It’s Gokulashtami again and I can’t believe how fast the last year has gone. This Vella Seedai from Store Bought Flour was first prepared by me 2 years ago, when I was with my daughter Lakshmi in the USA, and when it was convenient to make bakshanams from store bought rice flour rather than try the traditional method of homemade flour. The post never got written up as I have been busy with something or the other, and other more seasonal recipes got priority on the blog. It is of course quite late for this year too, but I’m going to write and publish the recipe in the hope that it will help those of you who are in time zones where Gokulashtami is still 2 days away, and you are looking for a suitable recipe for Vella Seedai from store bought flour….
The monthly theme based challenge of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group has helped me to explore the cuisines of every part of India. Trying to decide on a dish which fits into the theme, and which includes the 2 secret ingredients the partner for the month stipulates, can be a tough exercise. Take for example, this Ker Sangri that I prepared for the Rajasthani cuisine for July 2019. I wanted to make something uniquely Rajasthani and yet a little different and special.
A traditional recipe from Tamil cuisine, this Kaada Muttai Milagu Kuzhambu is absolute comfort food. Easy to make – I’ve broken down my recipe below into several steps, so don’t let the long list scare you. Each block of instructions takes only a few minutes, and even a novice to the kitchen would feel comfortable following them. The quail eggs added a touch of the exotic to this otherwise simple egg pepper gravy. And of course the quail eggs can be substituted with chicken eggs.
The supermarket I frequent at Whitefield, which is not far from my apartment in Bangalore (I mean, if you don’t measure it in terms of the time our notorious traffic takes to get me through the few kilometres to the store), has a lot of fresh produce stocked in its many shelves. I have been eyeing the cartons of quail eggs each time I reach out for a box of brown ‘farm’ eggs which are my staple breakfast diet. I hadn’t cooked quail eggs ever, and wasn’t sure how best to use them. A recent trip to Chennai gave a delicious answer to this question. Theayn, with whom I stayed, made some of her delicious meals during my visit. One of these was this egg milagu kuzhambu. She had made it with chicken eggs, and when I tasted it, with piping hot rice and ghee, I was transported to culinary Heaven. Theayn always cooks like a dream, but this muttai milagu kuzhambu was really, truly, out of this world.
I wasted no time in jotting down the recipe as Theayn dictated it to me, and once back home at Bangalore, made a quick trip to the supermarket for the quail eggs. And I got started on the kaada muttai milagu kuzhambu. The first time I made it, the consistency and taste were not as I remembered from the Chennai feast. I realised that I had forgotten to add potatoes, so back I went to the kitchen next day, for another quick round of cooking. This time the quail egg in pepper gravy came out just as I wanted. Perfect in texture, consistency and taste.
Making Kaadu Muttai Milagu Kuzhambu
The Quail egg curry in a Pepper Gravy is very easy to make. As I said earlier, it looks like a lot of steps, but that’s just because I’ve gone into detail, with little tips to help, and also split each small process into a separate head.
The recipe gives detailed instructions on how quail eggs are to be boiled. I have boiled them for 3.5 minutes and then immediately transferred the eggs to a bowl of chilled water. Boiling for a longer period can make the eggs hard and reduce the flavour.
I have roasted the eggs briefly, with curry leaves and a sprinkle of cumin and pepper powders and salt, to add to the taste. You may omit this step if you wish.
Sesame oil is the medium of choice, for this recipe. I cannot imagine making a Tamil kuzhambu with any other oil!
You may reduce the water in which the tamarind is soaked, to 1 cup, to have a thicker gravy. I liked mine a little fluid, and have hence used 1.5 cups of water.
The milagu kuzhambu or pepper gravy can be prepared and stored in the freezer. Whenever you want, just take it out, bring it to room temperature and boil with potatoes and add boiled eggs to make the muttai milagu kuzhambu. Or slice and saute mushrooms and add them instead of the eggs. Or make it with just potatoes. Its very flexible, and I’m sure you will find a number of dishes to make from it.
Other Recipes You May Like from This Blog:
Murungai Keerai MoreKuzhambu – Buttermilk Stew with Moringa Leaves
Kaada Muttai Milagu Kuzhambu/ Quail Egg in Pepper Gravy
- Frying pan
- Mixie/ Food Processor for Grinding
- Potato peeler
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp /about 1 Indian gooseberry sized ball of tamarind
- 1.5 cups water
For the Eggs
- 10 Quail eggs or 4 chicken eggs
- 2 cups Water for boiling the eggs/ sufficient water to cover the top of the eggs
- 1 cup Water chilled, for cooling the boiled eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon Sesame oil / gingelly oil/ til oil
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 1 pinch Salt, Pepper Powder, Cumin Powder mixed together to make 1 pinch
For Roasting and Grinding
- 4 shallots or 1 small onion
- 3-4 pods garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil /gingelly oil/ til oil
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns -whole/ sabut
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon rock salt
For Tempering and Making Kaada Mutta Milagu Kuzhambu
- 1 potato (medium)
- 1 tablespoon Sesame oil /gingelly oil/ til oil
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin/ jeera seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Soak tamarind in water, for at least 20 minutes. Once soaked sufficiently (it will become soft) squeeze the tamarind to extract the juice. Discard the pulp after you have extracted as much of the juice as possible. Set aside the tamarind extract till required.
- Peel and slice the shallots/ onion into large chunks.Peel and slice the garlic pods into 2-3 pieces eachShred the curry leaves (I always do this, otherwise they get discarded on the plate while eating and their nutritional benefits are lost)Mix together a very little salt, cumin powder and pepper powder. You will be needing just a pinch of the mixture to flavour the eggs.Peel and slice the potato into thin slices/ fingers. Slice each potato finger into 2 so that each is about an inch long. Keep them uniform in thickness and size so that they cook uniformly and quickly. Place the potato slices in a bowl of water so that they do not discolour. Drain before using as per instructions below.
To Cook the Quail Eggs
- These boil very quickly. Heat a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs (don't add the eggs right away) and bring it to a boil. Add the eggs carefully ( I used a spoon to tip each one into the saucepan) and boil them for 3.5 minutes. I have found this a perfect timing to cook them not too hard and leathery, not too soft and runny.
- Keep a bowl of chilled/ ice water ready. Remove the eggs quickly (again with a spoon) and place them in the chilled water, so that they stop cooking further. Once cool enough to handle, shell the eggs. The quail eggs are small and delicate. Tap each one gently with the back of a spoon.Carefully peel the shells along with the thick membrane you will find clinging to the shell. Check to see that no bits and pieces of shell or membrane are left on the peeled quail eggs.
- Heat oil in a small frying pan. Add shredded curry leaves and as they crackle (which they will do, if they are fresh), add the peeled eggs. Sprinkle the pinch of salt, cumin powder and pepper powder mixture.Saute, stirring the eggs and spices, for about a minute, and then remove. Too much roasting time can make the eggs tough and leathery.Transfer into a bowl and keep aside till required
To Prepare Onion Garlic Masala:
- Heat sesame oil in a small frying pan (I used the same one as for sauteing the boiled eggs).Add the black peppercorns, sliced garlic and shallots/ onion, shredded curry leaves.Keep stirring and roast them for about a minute, on high, till the onion and garlic are fried.Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat proof bowl.Once cool enough to grind, transfer the roasted masala to the mixie or food processor. (the small / chutney jar of an Indian mixie should suffice). Add turmeric and salt.Grind using just as much water as is required to make a smooth paste, without bits of pepper or other ingredients visible. I used one tablespoon of water, adding it a little at a time.Remove the masala paste from the processor and mix well it into the tamarind extracted after soaking as per instructions above.We are now ready for the final steps.
To Make Kaadu Muttai Milagu Kuzhambu
- Heat oil in a frying pan (I used a medium sized pan for this, larger than the one used earlier)Add mustard seeds. Once they have crackled, add cumin seeds. Saute for 10 seconds till they begin to change colour/ darken.Add the mixture of ground masala paste and tamarind extract. Bring it to boil. Drain and add the slices of potato. Again bring it to a boil, and then reduce the flame so that the milagu kuzhambu/ pepper gravy cooks at a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring periodically. The masala may stick to the pan, so you need to stir and make sure it doesn't catch and char.Once the potato slices are cooked, taste for salt and add a little more as required. Add the boiled and sauteed quail eggs, stir and remove the quail egg curry from the stove and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot, with rice (and ghee) or with Dosa, or Parotta. And do let me know in comments below, how you liked it!
Finally, a karela / bitter gourd curry which everyone can enjoy! This Bharwa karela or stuffed Bitter gourd is filled with onion and raw mango as well as marinated with turmeric and salt. This removes most of the bitterness. Not that I mind, karela has always been a favourite at home. I love it sliced into rounds, marinated in turmeric and salt and deep fried. Or just sliced into short lengths and sauteed with turmeric and salt. A meal of rice with kadhi or morekuzhambu is incomplete without karela to accompany it.
This post has been due for a long time, 2 years, to be exact. Feb 2017, I was in Hyderabad with Mridula and Varghese, and we were making Pizzas for dinner. The dough rose dutifully and splendidly, and the toppings had to be decided. It is not often I get a chance to cook along with either of my daughters, and the ‘pizza making’ became an event. Little Natasha ‘loooves’ strawberries. All of us like goat cheese on pizza (or on anything, actually). And then was born the thin crust Strawberry Goat Cheese Pizza, with Balsamic vinegar.
I know what you are going to say. Strawberry? On Pizza? The ‘I don’t want Pineapple on my Pizza’ people will give me a stern look (or worse). All I can say is, just make this Strawberry Goat Cheese Pizza for yourself before you judge. It is not at all a sweet pizza. It is savoury and delicious. Just Try It! It will make happy memories for pizza with loved ones, just as it did for me….
Those of you who are following the recent posts on this blog would have seen the references to the Facebook Food Bloggers Group of which I am a member, viz Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge , which has got us cooking from the varied cuisines of the States of India. Working our way alphabetically, we have reached Karnataka, the beautiful State which is now my home. From my experiences with this theme over the last few months, it was no surprise to find that there is no one Karnataka cuisine, but that each region of the State celebrates its ethnicity with its own favourite foods and its special methods of preparation. The Bamboo Shoot Curry that I selected as my contribution to August 2018’s rich theme is one such recipe, popular in Coorg or Kodagu and in Mangalore.
My partner for the month is Priya Iyer. Priya and I had a lengthy discussion on what ingredients to pick. Both of us wanted to cook with something special or unique to Karnataka. Priya suggested I used Bamboo Shoots and coconut as the two ‘secret’ ingredients which the members of the group would have to guess, once I posted the image of the dish on our group. The bamboo shoot curry was the result of this discussion.
Priya blogs at The Girl Next Door. Please visit her blog to see the well written recipes as well as her interesting notes on the exotic places she has travelled to. I suggested two ingredients for Priya, urad dhal and ginger so that she would have the options to select the main ingredients for the recipe. Have a look at this Karnataka Bonda Soup that she has prepared! It looks so delicious and easy to make too!
Preparing the Bamboo Shoot Curry (also known as Kalale, Kanile or Baimbale Kari) needs some patience, though it is not difficult. The actual curry is easy to make, while the preparation of the shoots for cooking can be a stumbling block if you have not used them as an ingredient before. In the recipe below I have tried to make this simple with step by step directions. Bamboo shoots are known to have a toxic content, and fermenting or boiling is carried out to expel the toxins as well as remove the bitter taste of the raw shoots.
The fresh bamboo shoots have a tough husk which can be peeled off without difficulty, and the bamboo sliced as required. I was lucky to find an online store, OnlineMangaloreStore which delivered the bamboo to my residence, already peeled and sliced into thick rounds. I then soaked for 72 hours as explained in the instructions below. Most recipes suggest that 48 hours of soaking should do, but after some research I decided to soak the shoots for an extra day before I sliced them into thin matchsticks and boiled them with turmeric. The online store was interesting, I was able to pick up quite a few items which I would normally have to scour the Mangalore Stores around for. I plan to get Breadfruit from them and try a curry out of that too.
My friends Kevin and Anirudh had dropped in the day the Bamboo Shoot Curry was made, and as Kevin is from Mangalore and a devoted foodie as well as being no stranger to the kitchen, I requested him to taste it. He felt that it lacked a certain tartness or sourness and suggested the addition of tamarind. I have to say it lifted the curry up a notch and has therefore found its way into the final recipe.
Coming to the food of Coorg, the cuisine is based on locally available ingredients and though new vegetable types have crept in, the popular traditional food comprises rice based dishes such as otti, nooputtu, kadumbuttu, and plain rice accompanied by rich curries made of pork, mutton or chicken and a variety of vegetable based curries such as bamboo shoot curry and those made using jackfruit, mushrooms, colocasia leaves, breadfruit and banana, depending on seasonal availability. Meat based recipes predominate.
I realised while reading up on the food here that it has ingredients more in common with India’s North East than any other part of the country. The Bamboo shoot curry for example, though prepared a little differently from the same in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim etc, is rarely found on the dining table in other parts of India.
Bamboo Shoot Curry - Coorg style Baimbale Kari
Preparing Raw Bamboo Shoot for Cooking
- 250 gms Bamboo Shoots Sliced into juliennes
- water For soaking - as per instructions below
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- water For boiling - as per instructions below
For Coconut Paste
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons Coriander seeds
- 1/2 cup fresh Coconut grated/ or grated desiccated coconut
- ¼ cup water or as required for grinding into paste
For Rice Powder
- 2 teaspoons rice Boiled rice/ Idli rice/ Red rice
For Bamboo Shoot Curry
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¼ teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 3-4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 cup minced Onion about 75 gms or 1 large onion
- 1 dry red chilli
- 4-5 curry leaves
- Cooked Bamboo
- Coconut Paste as per instructions
- 1 teaspoon salt or as per taste
- 1 cup Tamarind water as per instructions
- ½ cup water if required
- Rice Powder as per instructions
- Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
For Tamarind Water
- 1 marble sized Tamarind pulp or about 50 gms of tamarind
- ½ cup water
To Prepare Raw Bamboo Shoots for Cooking
- Remove the outer thick peels of the Bamboo shoots. Slice into rounds or large chunks as convenient. Rinse and soak in sufficient water to more than cover the top of the shoots. Cover and allow to soak for at least 48 hours. I soaked the shoots for 3 days (72 hours) After every 24 hours, drain, rinse and again soak the bamboo in fresh water.
- Drain, rinse and slice the bamboo into juliennes (thin matchstick slices). The thinner they are the faster they will cook. Boil with ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with sufficient water to cover the top of the slices, for at least 20 minutes. Remove from stove, drain and set aside till required.
To Prepare Tamarind Water
- While the bamboo is being cooked, soak the ball of tamarind in water for about 20 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind and filter, saving the Tamarind water in a bowl for use when required.
To Make Coconut Paste for Bamboo Shoot Curry
- Again while the Bamboo Shoot is cooking, make the Coconut Paste. Roast the cumin seeds in a dry pan for about 30 seconds, stirring so they do not burn. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to the hot pan and fry the Coriander seeds. Remove from pan and set aside to cool
- Grind the grated coconut, roasted cumin and fried coriander into a thick paste, adding only as much water as is required for it to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside till required.
To Make Rice Powder
- Roast the Rice in a dry pan for about 1 minute till it begins to brown, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and cool. Powder in a mixie or food processor. Set aside till required.
To Make Bamboo Shoot Curry Coorg Style
- Mince the garlic and onion and keep aside. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter. Add sliced garlic, sauté on low flame for 1 minute or till they begin to darken. Add minced onions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes till translucent, stirring so that they do not char.
- Add red chilli and then curry leaves. I always shred the curry leaves into bits so that there is a better chance of their being eaten rather than have the leaves with their nutrients being discarded on the side of the plate.
- Add the coconut paste, stir. Add the cooked, drained Bamboo shoots. Stir well, add a little salt. You can check and add more if required, later.
- Add the strained tamarind water. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add a little plain water (one tablespoon at a time) if the curry is beginning to look dry. Taste for salt and that the bamboo is cooked. Add salt if required, taking care to add only a little and taste again.
- Add the rice flour/powder and stir it into the bamboo curry. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot with rice roti or hot rice, garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
Its June, and while most of India reels in the hot summer days, the weather cools down in Bangalore and we breathe a sigh of relief while the monsoon sweeps in. The street vendors make their appearance with carts full of colourful fruits. Mangoes, Plums, Litchis, the purple Jamuns and the Figs – they are everywhere. I started my jam making this year with a WhatsApp discussion with my daughter Mridula on the hows and whys of making jam, how much sugar and how will you know the jam is done, and the result was this homemade Fig Jam using only the natural pectin already in the fruit. Its finger licking delicious and I hope you will feel the same when you try it out!
As I usually do, I researched quite a bit before making the jam, from my two reliable jam cook books and a number of recipes online. There are a myriad recipes out there for fig jam, but somehow none of them gave me the right information on ingredient measurement and proportions. For some reason most of them gave the weight of the figs (in lbs) and the corresponding volume of sugar (in US cups). As I didn’t have figs of the same weight as in the recipes, it was difficult to calculate the proportionate sugar required.
What really helped was this link from Serious Eats that Mridula gave me (and which I have in turn now shared with my jam making friends). This is all you will need if you are new to making jam or even if you are an old hand but would like to understand the whys and wherefores of jam making. It helped me to plan the recipe, to know what to look out for and to turn out a perfect jam (I know Im the one saying it, but really, the homemade fig jam has turned out so delicious and with the right consistency. Ask my friend Nisha, she is my taste tester and she said she loved the jam!) I also planned my instructions based on the recipe for apricot jam on the same site.
So now you have my ‘ready for a beginner’ recipe showing you how to make homemade fig jam, how to work out the proportions for ingredients, how to test for ‘doneness’ (I used the frozen spoon test from the Serious Eats article to which I have given the link above.
Some Kitchen Hints while making Homemade Fig Jam:
- There is no need to peel the figs. They cook down soft and add to the texture of the jam.
- If using semi ripe figs, first cook them on low heat in very little water – about 30 ml or 1/8 of a cup, for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a little more water (a tablespoon at a time) if you find it becoming dry. When the fruit softens up, transfer it to a bowl, add the sugar and lime juice and let it stand for 15 minutes as in the instructions below. Continue as per the instructions.
- Don’t leave the jam unattended at any time during the making. Make sure you are stirring it frequently, specially when you first set it to cook and towards the end when it thickens, and of course in-between. Theres nothing sadder than jam which has caught and scorched at the base of the pan.
- If the jam is runny when you think it is done and fails the spoon test, running down the spoon, (see instructions below) – well, it is not done! Set it back on the stove and let it cook some more, stirring again, and then do the test once more after 5 minutes or so.
- If the jam is overdone and hard and doesn’t glide down the spoon at all even when hot and is hard to the touch- it is overcooked. You can try to remedy it by heating some water (very little -about ¼ cup or less), add the jam and cook on low heat, stirring frequently. Once it softens, try the spoon test again.
- Proportions for Ingredients: Following the principles in the Serious Eats article above:
i. Sugar – I added 50% of the weight of the sliced figs, hence 200 gms sugar for 400 gms figs.
ii. Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz/ 30 gms) for 500 gms (1 lb)of sliced fruit worked for me. You may use upto another 1/2 tablespoon if the jam tastes sweet without a hint of the tartness. As in the instructions below, add the lemon juice a little at a time, till the taste is a balance of sweet and tart with just a hint of the tartness.
You don’t need much equipment for making this jam. But arm yourself with a weighing scale and/or at least a set of measuring cups and spoons. That way you don’t have to break your head about the quantities and proportions.
The first batch of homemade fig jam that I made, started with a problem – I had ordered the fresh figs online and they came to me all green and semi ripe and with no flavour to speak of. Careful cooking and a dash of fresh mint leaves turned them into the yummiest jam you will ever have (till I post my mango jam recipe, of course -wink wink!). By the second batch, I felt like an Pro – it was sooo easy! The mint leaves were from my tiny balcony herb garden and is an aromatic peppermint which makes you feel on top of the world – sometimes I pluck and crush a leaf just to feel good!
When using semi ripe figs for a homemade fig jam, you need to cook them for a good 10 minutes in very little water, before you add the sugar and proceed as per the recipe. For regular ripe figs, just follow the instructions below. Do add mint leaves, it gives a big oomph to the jam! Happy Jam Making! And do check for my Mango Jam recipe, it should be up in a few days!
I will write a separate post on sterilising the jars and storing the jam in them. For now, there are many resources online which you may please refer for canning or for putting the jam in jars.
My recipe for homemade fig jam is for a small quantity of jam. It contains no preservatives except for the natural preservation of the lemon juice. Once the jam in the jar has cooled, close the lids tightly and keep the jar in the fridge. It should last upto 10 days without problems. Ensure you use a clean dry spoon to remove the jam from the jar.
Homemade Fig Jam No Pectin -Easy Step by Step Guide
- 400 gms Figs chopped ripe figs-about 3 3/4 cups
- 200 gms sugar about 1 cup (50% of the weight of the sliced figs)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed - 1/2 an ounce
- 1/2 teaspoon mint leaves finely minced
- Wash the figs. Slice away the stem and a little of the base. Slice the figs into even sized pieces, about 1/2 an inch in height. Weigh the sliced figs. Squeeze lemon juice and keep it ready for use.
- Place the figs with 50% of their weight in sugar. If the figs are very sweet and ripe you can go upto 55%. Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and stir it all in till the sugar is moist all over and no dry bits of sugar remain. Let the figs sugar lemon juice mixture stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile keep a few spoons in the freezer for the spoon test ( I will explain this in a bit, if you are not already familiar with the test.)
- The chopped figs and sugar mixture would now have released some liquid. Transfer the mixture to a wide thick bottomed pot. Check that the volume of fruit is not more than half the height of the pot, as it needs space while cooking.
- Cook on high heat for a minute and then reduce to low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, till the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble (mine took just 5 minutes, but with larger volumes it could take upto 10 minutes). Add the fresh mint leaves, finely minced, stir them into the fruit.
- In about 5-7 minutes as you continue to cook the fruit on low heat (stirring frequently to prevent the fruit from sticking to the pan and getting scorched), you will see foam forming on the surface. You will now get the lovely aroma of the fruit (and the mint!) Remove the foam lightly with a metal spoon (I used a stainless spoon with a longish handle) and discard. Its ok if you don't get rid of all the foam. Occasionally no foam may form. Thats okay too! Cook, stirring off and on until the foaming has subsided - about 15 minutes or so.
- Taste the jam. Mine was quite sweet. Add a teaspoon full of the lemon juice, stir it in and taste again. You want to get it right now - sweetness with a hint of tartness -just barely there. If its still only sweet, add a little more lemon juice (careful now, you don't want it all lemony). Stir well.
- Cook the jam on low heat for another 10-15 minutes till the bubbles begin to reduce and the jam thickens at the sides of the pan. Keep stirring at the edges and the bottom - you don't want to jam to catch and scorch!
- Once the jam thickens, take it off the heat. Its better to take the jam off the stove early and test for 'doneness'. Once the jam is overcooked, there is nothing you can do but if it is not yet done, you can always put it back on the stove again. Now for the spoon test (see the link to the Serious eats post that I have given in the write up above the recipe). Remove one of the spoons from the freezer. Drop a little jam on the spoon and set it back in the freezer for 5 minutes. Take out the spoon, tilt it and check- if the jam moves slowly but does not run down the spoon, it is done. If it slides down fast and is runny, take the pot back on the heat and cook for a few minutes and then do the test again (don't forget to keep stirring, every time the pot is on the stove)
- Once the jam passes the test and its ready, transfer when still hot to clean jars. Wipe the top of the jars with a clean tissue. Close the jars when the jam is cool.
Sepu vadi, ie split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy, is a traditional recipe from the hilly Northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. A very tasty curry, I found it interesting to make.
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.
At first glance, Shaheen Peerbhai’s (who blogs as Purple Foodie and is the author of the Paris Picnic cookbook) Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket leaves sounds like a cosy winter salad. It is however a light and refreshing summer type of salad with some unlikely ingredients coming together with a medley of colours and flavours. …
Flavoured with almond, lemon and vanilla, these easy to make Jam Sandwich cookies are an anytime treat. This cookie reminds me of the biscuit tins we (rarely) received as birthday gifts when we were children, with tempting looking jam biscuits painted on them. The recipe is adapted from the Raspberry Jam sandwich recipe in Martha Day’s ‘Baking.’
Ganesh Chaturthi is around the corner and Onam too, and we are all busy planning special sweets and desserts. Make your festival meals exotic as well as healthy, with this Black Rice Kheer Payasam of Forbidden Black Rice flavoured with vanilla and enriched with apricots and pistachio. The result is a delicious festival treat, truly fit for the Gods! As the rice cooks, the aroma wafting through the house has to be experienced to be described! The kheer (pudding) is cooked on low heat for about 40 minutes after the rice is cooked in the pressure cooker. No ghee is used in this recipe. For a vegan version, substitute almond milk for the dairy milk in the recipe.
This recipe was created when I participated in fellow food blogger Teena Sunoj’s mystery box Onam Payasam challenge. The ingredient I found in my mystery box, was Black Rice. I had already made salads using Black rice, and was happy for the opportunity to try out a Black Rice Kheer Payasam for our Onam round up, which was also published that week in the Deccan Herald.
The ingredients in this Black Rice Kheer Payasam are nutritious and healthy as well as delicious. Black Rice is used in Indian kitchens in the North East and in Chettinad cuisine as well as in Kerala. The variety of rice differs from place to place, with some varieties turning a dark purple hue when cooked. In this recipe I have used a Black Rice with purple, black and brown grains, a Heirloom variety from First Agro Farms at Talkad, Mysore. Any sticky Black rice should give similar results though the taste and aroma of the Black Rice from First Agro is truly special.
A little time spent on the net gives interesting information: that Black Rice was first cultivated in China, some Ten thousand years ago, and for hundreds of years was reserved solely for the culinary pleasure of Chinese Royalty and noblemen: hence the name ‘Forbidden Rice’ or ‘Emperors Rice’, as its consumption was not permitted for the common people. The Rice was grown in limited quantities and the distribution carefully controlled.
Black rice may not always be Black, it could be pinkish, brown, purple, grey, or shades in between, and of course, black!. When cooked, some varieties may be glutinous and sticky, due to high levels of amylopectin ( a major component of starch, and made up of glucose units). The black colouring is due the abundant presence of anthocyanin, which is what makes for colourful purple grapes, blueberries, aubergine … You get the picture? Perhaps these ancient Chinese Emperors knew a thing or two: that this Black rice that they reserved for themselves, was highly nutritious, fabled to increase both health and longevity, and in fact called ‘tribute rice’ or ‘longevity rice’ during the Ming Dynasty.
In India this rice is grown in Manipur, and is available in some gourmet stores and on online stores. If, like me, you are lucky enough to live in Bangalore, then you can get the Zero pesticide, non-GMO variety from First Agro Farms.
Black Rice Health & Nutrition: (information sourced from various online sites): Rich in disease fighting antioxidants, contains vitamins like B1, B2, folic acid; essential amino acids such as lysine, tryptophan; minerals including iron,copper, zinc, calcium and phosphorus; anthocyanin- said to help lower the risk of heart attacks by preventing plaques from building up in the arteries, as well as to fight cancer. Ongoing research is being carried out, to support the view that consumption of Black rice can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes and even Cancer. Low in calories, high in flavonoid phytonutrients, and a rich source of fibre as well as Vitamin E.
Step by step instructions are given in the Recipe below on How to Cook Black Forbidden Rice
Soaking the rice for about 3 hours, reduces the cooking time. The rice could be soaked overnight, however for the variety that I used, 3 hours was more than enough for the rice to cook into a soft and yet chewy texture.
In this recipe for Black Rice Kheer Payasam, the addition of vanilla subtly complements the fragrance of the rice, and along with the Apricots, lifts an exotic ingredient to a delicious, aromatic dish. No ghee is used in the preparation, and pistachios substitute for the traditional cashew nuts. The cardamom is optional as the other ingredients give more than enough flavour and aroma to the sweet dish.
You may like to try out other recipes on this Blog:
Healthy Black Rice Payasam / Kheer with Vanilla and Apricots
For the Black Forbidden Rice Kheer
- 1 cup black rice
- 2 cups water
- a Pinch salt
- 2 cups milk OR 2 cups almond milk for a vegan version
- 1/4 cup milk (extra if required)
- 3/4 cup jaggery Powdered
- 1/4 cup Dried apricots
- 2 pods cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 pod vanilla OR 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Condensed Milk
For the Garnish
- 2 tablespoons Pistachio nuts Unsalted
- 2 tablespoons Condensed Milk (optional)
- dried apricot slices Reserved slices from ingredients above
How to Cook Black Rice (Time: Soaking 3 hours; Cooking 15 -20 minutes)
- Wash the Rice as you would for any other Rice to be cooked. That is, rinse with potable water, drain, and repeat at least twice or till the water in which you are rinsing the rice, is clear.
- Soak the rice in double its volume of water, for at least 3 hours, to reduce cooking time. Transfer the soaked rice along with the water, to a pressure cooker. Add a pinch of salt to the rice, and pressure cook on high for one whistle. Note: I have retained the water in which the rice was soaked, so that nutrients are not lost.
- Lower the flame and continue to cook for 10 minutes or about 6 more whistles. Turn off the stove and let the cooker cool before opening it, so that the rice cooks completely under its own steam, and all the water is absorbed.
Preparations (Time: 5-10 minutes)
- 1. Slice the dried apricots into small pieces, the size of currants or half of a small raisin. Reserve 1 table spoon for the garnish. 2. Shell the pistachio nuts and Toast them. Slice into thin slivers or small pieces.
- 3. Crush the cardamom seeds keeping them in the pod, so that they can be easily removed whole, while serving.
How to make Black Rice Payasam / Kheer (Time: Cooking 35- 40 minutes)
- While the cooker is cooling down, heat the milk in a thick bottomed pan. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer on low flame for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, while it thickens. For a vegan version, substitute the milk with almond milk.
- In another pan, melt the powdered jaggery on low flame, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or till the raw smell of the jaggery has disappeared. Crush any remaining lumps and stir so that the jaggery dissolves completely.
- Add the jaggery water to the milk, stir it in. Add the apricots and cook on low flame for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that it does not catch at the bottom of the pan.
- Add the cooked rice, stir it in. Cook on low flame for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If the payasam appears too thick, stir in 1/4 cup of warm milk.
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add, or add the vanilla extract, if using. Add the cardamom. Stir. The Black rice has a heady fragrance, so you may wish to omit the cardamom. Add the condensed milk, cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. For a vegan version, omit this step.
- Serve hot, garnished with pieces of the reserved apricots, some slivers of pistachio and a dash of condensed milk (almond milk for vegans)
Before I take you through this recipe for Peruvian Kiwicha Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, I must tell you a little about Kiwicha, a superfood and a form of Amaranth that went into this delicious and healthy salad. Kiwicha is native to Peru and was a staple food for the Incas, Aztecs and other communities more than 4000 years ago. The cultivation of kiwicha had come down drastically since the Spanish conquest and colonisation. Since 1970, the world is rediscovering an interest in this and other elements of Peruvian cuisine, many of which have been now found to be rich in nutrient and disease fighting properties. …
Making Pizza at home is a whiz, once you have got the making of the dough under control. You can experiment with all kinds of healthy, tasty toppings with fresh produce. I usually make pizza dough from the easy recipe for Magic Bread Dough in the River Cottage Veg Everyday Cook book, and had been coming again and again to the recipe for Kale and Onion Pizza. As Kale is not usually available where I live, I could only look longingly at the pictures and then sigh and turn the page! Finally though, I did get to make the Kale and Onion Pizza.
Recipe 3 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge. Seasonal green peas make up this delicious Matar ka Nimona, a classic curry from Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The aromatic dal like dish is a regular part of a winter meal in Awadhi cuisine.
Married into a family from Eastern UP though settled in Madras, I would listen with my foodie antenna at alert, as my husband started a monologue every winter. He would describe childhood days of enjoying luscious fresh peas straight from the plant, in their native village at Basti, Gorakhpur. I have tasted the peas straight from the plants too, in the kitchen garden my mother had at Kharagpur. However, the magical sight of acre upon acre of pea plants stretching to the horizon, is something I have not experienced.
Fattoush Salad – A fresh delicious bread salad, where the herbs are not meant just for garnish but are significant ingredients in the dish. Three ingredients normally used in Lebanese cuisine are featured here, i.e. flavouring the pita bread with za’atar, dressing the salad with sumac mixed with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, and adding pomegranate molasses to lift the salad to sublime heights. The za’atar is sprinkled on the pita bread or other flat bread, and the bread is baked or grilled before it is added to the salad.
Colourful salad bursting with flavours and textures. Roasted tomatoes, Peppers and Figs with a cherry tomato sauce, mint, parsley and purple basil and a dressing of lemon juice and white wine vinegar….
A hearty, healthy multigrain Adai dosa made of a coarsely ground and fermented batter of idli rice and various lentils. Adai tastes great with Avial, a yogurt based stew of mixed vegetables. I like to make it for breakfast or dinner after adding a lot of minced shallots and tiny pieces of fresh coconut, and served with jaggery and fresh white unsalted butter.
Before I talk to you about this recipe for Keerai Kootu or Amaranthus greens stew, let us talk a bit about poetry. We all know that greens are nutritious and are good for health. I was surprised however to find that there is poetry written about greens such as Amaranthus! I would never have connected this humble plant, (actually considered as weeds in some parts of the world), with soulful poetry!
John Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley in “Bereavement”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in Work Without Hope, have all immortalised the amaranth. In Paradise Lost, Milton says, “Immortal amaranth, a flower which once in Paradise, fast by the tree of life, began to bloom;but soon for man’s offenceTo heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life..”
I had tried many varieties of store bought branded Rasam powders until I finally realised that the best Rasam is from my Mom’s traditional Tamilian Iyer recipe for a Homemade Rasam Powder. I now make this about once a year, safely storing the bulk of the spice in an airtight container so that the aroma and flavour are intact. I keep a small quantity (about half a cup) in a tightly closed small jar in my regular spice shelf for ready use, since I make rasam once every week or two.
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Pakode wale Kadhi – a firm favourite and comfort food now. The first time I came across this dish was when I began to take an interest in cooking, some decades ago. This was in Femina Magazine and was described by a celebrity. I learnt words such as bagar for the first time.
Everything about this bread is good, the making and baking, the taste, the aroma. I have followed the recipe for Brown butter Banana Cranberry Bread from Joy the Baker, as faithfully as I could except that I reduced the cranberries to 1 cup and used frozen instead of fresh. The original recipe did not specify how to use the crumble, so I added it when it seemed appropriate. Cranberries are chock-full of vitamins and minerals as well as said to have several other medicinal uses, which, Wikipedia says, are however largely unconfirmed by research. Doctor had advised adding them to P’s diet to help heal an internal inflammation, so I pulled out the pack of frozen cranberries from the freezer and scouted out interesting recipes to use them in….
The picture can’t convey the aroma of vanilla, butter and blue berries wafting through the house! The headiest perfume, ever! Easy to make
A special occasion dish. Different coloured Bell Peppers (Capsicum/ Sweet Peppers) stuffed with mashed potatoes and cooked in a gravy of onions tomatoes and spices. Stuffed Shimla Mirch can be served with Rotis (chapatis) or as a side dish with rice and dhal, or with bread.
This is my all time favourite, a Stuffed Shimla Mirch curry in a tasty gravy, absolute comfort food when the weather is chill. A delicious curry with the melding flavours of the mashed potatoes and spices and the textures of the peppers contrasting with the stuffing and the gravy. Grilled or fried peppers have a special flavour of their own.
You could make the curry with just green capsicums, but with different coloured peppers generally available at Bangalore, I like to use a variety of coloured ones for this Stuffed Shimla Mirch.