THE SEMOLINA TRAIL

Call it semolina, sooji, rawa or cream of wheat, this is an important must have in almost all indian pantries and even in the middle east…  Be it savoury or sweet , most indian families will dish out delicious meals made of sooji.

Upma, a savoury dish calls for different ingredients depending on which region its coming from, but the end result is almost always a creamy silken semi porridge like consistency, easy on the stomach.

In maharashtra  it includes potatoes, carrots and beans and is normally served with sweet curd and is part of naashta(breakfast).. where as in the south its served with a spicy sambhar and coconut chutney and is served as tiffin. Any which way upma is relished through out India.

Another popular dish made out of sooji is the rawa dosa, available in most udupi restaurants all over India. This dosa brings back memories of another day, when we as young children used to accompany our parents to the sai baba temple at swargate Pune. Not very far from the temple was this restaurant called 13319788_10153804892938759_6687618107703454177_nTriveni, the pioneer in serving this crisp dosa in pune,way back in the 1970’s. This crisp  dosa (crepe) sprinkled with chopped green chillies and chopped onions , served with cold coconut chutney and sambar was our weekly treat most sundays. .beautiful memories..

Anyone who has lived in maharashtra and who has seen and been a part of the ganpati utsav will definately vouch for the melt in your mouth sooji prasad that is distributed along with modaks at all the beautifuly decorated stalls . My earliest memory of having this amazing prasad is of having it every year at my mamaji’s shop deluxe decorators ,where the ganesh idol was kept for 11 days and then taken for immersion at bund garden.  I remember a maharashtrain lady making it, and when this huge pot was opened after the arti for distribution, the aroma was mouth watering.

Today i share with you this recipe which is a favourite with my children.

 

SOOJI HALWA.. PRASAD

HEAT 1/4 CUP OF GHEE IN A PAN

ADD 10 ROUGHLY CHOPPED CASHEWNUTS ,

2 TBSPS OF RAISINS, AND 1 TBSP OF CHIRONJI.

SAUTE TILL NUTS TURN PALE GOLDEN AND THE RAISINS PUFF UP.

ADD 1 CHOPPED RIPE BANANA, AND SAUTE FOR A MINUTE.

ADD 1 CUP OF SOOJI AND SAUTE THIS MIXTURE TILL BANANA PIECES START BREAKING AND MERGING WITH THE SOOJI, DONT LET THE SEMOLINA TURN BROWN. KEEP THE FLAME AT MEDIUM. BY THIS TIME THERE WILL BE A HEAVENLY AROMA WAFTING THROUGH YOUR KITCHEN, THATS WHEN YOU ADD 2 CUPS OF BOILING MILK.. STIR THE MIXTURE CAREFULLY AS IT WILL BE VERY HOT AND MIGHT SPUTTER.WHEN MILK HAS MERGED WITH THE SOOJI TO LOOK LIKE PORRIDGE,

ADD 1 CUP SUGAR AND STIR GENTLY ONCE, COVER THE PAN AND LEAVE ON STOVE FOR 5 MINS, SHUT THE FLAME AND LEAVE COVERED FOR ANOTHER 10 MINS.

OPEN THE LID AND SPRINKLE CARDAMOM POWDER IF YOU SO WISH, AND FLUFF UP THE SEERA WITH A FORK GENTLY.

SERVE HOT AS IS OR WITH VANILA ICE CREAM…ENJOY.

TRUELY AMBROSIA OR FOOD FOR THE GODS.

THE OATS CULTURE..

Years ago oats was associated with the word porridge, soft 1465300_10152728980158759_3633569604471457687_n  greyish porridge which was topped with milk and sweetened with either chopped fruits or honey. For many  many years it was considered the choice for breakfast especially in the west, second only to cereal out of a box..And to a certain extent it still is among the world’s top choice of breakfast. Easy to make and is  rich in vitamins , mainly its low in cholesterol and is high in dietary fibre.

This fact has been repeatedly pointed out to us in the form of advertisements where in a neat and tidy mother is dishing out porridge to her happy family or where a doctor in a white jacket is telling us seriously how oats reduce our cholesterol and protect our heart.

Nowadays oats are available in many forms, plain, rolled, steel-cut or even savoury..I use oats instead of breadcrumbs many a time to bread chicken or tofu or even the humble potato tikki.. here the only drawback being that oats does not panfry well… so on certain occasions I do deep fry anything that is breaded with oats…

THE TOFU OATS BURGER

FOR THE BATTER..MIX TOGETHER

1 cup flour

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 tbsp of babas curry powder

salt and a pinch of sugar

water as needed

mix everything together to ensure no lumps remain, the batter should be of medium thick consistency. Keep aside for a while.

 Take thin  slices of tofu and dip into this batter and then coat with oats, press firmly and refrigerate before deep-frying in hot oil..

Assemble tofu slices , tomato slices, salad leaves , spiced mayonnaise onto a burger bun.

serve the burger with french fries

** I make spiced mayonnaise by mixing mayonaise with chilli sauce, lime juice and dijons french mustard.

 

 

 

 

Roses to indian culture and cuisine..

20160515_110551The rose in all its glory, is incorporated in various forms in indian culture, be it GULAB ATTAR adorning the wrists of the nawabs or the mughals, or the GULAB JAL or rose water used in beauty regimes when mixed with chandan for face packs. Not forgetting rajesh khanna singing to  nanda..”gulabi ankhen jo teri dekhi” gulabi ankhen??? 🙂 nonetheless a lovely song…

. A few drops of rose essence added to any mithai or dessert makes a whole lot of difference.Think of the divine gulab jamuns actually named after this wonderful flower.  Rose petals are great as a garnish in sweets like saturfeni and phirni. And of course not forgetting GULKHAND which is used in various preparations such as paan and icecreams.

But the one use of dried rose petals I  learnt from my mother was to use it in the making of garam masala…for years my garam masala has been made by my mom. Using dried rose buds in garam masala balances  out the heat of the spices used like cinnamon cloves cardamom nutmeg etc…some years ago , on a visit to Dubai, wandering around the spice souk  I came across mounds of different colour dried rose petals which were a treat to the eye. I believe dried rose petals are used in  middle eastern spice mixes..

The aroma of freshly ground garam masala with dried rose bud petals literally fills the kitchen with a divine fragrance..using just a teaspoon in any gravy is enough to infuse it with a wonderful taste and aroma…today i share with you this wonderful garam masala recipe…

GARAM MASALA ALA MUMMY

250 gms cummin seeds..(jeera)..washed and dried in the sun

100 gms each

poppy seeds..(khus khus)..

caraway seeds (shah jeera)

cinnamon ( dalchini) .. break into small pcs to make grinding easy

cloves(laung)

nutmeg (jaiphal)..tip..grate the nutmeg to make grinding easy

mace (javitri)

cardamom (choti elaichi)..i use whole elaichi

black cardamom ..seeds only..( badi elaichi)

bay leaves (kamal pat)..throw away the stems

baby rose buds..preferably pink rose..( pink gulab ki kali)

corriander seeds ( dhania)

METHOD..

pick and clean all the dry spices.. and grind them well… store in jar in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator..Use as required

The love of gardening

                                                        

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Raat ki rani plant…night garden

How is it that something is right under your nose and you just take it for granted? Thats my story…for 21 years it was my husband who looked after our garden, with me just admiring it…from afar…:) and suddenly the love and memory of one particular flower which bloomed abundantly in my nani’ s house THE RAAT KI RANI, botanical name cestrum nocturnum..awoke the sleeping gardener in me.I suppose it was memories of me at a very young age ,  going to visit nani at kanya shala road with my mom and staying till sundown when these magical flowers let out a heady fragrance ..a beautiful childhood memory.! And the quest of this beautiful plant took me all over google land. Bringing in a live plant from india was ofcourse out of question, since that is illegal..all i wanted was the seeds….and finally i hit paydirt on ebay…got the seeds from the usa and planted them..while waiting patiently for the sapling to appear..i looked around for herbs which suddenly seemed to be so easy to grow ..and so started my love for gardening.

The immence pleasure of nurturing, loving a plant, watching it grow from seed to sapling to a plant which gives back the love by blooming into wonderful fragrant flowers is something so beautiful..makes one thankful for bountiful nature. The past 4 years have seen me build a small terrace garden with my favourite plants…herbs,  roses, parijat, kemuning, jasmine, manaca, raat ki rani…to name a few.. its my private space..not intruding in the landscaped garden in our home which is my husbands love…

The sugar rush

10688456_10152636709928759_3592741245892305276_oSomething about the addiction to sugar; everyone has heard of the saying, girls are made up of sugar and spice and everything nice, this is also true in the case of so many desserts! We have desserts with oodles of sugar laced with so many spices like cinnamon, cardamom , saffron, cloves to name a few. Be it Indian desserts like our kheers, payaasams, kulfis or the baklavas of the middle east, the apple or pumpkin pies of the west….. some spice is always added to balance out the flavours. How many of us have followed our noses to the tempting aromas coming from bakeries and given in to the temptation to a piece of St. cinnamon? I confess that I have, because I have a sweet tooth which is rather well known…

Sweets are something which we grew up on, since my full family had a sweet tooth. Winters in pune were cold.. and to fortify us during the chills, mom always served sweet breakfasts, proper sindhi sweets.. on most sundays during winter we always got a plate full of mithyun seyun( sweet vermecilli or sevaiyaan.. and every mouthful was a burst of flavours, cardamon  being the most prominent…and to balance the sweetness , this dish was always accompanied by small cubed fried potatoes sprinkled with chillie powder and salt..sindhi cuisine has many rich sweets to offer like lapi, malpura, mitho lolo etc… here i share my moms version of the mithyuoon seyun and tariyal patata…

INGREDIENTS

200 gms roasted fine vermicilli                                                                                      170 gms sugar                                                                                                                       1/2 cup ghee                                                                                                                            1/4 cup chopped mixed nuts like almonds, pistas, chironji..                                 1 tsp cardamon powder

METHOD                                                                                                                                  Heat ghee in a nonstick pan, and add vermicilli and nuts , saute till aromatic, when vermicilli turns golden brown add enough hot water to cover the seyuoon, cover and cook for a few minutes.  add sugar and cardamom powder..cover once more and cook on a low flame till water dries up..shut the flame and leave covered for abt 5 mins.. serve hot sprinkled with sliced almonds and pistas…accompanied with tariyal (fried)potatoes sprinkled with salt and chillie powder.