Recipes Beyond Borders- sometimes Exotic, mostly Healthy, always Delicious

Ingredient: sunflower oil

Refreshing Neer Mor – Buttermilk with chilli ginger herbs and cucumber

Refreshing Neer Mor – Buttermilk with chilli ginger herbs and cucumber

A few days ago I had re-posted my recipe for Panakam (the delicious jaggery and dry ginger drink for hot humid days) on my social media pages. Among the many ‘likes’ and responses to the recipe for this cooling drink, I was surprised to see how many of my readers asked about the recipe for Neer Mor. Surprised, because Neer Mor is so easy to make that it doesn’t really need a recipe. I then realised that just because something is simple doesn’t mean one automatically knows what goes into it and in what proportions.

Well then, here is my post on Neer Mor, with the recipe card below.

Neer Mor for a refreshing summers drink. Just buttermilk mildly spiced and herbed and with cucumber
Perfect Summer Cooler

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Arbi ki Kadhi – Colocasia Root in Yogurt Gravy

Arbi ki Kadhi – Colocasia Root in Yogurt Gravy

Simple traditional food can be so tasty, and often is comfort food for most of us. This delicious Arbi ki kadhi is one such dish. I made it in the Chhattisgarh style, though there is probably little variation in the method followed in most regions of India. The kadhi takes very little time to make and needs just the basic ingredients you usually have at home. There’s very little prep to be done -boiling and peeling the colocasia/arbi is the main ‘task’, apart from slicing onions. After that it is just whipping the ingredients together and putting the kadhi to cook. Curry leaves and cumin add flavour to the kadhi.

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Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram  Fritters

Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried Aubergine with Black Gram Fritters

Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari  Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.

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Rajma – How to make the best Rajma Masala Curry

Rajma – How to make the best Rajma Masala Curry

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It is late January and the weather is shifting from chill to pleasant. Cloudy most days, its just right for hot tasty meals. Time for Nimona or Tehari from my Eastern Uttar Pradesh recipes, both with fresh green peas, or spicy Biriyani, Aloo mutter, Chole or of course, the all time favourite, Rajma. On weekends its nice to make a pot of Rajma Masala Curry and have it with rice maybe for lunch and chapatis at dinner. It is also a perfect dish on festive occasions or when there are guests to cater to, as you can serve a great meal with just rajma and rice or roti with a  simple salad of onion and tomato slices with lemon wedges.

 

Nutritious tasty Rajma Masala Curry -spiced red kidney beans in tomato onion gravy in a yellow bowl with a black and white checked border
Rajama Masala Curry

My recipe for Rajma Masala Curry recipe is one I have been following for decades, and the taste always comes out exactly the same. There are a few criteria to making a really tasty Rajma:

  1. Pre soak the Rajma overnight
  2. Cook the Rajma till soft
  3. Use the best available and fresh Garam Masala powder
  4. Be generous in the volume of onion and tomatoes used (in  my recipe, equal volumes of rajma, onion and tomato are suggested)
  5. Stir the Rajma well with heavy ladle while sautéing. The more you ‘bhunav’ the masala and the rajma, the better it tastes.
  6. Ensure the masala does not catch at the bottom of the pan.

Just as in making the Hummus of the right flavour and texture, every step in making Rajma Masala is significant – the soaking, the cooking, making the gravy and sautéing the Rajma, the garnish. I have tried to share with you all the little things that go to make this curry flavourful, nutritious and easy on the stomach. As the red kidney bean is hard and difficult to digest, soaking and cooking till the beans are really soft and fall apart at the touch, is essential. It is definitely possible to soak the beans for just a few hours in hot water, instead of soaking them overnight, but this fast track method does not give the total softness that you will find after soaking them overnight. It is interesting to note that even when cooked very well, the bean still gives texture to the curry and you don’t land up with a mushy dish.

Strain and Discard the water in which the Beans are soaked:

Straining and discarding the water in which the bean is soaked is an important step. After straining, throughly rinse the soaked beans in fresh water before cooking them. This is a practice I have always followed (without any logical reasoning) though I have had some doubts as to whether nutrition is lost when the water in which the beans are soaked, is discarded.  An item I recently came across in Wikipedia gives insights into why this practice is followed, and validates the cooking process laid down in the recipe below:

“Raw kidney beans contain relatively high amounts of phytohemagglutinin, and thus are more toxic than most other bean varieties if not pre-soaked and subsequently heated to the boiling point for at least 10 minutes. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends boiling for 30 minutes to ensure they reach a sufficient temperature long enough to completely destroy the toxin. Cooking at the lower temperature of 80 °C (176 °F), such as in a slow cooker, can increase this danger and raise the toxin concentration up to fivefold.”

Pramod taught me how to make Rajma Masala Curry, and it is a family favourite. Though some of the steps I have followed in this tested and tried recipe may differ from that  of popular recipes online, just try making it this way and see how delicious it is.

Rajma Masala_PepperOnPizza.com
Rajma Masala

Note: Plan sufficient time for making the Rajma Masala Curry, as, apart from soaking the beans overnight, you may need to pressure cook it twice if it doesn’t cook well the first time around. I have observed that rajma from different sources that I purchase from, have different cooking times.

The cooking process below is easy, but it needs patience as there are various steps to be followed.

The quantity of garam masala depends on its potency and freshness. Too much of it can spoil the taste. I use a strong garam masala (bought from a speciality store which has maintained the same standards of taste and quality for the last 15 years), so 1 teaspoon is more than sufficient.

Serving suggestions:

Serve with hot rice and a salad. Goes well with roti and phulka too. Or even with a lightly toasted focaccia or bread. Thick rajma without its liquid is a nice filling for a wrap or quesadilla.

Health and Nutrition:

Kidney Beans are rich in protein. They are also high in fibre including insoluble fibres called alpha-galactosides, which can sometimes cause diarrhoea and flatulence. The fermentation of these fibres also results in the formation of short-chain fatty acids are considered to improve colon health and to reduce the risk of colon cancer

The Beans have a high carbohydrate content, predominantly made up of starch, and are often advised for controlling high sugar in diabetics. This starch is a slow-release carbohydrate, hence it takes longer to be digested than most foods and the resultant rise in blood sugar is gradual and does not cause large blood sugar spikes. Kidney beans have a low glycemic index (the measure of how each food affects the rise in blood sugar after it is consumed).

Kidney beans are a good source of various vitamins and minerals including vitamin K1, iron, molybdenum, folate or B9, copper, manganese, potassium,  and phosphorus.

Studies have suggested that bean consumption may give lower risk of overweight and obesity.

Raw or inadequately cooked kidney beans are not advisable as they give risk of toxicity. Use fresh spices to get the best flavours from the Rajma Masala Curry.

 

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Easy Healthy Pudina Rice – fragrant mint rice with capsicum

Easy Healthy Pudina Rice – fragrant mint rice with capsicum

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This Recipe for making Pudina Rice or Mint Rice,  is dedicated to H.U.G – Humane Universal Good Deed Network, who had undertaken to generate and distribute  200,000 meals for the needy and the underprivileged at Bangalore, during the Daan Utsav between 2nd and 8th October 2016. A menu had been planned with simple rice items which could be easily cooked even in large quantities, in the micro kitchens established by H.U.G, and by volunteers who came forward to help in this endeavour. Follow  H.U.G and the hashtag #HUGFeedWithLove, on Facebook to know more about the event. One of the items on the menu was a Pudina Rice, and here is my recipe for preparation of the same.
There are two ways of making Pudina rice. One way is to make a paste of the mint along with the other ingredients,  sauté the mint paste to a thick sauce,  add  the rice to the sauce and cook. The other method is to cook the rice separately, and then mix in the sautéed mint sauce. My daughter Mridula suggested that I follow the second method, as it is easier to manage the proportion of rice to mint mixture, and also as it helps retain the lovely green colour of the mint. I’m glad I followed her advice, the pudina rice looked gorgeous and tasted delicious.
In both methods, you need to grind/ blend the ingredients into a smooth chutney or pesto like consistency.
I have a little potted plant of mint which is the sole occupant of my herb ‘garden’. It’s been sitting in my balcony for the last 8-10 months, and I haven’t done anything to help it grow, except water it faithfully. This plant has decided it wants to be a bush, and it has been overflowing its large pot. The leaves have a stronger minty aroma than the pudina I get from the market, and the leaves are smaller than the regular ones too. I was glad to be able to pluck a cupful of leaves for making the pudina rice, but it doesn’t seem to have a made the smallest dent in the abundance that remain.
In all honesty, I have never liked pudina rice. I had tasted it somewhere a long time ago, and perhaps it was not properly prepared, as the taste was slightly bitter and raw. It was enough to put me off this green rice for all the years since I first tasted it. The pudina rice I prepared yesterday was totally different, and I feel sorry I had missed out on such a tasty dish, which is so easy to prepare too! With my flourishing mint plant offering me fresh leaves whenever I need them, I’m sure I will be making the rice frequently.

I made the rice with Basmati rice, a fragrant one that I had bought in Punjab when I last visited. I followed the guidelines given in the blog Spice up the Curry, to some extent, and the rice was cooked perfectly, with the grains remaining separate without getting mushy. I cooked it in a covered vessel rather than pressure cooking it.

The link below is to a vendor to whom PepperOnPizza.com is affiliated. If you click and purchase through the link, I will earn a small commission. I only promote brands and products that I trust.

Kitchen Hints for making Pudina Rice:

i. Regular raw rice may be used to make the pudina rice, instead of Basmati, in which case the rice may be pressure cooked as in the instructions below.
ii. Peanuts may be substituted for the cashew nuts in this recipe, to add a little protein and to make it more practical for bulk cooking and distribution.

iii. Vegetables such as potatoes or peas may be added to the rice. I put in capsicum slices to give some texture and for its fresh taste. If using potatoes, boil and peel, cube and add to the mint paste when you are sautéing it.

The garnish of browned onions is another idea from the blog Spice the Curry. I had been caramelising onions for another recipe, so all I had to do was take some of the onions and add them to the pudina rice before it was served. It added just the right touch of flavour and texture. I’m going to keep some browned onions in reserve, it gives such a delightful finish to most  savoury dishes.

Boondi Raita goes well with this Pudina Rice. Check out my recipe on this blog:

https://www.pepperonpizza.com/boondi-raita-yogurt-chickpea-fried-recipe

The link below is to a vendor to whom PepperOnPizza.com is affiliated. If you click and purchase through the link, I will earn a small commission. I only promote brands and products that I trust.

 

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Turmeric Walnuts Fennel Soup with Raw Mango

Turmeric Walnuts Fennel Soup with Raw Mango

This post was Sponsored by Place of Origin.  Here is one more Healthy, Nutritious Flavourful Fennel Soup and this time with the goodness of Turmeric and Walnuts. Turmeric is of course no stranger to my Indian kitchen, however I don’t generally use it in Soup. It adds to the flavour and appearance of this Turmeric Walnuts Fennel Soup, and the honey I drizzled on it before serving, pleasantly set off both the fennel and the turmeric. The apple and walnuts gave a body to the soup, while the raw green mango added just a hint of tartness. (more…)

Mutter ka Nimona – Spiced Green Pea Curry

Mutter ka Nimona – Spiced Green Pea Curry

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Recipe 3 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Continuing my exploration of recipes from Eastern Uttar Pradesh, seasonal green peas go into this delicious Mutter ka Nimona, a regular part of a winter meal in Awadhi cuisine. Use fresh ingredients to bring out the flavour of this aromatic dhal like side dish. Traditionally served with rice, but tastes great with hot phulkas or with plain parathas too.

Married into a family from Eastern UP but settled in South India, I used to listen with all my foodie antenna at alert, as my husband went into a monologue every winter about childhood days of enjoying luscious fresh peas straight from the plant, and of the pea crops grown in acre after acre in their native village at Basti, near Gorakhpur. I have tasted the peas straight from the plants too, in the little kitchen garden my mother had at our house in Kharagpur, eons ago. In Chennai, the sight of large carts covered with fresh peas and with red ‘Delhi’ carrots every December, was an invitation to make tehari, mutter ka nimona, mutter paneer, aloo mutter, and everything green. This year at Bangalore, the peas have been a long time surfacing in the shops in large volumes, and I do hope they stay for a while.

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Pakode wale Kadhi

Pakode wale Kadhi

 

 

Hot phulkas with Kadhi Pakode, a very nice dinner on a rainy evening!

The first time I came across this dish was in Femina Magazine several years ago. This was a recipe described by a celebrity and I learnt words such as bagar for the first time. My recipe does not follow the one I read in the magazine, as that requires the bagar to be added to the kadhi in the end, while I actually add the curd basen mixture to the fried onions and condiments, and then do a ghee, jeera, mirch, tadka in the end . I use a lot of onions, and curd that is a day or two old. (more…)

Tangy Quick Lemon Rice

Tangy Quick Lemon Rice

Most often when I order Vegetables online, the lemons that are supplied are small and quite pathetic. I was happy when the veggies delivered yesterday included 3 large lemons. I could squeeze more than enough lemon juice to make this sharp and tangy lemon rice today, garnished with fried peanuts and fresh cilantro. I usually fry papads to accompany lemon rice, but today we just had the lemon rice with freshly made potato chips from the handy Hot Chips near my apartment.

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