ketchup – a habit acquired in childhood.  Ma has always made the most delicious upma and it was probably sacrilege to smother its’ flavors in ketchup but back then it was the way Bittu b. and I enjoyed eating it most !

Rava Upma

1 cup of suji/rava/semolina

1 medium-sized onion

2 small carrots

1/4-1/2 cup of frozen green peas (less or more, as you like it)

1 small tomato

1 dry red chilli, broken in two

1/2-3/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 tablespoons (or a little less) of yellow split pea lentils (chana daal)

6-8 curry leaves

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1/2 of ghee

Roast the semolina in a warm pan for a few minutes till the grains start to turn a very light brown – at this stage there is a very distinct aroma.

In the meanwhile, in another large frying pan, heat the oil a little and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to crackle, add the curry leaves, the chana daal and the red chilli halves. Roast the daal till it begins to turn a light brown, then add the onions. Cook these for a little longer than when they turn translucent,

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments

Medu Vadas

I got a small kick out of making these vadas, a couple of days ago, because they are the kind that my Ma would always make i.e the sort with the little hole in the center. That little detail has always been tricky for me to get right but this time I made the batter in my small electric blender, instead of in the blender of my food processor. So I managed to grind the lentils just the right thickness to be able to form the required shape (though I realized I am quite out of practice, as I made these !) .

Why the fuss about the shape, though, when the alternative – vadas that are a smooth round shape – would do just as well and certainly taste exactly the same?And I do in fact make the latter kind whenever I make these vadas in larger quantities, on occasions such as the children’s birthday parties .

Well, just because it is one of those little traditional touches that I somehow feel need to be preserved, even if through infrequent use, rather than forgotten completely …

We had these with sambhar and green coconut chutney. Noor loves them, as does Shri, though Indira would much rather eat them in their dahi vada avtaar.

Medu Vada

1 cup of dhuli urad daal (skinless black gram lentils)

1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

1/2  teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon of asofetida

1 teaspoon (or a little more) of freshly roasted cumin seeds

salt to taste

8-10 curry leaves, chopped fine

Wash the lentils thoroughly, add the fenugreek seeds and soak for at least 6 hours.

Drain the water completely. Grind the daal – taking about a half or a third of it at a time – in a blender/grinder, using as little water as possible , in to a thick paste. Mix in the salt, curry leaves, asofetida, cumin seeds and ginger and stir these in well with clean hands (this make for really soft vadas, according to experienced cooks like my Ma and Chanchal Aunty).

Fry the vadas now in medium hot oil till they are golden brown in color,forming each in to the required shape by hand.  To do this, either a) wet your palms well with a little water (keep a bowl filled with water handy for this as you’ll need to repeat the process after every couple of vadas), take 1 large spoonful of batter in to your left palm, flatten it a little, make a hole in the center and then turn the vada on to your right hand before sliding it in to the oil OR b) lift little portions – about 1 tablespoon – of the batter by hand and roughly forming them in to round shapes drop these in to the oil.

Serve these and eat these hot, when they are wonderfully crunchy on the outside.

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Besan ke Cheele/Poore

I remember this  snack from chilly, rainy evenings in Bokaro – my Ma would give these to us fresh off the tava and I’d polish of mine with her delicious home-made ketchup (I should make that for the girls sometime; they’ll never like the store-bought stuff as much again), or pickle or some mint-coriander chutney if there was some.

I make these for the girls’ gouter now, sometimes. Noor really loves them. She calls them besan dosas 🙂

I do like to see them enjoying good ‘ole desi khana, and not just the croissants from the boulangerie in the neighborhood, excellent as those are.

Besan Cheelas

8 tablespoons of besan (chickpea flour)

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

salt, coriander powder and red chilli powder to taste

1 onion, chopped fine (optional)

3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

1 and a 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of fresh green coriander leaves, chopped very fine

sunflower oil to cook the cheelas

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make sure there are no lumps in the flour. Now add water a little bit at a time, blending it in well – a hand-held whisk is good for this – till the batter is thin enough to pour but not too runny (it should be thinner than the batter for dosas).

Heat a crepe pan till it is quite hot but not smoking, then rub a few drops of oil all over it’s surface with a kitchen towel.

Pour 3-4 tablespoons of batter on to the pan and spread it across the pan as evenly as you are able(this can be tricky because of the onions in the batter). Cook the cheela/poora on medium heat till the lower side looks done when you lift it up a little with a spatula, spreading  oil (1/2 to 1 tablespoon) on it’s surface halfway through this time (at which point the surface of the cheela will begin to dry as the lower side cooks). Now flip the cheela over and cook the other side till it’s done.

These just have to be eaten hot off the pan !

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Desi scrambled eggs – Egg Bhurji

A desi version of scrambled eggs, this is a really versatile dish.

It makes for an indulgent Sunday breakfast, with toast and butter or even baguette and cheese and I make it for dinner  too sometimes, to go with soup, in the winter.  And the leftover portion is always good for a sandwich filling the next day, with a little ketchup tossed in 🙂  Shri and the girls really enjoy this dish and I am glad about that as it is one of those things that is so easy to make .

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With or without the peas or green bell pepper, this is a delicious way to eat eggs.

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Pain de Sarrasin- aka Kuttu ke Paranthe!

Talk about it being a small world.

When I wrote recently about buckwheat crepes I had no idea that buckwheat flour , called sarrasin in French or ble noir, is the good old kuttu ka atta that is used all over India to make things like cheelas, paranthas and pakoras for people who are fasting for religious reasons and therefore not allowed to eat grains. But then I have never actually eaten anything made with this flour in India, nor indeed have I seen it, since in our home my Aryasamaji mother and dadi never observed any fasts for any festival or occasion. So, being only very vaguely aware of this flour,  I had never given any thought to it or to what it might be.

My good friend Priti wrote to tell me about it, after reading about the crepes here.

So when I made paranthas today, for the girls’ lunch, with the flour I originally bought to make the very French galette, it felt like I had taken the long way home, in a manner of speaking 🙂

sarrasin-paranthas-002

Kuttu ke Paranthe

I made the dough as I would for any other paranthas – with water but also with some crushed rock salt in this case –  then rolled out and cooked the paranthas in the same way too. I noticed that the flour had a tendency to get sticky so I added water very carefully, only a little bit at a time.

The girls, as they sat down to eat, sniffed at their plates and said, “hey but these smell like those crepes !”

I did tell them eventually why. And though they were evidently not too excited about this new culinary experiment, they did eat them, good girls that they are, without further comment, with some aloo ki subzi , a little pickle and yoghurt.

I have no idea how far from the original these are in taste or look, but they are good enough to eat that I would definitely make them again.

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Galettes des Sarrasin-or Buckwheat Crepes

I made buckwheat crepes for dinner last night, finally, and though Noor said quite frankly that she did not like them too much( I am hoping that she might take to them gradually, especially as yesterday she was quite full from her gouter and not inclined to enjoy her dinner anyway), Shri really liked them, and Indira said “I completely love them !” . In fact, after she tasted the first one as it came off the crepe pan, she declared it exactly the same in taste as the ones we ate in Valberg recently, bless her heart.

They turned out quite nice, except that the ones I have eaten in restaurants here are sometimes crisper. So I need to figure that one out still.

Once again, a really simple, quick dish to make. We had these with soup and potato-feta cheese pancakes.

These savory crepes are called galettes in France to distinguish them from the sort of crepes that are eaten with sweet fillings. And sarassin, or ble noir, is  buckwheat flour. Buckwheat, as I wrote here is not actually any kind of cereal. It is a broadleaf plant that is a very good source of protein and iron. It is also used to make the variety of noodles called soba in Japan.

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Galettes des Sarrasin, or Buckwheat Crepes

250 gms of buckwheat flour, with 1 tsp of salt mixed in (this quantity should be enough for at least 6 people)

250 ml of milk ( either whole cream or half-fat)

500 ml of water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine the water and the milk. In a mixing bowl, stir in half the milk and water, and the egg, in to the flour till the batter is quite smooth. Add the rest of the milk and water, and mix till well combined.

Ideally, leave the batter to rest for 60 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized crepe pan till it is very hot. Put a little knob of butter on the pan, and quickly spread it over the surface of the pan with a kitchen towel. Now lift the pan off the heat, pour about 1/2 a small cup  of batter on to the pan, and quickly bend and turn the pan every which way till the batter covers the entire surface of the pan. Put the pan back on the hob, and cook till the top of the crepe dries and the edges start to go quite brown/crispy and start to lift a little off the pan’s surface. Flip the crepe over with a spatula, and cook the other side for 1/2 a minute or so, lifting every few seconds towards the end to check if it is done.

Repeat the process for the rest of the crepes. Any extra batter will keep in the fridge.

Spread a little beurre de bretagne (or any other salted butter) on the crepe, then fold it over twice to form a triangle. You could also eat these crepes/galettes with any savory filling such as ratatouille, diced/slices of smoked chicken or ham, sliced tomato and cheese (grated emmenthal or slices of mozarella) etc.

Eat them while they are still quite hot, if you can. They taste best that way, IMO.

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First among equals -Potato and Peas Poha

I should probably create a special category for  the recipes of the things that the girls like  most and are happy to eat as often as I’ll make them, such as varan, upma, grilled salmon with pesto, any fish baked with a provencal marinade (made of oil, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs) etc.

And poha surely would be the first among those equals.

This is another dish that I learned to cook from my mother-in-law.

Indira, especially, loves it like she does nothing else. So today, when I wanted to persuade Indira to come home for lunch (Noor was going to eat with me anyway, because she has a bad cold and I wanted her to stay at home after lunch to have a nap) because I was worried she would not eat well in the school cantine due to an aching tooth and a mouth ulcer, I suggested that I could make poha. She was quick to agree after that !

With a very few modifications – such as the addition of ginger – the recipe that follows is faithful to Ma’s.

It is food that soothes the soul 🙂

noorniceparkpohacrepes-039

Potato and Peas Poha

3 big handfuls of poha, washed under cold running water and left to drain in a colander for about 15-25 minutes

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced very fine (alternatively, you could use potatoes that have been boiled till soft)

2 medium sized onions, chopped very fine

1/2 to 3/4 cup of shelled, frozen peas

a handful of fresh green coriander, chopped fine

1/2 or 1 tsp of grated ginger

salt to taste

3/4 tsp of turmeric powder

1 tsp of mustard seeds

5-6 curry leaves

In a large frying pan, heat 4-5 tablespoons of oil, then add the mustard seeds. When these start to crackle, add the curry leaves and fry these for a few seconds. Now add the potatoes, reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook the potatoes till they are a little more than half done.

Add the onions, and fry with the potatoes till they are very soft and translucent. Now add the grated ginger and peas, and cook for some more time till the peas appear cooked. Add the poha (after sprinkling a little water on it, and salt) and stir everything together. Cover the pan and leave to cook till the poha is quite soft, uncovering the pan periodically (you will need to do this 3-5 times before the poha is soft enough) to sprinkle a little water over the poha and turning it over well so that it cooks evenly.

Stir in the coriander, and eat it while it is still hot.

This is a basic poha, and tastes wonderful with some plain yoghurt and pickle. Different cooks make it and serve it in many other ways, such as adding other vegetables, serving it with a little sev,  lime juice and/or sugar, etc.

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And we are finally making Crepes!

Indira and Noor have always enjoyed crepes. They like both the sweet sort, filled with Nutella or some confiture, as well as the savory kind (usually made with buckwheat) that we ate last month in Valberg, when we went up to the mountains to do some snow sledding on Noor’s birthday. That day Shri had just the plain – but awesome – buckwheat crepes that come with a generous dollop of beurre de bretagne, and the girls and I had them with a really satisfying topping of ham and some cheese.

Ever since, I have thought that I must try and make crepes at home, since we all enjoy them so much, though so far I have only ever bought the packaged, sweet variety from supermarkets for the girls’ gouter.

First, a little background on crepes. They are very think pancakes, made of a variety of flours, and can be both sweet or savory. Crepes are native to the region of Brittany, in northwestern France, where they are traditionally made with  buckwheat flour and served with cider. The interesting thing about buckwheat is that it is not a variety of wheat; in fact it is not a cereal at all. It is classified as a “pseudocereal” – it is a broadleaf plant and not a grass (true cereals are grasses). Buckwheat – called sarrasin in French – is gluten-free and a rich source of proteins and iron.

And as it has turned out, crepes are just wonderfully easy and quick to make. What’s more, the substitution of whole wheat  for plain flour doesn’t make a discernible difference to the taste. I was quite relieved to see that the girls ate the ones I made today with whole wheat flour with as much enthusiasm as they did the one I made last week with white flour.

Noor and I shared one today with a filling of a little bit of a salmon spread that we both like, instead of Nutella, and that was very nice too. So I am now planning to go the whole hog and make the savory kind one day for dinner, with sarrasin flour.

This recipe, based on the one in Linda Doeser’s “Les 100 Meilleures Recettes – Cuisine Vegetarienne” is, to borrow a phrase from Indira and her friends, easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂

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Whole wheat Crepes

115-120 gms of whole wheat flour, with 1/4 tsp of salt added in (if you have time, sift these two together)

300 ml of milk ( either whole cream or half-fat)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

In a mixing bowl, stir in half the milk and the egg in to the flour till the batter is quite smooth. Add the rest of the milk, and the oil, and mix till well combined.

Ideally, leave the batter to rest for 30-60 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized crepe pan till it is very hot. Put a little knob of butter on the pan, and quickly spread it over the surface of the pan with a kitchen towel. Now lift the pan off the heat, pour 1/3 a small cup of batter on to the pan, and quickly bend and turn the pan every which way till the batter covers the entire surface of the pan. Put the pan back on the hob, turn the heat down just a little, and cook till the top of the crepe appears to be dry. Flip it over with a spatula, and cook the other side for 1/2 a minute or so, lifting every few seconds towards the end to check if it is done.

Repeat the process with the rest of the batter. Try not to keep the crepes one on top of the other as they can get difficult to separate.

(Crepes can be cooked in an oven too; more about that another time)

Keep each prepared crepe on a large surface and when it is a little cool, spread any sweet or savory filling over one half, then fold the crepe over twice to form a triangle.

Et voila ! That is all it takes to create a  great snack, or with some salad on the side, a very nice meal.

Read all about crepes here http://www.epicurean.com/articles/crepes.html and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cr%C3%AApe

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Moong Sprouts Chaat

Our lunch today started as a little holiday experiment.

The girls have done some planting in school on more than one occasion, but it isn’t something I have done with them at home.

But there is this book Indira has which she likes to read with me, called “Flowers and Trees” which discusses things like “Do plants eat?”, “Why do we pull out weeds?” , the basics of pollination and so on. So one night a few days ago while we  were reading that book again I suggested that we could try and sprout mung beans, to see how things grow.

The girls literally jumped at the idea, since this offered an opportunity to get out of bed and delay lights-off time.

So we soaked 1 cup of whole, green moong that night in a lot of water. The next morning I drained the water, put the beans in a large, thin tea towel, tied it up in to a bundle, and put it inside the oven, since the idea, I thought, is to keep the beans in a dark place.

[The process I followed this time is the one I remember my father-in-law used to sprout moong once when I was visiting. But then I came across this site today-http://www.sproutpeople.com/grow/sprouting.html – which recommends that seeds need to be allowed to breathe; so I am going to try making sprouts again by leaving the beans in an open but cool area. Another site I also found today which offers a simple guide to sprouting is http://www.wisebread.com/scrumptious-sprouting-for-your-meals ]

It was Monday night when we soaked the beans. And today, Thursday, is  when we finally had chaat, for lunch, that we made with the sprouted beans, using the recipe I got on the phone this morning from my mother. The girls have quite enjoyed opening the bundle every night these past 3 days, to check if the beans were sprouting as expected, helping me sprinkle water on the cloth and then retying the bundle before putting it back in to the oven.

The chaat itself has been a reasonable success. Noor says she likes it; Indira says she loves it.  But I suspect that might be more because she feels this is their project, so to say. She hung around with me in the kitchen this morning, watching with great interest while I prepared the other ingredients for the chaat, and kept a keen eye on things in general (she pointed out that the beans might start sticking to the bottom of the pan soon, when she saw me forgetting to stir them as they cooked because I was talking to a friend on the phone at the same time).

Either way, I am glad they have taken to something that is so nutritious and low-fat.

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Moong Sprouts Chaat

Sprouted beans (grown with 1 cup of dry mung beans)

2 medium sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced in to small pieces

a 3 or 4 inch long chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped fine

2 firm, small tomatoes, diced in to small pieces

1 large onion or 2 small onions, peeled and chopped fine

salt, chaat masala powder, red chilli powder (I use the Kashmiri kind, in deference to the girls’ taste buds) and lime juice to taste

2 green chillies (optional), chopped fine

2 tbsp of sunflower oil

1 tsp of cumin seeds

1 tsp of grated ginger

some green coriander, chopped fine

In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the jeera seeds for a few seconds till their aroma is released. Add the ginger and saute for a few seconds. Then put the beans in and fry them in the oil for  for a few minutes without covering the pan. Then add some  water (about 1 cup or a little more ), cover the pan and cook the beans on low heat till they are quite soft ( they could be cooked in a pressure-cooker too, using a lot less water).

In a large mixing or salad bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, then add the cooked beans after they have cooled and toss everything together well.

This was a great change from the usual salad/pasta/parantha-subzi kind of lunch. The girls really enjoyed it with plain yoghurt and some buttered toast on the side. I guess one could use the chaat to make a kind of roll or wrap, with phulkas or tortillas, too.

I believe there are endless variations to this basic chaat theme ; one could mix different chutneys, yoghurt, and add other ingredients and spices to the sprouts,  and the sprouts themselves could be of any of a variety of beans.

And I seem to remember a delicious  dahi-puri I have eaten in restaurants in Mumbai which involves filling a mung sprouts-based mix in to golgappas.

I am looking forward to trying my hand at that one in particular !

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Mung Crepes aka Moong Dosas aka Pesarattu

I make these sometimes when I have a friend over for breakfast – a great way to start the day once the kids are in school ! –  and this is how I explain the dosa – as an Indian crepe.  And I do in fact use a crepe pan to make the dosas, so this is just one of those recipes that very easily straddles both  worlds !

In southern India, I believe these dosas are called pesarattu.

Mung Crepes aka Moong Dosas

1 cup of whole or split moong daal/ mung beans (whole or split green gram lentils), plus 7-8 fenugreek seeds, soaked overnight in lots of water

1/2 a cup of basmati rice (this is optional but makes the dosas crisper, IMO)

1 and 1/2 tsp of grated ginger

salt to taste

1/2 a tbsp or so of sunflower oil per crepe/dosa, to fry

Drain the beans, then grind them in a food processor adding a few tablespoons of water at a time. Grind the rice too, separately, and mix with the beans batter.

The batter should be neither too thick and pasty, nor too runny.

Add the salt and the ginger and mix in well.

Heat the crepe pan till it is quite hot. Now turn the heat down to a medium hot setting, then pour 2-3 tablespoons worth of batter on to the pan with a large serving spoon and spread quickly and evenly with the back of the spoon.

Turn the heat up a little bit (though not to a full setting), and cover the pan with the lid of any cooking pot till the top portion of the crepe begins to look dry rather than wet (this will take less than a minute).

Spread 1/2 a tbsp of oil evenly over the surface of the crepe, cover again and cook for another 1/2 a minute or so. Then, using a spatula with a very thin edge which can be slid under the crepe, turn it over (if the crepe is well made, it will have a lovely crispy, brown look by now) and cook it for say 1/2 a minute. Turn it over again, fold it in half, and remove it on to the serving plate.

Turn the heat down again before pouring and spreading the batter for the next crepe, then turn it up again to cook.

In between every two or three crepes that one makes, it helps to clean the surface of the pan with the exposed portion of an onion cut in half  (I enjoy staying with this traditional method though one could use kitchen towels instead)

With a potato filling that is spiced with mustard seeds and curry leaves, and coconut chutney, this makes for a great breakfast.

The girls absolutely love these dosas – or pesarattu, and I plan to make them for breakfast or lunch one day during the school holidays that will begin this weekend, so I will take the pictures for this post then.

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Dhokla – A very quick recipe

I have never been able to make good idlis, and so  had never tried to make dhokla either, since typically that would use the same technique of steaming, which I never had much success with.

Until, that is, my friend Pooja gave me this recipe a couple of weeks ago for making dhokla in the microwave. The preparation time is only about 5 minutes, and the cooking time is only about that as well.

The results were good enough that I have made dhokla more than once since and the girls have really taken to it which is great.

Dhokla

Besan (chickpea flour) 1 cup ( or a mixture of besan and suji i.e. semolina in equal or varying proportions)

125 ml of whisked yogurt

some (about 1/4 cup) water

3/4 tsp of grated ginger

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder

2  tbsp of sunflower oil

lemon juice – 1 tbsp

Eno fruit salt – 1 tsp

salt to taste

1/2 tsp of mustard seeds and 4-5 curry leaves (chopped) for tempering

1  tbsp grated (fresh or desiccated) coconut and 2 tsp of chopped green coriander for garnish

Mix the yogurt, the water, the salt, the ginger , the oil and the turmeric powder in to the besan till the batter has a smooth consistency that is easy to pour(but not too runny). Stir in the fruit salt at the end, and pour the mixture immediately in to a microwave bowl after oiling its sides lightly.

Cover the bowl with an airtight lid and cook the mixture for about 4-5 minutes (at about an 800 W setting).  Check, by inserting a knife in the middle if the dhokla is done else cook for another minute. Leave the bowl in the microwave for half a minute before taking it out.

In a small pan, heat a tbsp of oil, then add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves and fry till the mustard seeds crackle. Pour this mixture over the dhokla, spread the coconut and coriander evenly,  then cut the dhokla after a few minutes in to pieces as big or small as you like.

With some coriander chutney, this is just a delicious treat.

Thank you, Pooja !!


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Carrot Muffins

Just before dinner tonight, Indira said “Mama, what can I take for gouter tomorrow?”

Tomorrow being Tuesday, they will be going swimming again from school , and I know she enjoys having a special gouter to eat on the bus coming back, rather than the usual clementine or apple slices.  So I suggested that I could make some carrot cake, since this is a current favorite with her.

She was quite pleased with the idea, but requested that I make muffins, instead of a cake, so that is what I did.

The recipe is the same as for the carrot cake that I wrote about recently, except that I put the mixture in to muffin trays, and the total baking time was around 15 minutes shorter than it would have been for the cake.

I don’t know what it is about muffins – but I do believe the ones I have made tonight taste nicer than the cake I made the last time with the same recipe (I have been eating the bits stuck to the muffin tray)

Two small changes that I made – I skipped the vanilla essence this time; and I used a wheat flour available here that is called “semi-complet” ; it is sort of halfway between the whole wheat and refined kind. it makes the muffins more prone to breaking if not handled carefully when you are taking them out of the tray-though they hold just fine after that- but I don’t like the idea of using refined flour too much because it is “empty” calories, as they say.

With half the quantities as in the recipe for the cake, I was able to make 12 muffins.

And now, I will need to try and resist a midnight snack !

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“It’s like kheer!”-Porridge with Dates and Walnuts

That is how one friend, Sarita, described this combination, after she tried it out.

It is what Indira and Noor used to eat for breakfast quite often when they were younger, and they really loved it.

When they were babies, too, their favorite food was cooked oats mixed with banana, and I even carried a box of oats with me(along with other cereals) as a standby option when we traveled, in case they did not like whatever was on offer. Oats can be cooked so easily and quickly as long as there is a microwave available, and banana is a fruit that is pretty ubiquitous.

I add dates now sometimes, instead of banana, to sweeten the oats and milk, and some walnuts and/or almonds.

This is another breakfast food that always puts a smile in my stomach !

Porridge with Dates and Walnuts

2-3 tablespoons of quick cooking oats

120-150 ml of skimmed or half-fat milk

4-5 soft, seedless dates chopped fine (or half a banana, chopped fine)

1 tablespoon of walnuts (chopped or in larger chunks, as you like them)

3-4 almonds,preferably soaked overnight, then peeled and either chopped or sliced(you could use them without soaking them first, too, though I believe soaking overnight makes them easier to digest. For more on that, see here http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060929121033AA7Lfj2)

Combine the milk and the oats in a micro-wave proof bowl and cook uncovered at 750W for 2 minutes. At the end of this time, the oats will have almost started to boil over. Watch out for this and take the oats out before this happens.

Turn the oats and milk mixture over in to a cereal bowl. Add the chopped dates and walnuts(plus the almonds, if you are using them), and a little more milk if the consistency is too thick. Stir to mix everything well.

Enjoy !!

It’s a warm, satisfying, delicious and healthy start to the day.

A variation -simply soak the nuts and oatmeal together in the milk for 20-30 minutes before you are ready to eat.

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Spanish Omelette(Tortilla)

All this last week, I have had a solitary red bell pepper sitting among the other vegetables in the fridge and  looking at me -I felt -reproachfully for being left unused.

I usually love red bell pepper in salads, but I haven’t felt like making salad since the weather has turned cold. So I decided this evening to make a Spanish omelette instead, since red pepper makes a healthy, tasty,colorful addition to it. I will use some of it for lunch tomorrow for Noor and me – it is a food she loves. This omelette, called a tortilla in Spain, luckily keeps well for a few days in the fridge, so the rest of it will be handy for dinner for the 4 of us one evening later this week.

You could add meats (such as diced ham) and vegetables to the basic egg and potato combination, to make different kinds of tortilla. Here’s the recipe for my version of it.

Spanish Omelette

6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut across in to very fine round slices( I use a food processor to do this; I’d find it a challenge to slice the potatoes as fine by hand)

6 eggs

1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced

2 medium sized onions, peeled and sliced fine

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil very slightly in a large, fairly thick-bottomed frying pan. Add the onions and the potatoes, cover, and leave to cook till the potatoes are soft, over moderate heat. Turn the mixture gently from time to time with a flat/wide cooking spoon, taking care that the onions and the potatoes don’t brown or burn. Try to separate the fine slices of the potatoes – which tend to stick to each other because they are so thin – each time, so that all of it gets cooked. Half way through, add the pepper.

When the mixture is cooked (the potatoes should be soft but not lose all form and become mushy, though they will be smashed up a bit), take it out in to a large dish, and allow it to cool.

Break the eggs in a separate bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add to the first mixture when it has cooled and stir gently to mix evenly.

Return the frying pan to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turn the egg and potato mixture back in, cover, and leave it to set, on moderate heat. When the mixture is almost set (this will take about 10 minutes;the middle won’t yet be set but don’t wait for this to happen else the other side will get burnt), turn the omelette over by sliding it on to a large plate, and then leave the other side to set. This will take just a few minutes.

Take it out when it is cooked on to a large serving plate and when it has cooled down, wrap it in cling film to store in the fridge.

This omelette makes a complete meal, with a green salad or soup, and some bread. And since it is easy to carry, sliced up, it is a great picnic food as well. I also make it sometimes for an indulgent, leisurely sort of weekend breakfast.

I am looking forward to my delicious lunch tomorrow, already 🙂

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Indira’s Favorite Date Muffins

This afternoon, the school mums group had organized a little gouter (as the afternoon snack is called) in the primary school canteen.

This is an annual end-of-the-school-year event, at which the children in the various classes gift the collective presents from their families to their teachers.

It is the mums who usually provide the snacks and drinks and I took along Indira’s favorite after-school snack, which is date muffins.

When she was much younger, she assumed that any brown colored food was chocolate.  I was happy to exploit this misconception, and routinely made cakes and muffins with dates instead of chocolate.

This is not to say that she has been spared a fondness for chocolate. But she does love dates too, in any form, which I consider an adequate reward for my efforts.

At the gouter today, too, I was glad to see that the muffins were well-liked.

This is my recipe –

Date Muffins (or “muff-uns”, as Noor calls them)

(makes around 16)

1 and a 1/2 cups of finely chopped soft dates

3/4 cup of very hot water (just boiled)

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1/4 cup (a 160 ml cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 and 3/4 cup refined or wholewheat flour (I use the latter when baking for the girls, but you may want to use white flour. The difference in taste is not very significant, to my mind, and hence I stick with wholewheat flour since that packs more nutrition)

1tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mix the first 3 ingredients and leave to cool. Next, mix the last 3 ingredients in a bowl and keep aside.

Beat the eggs till they are frothy, then add melted butter and sugar, and beat again till these 3 things are well-blended.

Once the date mixture has cooled, add it to the eggs-butter-sugar mixture and mix a couple of times to blend. Now add the flour mixture, and mix everything together so the flour is well-blended.

While you mix everything together as described above, remember to switch your oven on, so as to pre-heat it for 5-8 minutes, to 180°C.

Fill the muffin moulds 1/2 to 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

These muffins are extra nice with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side, if you really want to make this in to a fancy dessert or really indulge the kids.

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Muesli with Yoghurt

Now that summer is here, I am feasting on fruit yoghurt, especially the awesome mango flavor that Danone introduced a couple of years ago.

It is easy to make a simple but filling breakfast out of it, too, by mixing it with muesli.

The girls still prefer crunchy cereals to muesli, but I am hoping that this will bring them around.

What I do is that 20 to 30 minutes before I want to eat, I put 2-3 tbsp of muesli in a bowl, mix in the contents of a 125 gm pot of fruit yogurt , and then leave the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.

It’s a breakfast that always puts a smile in my stomach 🙂

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