Chura Poha (Flattened rice with green peas)

Chura Poha | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

I had heard about this recipe from a friend cum colleague. It’s a regional dish of “Varanasi”, a city in northern part of country, also known as the spiritual capital of India. It’s one of the simplest recipe’s I have known, which is highly elevated in taste. Fun part is everyone has his/her own version of making “Chura Poha”.  I have found diverse recipe’s from different people and online sources . What I have learnt while making this is that the simpler it’s kept, the tastier it is. It tastes best when made with minimal ingredients unlike other Indian dishes which are loaded with n number of ingredients and spices. So here is my version of “Chura Poha”. I welcome all kinds of comments and feedback on this. I also welcome any difference of opinion about my perception of the dish.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

Thick Poha(Flattened rice) : 2 cups
Boiled green peas : 1/2 cup
Roasted peanuts : 8-10
Sweet corn : 1 tablespoonful
Chili Ginger Paste : 2 teaspoonful
Mustard seeds : 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds : 1 teaspoon
Oil : 3 teaspoon
Ghee : 1-2 teaspoon
Lemon Juice : 2 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Soak poha in a large strainer. Make sure all the poha are wet, and there is no excess water entrapped between them.
  2. In a non stick pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. Once they sputter, add cumin. Now add Green peas, sweet corn, peanuts and chili garlic paste.
  3. Saute for a minute. Now add soaked poha. Add salt. Mix well. Now reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Cover the pan and let the poha cook for 3-4 mins. Keep stirring in between to make sure that poha on bottom do not become excessively dry. Sprinkle some water, if you find the poha getting dry instead of soft.
  5. Switch off the gas. Add ghee, lemon juice and sugar and mix well immediately.
  6. Add some finely chopped cilantro, mix well and serve hot with tea.

Upma (Mix vegetable roasted semolina porridge)

Mix vegetable roasted semolina porridge - "Upma"

Although it’s origin is in southern India, Upma is a widely eaten breakfast dish across the country. Upma is among those few things which I can eat repeatedly without getting bored. On a hectic weekday as a quick fix meal or on a relaxing time over family breakfast on a weekend.  The mild fragrance made of roasting semolina with  ghee is something I consider almost heavenly. Don’t worry, the amount of ghee(clarified butter) used is very less and upma is a perfectly healthy thing to eat and it comes with a lot of goodness of vegetables and semolina. In fact I don’t buy the fact that ghee is bad for our health; of course when used in a controlled amount. This short chain fatty acid has innumerable medicinal values. It’s our sedentary lifestyle which is a bigger cause of our health issues.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

Semolina : 1&1/2 cup
Oil : 3-4 teaspoon
Mustard seeds : 2 teaspoon
Urad dal(black split grams without skin) : 1 tablespoonful
Finely chopped veggies : I used one baby potato, one medium onion, one small portion of cabbage, 3-4 baby carrots
Roasted peanuts(skin removed) : 10-15
Ghee(clarified butter) : 2 teaspoons
Cilantro or parsley : 1/2 cup finely chopped
Tomato paste : 1 tablespoon (optional, you can totally avoid tomatoes or can add it in finely chopped form, or you can add curd as a substitute to give a bit of sourness to taste)
Green chili’s : spicy Thai ones 1 or 2 very finely chopped
Ginger : 1 square inch piece grated (optional)
Water : 2 – 2 & 1/2 cups.

Method:

  1. Start with roasting semolina. For that heat a non stick pan on medium heat.
  2. Add one teaspoon of oil and semolina and roast it with continuous stirring. Continuous movement is necessary to ensure that all the grains are roasted uniformly. Roast till there is a very small darkening of color of semolina. You will experience an increased aroma due to roasting. Stop at this point and transfer the roasted semolina to a bowl/plate. Ensure all of it is transferred as we are going to continue cooking in same pan.
  3. Now heat the remaining oil in the pan on medium heat, add mustard seeds. Once they sputter add urad dal. Let them fry till light brown in color. Now add onions to cook till translucent. Add potatoes, ginger, chili, a pinch of salt. Cover and let the potatoes cook for 1-2 mins. (Make sure they are very thinly sliced and cook quickly).
  4. Now add all the pending veggies, tomato paste, roasted peanuts, salt sufficient for vegetables. Saute them for about 1-2 mins. When the veggies become slightly tender, add about one and half cups of water. Let the water boil, add the balance salt for semolina at this stage.
  5. Once water starts to simmer, add semolina small portion at a time, mixing at every stage. Make sure there are no lumps. You can add some more water if required but make sure it does not become lumpy.
  6. Now turn the heat on low and cover the pan to cook the upma for 2-3 minutes. Intermittently keep mixing with a wooden spatula, otherwise the portion sticking at bottom will start burning.
  7. At the end add 2 teaspoons of ghee over upma and mix well. Also add cilantro and parsley and mix well.
  8. Serve hot with curd/sambhar/chutney or as such.

If you want, you can make the tadka in ghee instead of oil. But adding a small quantity of ghee at the end tastes almost same as that and also reduces the amount of fat that is added to the meal. Hence makes it light to eat.

Gobi Paratha (Cauliflower stuffed whole wheat flatbreads)

Gobi Paratha | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

Stuffed paratha’s are real fun. There are certain reasons why I like making these. It helps you eat a lot of vegetables, at times the ones which you do not like as such. Just hide them in between those thin and soft layers of cooked flour, and add spices to enhance the taste. It’s a great option for give away food in a lunch box. Wrap 3-4 in a foil with curd and pickle, and here you have a satisfying wholesome meal. They go great in breakfast. 1-2 of these delicious breads in morning and you will have energy to last enough for a long meeting at office. Serve them warm with home made butter as a perfect kick start of the day. Last but not the least, they can be made with any leftover sabzi that you have made and are in no mood of eating again in the evening or next day. I usually make mix veggie or aloo paratha at home. This was my first attempt at Gobi paratha and trust me it went really well and it has been surely added to my list of frequent meals. I followed the recipe from “show me the curry” except that I changed the spices a bit according to the taste of my family. I love specifically “show me the curry” as the two sisters cooking together reminds me of me and my sister :).

Chole Bhature (Chickpea gravy with deep fried flat breads)

Chole Bhature | cooktorelish.com

Yummy it is!!!!!! It’s chickpea gravy served with deep fried flat breads made from all purpose flour, with a side of onions or salad, and yogurt smoothie (lassi).  Chole Bhature is a typical north Indian dish which is available in wide part of country. This is one recipe where I don’t like any ingredient substitution. You can always substitute all purpose flour with whole wheat flour, but no not here. It’s just too tasty to make that healthy little compromise. It’s worth an extra hour of work out. The recipe here is a bit different in the sense that the authentic one is usually made with freshly ground spices, but its a fair enough close taste. Also the bhature (flat breads) are usually made large than the ones shown in picture, but I had some restrictions with availability of kitchen utilities, so I came up with these smaller versions.

Ingredients:
Serves 2

For Chole (Chickpea Gravy)
Garbanzo beans : 1 Can
Onion : 1 medium sized finely chopped
Tomato sauce : 1 small can(8 oz)
Oil : 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds : 1 teaspoon
Ginger Garlic paste : 3 teaspoonful
Chili powder : 1 teaspoon
Garam masala : 1 teaspoon
Baby potato : 1 (peeled and finely grated/shredded)
Water – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

For Bhature:
All purpose flour : 1 cup
Salt to taste
Yogurt : 2 tablespoon
Baking Soda : 1 teaspoon
Water to knead the dough
Oil for making dough(1 tablespoon) and for  deep frying

For Salad:
Onions : 1 small cut into long thin slices
Cabbage : 1 small piece cut into long thin pieces
Cumin-Coriander powder : 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Chili powder : 1/2 teaspoon
Oil : 1/2 teaspoon
Lemon juice : 1-2 teaspoon

Method:

Start with kneading dough for bhature as we need to rest it for at least 45 mins before we can make the breads from it.

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients. Make a well in center. Add yogurt and mix well. Add about a tablespoon of oil and mix well to form small lumps. Now gradually add water while kneading the dough to make a very soft dough. When the dough starts sticking to your hands, take help of some oil to continue kneading. Give at least 15 mins of kneading to the dough. Roll the dough into a ball by stretching backwards so as to entrap air. Cover it with wet cloth and let it rest for about 45 mins.
  2. For Chole, wash the canned garbanzo with clean water.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add cumin seeds. Once they sputter, add onions and ginger garlic paste. Let them cook till onions become tender and translucent.
  4. Add tomato sauce at this stage. Mix well, add some water. Also add salt, chili powder and garam masala. Also add shredded potato here. The starch of it helps to thicken up the gravy. Mix well. Add washed garbanzo. Mix well. Reduce flame to medium low, cover it and let it cook for 4-5 mins with intermittent stirring. Well you are done, if the gravy is of desired consistency.
  5. If you are using fresh tomato puree in place of canned tomato sauce, you will probably require some additional thickening agent. You can use 1 teaspoon of corn flour mixed in cold water for the same and add at the end to thicken the gravy.
  6. Make salad by mixing all the mentioned ingredients together well. You can also add tomato to it. (Use one which is tough and less juicy)
  7. Well the bhature flour has rested for about 45 mins, uncover it and once again knead it well. This time also taking help of dry flour and oil in case it is very sticky.
  8. Heat oil for deep frying.
  9. Make small balls from the dough. Roll them to the size convenient to you with help of rolling pin. It won’t be a very easy task as the dough would be quite elastic.
  10. Simultaneously deep fry them just after rolling one by one.
  11. Serve hot.

Banana Avocado Almond Milkshake/smoothie

Banana Avocado Almond Smoothie | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

Pic Courtesy:Jay Metha

Every food has a story associated with it. Well with this one, its not pleasant. While I was enjoying this awesome thing with my husband this evening, god knows why my hand hit the glass lying on the table. A large portion of this beauty got spilled over & I am feeling really bad for my loss at this time. Anyways this is a delicious drink with goodness of avocado, banana, almonds and milk. I have tried this with yogurt as well instead of milk and it tastes great too.

Simple ingredients; great results. 

Serves 2

1 Large Banana

1 Small Avocado

Milk to make the final volume upto 750 ml

Honey for desired sweetness level

Chopped almonds 2 teaspoons

Method: Blend everything together with help of a blender. (You can add some ice if you want it to be chilled).

 

Ginger Garlic Veggie Noodles

Ginger Garlic veggie noodles | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

Well this kinda all time favorite. Full of veggies, garlic and ginger…no doubt it tastes awesome.

Ingredients:
Serves 3

Noodles (Inchin Bamboo Garden) : 7 oz / 6 rolls
Onion : 1 medium
Spring Onions : 3-4
Green Bell Pepper : 1
Mini povirions : 2-3
Cabbage : 1 cup
Garlic : 6 cloves grated
Ginger : 2 inch long piece grated
Parsley : Fistful chopped
cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
Sriracha hot sauce – 2-3 teaspoon (depending on the level of spiciness required)
Soy sauce : 2-3 teaspoon
Oil – About 1 & 1/2 tablespoonful

Method:

  1. Cut all the veggies into long pieces of about 2 inches.
  2. Start boiling water in a large pan for cooking noodles. Add salt and some oil in the water so as to avoid sticky noodles. Once the water starts boiling and rolling over, add noodles. Keep stirring. It hardly takes the rolls to separate out 1-2 minutes once they are put into boiling water. At this point switch off the stove and keep the noodles in the hot water aside.
  3. Take a separate large non stick pan. Heat oil on high temperature. Once oil is sufficiently hot, add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds crackle, add all the veggies. Add salt enough for veggies.
  4. Just lightly saute the veggies on high heat, add grated ginger, garlic, Hot sauce to it. Mix well. All the veggies should be cooked on high heat.
  5. Now once everything is mixed well, drain the noodles from water, and put into the pan with veggies. At this point, add salt for noodles. Also add soy sauce. ( I used low sodium soy sauce, if you are using high sodium one, please reduce the quantity of salt accordingly).
  6. Mix well. Add parsley and mix well again.
  7. Serve hot.
  8. The main taste in these noodles is of garlic and ginger. Don’t hesitate to increase their amount if you like that way. You can also add some ground black pepper at the end.

Kothimbirvadi

Kothimbirvadi | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

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There is always a great sync between me and my sister when talking about food. Being a mother of two, I always wonder how she manages to do so many things simultaneously. One of those things is cooking. She apparently cooks many more varieties than I do. Cooking is one of the usual topic of conversation between both of us. We share images on what’s app which kinda compels the other person to make the same. Her cooking creates a strange urge in me to replicate it at my end. We owe a lot of our cooking skills to our mom. As kids, we did not have much of a culture in our family of eating out. Out mother made sure that we do not miss trying any food because of that. She would make us all sorts of delicacies at home itself and we used to eat that by literally fighting for last bite. I miss those days. But then I would realize that I can cook :). So here it is. One such dish inspired from my sister. Kothimbirvadi is an easy to cook snack. The best time I would like to eat is as an evening snack with tea on a rainy day.

Ingredients:
Serves – 2

Chickpea flour – 1 cup
Chopped cilantro – 1 & 1/2 cup – 2 cups
Yogurt – 1 tablespoon
Ginger Chili paste – 1 & 1/2 teaspoon
Garlic – 2 cloves grated
Baking soda – 1 pinch
Red chili powder – If you want it to be more spicy
Brown sugar or jaggery – 1 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil for deep/shallow frying
Grated coconut for garnishing
Sesame seeds – 1-2 teaspoon

Method:

  1. In a bowl mix all the ingredients together to form batter. Add water to adjust the consistency. It should be similar to pancake batter.
  2. Boil water in a dhokla vessel/ or any broad vessel. Now take a dhokla plate/(any steel plate with atleast 1 inch raised edges). Grease is with oil. Now pour the batter in the plate.
  3. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top surface. Place the plate over boiling water at a sufficient height so that the water does not touch it. We want to cook the cake in the steam generated from water. Cover it and let it cook on medium for about – 7-8 mins. Check by inserting a knife. It should come out clean.
  4. Remove the cooked cake and let it cool for some time. Cut the cake into small bite size pieces with help of a sharp knife.
  5. You can eat this as such with ketchup/chutney/tea. Or you can fry them again either deep/shallow. It picks up very less oil on frying.
  6. After frying it gives a crispy surface but the inside is still soft and melt in mouth.
  7. Garnish with grated coconut. Serve hot.

Makke di Roti, Sarson da saag

Makke di roti Sarson da saag | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

OK so to translate this to language of communication of this blog – This is corn flour flatbread with gravy made from mustard greens and other leaves. With all the nutrition from greens, this is a very healthy and delicious thing. Corn flat breads are a bit tricky and difficult to make, and requires practice. I keep a buffer of at least 2 hours when making this. Good part is the gravy can be refrigerated and stored for about a week.

Ingredients:
Serves 3-4

For Saag – Its not made with mustard greens alone. To reduce the pungency of mustard leaves, we add other greens almost in equal proportion to it. I use the following combination.

Fresh Mustard leaves – 1 bunch
Spinach leaves – 1/2 bunch
Kale – 1/2 bunch
Radish – 4-5 coarsely cut if you are using the small red ones/ 6 inch long coarsely cut if you are using the Indian variety.

Onion – 1 medium roughly chopped
Tomato – 1 large roughly chopped
Garlic – 5-6 cloves
Ginger – 1 square inch grated
Green chili’s – 2 (based on your requirement of spiciness)

For Tempering:

Oil/Butter – 3 teaspoons (Its better to mix two, you can also try adding a part of ghee)
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Cumin – 1 teaspoon
1 small onion – finely chopped.

For corn flour flat breads: (Again I prefer here to add a small amount of chapati flour to it, it makes the rolling of breads easier)

Corn flour – 1 cup
Chapati flour – 1/3 cup
Ajwain seeds – 1 teaspoon
Cilantro – finely chopped
Salt
Water for kneading the dough

Method:

  1. Wash and separate out leaves from stems.
  2. Put all leaves, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, green chili’s in a pressure cooker.
    Add some salt to taste for saag. Add only about half a cup of water. Pressure cook for one whistle. Let the cooker cool by itself. Do not haste.
  3. Once the pressure cooker has lost its vapors, open it. Use a hand blender to make a smooth puree.
  4. Since we had added very little water during cooking the greens, so we should be able to get a thick gravy. But in case you are not satisfied, you can cook it further so as to let it lose some water, or you can also add some corn flour mixed in cold water to make it thick.
  5. In a separate pan, heat oil for tempering. Put in mustard seeds. Once they sputter, add cumin, followed by finely chopped onion. Cook onion for some time till they turn light brown. Once through, add this tempering to the saag puree. Mix well, adjust for salt. You may also add some dry chili powder based on your taste. Do the tempering last, once you have reached the desired consistency of gravy.
  6. For makke di roti – In a bowl, take corn flour, chapati flour, ajwain seeds, cilantro, and salt to taste. Mix well. Now slowly add water while kneading the dough. Knead into a firm dough. Make balls of similar size which you make for a roti.
  7. Now dust one ball with some dry flour. Put this in a zip lock back. Using a roller pin try to make a thick paratha shape. While rolling, please keep separating the dough from the bag surface otherwise it will stick to it. Also keep changing the sides of the surface on which you are rolling. Once you get a desired shape, very slowly remove the rolled roti from zip lock back. You will need to be very gentle and careful as its very brittle and can break from any of the unsupported part.
  8. Roast the makki di rotis on a tava/griddle with 2-3 tsp of ghee/oil till well browned and cooked.
  9. Serve hot with saag, and a side of jaggery and home made butter.

Coconut Rice Pudding with mango compote

Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango Compote | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

Pic courtesy: Jay Mehta

Yummy!!!!. This is one of my most favorite dessert. Creamy rice pudding with mango compote. The process of cooking was fun as this was a combined effort of me and my husband :).

Ingredients:
Serves 3-4

Basmati Rice : 1/4 cup
Whole Fat Milk : 1 litre
Condensed milk : 200 grams
Coconut Milk : 150 ml
Roasted cut dry fruits (Almond, cashews, pistachios) : 50 grams

For compote:

1 large ripe mango (avoid overripe ones, a firm texture would make a better compote)
Butter : 1 teaspoon
Grated ginger : 1/2 teaspoon
Sugar : 2-3 teaspoon (adjust based on sweetness of mango)

Method:

Soak rice for about an hour in water.
Start boiling milk in a deep saucepan. Add coconut milk, condensed milk  to it once starts brewing. Finally rinse the rice and add to the boiling milk. Let the pudding cook on a medium flame with intermittent stirring till the rice are completely cooked and we get desired thickness. This should take around 25-30 minutes. Keep stirring, else the rice will settle at the base. Let it cool.

For compote : Cut mango into small pieces. Heat butter in a pan. When it melts, add mangoes to it. Put sugar and Ginger. Mix well. Add about a tablespoon of water. Bring to boil. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature. Preferable serve cold.

In a serving glass, fill the rice pudding till 3/4th, and filling the top 1/4th with compote. Garnish with dry fruits.

Watermelon cake

Watermelon Cake | cooktorelish.wordpress.com

Okay! so we are not talking about real cooking here, but more about cutting, carving and decorating. This one was made for my little sister in law, who claims herself to be a big fan of watermelon. Just show her this red stuff packed in the green shell, and you are guaranteed a big smile. When surfing online for various options of decorating a watermelon, I found varied options. Ranging from covering the watermelon with other fruits to using icing cream to hide the stuff entirely into a traditional cake look. All of them looked great. But I was looking for something that retains the essence of the fruit, while also elevating its appearance so as to make it special. Resources were a bit limited, as I was transporting things (except watermelon which I brought locally :)) from one city to another, so I used whatever was easily available.
Jelly fit perfect, as it increased the glaze to beautify while retaining the true identity to watermelon by being translucent. I used the instant powder to make one and poured it over the cake shape cut watermelon while still warm so as to let it settle on it (Although now I feel making one from fresh fruit would have been a better thing to do). I learnt carving from online videos and made two flowers from leftover watermelon portion, and used some other fruits (& dry fruits) to decorate further. Brought things together with help of toothpicks. Well eating a cold watermelon is always healthy and fun :). We had fun.