Showing posts with label lentils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lentils. Show all posts

Friday, October 31, 2014

Slow Cooker Bean and Barley Soup

The leaves have turned color, and are beginning to fall. Looking out the window, there are as many bare branches as the ones with leaves. Evenings are cool, and nippy. My resolve gave way last week when temperature inside the house dropped to 60 degrees - I turned the heating on already, ignoring my resolve to make it into November without it this year….


Oct. 31st 2014. The first signs  of a frosty night in our backyard.
…And believe it or not, I woke up this morning to a frosty, white backyard…..

All of this makes me want to just curl up with a blanket, a good book and a warm bowl of comforting soup…..

Growing up, soup was always a winter luxury in India. The bountiful greens and tomatoes during the cooler months accounted for greater affordability of these veggies. We grew up on clear soups. My mom always started with fresh vegetables, used a pressure cooker to cook them, then pureed and strained them.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sprouted Moong Dal- Healthy teatime tiffin


Sprouts were quite a favorite of mine in my younger days. My mom had them going almost every other week. Whole moong in the summer,  moth ki daal during monsoons and kaala chana for winter. The way I remember her doing it was to pick and soak the grains in the morning, and then tie them in a moist muslin cloth. She let the bundle hang in her kitchen sink. The sprouts came almost within a day. I’d usually wait 2-3 days till when the sprouts were about an inch (or more) long before attacking them….

…And that brings us to the actual eating preferences in our home:

1) I loved my sprouts raw. Just sprinkle them with a little salt and garam masala, and some lemon if you wish. Some might argue that you have to use a spoon, I just picked at each sprout individually and popped it in my mouth. Worked best for “soft” beans like Moong daal. And tasted best in the hot summer months.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dal Makhani- Pressure cooker and Crockpot versions


Almost everyone from Northern India makes Dal Makhani. I hadn’t thought two hoots about mine, until one friend commented about me using black-eyed peas in my version. Apparently, that was new. But this is how my mom always made it, and I’ve continued with her mix version as well. 

A staple during the the winter "Shaadi season” and in the restaurant menus; Dal Makhni is a delicious, rich blend of beans and lentils originating, I think, from the Western Punjab region. My best memories of this dish are from roadside dhabas that we encountered while traveling within the state of Punjab. Add to it their tandoori roti, raw sliced onion drenched in vinegar and a glass of lassi….sheer heaven. My recipes have never quite reached that level of comfort- and I think that’s because I generally tend to skimp on butter and cream. But if you don’t, then this is probably one of the easiest dishes to make. Here, I have for you the traditional pressure cooked version first, followed by how I tried to go low-cal by making it in a crock pot.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

15-bean Vegetarian stew in a slow cooker

Today, I want to talk about now. No stories, no memories.

A couple weeks ago, a recipe of Panchmel Dal that I's submitted to a fabulous event called My Legume Love Affair, first started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook was chosen to be a winner of the giveaway. As a result, I became the proud owner of a gift basket sponsored by Hurst Beans.  Then, in a separate pack, Susan sent me this great looking soup spoon. I couldn't wait to try the great bean selections I'd got.


My Gift from Hurst Beans courtesy Hurst Beans.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A blast from the past: Kalmi Vada

My MIL claims not to be much of a cook herself. But the truth is, her discomfiture in the kitchen makes her one of the better home cooks I know of. She measures and tastes and strives for perfection when most people, including yours truly, get side-tracked by their own confidence into serving without tasting first.  One of the first things I remember from her kitchen was this delicacy she called Kalmi vada.  I had been married barely about a month,  when she made these for the Holi festival over a decade ago.  I remember she'd sounded surprised when I said that I'd never eaten those before. Apparently,  Kalmi vada is a Rajasthani snack....never saw it made in my Rajasthani side of the family though.....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Panchmel Daal- no onion or garlic.

Making Indian dals look appetizing in a photograph has got to be the trickiest thing ever. I haven't been able to master the art at all.  Which is one of the reasons why my dal posts lie languishing away, gathering dust for ages....as did this one. Then, this past weekend, I had the pleasure of dining with some dear friends. Her mom is visiting from India; and she had made Panchmel dal for dinner.  We played the guessing game for a while, then she finally revealed what went in the dal. I was quite surprised; mostly because despite having the same ingredients, her Panchmel tasted so different from mine.  Guess it is all in a mom's touch....!! But then that dinner prompted me to brush some dust away; and picture or not, this old post is going to see the light for for sure.

Panchmel dal- as the name suggests- is a mixture of five dals; or lentils. You usually mix the lentils with comparable cooking times. In my family, the mix is made up of skinned moong dal (split green gram), red masoor dal (whole red lentils), chane-ki-dal (split Bengal gram), arhar (split red gram) and urad dals (split black gram).  Panchmel dal as a preparation was always considered a delicacy and held in high esteem; reserved for special occasions, such as a son-in-law's visit. Typically served as an accompaniment with baati, or missi roti with dollops of hot, melted ghee on top...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Daily Dinner (17): Rajma Rasedaar

This then, is the prelude to last week's post. 

The only thing I loved more than rice growing  up, was Rajma...

The ongoing joke was that for me to get married, my maama (maternal uncles) will have to make sure that I had enough Rajma-chawal to last me my whole life. For no one in Rajasthan (in my naani's world) ate either rice or kidney beans....

My grandma (naani) had not seen Rajma (red kidney beans) till they shifted base to Bhatinda, Punjab.  And then, all the age-old inhibitions came to the front. She never learnt to cook or eat these beans. To her, the color, shape and meatiness of them was a big put off. To some extent she even refused to believe that red kidney beans were a plant product.....not so, though, for my mom's younger siblings. All four of them would scout the neighborhood Punjabi families, and make themselves available at whoever's table was serving Rajma

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Osaman: Gujrati Moong Dal Rasam

When in doubt, grab moong daal is my cooking motto. You can always dress up its simplicity by any add-ons you can think of. I add vegetables to it, change my tempering, play with the seasoning. And every little tweak adds a new dimension to this otherwise kind-of-bland lentil. Moong daal in my family was what Arhar daal (pigeon peas) is in my in-laws' home - a no-fail, anytime dish. 

This recipe for a moong dal preperation called Osaman showed up radomly one day on my reading list. As I read through, I was reminded of a dinner at a Gujrati friends' some time ago. As always, not only did my kids get hungry again barely 10min after we'd cleared the table, but baby P rather ungraciously declared that she didn't like the dinner we had earlier and wanted something else.  In true spirit of Indian hospitality, ignoring my embarrassed attempts at cover up, the lady of the house opened up her fridge and kitchen for baby P to pick her dinner from.  The saving grace (sort of)... after she polished off her plate of rice with what seemed to me a soupy daal; baby P walked up to our hostess and declared "Now my tummy is full- that was a good dinner"....This is where I first heard the word Osaman; and that the in the Western state of Gujrat, where food is meant to confirm to the 5 senses of taste- sweet, sour, salty, spicy and tangy, Osaman is usually an integral beginning of any family meal, especially if older family members live with the family.  My incentive for trying it out was 2-fold; (1) Baby P had liked it, and I could hope for a similar "tummy is full" satisfaction if I pulled it off..... and (2) I'd only add to my small repertoire of moong daal recipes. It was a totally win-win situation.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dahi-Vada: with Moong Dal; and Das Lakshan Parv

The Jains' observe a week of renunciation and austerity during the months of August-September; and I gave you a glimpse of that in my last week's post on Paryushan. As with any other matter of the heart; the Jain religion is split up in the middle into two major sects. And despite being almost identical in faith and lifestyle, the observances between the two sects vary. Which is why one Jain is fasting this week; ending on Sept 29th - the Anant Chaturdeshi day, equivalent to the Samvatsri in my last post. Which is also why, in my home, the entire experience gets extended to 18 days (A and I come from the two different sects of Jains, and in my zest to neither give up and yet be accepted, I've been trying to assimilate the differences in observance). This year, I've split my observances with my visiting MIL, who is responsible for the 10-day long Das-Lakshan Parv, as opposed to my 8 days of Paryushan. I definitely get the better deal out of this whole arrangement :-))

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paryushan & Samvatsri: The Jain regimen and significance. Plus my menu.

I'd never thought I'd do this...a post about religious beliefs. But then I figured, that I did write about Diwali, and Holi and other festivals that are a part our social culture, so why not Paryushan- something that I grew up with and is an integral part of my memories.  I am not the best person to be telling you about this practice, for I myself know very little. But I'll attempt a little write up nevertheless. 

The 8-day long change in lifestyle that we call Paryushan typically adhered to at the end of the rainy season; or Chaturmas. Normally, we associate festivals with gaiety and indulgence. Instead, Paryushan is a celebration of solitude, minimalism, introspection and self-restraint.  The guidelines to be followed for spiritual up-liftment include modesty, self-restraint, penance, renunciation and celibacy. The strictest of my family members would sustain themselves only on a handful (chullu) of boiled water for these 8 days. The others took a pledge, or Niyam, to alter their lifestyle to fit the soul of this whole process.  I remember my dad making more time for meditation and introspection (Samayik); while my mom, who was always restless about getting things done for us kids would give up some of her favorite foods and activities, and just slowed down.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Munch bowl: Sprouted chana chaat

A common saying I've grown up with, is that sprouting whole legumes makes it easier to digest them.
Back in India, my mom did a lot of sprouting; especially during the monsoons - our favorites being whole green moong beans, moth bean (Turkish gram) and  kala chana (Bengal gram). While I loved to eat mung and moth sprouts raw, the chana was another story. Even after being sprouted and slightly sautee-ed; the gram is extremely chewy. And the lazy bum that I was (am); I dismissed chana sprouts by justifying that the effort-to-satiation index was (is) just not worth it.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blackeyed Pea Soup for a rainy day

The days are definitely shorter now; not entirely due to turning back the clock to end daylight savings time either. There's a nip to the morning air,  trees are more bare than beautiful and this past week, my drive to work has been accented with lots of rain and fog. We're definitely getting to the days where a hearty bowl of hot soup can cheer up even the hungriest of the back from work/school crowd.  I am not really a huge 'soup' person. Mostly, I feel that the 'daals' I make every night should pass off as 'soups'......if you know what I mean.  So my occassional real-soup-making is limited to weekends when the family rambles in with a "we're hungry again"....like maybe 10 minutes after eating lunch! The girls like only tomato soup and will pick out everything that they can; till I get sneaky and add in an occassional carrot and puree it in there. A doesn't care. Sometimes I feel like he eats just like he does everything else...with a wandering mind. Which is why when his eyes actually focus on what's in front of him is my cue that he liked his food.  With this bowl of black eyed pea soup, I got A's focus everytime, plus a clean plate from Anya AND a request for "white ball daal" for two consequetive days from baby P!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mix it up: Black Bean Salsa

I find entertaining to be very stressful. Don't get me wrong- I love  company. I just hate the little jiggles of worry that come with planned partying.  I worry about the house not being clean, about things not being right before the guests arrive. Most of all, I worry about not having enough food on my table. With that in mind, chips and store bought salsa and/ or guacamole.is a staple, as well as an emergency go to, for my entertaining.  Then last year, a dear friend introduced me to her black bean salsa....and I fell in love. When I asked her what went in the salsa, her response was very characteristic of her - "beans, and corn; then keep tasting and adding things till it tastes right...."! Knowing her, this is probably what she does. And actually, the first couple of times I made it, that was the approach I took. Lately though, my right brain has been niggling at me to standardize the recipe - that's my training in science; sometimes it interferes at home. As a result of this cross-boundary interference, the last couple of times I made this salad/salsa; I actually noted down what I put in there. And as with any good standardization that I do at work, today I figured it was time to document a protocol for this :-)) Here goes....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daily Dinner (9): A Festive Thali: and Chana Masala my way.

Back in North India, you'll often hear the saying that the month of saawan, along with cooling Monsoons, also ushers in the festive season. Almost every week from now on till summer, we see an array of festivities, and an alternating pattern of Fasting and Feasting. As a child, I waited anxiously for the first rains - looking forward just as much to an uninhibited soaking in those much-awaited showers as to the other fun things - Mehendi on my hands, fragrant mogra in the hair, a home-made swing in the doorway leading out on to our terrace and tons of goodies from my mom's kitchen. Everything came alive  during the rains; and I loved the smell of summer-baked earth and new grass. Then came those vendors with baskets on their bicycles selling all sorts of seasonal delicacies- phalsa, jamun, fire-roasted bhutta with tons of lemon and masala and sand-popped popcorn.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chane ki Chatni: My Dad's favorite


Bengal Gram Sprouts: Chane ka saag
A couple weeks ago, I had asked you all to guess this plant from my kitchen garden. I was so sure that no one will have seen this sprout often enough to recognize it! I'm actually surprised  that a couple of you guessed it right- and that's you two; Meera and Seema. Well good for you- goes on to show that you're experts in matters pertaining to kitchen basics! It isn't always that those living in cities can identify the source of our food. This sprout in question on the left is Kala chana (Bengal gram), widely used in Indian cuisine in its myriad avatars.  Here, I am going to talk about one more use for it. This post is more talk, less recipe. So, bear with me as I bore you with the simplest recipe ever on my blog yet!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food For Hungry Soul: Chane ka Nimona

A decade ago, my marriage to a UPite (Uttar Pradesh, a state east of Delhi), outside the chartered territory of the Haryana-Rajasthan-Delhi tristate area, caused quite a furore amongst the older generation of my family.
'They have nothing in common with us' was an oft-repeated refrain from my uncles and aunts. 'You'll have a lot to deal with culturally', they warned. 'They eat very different food- it will be an inconvenience for Guddo' - reminded my naani, very gently, but worried enough to slip out the much-hated (by me) childhood endearment. 'How dare you agree to let our only grand daughter go across the river', thundered my naana referring to the the River Ganges, a geographical and symbolic divide between two of the most fertile, similar and yet disimilar, states in India. My dad fretted and fumed about his decision for days but then decided that his daughter had been brought up liberally enough in the huge metropolitan melting pot of Delhi to be able to take a few cultural diversions in her stride.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raising the Bar- Carrot Haandvo

Apparently, the sweet and savory combination is a love it or hate it deal. There can be no happy middles here. I fall into the 'love it' camp. And I believe I get this from my mom's Western Rajasthan genes. Most of the north-west belt of India mixes sugar and salt in everyday food. I can almost hear my dad, who was more of a northern-Haryana product, scoffing at food with this kind of presentation, as in my naani's dal-chawal-boora-ghee combo.

We'd spend the whole 5 weeks of summer vacation at my naani's, without eating rice even once. This is probably why I remember the only time that we got to eat rice at her place was when my dad had come to pick us up - it was a rule that my naani imposed on him - and my naana (grand dad) suggested that rice be served for lunch as a special treat for my dad. And I, who loved rice enough to want it for every meal, was ecstatic. The request was nothing short of a major catastrophe in the kitchen though, for my naani's bhandara (a large room designated as grain and spice storage for the whole harvest year) was lined to the roof with sackfuls of wheat - but there wasn't a grain of rice in the house. I remember my youngest uncle being sent out to buy rice with special instructions as to whose farm it should come from. And if my memory serves me right, then my uncle 'paid' for that rice with an equal amount of my naana's best quality chana dal.