Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quinoa Pulao

I m back into my blogging world, after a small gap. I m in Chennai now with my in-laws. Missing my kitchen and specially the oven.

Quinoa, Kinwa, I am still having a problem in pronouncing the name correctly.

Hope everybody knows the nutritional fact of this grain. It is rich in protein and contains essential amino acids. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest (Source : Wikipedia)

Quinoa is a high-fiber food with five grams of fiber per cup (cooked). Fiber not only promotes digestive health, but may also reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, may prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes, promotes weight loss, and aids weight maintenance (

Do you know, 'Thinai', (tamil) grain is similar to quinoa.

Even though I have read many good things about this grain earlier, I did not take any attempt to try some recipe using quinoa. Last month, when we were buying our weekly grocery, I came across a shelf full of quinoa. I was thrilled and without any second thoughts I took a pack and tried a vegetable puloa. 

--- Cook the quino as per instruction given on the pack
--- As we do for vegetable pulao, cook the vegetables* and keep separately.
--- Mix the cooked quino and the vegetables.
--- If you like add some fried cashew and serve warm.

Easy and healthy recipe. I brought 2 packs along with me to Chennai, going to try more recipe for my father-in-law. Hope this will be the best dietary food for him.

* Vegetables -- Any fresh veggies, as per your taste and availability.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Upma with many names

Morkali upma, khozamaa upma, Arisi upma, Morkuzh upma - one upma with different names. If you call by any other name, please write to me.

This upma is traditional recipe but not a popular one. If you ask your Paati (granny) or Kollu paati, she will tell you about this upma along with a nice old stories. Hearing the old stories, oh man, that's the best moment in your life. Sometime if my mom and her brothers were together, we kids will ask about their childhood. They used to talk about their childhood, school days, nick names, movies, books and the delicious food. Hope I will enjoy the same moment when I meet them all next month. Can't wait to see them all !

Whenever my mom prepare this upma, she always talk about her mom and the kitchen arrangement in the earlier days. No gas, no kerosene stove, my paati used to prepare in the traditional coal stove called 'kumuti adupu'. My mom prepares this upma in the same way except the coal stove.

I never tried this recipe until a month ago. Believe it or not, within this last 20 days I did this upma twice. Its an easy recipe, need no special ingredients or even a side dish. It will be best with a side dish, which I will tell  later.

Ingredients :
1 cup -- Rice flour
2/3 cup -- Yogurt (will be nice if it is little sour)
1 cup -- Water
1/3 cup -- Oil (Trust me, you need it)
1 tsp -- Turmeric powder
2 tbsp -- Urad dal
2 tbsp -- Chana dal
1 tsp -- Mustard seed
Dash of  Asafoetida
7-8 nos -- Red dried chillies or Mor millagai
Salt to taste
Curry leaves (optional)

--- In a bowl mix the rice flour, turmeric powder, Asafoetida, salt, yogurt and water.

--- Make the batter watery, like below. No harm in adding more water, if you need to get this consistency.

--- Take a heavy bottom pan with the oil. Turn the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and once they are cracked add the urad dal, chana dal and dry chillies. If you are using mor millagai, adjust the salt accordingly.
--- If using curry leaves, add them also now.

--- Fry the mixture until the dal colour is changed to golden brown. Now slowly and carefully pour the rice flour batter to the oil mixture.
--- The main important thing, don't use spatula and disturb the mixture. Big surprise is awaiting at the bottom of the pan.
--- All the oil will be floating on top of the mixture, don't panic these oil will be absorbed once upma is cooked.

--- Close the pan and cook the mixture for 10-12 minutes, once cooked take a wooden spatula and mix the upma without touching the bottom of the pan. Shhhh that's the secret, we talked earlier.

--- Now comes the magic. Once the upma is being mixed, the oil which was floating above will get absorbed. This increase the flavour and the taste of the upma.
--- Transfer the upma onto a bowl and now you can see a thick layer, called Kaanthal in tamizh, stuck onto the bottom of the pan.

--- Let the pan to cool for a while. Using the wooden spatula, take the upma which is struck in the bottom of the pan. This is a little work, but your hard work will be paid at the end.
--- You will get a nice crispy, tasty Kaanthal from the bottom.

--- This is the best side dish to eat along with this upma. If you don't want to have crispy part, just mix the recipe  in the first stage itself. Then you will not get the fun tasty crispy upma at the bottom of the pan.

Isn't this upma simple and easy. Enjoy the traditional tasty upma with your family and talk the old stories.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lemon lentil soup

Warm yellow color, tangy taste, nice aroma, hm... whenever, I think of  lemon, I will go into my own lemony world.

Long long ago, my mami had a small lemon tree in her backyard, but it used to yield lots of lemons. Best example for the tamizh saying 'மூர்த்தி சிறுசு கீர்த்தி பெரிசு'. My mami's home was my summer holidays abode and I have sweet memories of that lemon tree and its fresh offerings. Poor thing, it had to make way when my mami's house was expanded. It is still a conversation starter when we all get together.

Coming to our story, I bought a dozen of big lemons and enjoyed all my favorite recipes, lemon rice, lemon sevai, lemon rasam, etc. Last week, when I was browsing, this recipe caught my eyes and when I fully read, it sounded more similar to our south Indian dish. One second I stopped reading and asked myself, am I reading the soup or sambar? Wanted to give it a try.

I found this recipe in Tried this lemon lentil soup with a little twist and it tasted perfect. You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients : Serves - 6 person
2 cup -- cooked lentil***
1 cup -- mixed vegetables chopped
2 tbsp -- Tomato puree
1 no -- Onion, medium size chopped
2 tbsp -- Olive oil
2 clove -- Garlic
lemon juice from half a lemon
Fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

*** In the original recipe Oprah have used red lentil, I used the left over dal I had in the fridge, Combination of toor dal and the moong dal

--- Take a sauce pan with the olive oil and turn the heat to medium.
--- Add onions, garlic and saute them in the oil for few minutes, Add the vegetables and cook until the vegetables become tender.
--- You can use any vegetables, I used carrots, beans and squash.
--- Once the vegetables become soft, now its time to add our cooked lentil, tomato puree. Add them to the vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes. Let the mixture to cool a little.
--- Transfer the whole mixture to the blender and pulse the mixture for few times. We neither want the vegetables to grind fully or big chunks.
--- Pour the grind mixture in the pan again and add 2-3 cups of water depending upon the consistency.
--- Turn the heat to medium and add pepper,salt and lemon juice. And cook for 3 minutes, just to bring the flavour to the soup.
--- Finally add the chopped cilantro for color and taste.

Rich in protein, lots of vegetables and lemony flavour. Serve this soup with little cheese on top and along with the Garlic bread. I assure you that you will love this combination.