Jowar & Bajra Idli with Suva Bhaji & Sweetcorn/Sorghum & Pearl Millet Idli with Dill Leaves & Sweetcorn

Jowar & Bajra Idli with Suva Bhaji & Sweetcorn

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sorghum (Jowar) & Pearl Millet (Bajra) Idli with Dill Leaves & Sweetcorn

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I am serving you another kooky concoction of mine, courtesy off-the-radar (at least in my case) dill leaves.

I had posted a recipe of rice free jowar (sorghum) and bajra (pearl millet) idlis a few months back.

Today’s recipe is a bit different since, this time round, the idli batter includes rice along with the vegetables.

If you plan to try this out in your kitchen and want to adjust the quantity according to your requirement, the ratio of jowar, bajra, rice and urad dal is 1:1:0.5:0.5.

Jowar & Bajra Idli with Suva Bhaji & SweetcornMy original plan was to make these idlis with spinach but in my quest to eat as many different types of vegetables as possible, I thought of experimenting with dill leaves instead.

Wasn’t sure how they would turn out since fresh dill has a pretty strong fragrance.

end result is delicately scented idlis without the powerful in-yer-face smell of dill weed

According to healthdiaries.com, dill leaves (known as suva or shepu bhaji in India)  have the following 8 benefits:

Bone Health
Anti-Bacterial
Free Radical Protection
Digestive Benefits
Hiccup Treatment
Headache Help
Calming Effect
Sleep Aid

Look forward to more experiments with this vegetable (or is it herb?) in the future.

If you don’t have an idli cooker, pour the batter in a shallow container which you can fit in a steamer, steam it for the given time, cut in square or diamond shape and enjoy.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup whole jowar

1/2 Cup whole bajra

1/4 Cup unpolished rice

1/4 cup urad dal

1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 Cup fresh dill ldeaves

1 Cup sweetcorn kernel

1 Tablespoon paste of minced ginger and green chilli

2 Tablespoons instant oats

Salt to taste

Ghee to grease the idli moulds

Method

  1. Wash and soak the jowar, bajra, rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Grind to a fine paste of pouring consistency and leave in a dark place to ferment. This can take anything from 8 to 24 hours depending on the outside temperature.
  3. Once the batter is fermented and you are ready to make the idlis, chop and wash the dill leaves.
  4. Wash the sweetcorn kernels.
  5. To the fermented batter, add the dill leaves, sweetcorn kernels, ginger-chilli paste, instant oats and salt to taste.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Pour the batter in greased idli moulds.
  8. Steam for about 40 minutes.
  9. Once done, remove the moulds from the steamer and rest them for about 5 minutes.
  10. Gently lift the idlis from the mould and transfer to a plate.
  11. Enjoy with some chutney of your choice.

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Karela & Rataloo, The Kooky Way/Bitter Gourd & Sweet Potato, The Kooky Way

Karela & Sweet Potato

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bitter Gourd & Sweet Potato

 

 

 

 

 

I restrict my potato intake to once a week and try to substitute the tuber with sweet potato wherever I know that it won’t distract from the end result.

In today’s fuss-free recipe, the bitterness of karela (bitter gourd) is offset by the slight sugariness of sweet potato (also known as rataloo in some parts of India).

a twist on the more familiar karela and aloo (potato) which is cooked in different avatars across the Indian subcontinent

Many people sprinkle salt over over karela and squeeze out the bitter juices before cooking. Personally, I skip this step but you can do so if you wish. Bear in mind that the sweet potato naturally reduces any obvious bitterness of karela.

Bitter gourd is commonly available in Asian grocery stores so if you have ever wondered how to cook the vegetable, give this kooky creation a go.

Goes well with roti, naan, tortilla or even sliced bread.

Ingredients

250 Grams karela

1 Medium size sweet potato

1-2 Heads of garlic

1 Teaspoon turmeric powder

1-2 Teaspoons chilli powder

1 Tablespoon coriander powder

1-2 Teaspoon cumin powder

1 Teaspoon amchoor powder (dry mango)

1 Teaspoon asafoetida

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel and slice the garlic across its length.
  2. Wash and finely slice the karela in shape of matchsticks.
  3. Wash and slice the sweet potato same shape as karela.
  4. Sprinkle some salt all over the sliced sweet potato and set aside
  5. In a bowl, mix the powders: turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin and amchoor.
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  7. Once hot, reduce the heat and add the asafoetida.
  8. After about 10 seconds, throw in the sliced garlic.
  9. Stir around for a couple of minutes till the garlic is about to change colour. You don’t want it brown.
  10. Add the powdered spices and mix well. Cook for a minute or so.
  11. Next, add the karela and a bit of salt to taste. Remember that you have already sprinkled some salt on sweet potato.
  12. Mix, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
  13. After the time is up, uncover and add the sweet potato.
  14. Once again, mix well, cover and let this cook for 20 minutes.
  15. Take off the stove and let the vegetable sit for 5 minutes before having.

Tomato & Coconut Chutney

Tomato & Coconut Chutney

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Tomato & Coconut Chutney

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since I have come back from Kashmir, I have been a bit of a snoozy cook partly trying to readjust to former routine and partly trying to use up ingredients in the kitchen.

Today’s chutney recipe was born out of one  such snoozy moment.

Needed an accompaniment to go with sprouted moong and carrot idli I was having for dinner and had some tomato and freshly grated coconut kicking around in the refrigerator. Le voilà!

A very good friend of mine believes that unplanned experiences turn out to be the best and most memorable ones. This recipe is a testament of that.

If you plan to try it, feel free to substitute/add/modify with whatever you have lying around.

Goes very well with idli, dosa, as a sandwich spread or even as a dip for Indian themed dinner party. Will stay good in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Ingredients

1 Cup freshly grated coconut

2 Tomato, large and ripe

15-20 Curry lreaves

1 Onion

Fresh ginger, the size of your thumb

3-4 Fresh chilli (red or green)

1 Tablespoon dalia dal (roasted split bengal gram)

1 Tablespoon urad dal (black gram)

1 Teaspoon mustard seed

1 Teaspoon asafoetida

1/2 Cup water

1 Tablespoon peanut or sesame oil

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel, wash and roughly chop the onion.
  2. Wash and roughly chop the tomato.
  3. Wash and slice the chilli.
  4. Peel, wash and chop the ginger.
  5. Wash the curry leaves.
  6. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  7. Once it is hot, lower the heat and throw in the mustard seeds.
  8. As soon as they start spluttering, add the asafoetida.
  9. Stir for about 15 seconds and add the dalia dal and urad dal.
  10. Cook for a few minutes till both the dals turn a shade darker.
  11. Next, add the curry leaves and stir for a couple of minutes till they become slightly crispy.
  12. Add the onions, chilli and ginger along with salt to taste.
  13. Mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Uncover and add the grated coconut.
  15. Stir around a bit and cook for about 5 minutes till the coconut turns a bit toasty. You will also get a nice coconut-y aroma.
  16. Add the tomatoes and water.
  17. Mix well, cover and cook for about 8 minutes.
  18. Take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool down completely.
  19. Once cool, put in a blender or a food processor and blend till you get smooth consistency.

Salad of Sprouted Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Moong and Veggies with Chilli Spiked Dressing

Salad of Sprouted Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Mung and Veggies with Chilli Spiked Dressing

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salad of Sprouted Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Mung and Veggies with Chilli Spiked Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whoever thinks that salads are boring will probably change their mind once they try this delightful salad. Personally speaking, it is one of the best salads I have ever made.

There are two components which have been brought together to create this main course salad meal. The chilli spiked dressing recipe is courtesy a friend and the base is my own concoction.

I had sprouted a mix of moong beans, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. The fennel seeds provide a nicely fragrant addition to the dish.

Salad of Sprouted Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Moong and Veggies with Chilli Spiked DressingSince I was having the salad for dinner, I wanted a bit of raw as well as cooked. But you can use your imagination or whatever is available in your refrigerator. I like to think of it as “anything goes” salad.

Ingredients for the dressing may appear bog-standard but the inclusion of stalks of fresh coriander and a chilli elevate it to a totally different sphere.

A marriage of the two is an utterly divine, refreshing, crunchy, filling and moreish salad.

Ingredients for the Dressing

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1-2 lime or lemon

1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard paste (I used Colemans)

1/2 Teaspoon sugar (I used demerara)

1-2 Heads of garlic

1/2 Cup stalks of fresh coriander

1 Green chilli

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Peel and mince the garlic (or you can chop it very finely if you prefer a less pungent flavour).
  2. Wash and finely chop the stalks of fresh coriander.
  3. Wash and finely slice the chilli.
  4. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.
  5. Taste and add a bit of whatever extra you fancy, it is purely personal preference.
  6. Refrigerate.

Ingredients for the Salad

1 Cup sprouted moong, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds

1 Beetroot

200 Grams mushroom

1 Green pepper

2 Onion

1 Carrot

1/2 Cup leaves of fresh coriander

1 Tablespoon toasted pine nuts

1 Tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds

1 Teaspoon olive oil

A pinch of mixed herbs

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Wash and steam the beetroot for about 10 minutes until tender yet firm.
  2. Once cool, rub the skin off and slice into matchsticks. Set aside.
  3. Wash the mushrooms and add them to a hot frying pan along with some mixed herbs, olive oil and a bit of salt to taste.
  4. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Uncover and remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  6. Wash and coarsely grate the carrot. Set aside.
  7. Wash, de-core, de-seed and finely slice the green pepper along its length. Set aside.
  8. Peel, wash and finely slice the onion along its length. Separate the strands. Set aside.
  9. Wash and thoroughly dry the coriander leaves. Set aside.
  10. In a salad bowl, add the sprouts, beetroot, mushroom, carrot, green pepper, onion, coriander leaves, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds.
  11. Toss well.
  12. Add the salad dressing.
  13. Once again bring everything together so that all the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the dressing.
  14. Enjoy on its own or with some bread.

Note:

  1. You can add/substitute any other vegetables of your choice like lettuce, tomato, broccoli, courgette, sweetcorn – the list is endless…
  2. If you don’t have pine nuts, try with some toasted walnuts.
  3. Sunflower seeds can be added instead of pumpkin seeds.

Kashmiri Kebabs & Fruit Plate

Kashmiri Kebab

 

 

 

 

 

Concluding my Kashmir food journey, I would like you to meet two memorable food plates which we had on Dal Lake.

Staying in a houseboat on Dal Lake is an unforgettable and unique experience and one which I would recommend to anybody visiting Srinagar.  Sure, it is crassly commercialised but beats the four walls of a hotel room any day.

You can spend the whole day sitting on the verandah of your houseboat watching the world go by.

The lake is a hive of activity. You can buy jewellery, carpet, pashmina, soft drinks, snacks, kebabs, fruits, saffron, vegetables, beer (surreptitiously and after sunset, of course!) and even have photo taken in the local costume, all while sitting in the comfort of your patio.

The photo above is that of some kebabs we enjoyed on Dal Lake. Kebab sellers travel in a shikara with marinated meat and fish which they cook on charcoal once the order has been placed. We tried fish kebab (Himalayan Trout) which were served with two types of sauces and onions mixed with some chilli powder. They smelt and tasted truly heavenly. If you want to try a variety, you can order half portion (2 skewers).

The other memorable food experience was a fruit plate that we had on the lake.

Kashmiri Fruit Plate

 

 

 

 

 

Fruits like cherry, apple and apricot grow in abundance in the region and are of very good quality.

Our fruit plate included cherry, mango, watermelon, cucumber, and banana doused in some lemon juice and sprinkled with chaat masala. Eating it was very refreshing and also made us feel good and healthy!

My overall food experiences in Kashmir were positive. The food that you get is fresh, local (not sure about the bananas though!), a lot of it prepared once the order has been placed and served with warmth and a smile. They do eat a lot of chicken. The only time I got to try mutton was in form of kebabs.

On this fruity and meaty note, I conclude my Kashmiri food journey.

Back to kooky experiments and recipes as I settle back into my kooky routine :-).

Kashmiri Saffron Milk

Kashmiri Saffron Milk

 

 

 

 

 

You know how some food memories and taste leave an indelible mark for some totally mysterious reason… Well, this saffron milk was one such experience which I had in Kashmir.

Now, I am not at all a milk person. At home, it would never occur to me to make any milk based beverages. My consumption of the white stuff is invariably in a surrogate form via yoghurt or cheese.

Among the many scenic places we visited in Kashmir was one called Aru Valley. As with many areas in that region, the valley has breathtaking and mesmerising beauty to behold.

There are several small shops selling soft drinks and snacks. It was a bit cold and I saw a sign for kesar milk (saffron milk) so impulsively ordered it instead of tea or coffee.

This turned out to be my most favourite drink in Kashmir. The milk was hot and frothy with slivers of almonds, whole cardamom, saffron strands and sugar. Sounds exotic yet simple doesn’t it?

All the ingredients are local to the area but I think it was the quality of milk which did it. Since I am not a milk aficionado I don’t know which words best describe a superlative milk drinking experience but whatever they may be would describe this saffron milk!

Sadly, I didn’t come across saffron milk anywhere else during my Kashmir stay. Perhaps one reason why it has stayed in my mind.

For anyone interested in trying it, here’s a recipe courtesy Kong-Posh. I think warm would be just as good as cold.

Saffron Milk (A Tonic For Health)

  1. Soak about 1mg of pure saffron in 3-4 teaspoonful of luke warm water and leave it for about half an hour till a concentrate of saffron is founded.
  2. Add this concentrate to a glass of 200 ml milk.
  3. Add sugar to taste along with some crushed almonds & pistachio. Serve it chilled during summer.

Kashmiri Kahwah/Kashmiri Green Tea with Saffron

Kashmiri Kahwah

 

 

 

 

 

Now here’s one Kashmiri beverage that I definitely took to!

Kahwah is a type of green tea which includes sugar, crushed almonds and saffron.

My first taste of this yummy drink was when I checked into our hotel in Srinagar; this was their welcome drink.

Kahwah is hot, sweet and usually served in small cups. It is very commonly drunk across the region, so much so that you will find it available at small roadside stalls, on the highway/motorway, in hotels, restaurants and even houseboats on Dal Lake.

Having had this Kashmiri specialty several times during my two week stay, dare I say it, even the not-so-good concoctions were delicious! I particularly enjoyed the crushed almonds that give this tea that bit of oomph.

Here’s a recipe in case you are interested. But I am told that it only works with a particular variety of green tea from Kashmir, not the regular one.

Coming up next – the most delicious drink I had in Kashmir!

Kashmiri Noon Chai/Sheer Chai/Salted Tea

Kashmiri Noon Chai/Sheer Chai/Salted Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BIG hello to my fellow kooky cooks.

Having spent two memorable weeks digesting the sights, sounds, smells and food (but of course!)  in the Kashmir Valley, I am back.

Trying to resume earlier routine is proving to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, maybe because I was away for 10 days prior to the Kashmir trip and so it has been an extended away time.

Kashmir is a land blessed with abundant fresh fruits and vegetables. The valley is also well known for its nuts such as almonds, pine nuts and walnuts (fresh green walnuts dangling from trees is a usual sight throughout the region) and saffron. Since the saffron season is very short (two weeks from October to November), we couldn’t visit saffron fields. But the spice is available in abundance wherever you go.

The next few posts will be on Kashmiri beverages I sampled during my stay in Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Yusmarg.

Say hello to a new type of tea very popular among the locals: noon chai or salted tea.

For most of us, the idea of drinking tea which is salty is likely to be alien but this type of tea is very common among some parts of Asia.

The Kashmiri people I spoke to informed me that they start their morning with noon chai and drink it several times in the course of the day. One local family I became friends with said that it was not uncommon for the father to drink 5-10 cups in one sitting.

Traditionally, noon chai was prepared in a samovar although these days stove is an equally popular medium.

The tea is had at breakfast along with Kashmiri rotis (thick, spongy, round or oval shaped flat bread).

Noon chai takes longer to prepare than regular tea so once you’ve placed the order, you have to wait patiently.

The tea leaves used to make this specialty are also different from the typical black ones. They are green and grown locally (and also in Pakistan, I believe).

The tea has bicarbonate of soda added which gives it the pink colour.

I tasted noon chai in the hotel I was staying in, in Pahalgam (photo above). The best way I would describe that experience is imagine drinking a creamy, salted tea.

In my opinion, it is an acquired taste. I am afraid I didn’t take to it and could only drink a few sips. Maybe if I had tried it a few times more, I would have appreciated it more.

Also, it may partly be a psychological barrier which makes me think that tea has to be sweet.

But it is always good to get out of our comfort zone to explore new things and this was one of those adventures.

And if you ever get the opportunity to taste Kashmiri noon chai, I would definitely recommend that you try :-).